What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

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What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:39 am

Hi all,

Does anyone know what is the English translation for papañca? What is the surefire way to get rid of papañca? Any suggestions, please? Also, is it possible for any non-enlightened beings to be totally free from papañca?

Thank you in advance. Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Tex » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:48 am

papañca: (Sanskrit prapañca): In doctrinal usage, it signifies the expansion, differentiation, 'diffuseness' or 'manifoldness' of the world; and it may also refer to the 'phenomenal world' in general, and to the mental attitude of 'worldliness'. In A. IV, 173, it is said: "As far as the field of sixfold sense-impression extends, so far reaches the world of diffuseness (or the phenomenal world; papañcassa gati); as far as the world of diffuseness extends, so far extends the field of sixfold sense-impression. Through the complete fading away and cessation of the field of sixfold sense-impression, there comes about the cessation and the coming-to-rest of the world of diffuseness (papañca-nirodho papañca-vupasamo)." The opposite term nippapañca is a name for Nibbāna (S. LIII), in the sense of 'freedom from samsaric diffuseness'. - Dhp. 254: "Mankind delights in the diffuseness of the world, the Perfect Ones are free from such diffuseness" (papañcābhiratā pajā, nippapañca tathāgatā). - The 8th of the 'thoughts of a great man' (mahā-purisa-vitakka; A. VIII, 30) has: "This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-diffuseness (the unworldly, Nibbāna); it is not for him who delights in worldliness (papañca)." - For the psychological sense of 'differentiation', see M. 18 (Madhupiṇḍika Sutta): "Whatever man conceives (vitakketi) that he differentiates (papañceti); and what he differentiates, by reason thereof ideas and considerations of differentiation (Papañca-saññā-saṅkhā) arise in him." On this text and the term papañca, see Dr. Kurt Schmidt in German Buddhist Writers (WHEEL 74/75) p. 61ff. - See D. 21 (Sakka's Quest; WHEEL 10, p.

In the commentaries, we often find a threefold classification taṇhā-, diṭṭhi-, māna-papañca, which probably means the world's diffuseness created hy craving, false views and conceit. - See M. 123; A. IV, 173; A. VI, 14, Sn. 530, 874, 916.

Ñāṇananda Bhikkhu, in Concept and Reality: An Essay on Papañca and Papañca-saññā-saṅkhā (Kandy 1971, Buddhist Publication Society), suggests that the term refers to man's "tendency towards proliferation in the realm of concepts" and proposes a rendering by "conceptual proliferation," which appears convincing in psychological context, e.g. in two of the texts quoted above, A. IV, 173 and M. 18. - The threefold classification of papañca, by way of craving, false views and conceit, is explained by the author as three aspects, or instances, of the foremost of delusive conceptualisations, the ego-concept.



From: http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/bu ... dic3_p.htm
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:02 am

Greetings Elaine,

The key Sutta on papañca is MN 18: Madhupindika Sutta (The Honey Ball).
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
There is a useful introduction there.

Metta
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:00 am

Greetings Elaine,

The text "Concept And Reality" mentioned above is very good.

Synopsis:
An original work of Buddhist philosophy that examines the mind's tendency to distort reality through its own conceptual activity.

This work focuses upon two important but controversial terms found in the Buddha's discourses - papanca and papancasanna sankha. Bhikkhu Nanananda sees these terms as referring to the mind's conceptual proliferation, its tendency to create a screen of concepts by which it misinterprets the basic data of experience. He shows the characteristic Buddhist teaching of no-self to have new dimensions of significance, not only in the context of Buddhism but also in relation to philosophy, psychology, and ethics. Copious quotations from the Buddhist texts provide increased knowledge and new interpretations of obscure passages. This book will serve as a stimulating source of insights into the deep meaning of the Dhamma.


Not available to read online, but can be ordered for a very reasonable price from the Buddhist Publication Society ( http://www.bps.lk/ ).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:06 am

Hi Tex, Mike,

Thanks for the links. I think Bhikkhu Bodhi translates papañca as "mental proliferation". I have read MN 18 sutta a few times but I don't understand it. Even in the sutta itself, the monks had to go to Maha Kaccana and asked him to explain with more details!!

What does this passage means?
"When there is no ear...

"When there is no nose...

"When there is no tongue...

"When there is no body...

"When there is no intellect, when there are no ideas, when there is no intellect-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is no delineation of contact, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is no delineation of feeling, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is no delineation of perception, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of complication.


Of course, when there is no ear, there is no hearing. But how do we practice "no hearing, no smelling, no seeing, no tasting, no feeling, no thinking" when we have all the sense organs intact?? Is a true Buddhist supposed to live in a forest alone all by himself/herself in order to get rid of papancas? Will it even work? How to minimize the papancasizing while living in a community?

I think everyone has papancas. For e.g. whenever we hear some remarks, we will interpret its meaning in our own way. If we like that person, we'll tend to take the remarks in a light-hearted way, and vice-versa. If I hear something coming out from someone I don't like, "my" papancas will go off like a runaway train, I will think that someone is out to get me, or to kill me!! (ok, I'm a bit paranoid sometimes). But what if my hunch is true?? Anyway, to reduce mental sufferings, I try to be "indifferent" to the remarks made by people whom I don't like. I'll ignore it like it's some kind of white noise. Sometimes it works but sometimes it still gets to me. Whenever it gets to me, it means that the enemy has won. sigh.

Anyway, how do you deal with the papancas?
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:11 am

Greetings Elaine,

elaine wrote:Anyway, how do you deal with the papancas?


By following the instructions in...

MN 10 - Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... but especially section D on mental qualities.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby elaine » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:27 am

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote: The text "Concept And Reality" mentioned above is very good.

Thanks for the synopsis. I'm not very familiar with these philosophical Buddhist terms. Can you or anyone here kindly explain:

1. What is an ultimate reality?
Are our imaginations and thoughts realities? What categories do they belong to?

2. What is a conventional reality?

3. Why are there two types of realities?
Is it because we cannot see the REAL realities, that's why we have to call the "non-ultimate reality", the "conventional reality" instead?

4. What is NOT a reality?

5. What is a concept?
Is a concept considered "conventional reality"? Why so or why not?

6. How would we know what is real and what is not? Do we have to rely on another person's "philosophy" to make ourself believe or convinced?

All replies are appreciated. Thank you.
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:36 am

Greetings Elaine,

Re: questions 1-3 see this post ( viewtopic.php?f=19&t=520&start=20#p5963 ) by venerable Dhammanando.

Re: question 5 see venerable Dhammanando's next posting in that same thread

Re: questions 4 & 6, you could probably start each of these as threads in their own right. I do think the book mentioned above would help to answer these to your satisfaction.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:55 am

Hello Elaine,

These two articles may be of assistance:

Concept and Meaning
http://www.bps.lk/wheels_library/wh_250.html

metta
Chris
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Aloka » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:40 pm

Hello,

Is it correct to assume that Vipassana meditation will help to reduce papanca?


.
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby bodom » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:41 pm

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby bodom » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:45 pm

So you must try not to think too much. If you do think, then do so with awareness. But so far your thinking has been done with no awareness. First you must make your mind calm. Where there is knowing there is no need to think, awareness will arise in its place, and this will in turn become wisdom (panna). But the ordinary kind of mental proliferation is not wisdom, it is simply the aimless and unaware wandering and thinking of the mind, which inevitably results in agitation. This is not wisdom.

At this stage you don’t need to think. You’ve already done a great deal of thinking at home, haven’t you? It just stirs up the heart. You must establish some awareness. Obsessive thinking can even bring you to tears, just try it out. Getting lost in some train of thought won’t lead you to the truth, it’s not wisdom. The Buddha was a very wise person, he’d learned how to stop thinking. In the same way you are practising here in order to stop thinking and thereby arrive at peace. There must be calm first, if there is only thinking wisdom will not arise, there will be no awareness of the truth. All that will arise will be endless proliferation. If you are already calm it is not necessary to think, wisdom will arise in its place. As long as you are thinking wisdom will not arise.

Ajahn Chah

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Aloka » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:36 pm

Clarity and awareness free from mental activity then? Would you also call this experiential understanding of emptiness?
I'm not sure if this kind of terminology is used in Theravada, so forgive me if I'm a little dim! :embarassed:

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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby bodom » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:48 pm

Dazzlebling wrote:Clarity and awareness free from mental activity then? Would you also call this experiential understanding of emptiness?
I'm not sure if this kind of terminology is used in Theravada, so forgive me if I'm a little dim! :embarassed:

.


You would call it mindfulness. Non Judgmental bare awareness of whatever arises free from thoughts of greed, hatred, delusion and "I" "me" and "mine' making.

Mindfulness In Plain English Chapter 13 ...(Mindfulness - Sati)
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Aloka » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:09 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:
Dazzlebling wrote:Clarity and awareness free from mental activity then? Would you also call this experiential understanding of emptiness?
I'm not sure if this kind of terminology is used in Theravada, so forgive me if I'm a little dim! :embarassed:

.


You would call it mindfulness. Non Judgmental bare awareness of whatever arises free from thoughts of greed, hatred, delusion and "I" "me" and "mine' making.

Mindfulness In Plain English Chapter 13 ...(Mindfulness - Sati)
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html

:namaste:



I see, ok, thank you for your help.

_/\_

.




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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby elaine » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:06 am

Hi all,

Thank you for the links to the articles. It'll take a while to read all of them.
retrofuturist wrote:MN 10 - Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... but especially section D on mental qualities.

How often can a person be mindful in a day? Is mindfulness a discrete yes or no thing? Or is there a "degree of mindfulness" i.e. more mindful/less mindful? Is mindfulness supposed to be continuous or is it almost always "choppy"?

I think my mindfulness is broken. Satipatthana is Not working for me. :cry: How to improve mindfulness?
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby zavk » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:28 am

Hi Elaine,

I don't know if you have a regular meditation practice. But meditation practice will help you cultivate mindfulness.

Texts like the Satipatthana Sutta and Mindfulness in Plan English can help you develop a practice--indeed they are invaluable resources. However, at the end of the day (and you may have already heard an analogy like this) they are just the 'maps' for the path. You will have to eventually tread the path yourself.

If you don't already have a practice, you could look up a dhamma centre near you. Check out this directory: http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

There are also meditation guides online.

Also, it might be worth taking a step back here to note that insofar as papañca is 'the proliferation of discriminatory conceptual thought', the mounting confusion you have about mindfulness, the proliferation of questions you have about mindfulness ('whether it is this or that, etc, etc), is itself a kind of mental proliferation. This, then, raises the questions, 'To what extent can conceptual thought undercut papañca, if conceptual thought itself is borne of papañca? Is there a way of allowing the mind to catch itself thinking?' I suspect the answer lies in the cultivation of mindfulness. I cannot stress the word 'cultivation' enough because it suggests that mindfulness is best understood not as a thing or state but as a process, and a rather dynamic one at that.

EDIT: I'd also like to add that if mindfulness is something to be cultivated, then one should be patient for it takes time and practice. All the best.

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Element » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:36 am

Dazzlebling wrote:Clarity and awareness free from mental activity then? Would you also call this experiential understanding of emptiness?
I'm not sure if this kind of terminology is used in Theravada, so forgive me if I'm a little dim! :embarassed:

Dazzlebling

I would not call this emptiness or mindfulness. Emptiness is indeed used in Theravada given it was a term used by the Buddha. The Buddha's teachings are found in Theravada.

Emptiness was used by the Buddha specifically to mean empty of self and empty of ignorance (MN 121).

For example, if the mind is free from mental activity but is also empty of wisdom, in that it does not understand a situation, that is not really the Buddha's emptiness because that mind remains not empty of ignorance.

In Theravada Buddhism, the term mindfulness is always co-joined with the term sampajanna, which means clear comprehension or active wisdom.

If there is clarity and awareness but no wisdom, that state of mind is predominantly concentration (even if it feels selfless).

Kind regards

Element
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby Aloka » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:45 pm

Lovely, thanks very much for clarifying, Element.

Kind wishes ,

Dazzle
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Re: What is papañca? And how to get rid of it?

Postby elaine » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:42 pm

Thank you all for the helpful replies.

zavk wrote:I'd also like to add that if mindfulness is something to be cultivated, then one should be patient for it takes time and practice. All the best.

I'll try my best to cultivate mindfulness. I've read an article which says that, "when mindfulness is present, there is no greed, hatred and delusion". It is really wonderful to be mindful even for a few seconds or a few minutes a day. Oh, what bliss! :meditate:

Thank you all again. :thanks:
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