I'm convinced that I give meaning to whatever I perceive. Which either can make me suffer or happy. So I have seen that I create my own suffering. That state is reflected in my body (or bodies?). Objective reality holds no meaning it itself. The meaning arises the moment I interpret information. This insight came to me after meditation where I saw things arising from nothing. I could choose to stay in the nothingness by not interpreting, or observe, interpret and meaning arose.

What buddhist topics are related to this phenomenon?

2 Answers 2


You might want to look at The 5 Aggregates, namely the aggregate(s) of Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness.

Especially the forth aggregate of mental formations relates to what you are describing, since it contains volition (cetana). See also SN 12.38: Cetana Sutta.

The Abhidhamma goes into further detail on the topic of Citta & Cetasikas. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi has written an execellent summary called "The Abhidhammattha Sangaha - A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma".


When you try to give meaning to what you experience lead to Conceptual proliferation this can lead to latent tendencies which creates suffering.

“Bhikshu, as regards the source from which proliferation of conception and perception assails a person: if one were to find nothing there to delight in, nothing there to welcome, nothing to cling to—this is the end of

  • the latent tendency of lust,
  • the latent tendency of aversion,
  • the latent tendency of views,
  • the latent tendency of doubt,
  • the latent tendency of conceit,
  • the latent tendency of desire for existence, and
  • the latent tendency of ignorance.

This is the ending of the taking up of the rod and the sword, quarrels, disputes, mayhem [strife], slandering and lying —here these evil unwholesome states cease without remainder.”

Avuso, dependent on the [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind] and [form | sound | smell | taste | touch | mind-object], [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind]-consciousness arises.

  • The meeting of the three is contact.

  • With contact as condition, there is feeling.

  • What one feels, one perceives.

  • What one perceives, one thinks about.

  • What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates.

From that as source, proliferation of conception and perception assails a person regarding past, future and present [forms | sounds | smells | tastes | touch | mind-objects] cognizable through the [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind].

Madhu,piṇḍika Sutta

  • Thank you for answering. I disagree with "What one perceives, one thinks about". I disagree that I would think about everything I perceive. From my experience my subconscious may invoke some reaction to something I perceive without thinking. Like pulling my hand back when I touch something that is unexpectedly hot. I read that signal does not even come from the cognitive brain. Or is thinking defined otherwise here? I think of thinking as what you consciously apply to solve a puzzle for instance. Could you maybe elaborate on how I would need to view 'thinking' in this context? Thank you. Jul 11, 2017 at 13:40
  • About the URL you provided: I find it difficult to plow through to extract information I am looking for. Maybe buddhist literature is not for me :) I feel I do not need to read about who caried a golden stick when at what age to understand the proces of arise of meaning. No offense though. What I surely take away from this all is the Conceptual proliferation you pointed out. Thank you. Jul 11, 2017 at 13:44
  • When you see a good shirt. You might stop to think whether to buy it. Is it worth the piece. Etc. If you touch yourself and it has bunded you hand you then assess if it needs meditation. Do you just put you hand in cold water. Etc. This is the thinking part. Jul 11, 2017 at 13:49

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