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Conceptual proliferation

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Title: Conceptual proliferation  
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Subject: Index of Buddhism-related articles, Katukurunde Nanananda Thera, Nibbana-The Mind Stilled, Conceptual, Proliferation
Collection: Buddhist Terminology
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Conceptual proliferation

In Buddhism, conceptual proliferation(Pali: papañca, Chinese: 戲論) refers to conceptualization of the world through the use of ever-expanding language and concepts.[1] The translation of papañca as conceptual proliferation was first made by Katukurunde Nanananda Thera in his research monograph Concept and Reality.[2] It is a useful concept, not only in Buddhism but in many other fields (see below).

It is intended to elucidate reality, although it has the unexpected result of blotting out or reducing direct nonverbal sensory perception. In part, this is due to each person's limitation of how many things they can pay attention to at the same time. A person who can only attend to two things at once, may be able to receive a direct sensory picture of the tree while at the same time saying "The apple tree in the garden," but the picture will not be as complete.[3][4]

Accident Prevention For example, California lists distraction (conceptual proliferation is perhaps the biggest) as one of the 3 major causes of accidents.[5]

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 1
  • See also 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Nippapañca is the diametrical opposition of papañca.

See also


  1. ^ Nanananda 1997, p. 4
  2. ^ Nanananda 1997
  3. ^ The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind. Wisdom, 2006
  4. ^
  5. ^


  • Bhikkhu N. Ñāṇamoli. "Papañca-Saññā-Sankhā - An Essay". Retrieved 15 October 2010. 

External links

  • 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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