All words are creations of mind. How do we explain the mind with the words? So that proves there is something beyond words. That is thoughts. Connected to mind. Are mind and thoughts two different things? Or the same thing?

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    The answer to this question may be a bit beyond you @danuka. I have never come across a proper explanation to it in English. It involves both mentality & materiality (Nama Rupa). A proper Sri Lankan monk would explain it to you in Sinhala far better. I will write a bit further on this as an answer but I may not be able to give any examples at length as I am too pressed for time. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 18:25
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    the real mind should be experienced in meditation, where words and thoughts ceased. to describe the mind with words or thoughts is a tedious labour, like cultivating a fruitless tree waiting for it's harvest. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 9:05
  • Are 'X' and 'Y' two different things, or the same thing? Seems like a Koan. What is the sound of one thing? A non-vexing question, I say. Excellent.
    – user2341
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 23:12

4 Answers 4


I have turned your question over and over trying to grasp what it is asking. I am not sure but I feel that it deserves an answer, perhaps different from but alongside the two good answers already here. I hope this is useful.

On one level the answer is simple: the mind is a container and creator of thought, like a pot for making food. So it is different - but linked, as Saptha Vissuddhi said.

But there are different kinds of thoughts (and other mental phenomena), including verbal thought. Words are different from other thinking because they are not just the outflow of a thought process, they are also the input, and symbols with their own rules, and tools for creating, storing and shaping thought. With so much power and complexity, it is right to ask about how they relate to the mind. The full answer is probably beyond human knowledge at this time.

My way of thinking about this lately is to distinguish between conscious - verbal - logical thought as produced by the neocortex, and emotional - impression thought as in the limbic system. There is an essential difference and a gap of understanding. Neither can explain the other.

Basically, words cannot explain thoughts, and thoughts cannot explain the mind. But they are one thing. (Well, if you are nondual.)


Is mind and thoughts are two different things? or same thing?

Buddhism talks about "six senses" rather than five.

For example, in the Sabba Sutta

What is the All? Simply the

  1. eye & forms,
  2. ear & sounds,
  3. nose & aromas,
  4. tongue & flavors,
  5. body & tactile sensations,
  6. intellect & ideas.

This, monks, is called the All.

So, "mind" and "thoughts" are two different things, in the same way that "ear" and "sounds" are two different things.

But we are conscious of these things making "contact" (e.g. we're conscious of sounds contacting the ear, and conscious of ideas contacting the intellect). Or the theory of the Five Aggregates suggests that mental factors arise as a result of contact between consciousness and form.

The Pali words here translated as "intellect & ideas" are mano and dhamma.

mano and dhamma appear in the first line of the first verse of the Dhammapada. The commentary suggests that dhamma includes feelings, perceptions, and mental formations (indeed dhamma is a word with many meaning, see for example this short definition and long definition).

The commentary also suggests that mind is a necessary precondition for mental factors.

  • The question was about "mind and thoughts"; I thought that "mano and dhamma" were the closest analogue.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 20:29

The answer to your question lies in the ‘nama-kaya’ ‘rupa-kaya’ – The mind-body relationship in the scriptures. It is too complex for me to write in English, so I will write a bit on it in my native Sinhala Language towards the end. Otherwise refer to DN 15: The Great Discourse on Causation (Mahānidāna Sutta) - Dīgha Nikāya

In the scriptures, the term samphassa is used in compounds. Then in D.15, a twofold division occurs: patigha samphassa contact by sensorial reaction, and adhivacana-samphassa verbal or conceptual, i.e. mental contact. Our simulations have two aspects to it. First is impact-stimulation (patigha samphassa) that depends on Rupa(Materiality). The other is designative-stimulation (adhivacana-samphassa) which depends on Nama( the faculty through which the external world is understood). This makes discernment or our ability grasp and understand and naming of sense objects possible. This conditions both the naming forms and named forms. Now I will try to explain this in simpler terms.

Nama is Mentality (mind & thoughts). Rupa are the material forms. ‘Nama’ and ‘rupa’ are linked together like flowers and their scent. They are born together. Our cognitive perception (Sanna) ( awareness of colour, shape, sound, smell, taste & touch) helps us to describe something or someone as short, tall, small, dark, fair, thin, stout etc. etc. Such descriptions are called ‘Nama-kaye adhivacana-samphassa.’ Such descriptions are possible because of the varied nature of Rupa. For example in our group there varied Rupa, named ‘Saptha Visuddhi’, ‘Dhammadhatu, ChrisW, Sominda, Lanka… etc. etc. In other words this is Rupa-Kaye patigha samphassa.

සංඥාව කියන්නේ හදුනාගන්නවා හදුනාගන්නවා කියන අර්ථයෙනි.හදුනගන්නේ මොනවද? වර්ණයි හදුනා ගන්නේ[මහා වේදල්ල සුත්‍රය] එතකොට සංඥාවෙන් හදුනාගත්තදේ තමයි දැනගන්නේ.දැනගන්නේ නම් වශයෙන් හෝ උස මිටි,දිග කොට,කළු සුදු හෝ විවිද වර්ණ, කෙට්ටු මහත........ ආදී විවිධ නාම ඔස්සේය. ඒක නිසා තමයි අපි දැනගත්ත දෙයක් කියද්දී නම හෝ එහි මොනයම් හෝ ලක්ෂණයක් භාවිතා කරන්නේ.විවිධ නම් හෙවත් නාම කායේ අධිවචන පවතින්නේ රූපයේ විවිධ ස්වරූප හෙවත් රූපකායේ පටිග සම්පසය නිසයි.ඒ කියන්නේ "ගස මල නිමල් කමල් "ආදී නම් තියෙන්නේ රූපයේ විවිධත්වය නිසයි.හිතන්න,ඉතා සමාන නිමුන්නෝ දෙන්නෙක් ඉන්නව. මෙයාලට නම් දෙකක් තිබුන කියල දැක්කහම එයාලව නමින් දැනගන්න බැහැ…… තෙරුවන් සරණයි!

  • This answer is excellent. I wish I could read the part that is in your native language.
    – user2341
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 1:27
  • Maybe someone else will translate it if that's possible.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 7:59
  • It is basically the same thing that is in English that in Sinhala I’ve written, but in a much simpler, clear, accurate way that is to the point. Only the Sinhala text will make sense to @Danuka. What is in English is a bit too much for me too to make sense of to be honest . Dhammadhatu once criticized DN15 as not authentic, as to how the 12 parts paticcasamuppada be 9. The problem is his as all 12 is included in the 9 in DN 15. It is explained well in Sinhala, but too complex / time consuming for me to translate to English. Perhaps someone could help translate that into English. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 8:43
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    There is many a untruth in English Text. On Meditation specially. Nowhere in the Doctrine (Sutta) it is mentioned that one becomes a stream entrant (Sotapanna) thru meditation. It is by listening to dhamma that 1st 3 samyojana gets removed. Meditation comes only when one is ready to go beyond the stage of Sotapanna to help get rid of / cut through the other 7 samyojana. Otherwise going 'nuts' is a possibility and not enlightenment. It is important to read only the first 57 books (sutta) - no contradictions contrary to Dhammadhatu. Keep away from the later day translations.Many a distortions. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 9:26
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    You said "otherwise going 'nuts' is a possibility..." ha ha yes. My Guru talks about using the right 'recipe'. The programming textbook I use does, too. Enlightenment is about programming the mind, then deprogramming it, until "no thing" is left. (but we started with no thing) (Shh! you'll ruin the story!)
    – user2341
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 16:26

Mind is;

Citta - the six senses, when combined with objects, gives rise to such:

  • chakkhu (eye) viññāṇa (consciousness)
  • sotha (ear) viññāṇa
  • ghana (nose) viññāṇa
  • jiwha (tongue) viññāṇa
  • kaya (body) viññāṇa
  • mana (brain) viññāṇa.

Vingnana (or viññāṇa) is the ability to recognize things separately.

Cetasika (mental factors) include:

  • vedana (feeling, physical and mental categorized as good bad and neutral)
  • sangna (recognition/signals)
  • sankhara (thinking, speaking and action)

Going further,

Buddha compares viññāṇa to an illusionist (because what you recognize as things separately don't show their true nature).

Buddha compares sankhara to mirage (when you explore it, the original what you saw isn't there anymore).

Mind is used in a broader sense because English and psychology don't do deep enough to reach the level Lord Buddha has broken things down.

What people call "world" is the combination of these six receptors, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, brain. When an object, that is picture, sound, smell, taste, touch and thoughts connect with these receptors giving rice to the above six viññāṇa, we call it passa (contact / touch in a general sense).

So who's this creator? Viññāṇa, the illusionist.

On a side note, please note that one of the Cetasika, which is Sankhara is also called Cetana (Chetana) and that means kamma (karma).

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    I've updated the answer. Hope it helps. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 0:12

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