Are mental proliferations (papanca) always unwholesome?

The above question is based on MN 18 the honey cake.

Ven. Thanissaro has given a detailed explanation in his translation.

That’s a lot of words to read. To me they all say that delight is the root of suffering. Personally, yes, I have found delight always derails and is therefore a hindrance.

Do you find otherwise?

I think it depends. If you want to help someone who is color blind, it would be useful to think of/perceive reality in terms of color, unless you have a hidden agenda.

To me, unless like you said, this is just speaking of the conventional conventionally, which makes sense. You wouldn’t try to describe something mundane from the perspective of mutual emptiness. That is how one gets “universal omnicentric holistic/monistic emptiness soup” where emptiness or unconditionality is a ground of being from which arises “things”. That’s platonic forms, basically, which is a huge no-no in any Buddhadharma, early or not.

Nibbāna is actually called, indirectly, the “unproliferated” in, say AN4.173. “appapañcaṃ papañceti”, proliferating that which is unproliferated.

Perhaps the key is here:
Mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and thoughts. 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 thoughts known by the mind in the past, future, and present.

What is the detailed meaning of above?

The progression of contact…suffering is detailed in SN12.23.

ignorance is a vital condition for choices. Choices are a vital condition for consciousness. Consciousness is a vital condition for name and form. Name and form are vital conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are vital conditions for contact. Contact is a vital condition for feeling. Feeling is a vital condition for craving. Craving is a vital condition for grasping. Grasping is a vital condition for continued existence. Continued existence is a vital condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a vital condition for suffering.

Delight just makes the grasping aggregate wheel go 'round and 'round until we relinquish it. So it’s a hindrance to freedom.

As long as consciousness remains, it remains involved with form, supported by form, founded on form. And with a sprinkle of relishing, it grows, increases, and matures. (DN33)

One might say that delighting in the spiritual path is “necessary papañca” for progress on that path, …

But even the spiritual path itself turns into a something of a Papañca since freedom has no hindrances as told in MN121:

When they’re freed, they know they’re freed. They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’

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Good posting.
This is what I wanted to investigate.

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I like to know the opinon of Ven. @Dhammanando and Ven. @sujato or any other monk.

It seems that papanca starting from the (mistaken) perception of Atta, mediates between conflict. It seems to be that once self is identified the next task is to identify the ‘other’, and its this ‘self and other’ dynamic that paves the way to intractable conflict. However I haven’t performed a full investigation into it.