In Buddhism, conceptual proliferation (Pāli: papañca; Sanskrit: prapañca; simplified Chinese: 戏论; traditional Chinese: 戲論; pinyin: xìlùn; Japanese: 戯論) or, alternatively, mental proliferation or conceptual elaboration, refers to conceptualization of the world through the use of ever-expanding language and concepts. The translation of papañca as conceptual proliferation was first made by Katukurunde Nyanananda Thera in his research monograph Concept and Reality.
The term is mentioned in a variety of suttas in the Pali canon, such as the Madhupindika Sutta (MN 18), and is mentioned in Mahayana Buddhism as well. When referencing the concepts derived from this process, such concepts are referred to in Pali as papañca-saññā-sankhā. Nippapañca is the diametrical opposition of papañca.
In his latest book, Papañca to Nippapañca: Mental Proliferation to Non-Mental Proliferation, Bhante Dr. Chandima writes:
Papañca is one of the most helpful Theravāda Buddhist teachings used to understand how our thoughts become impure and the most compelling account of this subject is the Madhupiṇḍika Sutta. Since many writers don't utilize papañca when alluding to defilements, many readers discover the setting of mental purification hard to understand. If we seriously want to learn how to keep our mental purification unadulterated from defilements, we should figure out how the mental purification can be tainted through papañca. In addition, Chandima examines the association of papañca to kilesa (defilements), upakkilesa (mental impurities), saññā (perceptions) and abhiññā (comprehensions) to find out whether or not the essential components of mental purification begin from managing papañca, or the other dhamma concepts, that can be bold for anyone who struggles to subsume defilements in modern-day life.
- Nanananda 1997, p. 4
- Nanananda 1997
- Gangodawila 2020
- Gangodawila, Chandima. "Papañca to Nippapañca: Mental Proliferation to Non-Mental Proliferation". Retrieved 23 July 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Ñāṇananda, Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde (2012) , Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought - An Essay on Papañca and Papañca-Saññâ-Saṅkhāra (PDF), Buddhist Publication Society, ISBN 955-24-0136-4CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu Ninoslav. "Papañca-Saññā-Sankhā - An Essay". Retrieved 15 October 2010.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Exploring the Honeyball Sutta, An Alternative Nidana Chain a more intelligible audio version
- Getting Away From Prapanca, The Practical Applications of the Honeyball Sutta a more intelligible audio version
- Dharma talk on papañca by Christina Feldman
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