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kalpanā [alt. kapana] (T. rtog pa རྟོག་པ་; C. fenbie 分別) is translated as "thought," "imagination," “conceptual construction,” “to conceptualize,” etc.

According to the Princeton Dictionary, this term generally carries "the negative connotation of a delusive fantasy and misconception, in which the object of thought is either nonexistent or falsely imagined. (The Chinese translates instead the connotation of conceptual “discrimination.”)"[1]

Kalpanā is often contrasted with direction perception (pratyaksa].[1]

Related term

  • vitarka - also translated as "rtog pa" in Tibetan; vitarka is a mental factor that investigates things roughly[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. kalpanā.
  2. Internet-icon.svg rtog pa, Christian-Steinert Dictionary