Thread: Mental Proliferation

  1. #1
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Mental Proliferation

    Madhupindika Sutta is about mental proliferation, its causes, consequences and how to stop it. In the link to this sutta, I was surprised that Thanissaro Bhikkhu gives a thorough explanation about mental proliferation; this because I read first the sutta in my Majjhima Nikaya text without that introduction... Anyway... the introduction is supported by the experience of having attained Jhanas teaching which I don't practice.

    In short he says that to stop thinking proliferation, through Jhanas, one reaches subtle and refined states of absorption that lead to the cessation of proliferation "where the process of feeling and thought is stilled and there is a breakthrough to the cessation of the six sense spheres".

    Through the sutta this is inferred when:

    “Now, when there is no eye, when there are no forms, when there is no eye-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 objectification.
    Before this the sutta states:

    Ven. Mahā Kaccāna said this: “Friends, concerning the brief statement the Blessed One made, after which he went into his dwelling without analyzing the detailed meaning—i.e., ‘If, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of objectification assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods & bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive speech, & false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder’—I understand the detailed meaning to be this:
    This phrase of "there is nothing there to relish" or as stated in my text: "if nothing is found there to delight in..." made me thought about the experiences in Zazen where thought proliferation stops as you practice it. Mental proliferation are fabrications and this is what produce craving and clinging. You crave because of mental proliferation; as you crave you cling.

    The issue is that this Sutta apply to the core teaching of Soto Zen school. I know that the Buddha did not intend Zazen in this Sutta but during Zazen "nothing is found there to delight in"; that is emptiness of mental proliferation.

    Unlike absorptions, in Zazen there is perception but not mental proliferation. You are concentrated and focused in what happens around you but you do not proliferate.

    Any thoughts?

    Last edited by Esho; 20 May 21 at 12:27.

  2. #2
    Global Moderator Element's Avatar
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    hi esho

    my thoughts on this sutta, while not conclusive, are most commentators are over interpreting this sutta

    i think the sutta is simply about the open scene, where the buddha essentially appears to say there is "nothing" to quarrel with

    thus the suttas says: "where there is no eye, no sight, no ear, no sound", etc, there is nothing to relish

    note: it is very unusual for the suttas to say: "where there is no eye, no sight, no ear, no sound", etc,

    it is like treating external objects that want to quarrel and argue as though they don't exist

    i doubt the standard dhamma about mindfulness at feelings, jhanas, etc, are relevant to the teaching in this sutta

    imo

    kind regards
    Last edited by Element; 25 May 21 at 10:54.

  3. #3
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    hi esho

    my thoughts on this sutta, while not conclusive, are most commentators are over interpreting this sutta

    i think the sutta is simply about the open scene, where the buddha essentially appears to say there is "nothing" to quarrel with

    thus the suttas says: "where there is no eye, no sight, no ear, no sound", etc, there is nothing to relish

    note: it is very unusual for the suttas to say: "where there is no eye, no sight, no ear, no sound", etc,

    it is like treating external objects that want to quarrel and argue as though they don't exist

    i doubt the standard dhamma about mindfulness at feelings, jhanas, etc, are not relevant to the teaching in this sutta

    imo

    kind regards
    So, the commentators are a case of mental proliferation

    Thanks Elelment...

    Last edited by Esho; 25 May 21 at 00:24.

  4. #4
    Global Moderator Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esho View Post
    So, the commentators are a case of mental proliferation
    I am not sure but possibly it is a case of mental proliferation by the commentators.

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