Further to my last question on reification, I want to know the specificity of the application.

Gathering from the answers;

...reifications are overcome by questioning them.


Start by watching yourself in the middle of daily situations, watching your behavior and your mind, your state of mind, your emotions. See how you react, how you get angry or irritated or scared etc. See what situations and most importantly what thoughts trigger these reactions these states in you.

This paragraph talks about much higher-level mental formulations and emotions which I have overcome.

I am much interested or dealing with reifications suggested in Honey cake sutta which this answer points to, Buddha says;

Mendicant, a person is beset by concepts of identity that emerge from the proliferation of perceptions. If they don’t find anything worth approving, welcoming, or getting attached to in the source from which these arise, just this is the end of the underlying tendencies to desire, repulsion, views, doubt, conceit, the desire to be reborn, and ignorance.

Further Venerable Mahākaccāna explains this as;

Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. What you feel, you perceive. What you perceive, you think about. What you think about, you proliferate. What you proliferate about is the source from which a person is beset by concepts of identity that emerge from the proliferation of perceptions. This occurs with respect to sights known by the eye in the past, future, and present.

Based on Mahākaccāna's explain, I want to ask, for an e.g. I see a Banana kept on a table, my eye-consciousness arises based on my eye and sight of banana, and contact is made and based on that a feeling arises. What I feel I perceive and what I perceive I think about.

In this sequence at what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification or perception? The moment I see the banana on the table may be within a fraction of seconds I perceive and get in the idea that its a palatable fruit, how can I question this idea that its a fruit and from my past memory I know I like its taste and I would like to eat it. This progress of events happen almost instantaneously. How much time do I have to question the model of my brain, which was trained way way back when I might have eaten the banana for the first time. How can I look at the banana as if I am looking at it for the first time and not recall from the model from my brain or form a new model?

8 Answers 8


From Sutta Nipata 4.14, we read:

"I ask the kinsman of the Sun, the great seer,
about seclusion & the state of peace.
Seeing in what way is a monk unbound,
clinging to nothing in the world?"
"He should put an entire stop
to the root of objectification-classifications:
'I am the thinker.'

Objectification-classification in this translation means the same as "reification".

Ven. Thanissaro, the translator, commented on this:

On objectification-classifications and their role in leading to conflict, see Sn 4.11 and the introduction to MN 18. The perception, "I am the thinker" lies at the root of these classifications in that it reads into the immediate present a set of distinctions — I/not-I; being/not-being; thinker/thought; identity/non-identity — that then can proliferate into mental and physical conflict. The conceit inherent in this perception thus forms a fetter on the mind. To become unbound, one must learn to examine these distinctions — which we all take for granted — to see that they are simply assumptions that are not inherent in experience, and that we would be better off to be able to drop them.

In our minds, we have the idea of "I am the thinker" i.e. the idea of the self. That's the primary object in existence in our reality. We also have the idea of non-self objects i.e. everything else. We objectify and classify everything around us, into non-self objects, according to their relationship to the self. For e.g. my hand, my car, not my friend, not my country.

When you look at the waters of the sea from up close in a boat, you may feel fear and insecurity, especially if you don't know how to swim and have motion sickness. To the sailor, it's a source of joy and adventure. To the fisherman, it's a source of livelihood and he sees it like a mine or oil field. To fish deep in the sea that has never left the waters, the concept of water doesn't occur to it at all, as it does not know any other reality.

Another example - a piece of cooked meat appears like delicious food to the meat eater, and it appears repulsive to the vegan. To a honey bee, it appears like dirt because it's not its food.

These examples go to show that objects do not have the meaning given to it by the mind. In fact, some of these are not even objects, except that they have been objectified by the mind.

What's a body of water to me is nothing at all (or perhaps everything) to the fish. The waters of the great sea, as a place to sail and swim, and as a body of liquid, doesn't really exist, except in my mind. It certainly doesn't exist in that way to the fish.

What's delicious food to me, is dirt to the honey bee. So, the delicious food doesn't really exist, except in my mind. The dirt doesn't really exist, except in the honey bee's mind.

This concept is called papanca, which is objectification plus classification, also known as reification. And it's related to anatta (the teaching that all phenomena is not self), because papanca is when non-self things are reified into objects and they are classified relative to the self. The idea of the self is also papanca.

This does not mean that things don't exist, except in my mind. It means that things don't exist as how my mind thinks it does.

From your question, you talked about seeing, let's say, attractive people on a screen. To an ant, it's just lights of different colors. If a mouse sees them - it's just an image of what it may perceive as humans - a threat. But to you, they are attractive people. So why are they "attractive people"? It's because that's how your mind objectified and classified them relative to yourself. That's how your mind reified them. That's papanca.

Fully enlightened persons like the Buddha and the arahants see things the way they are, without objectifying and classifying them relative to the idea of the self.

So according to Snp 4.14, to put an end to reification, you must first put an end to the root of reification, which is the mental idea of the self, the thought "I am the thinker". And the way to achieve this is to increase wisdom and weaken ignorance. That would weaken craving, clinging, becoming and birth (of the idea of the self). For this, please see this answer on the South Indian Monkey Trap.

And how do you increase wisdom and weaken ignorance? For that, we have the Noble Eightfold Path.


In this sequence at what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification or perception? The moment I see the banana on the table may be within a fraction of seconds I perceive and get in the idea that its a palatable fruit, how can I question this idea that its a fruit and from my past memory I know I like its taste and I would like to eat it. This progress of events happen almost instantaneously. How much time do I have to question the model of my brain, which was trained way way back when I might have eaten the banana for the first time. How can I look at the banana as if I am looking at it for the first time and not recall from the model from my brain or form a new model?

It is the tendency which you want to neutralize and pretend as if you are seeing it for the first time... but why you want to do that ? The point is to look at the banana as if you are looking at anything as ordinary as clothes or house... you need to realize its impermanence. The reification of hunger or cold or security can be interpreted in a different manner... let the hunger get satisfied as if it is the last meal you are having or the last day you are wearing the clothes or the last day you are living in the house... because all things are impermanent... there is no guarantee that those will be available tomorrow... infact for that reason you would like to be not attached to them... you will be willing to forgo those things which are impermanent...that practically includes everything...be the man of want of few things like bowl or bare minimum clothes etc... when you look at it that way ... you live for the day or for the moment...when you live for the moment you immediately arrest the reification... or at least live as if you prepared to let go of what is not yours or is not you or your self....


In this sequence at what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification or perception?

This is a hard question:

DN34:1.4.25: What three things are hard to comprehend?
DN34:1.4.26: Three elements of escape.
DN34:1.4.27: Renunciation is the escape from sensual pleasures. The formless is the escape from form. Cessation is the escape from whatever is created, conditioned, and dependently originated.

As posed, the question asked is phrased with an identity emphasis (i.e., "at what point do I have a choice?"). It also is posed with an emphasis on intention (i.e., "to arrest"). Holding on to these two views is like dog chasing tail. Round and round we go.

However, if we examine what Venerable Sariputta says here carefully, we notice that "renunciation" is the first word of the answer. Renunciation is not about arresting. Renunciation is about letting reification and perception come and go. They come and go on their own. As the sun rises, it sets. We do not need to "arrest" the day nor do we "choose" the sunrise. Craving is the seamstress that binds us to chasing days and fleeing nights. Seeing the pain in delight, we put down the two-sided coin of choice and stop flipping it.


Even though it is probably not possible to have direct knowledge of the sequential aspects of consciousness without being in deep meditation states, what we can do to cultivate our deconstructive mind in everyday life is to try to maintain mindfulness of the 4 frames of reference whenever possible which helps stops reification (see DN22). The idea is to change our perspective from reifying concepts such as object/subject/being/thing to seeing things as impersonal processes that are impermanent and thus stressful. Constant practice of this in everyday life and in meditation reduces habitual reification and the accompanying clinging until you finally reach the end of the goal. (As an arahant you will be able to work with reifications to function in everyday life without attachment/identification/clinging as the perspective of seeing everything as just processes will become the norm.) So in other words rather than stopping it in the present you train in such a way so that reification doesn’t arise in the future. (right effort)

In your example you would aim to deconstruct that experience by observing the various processes involved as they fall into the 4 frames, ie. awareness of your body (breathing, posture, action, sense of solidity, movement, temperature etc.), feeling (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), the quality of mind adverting to that experience, and any present mental objects such as unwholesome ones (greed, aversion, delusion, restlessness etc.), wholesome ones (mindfulness, investigation of states etc.), the function of the 6 senses and any accompanying craving, rupas (4 elements and their derivatives such as the color of the banana, sense of solidity if you're holding it), the interplay and arising and passing of the aggregates as a whole, and finally reflecting on how the whole experience and its constituent aspects is stressful because of craving, and how that stress can be ended when craving comes to an end through the path. Beyond just deconstructing in this way you should also see the relationships and interdependence of all these aspects, their causes (actions/kamma, nutriment, temperature, consciousness) and their placement in the chain of dependent origination.

It's a lot to be aware of at the same time so best choose whatever is most obvious to you at the time. With practice you will find the frame of reference that is best suited to you (the commentaries mention that there are 4 different types of people each best suited to one of the 4 frames.) Engaging in deconstruction of experience by staying within the “ancestral” territory of the 4 frames in this way, arrests reification and gradually helps to create a new wholesome paradigm for the mind to operate in: “Phenomena alone flow on!” (Vism)

  • you should also see the relationships and interdependence of all these aspects - great pointer.
    – user17652
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 16:09

As it currently stands for me, the sequential aspects of perception are to be observed with a detached attitude such that a different order of knowing is encouraged to come to the fore.

What I can see from your question is more grasping; not from the act of asking the question, which was very well delivered, but from the way in which you describe the phenomenology of your perception. Any sort of forced detainment of the aggregates will only create further becoming and thus further rounds of consciousness. Therefore, your focus is misplaced: he keeps focusing on the phenomena of arising & passing away with regard to the five clinging-aggregates". - Khemaka Sutta.

The mind is like the anal sphincter muscle: tight and contracted, and when we try to relax the mind, that very act itself produces more contractions. These satellite contractions occur as a pre-emptive response to that relaxation, the unfamiliarity of the spiritual-type experiences that ensue, and the dissonance between superficiality and deep wisdom. The Dhammapada, verse 34 comes to mind here: Like a fish out of water, thrown on dry ground, this mind thrashes about, trying to escape Mara's command.

Those additional contractions can send a practitioner on a wild goose chase; they can be extremely subtle, but incredibly influential. Trying to arrest a perception is a contraction born from the fear of death: the samsaric mind is in the business of creating consciousness, and it will do this in whatever way necessary.

So, your question is: what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification of perception. Quite simply, you don't have that choice because you're watching something that isn't localised, isn't within the boundaries of dhamma text and therefore cannot be exerted upon. Any type of exertion would give rise to the birth of a person with a personal agenda. Coming to understand this as a felt-sense can be quite nauseating and even maddening because of the habitual need for the mind to find consciousness through form.

Using your example, it might be helpful to look at a banana in its wider context: you, looking at a banana in a box (called a room) somewhere on a huge sphere (called earth,) but feel into the space of you, banana, box and sphere until it all appears like one homogenous mass, including any perceptions you notice. This is how a different order of knowing can occur, a knowing that knows all phenomena as it is. Tuning into our peripheral awareness has a tendency to erode the restrictions imposed by our learned perceptions opening us up to a wider and more inclusive frame of reference. Here, we can come to a deep understanding of dependent origination, mindfulness, suffering and the divine abodes.


Papanca is the combination name of tanha (craving), mana (pride) and ditthi (false view)

Tanha is the cause of suffering in the four noble truths, to be eliminated by arhats and similar. etc.

In Buddhism, a “ksana” is the smallest unit of time. Within the context of how we measure time today, it is approximately one seventy-fifth of a second

We are reborn due to tanha every instant. So if you're asking how long there is between different moments of thirst, the answer is 1/75th of a second.

However, becoming an arhat famously takes several instants. And, viewed alternatively, you have as much time as it takes to loosen your attachments to things.

  • hopefully i can get 15 more rep so i can leave comments
    – user19950
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:44
  • If you respond to the question, at what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification or perception? I might upvote your answer. ;-)
    – user17652
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:50
  • to completely eliminate? as an arhat @NeuroMax if you're asking at what point can we identify tanha etc., i would have to google it i'm afraid
    – user19950
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:53
  • My apologies. I see you've touched on it the paragraph you wrote about elimination.
    – user17652
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:54
  • if you mean that only mahayanists can identify craving, i don't think that is the case @NeuroMax
    – user19950
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:55

If you are asking strictly in terms of cognitive sequences then you would need to look at Abhidhamma theory. The mind-only cognitive processes that come after the 5-door sensory process would need to be skipped which can actually occur in meditation and maybe even in the everyday experience of Arahants. In other words you would have only the pure sensory experience of the banana and nothing more. Another way for reification not to occur is to have the sensory 5-door process followed by processes that contain wisdom (non-delusion).

So to answer your question, reification can be "arrested" just after the immediate sensory experience of the 5-door process if there is a return to the life-continuum without further processing or if the 5-door process is followed by wisdom.

This is probably not something that you can “do” but more like something that naturally happens when you let go of craving and delusion through training in the 8-fold path and deconstructing experience through right mindfulness to develop wisdom as explained in my previous answer. Through right effort there is more chances for your 5-door sensory process to be followed by wisdom or to just stop at the moment of sensory apprehension, thus skipping the arising of reifying conceptualisation or of unwholesome states. In deep insight meditation practice when things slow down sufficiently and with a lot of clarity you can see glimpses of this “skipping” process and the cognitive sequences.

I would recommend the very concise translation of the Abhidhamma by Bhikkhu Bhodi which is freely available called “A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma.” Also the “Abhidhamma in Daily Life” by Nina van Gorkom is an excellent treatise on applying the principles of Abhidhamma in daily life!


The arrest of reification - which I believe you are equating with the first Bhumi - signals the transition from a normal samsaric being to an Arya being. It is said that other than a Buddha, only in an Arya being's meditative equipoise on emptiness does the non-perception of inherent existence occur. That is equivalent to saying the direct non-conceptual perception of emptiness can only occur in meditative equipoise for anyone other than a fully enlightened Buddha.

So to answer your question in the most straightforward way I know how:

"In this sequence at what point do I have a choice to arrest the reification or perception?"

You have no such choice and there is no such moment. The best you can do is train your mind in meditation to the point of pure single pointed concentration and then train that concentration on emptiness. In order to do this you'll have to become highly realized in the intellectual/logical/rational understanding of the object of negation.

It is only after eons of merit and incredibly hard work will you finally accomplish the single pointed meditative equipoise of the Arya being and the direct non-conceptual perception of emptiness. The moment you arise from this meditative equipoise the perception will disappear and you'll be faced with the false appearance of true existence, but you'll no longer have one iota of doubt that those appearances are false for you'll have seen the truth.

Then only after indescribable number of further eons of incredible Dharma work will you become a fully enlightened Buddha and no longer beset with the false appearance of true existence at any moment whether in meditative equipoise or not.

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