As i walked toward the compost last month, i saw a red squirrel jump out of the compost bin and on to a nearby pine tree with an avocado shell in its mouth. Up the tree it dashed, leaving me with the image of a red squirrel in a sombrero eating guacamole and chittering "Ai-yi-yi-yi."
This train of thought, or free association, is called proliferation in Buddhist psychology. In fact, all i saw was a red squirrel carrying the husk of an avocado. The image was pleasant (a "feeling" in Buddhist lingo). Desiring (or craving) more of the fun "feeling", the mind proliferated into a story about the red squirrel that also felt pleasant; then i desired more of the pleasant; etcetera.
While this may seem like over-analysis of a mundane situation, it clearly shows just how the wheel of samsara--the great mandala--turns and keeps turning. No train of thought has the destination of nirvana; all trains of thought are headed toward samsara.
Still when i go out to the compost pile and see 3 avocado shells on the ground nearby (instead of in the compost pile where i put them), i begin to proliferate about the culprit. I wonder how that avocado pit from the tropics, with all the fresh chew marks on it, tastes to a northern squirrel.