The translation of papañca and papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

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The translation of papañca and papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Postby starter » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:58 pm

Greetings!

After searching and reading various analyses and interpretations of "papañca" and "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā", I'm glad to have found a pretty satisfactory one in the Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary:

http://dsalsrv02.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/p ... ali.719683
Papañca
Papañca [in its P. meaning uncertain whether identical with Sk. prapañca (pra+pañc to spread out; meaning "expansion, diffuseness, manifoldedness"; cp. papañceti & papañca 3) more likely, as suggested by etym. & meaning of Lat. im -- ped -- iment -- um, connected withpada, thus perhaps originally "pa -- pad -- ya," i. e. what is in front of (i. e. in the way of) the feet (as an obstacle)] 1. obstacle, impediment, a burden which causes delay, hindrance, delay DhA i.18; ii.91 (kathā˚). ˚ŋ karoti to delay, to tarry J iv.145; ˚ŋ akatvā without delay J i.260;vi.392. -- ati˚ too great a delay J i.64; ii.92. -- 2. illusion, obsession, hindrance to spiritual progress M i.65; S i.100; iv.52, 71; A ii.161 sq.;iii.393 sq.; Sn 530 (=taṇhā -- diṭṭhi -- mānabheda -- p. SnA 431; and generally in Commentaries so resolved, without verbal analysis); Ud 77 (as f. papañcā); Th 1, 519, 902, 989 (cp. Brethren 344, 345 & J.R.A.S. 1906, 246 sq.; Neumann trsls "Sonderheit," see Lieder p. 210, 211 &Mittlere Sammlung i.119 in trsl. of M i.65 nippapañca); Dh 195, 254 (˚âbhiratā pajā, nippapañcā Tathāgatā; =taṇhādisu p˚ esu abhiratā DhAiii.378); J i.9; Pv iv.134 (=taṇh' -- ādi -- p. PvA 230); Nett 37, 38; SnA 495 (gihi). -- nippapañca (q. v.) without obsession. <-> 3. diffuseness, copiousness SnA 40.
-- sankhā sign or characteristic of obsession Sn 874 (cp. SnA 553; =taṇhā˚ diṭṭhi˚ and māna˚ Nd1 280), 916 (=avijjādayo kilesā mūlaŋ SnA 562). [b]-- saññā (˚sankhā) idea of obsession, idée fixe, illusion[/b] D ii.277 (cp. Dial ii.312); M i.109, 112, 271, 383; S iv.71.

Some other supports for the translation of "saññā" as ideas, thoughts include:

In the same dictionary, for example:
Kāma :t to passion Ud 75;-- saññā lustful idea or thought;
Dhamma :asth/s VvA 3, 169;-- saññā righteous thought, ...

In Critical Pali Dictionary: [http://pali.hum.ku.dk/cpd/search.html]
a-kusala-saññā, f., sinful idea, ...

The PTS's translation of "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā" as "idea of obsession, idée fixe, illusion" is close to the Chinese Agamas' translation "諸亂想" [distortional thoughts], "妄想" [delusive thoughts].

Considering the context of MN 18, I'd like to interpret the meaning of "papañca" as "obsessions, delusions, and distortions", and "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā" in MN 18 as distortional, delusive thoughts and ideas of the seven obsessions: sensual desire (kāma-rāgānusaya), aversion (paṭighānusaya), notions (diṭṭhānusaya), doubt (vicikicchānusaya), conceit (mānānusaya), desire to exist (bhava-rāgānusaya), and ignorance (avijjānusaya). The obsessions/hindrances of sensual desire (kāma-rāgānusaya), aversion (paṭighānusaya), desire to exist (bhava-rāgānusaya), and ignorance (avijjānusaya) do not appear to fit in "perceptions and notions ...", or "perceptions and categories ..." or “number of perceptions”, ....

'Bhikkhu, as to the source through which papañcasaññāsaṅkhā (delusive thoughts of the obsessions, e.g. sensual desire) beset a man: if nothing is found there to delight in, welcome, and hold to, this is the end of the underlying tendency to lust, of the underlying tendency to aversion, of the underlying tendency to views (notions), of the underlying tendency to doubt, of the underlying tendency to conceit, of the underlying tendency to desire for being, of the underlying tendency to ignorance; ..."

I tend to think that the other English translations of "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā" don't fit in the following sequence in MN 18 (by going back to perception after thinking):

"With eye & forms as condition, eye-consciousness arises. From the meeting of the three arises contact. With contact as condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one papañceti (becomes obsessed and deluded). When one papañceti (is obsessed and deluded), the papañcasaññāsaṅkhā [distortional, delusive thoughts and ideas of obsessions] assail the one with regard to past, present, & future forms cognizable via the eye...

[ ... perceiving → thinking → papañceti (becoming obsessed and deluded) → papañcasaññāsaṅkhā (distortional, delusive thoughts and ideas of the obsessions)]

Metta to all!
Last edited by starter on Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The translation of papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:30 pm

Greetings starter,

I think the following book is essential in understanding papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought - Ven. Nanananda (PDF)
http://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress ... a_1971.pdf

Metta,
Retro. :)
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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The translation of papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Postby starter » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:I think the following book is essential in understanding papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought - Ven. Nanananda (PDF)
http://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress ... a_1971.pdf


Hello, Retro and other friends,

Thanks for your input. I think the Buddha's words are more essential in understanding papañca and papañcasaññāsaṅkhā than the others words.

None of the others' words have convinced me about the rendering of "saññā" in this particular phrase as "perception" . It makes much more sense to render it as "thoughts", for the reasons and supports I mentioned in the first post.

I have not been convinced either about the rendering of "papañca" as "objectification", which is a neutral word; arahants can still have objectification (and also conceptualization); objectification itself is not wrong. The rendering of "mental proliferation" is also not convincing; "mental proliferation" are neutral words, and there can be wholesome proliferations which the Buddha encouraged. I'd rather render "papañca" as distortions, delusions, obsessions, ... I have no problem to render "sankhā" here as "notions", "ideas".

But I don't agree with the rendering of "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā" as "concepts, reckonings, designations or linguistic conventions characterised by the prolific conceptualising tendency of the mind", or "perceptions and notions (born of) mental proliferation", or "perceptions and categories of objectification", ... All these are actually neutral, and could be wholesome ones.

As I understand, what's wrong with "papañca" is not proliferation/conceptualization/objectification, but the distorted, deluded thinking caused by the seven underlying tendencies/drives, which leads to distortional, delusive thoughts/ideas and obsessions. The problem of the mind is not its tendency to proliferate, conceptualize, and objectify (which could be to the good direction), but its tendency to sensual desire (kāma-rāgānusaya), aversion (paṭighānusaya), notions (diṭṭhānusaya), doubt (vicikicchānusaya), conceit (mānānusaya), desire to exist (bhava-rāgānusaya), and ignorance (avijjānusaya). I don't think that the Buddha taught us to empty conceptualization/proliferation/objectification, but to understand that all papañcasaññāsaṅkhā are dependently arising and ceasing, and are ultimately empty.

Metta to all!
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Re: The translation of papañca and papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Postby starter » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:51 am

Greetings!

Here are some examples of wholesome "mental proliferations" that the Buddha taught us to develop, which do not lend support to the translation of "papañca" as "mental proliferations".

In Chandasamādhi Sutta, SN 51.13:
"A bhikkhu obtains concentration, bhikkhus, by means of will (desire), he obtains unification [one-pointedness] of the mind: this is called concentration due to will. He generates his will (chanda - the 1st basis for spiritual power) for the non-arising of unarisen evil and unwholesome states, he makes an effort and arouses energy (viriya - the 2nd basis for spiritual power), applies his mind (citta - the 3rd basis for spiritual power), and strives (Vimaṃsā - the 4th basis for spiritual power). He generates his will for the abandoning of arisen evil and unwholesome states, makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates his will for the arising of unarisen wholesome states, makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates his will for the steadiness of arisen wholesome states, for their non-confusion, for their increase, their abundance, their cultivation and their completion, he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. These are called volitions of striving. Thus, this will, this concentration due to will, and these volitions of striving: this is called, bhikkhus, the basis for (spiritual) Power that is endowed with concentration due to will and volitions of striving."
For more see viewtopic.php?f=41&t=20031]

In MN 19:
"As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of non-ill will arose in me…a thought of non-cruelty arose in me. I understood thus: ‘This thought of non-cruelty has arisen in me. This does not lead to my own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both; it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nibbāna. If I think and ponder upon this thought even for a night, even for a day, even for a night and day, I see nothing to fear from it. But with excessive thinking and pondering I might tire my body, and when the body is tired, the mind becomes strained, and when the mind is strained, it is far from concentration.’ So I steadied my mind internally, quieted it, brought it to singleness, and concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind should not be strained."

And in e.g. MN 20:

“If, while he is giving attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion, then he should examine the danger in those thoughts thus: ‘These thoughts are unwholesome, they are reprehensible, they result in suffering.′ When he examines the danger in those thoughts, then any evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion are abandoned in him and subside. With the abandoning of them his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated. Just as a man or a woman, young, youthful, and fond of ornaments, would be horrified, humiliated, and disgusted if the carcass of a snake or a dog or a human being were hung around his or her neck, so too…when a bhikkhu examines the danger in those thoughts…his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated."

Metta to all!

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Re: The translation of papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:31 am

starter wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I think the following book is essential in understanding papañcasaññāsaṅkhā

Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought - Ven. Nanananda (PDF)
http://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress ... a_1971.pdf


Hello, Retro and other friends,

Thanks for your input. I think the Buddha's words are more essential in understanding papañca and papañcasaññāsaṅkhā than the others words.
Are you dismissing reading Ven Nanananda's book?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

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