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Concentration

Shamatha practices with Kasinas

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Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/9/09 8:41 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Lee G Moore 2/9/09 1:49 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/11/09 6:29 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Lee G Moore 2/12/09 1:10 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 2/12/09 2:00 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Lee G Moore 2/12/09 3:15 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 2/12/09 4:20 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/12/09 11:05 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 2/13/09 4:06 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 2/13/09 4:12 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Nathan I S 2/13/09 6:39 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Hokai Sobol 2/13/09 7:05 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Jackson Wilshire 2/20/09 4:22 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Jackson Wilshire 2/20/09 4:23 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/20/09 5:43 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Jackson Wilshire 2/20/09 5:58 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Wet Paint 2/21/09 11:16 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 2/21/09 11:39 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 2/21/09 11:42 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Wet Paint 2/21/09 4:13 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/22/09 3:54 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Wet Paint 2/22/09 7:39 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 2/25/09 8:19 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Trent S. H. 2/25/09 12:34 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas triple think 2/26/09 1:23 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Wet Paint 2/28/09 1:40 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas triple think 2/28/09 7:37 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 3/16/09 10:38 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Martin Mai 3/16/09 8:27 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas triple think 3/16/09 9:34 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 3/17/09 3:53 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas John Finley 4/2/09 3:26 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 4/11/09 5:38 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Kenneth Folk 4/11/09 5:58 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 4/11/09 8:11 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 4/17/09 2:09 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas triple think 4/19/09 7:40 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Nikolai Stephen Halay 4/20/09 12:13 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas tarin greco 4/20/09 12:43 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 4/20/09 6:59 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 4/21/09 11:02 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 5/10/09 7:19 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas tarin greco 5/10/09 8:46 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas triple think 5/10/09 1:26 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Florian 5/10/09 4:54 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas lena lozano 5/10/09 7:12 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas j g 6/22/09 1:16 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Florian 6/22/09 8:16 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 6/29/09 12:24 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Florian 6/29/09 6:05 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 6/30/09 1:59 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Trent S. H. 6/30/09 3:25 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 6/30/09 3:45 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Trent S. H. 6/30/09 4:20 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 7/1/09 1:23 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 7/1/09 7:58 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 7/1/09 8:01 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Tom O. 7/1/09 4:16 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 8/27/09 2:42 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 8/27/09 9:17 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 9/26/09 1:09 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Guillermo Z 10/18/09 6:48 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 10/25/09 9:05 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Pavel _ 2/16/10 3:49 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 2/17/10 12:17 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas go back to the breath 2/18/10 12:03 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas go back to the breath 2/18/10 12:09 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas go back to the breath 2/23/10 1:07 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Just Is 9/9/10 2:24 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Pavel _ 9/9/10 3:42 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 9/11/10 6:48 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Julius P0pp 2/18/10 12:19 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Rayfield Neel 2/18/10 12:51 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Pavel _ 2/18/10 10:31 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Rayfield Neel 2/19/10 8:38 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Pavel _ 2/21/10 8:11 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Christoffer S 10/5/10 1:42 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Pavel _ 10/5/10 2:02 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 10/15/10 2:35 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas House Cat 10/28/10 7:11 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/1/10 3:46 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 11/1/10 11:56 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/2/10 10:06 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/2/10 9:44 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 11/3/10 1:16 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/4/10 9:33 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Daniel M. Ingram 11/11/10 12:17 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/11/10 9:36 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 2/16/11 11:45 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Nikolai . 2/16/11 11:50 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 2/16/11 11:56 AM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Fitter Stoke 1/28/12 5:12 PM
RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/1/10 3:32 PM
Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/9/09 8:41 AM
Forum: Practical Dharma

I want to try using kasinas for developing concentration. This type of practice is not widely discussed in the modern dharma literature and after googling for a while I could not find much information.

My questions to those jhana experts out there:
1) Where can I find some pointers to it (books, meditation masters, etc)
2) Is there anybody in the community with some experience in this type of shamatha practices?
3) why is this type of practices not so widely spread in the west? I also get the feeling that in asia is not widely used (?)

I have heard that kasina practice, conduce to repeatable results, hence, this might be foster goal oriented practices. Any thought or advice on this?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/9/09 1:49 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Not a Jhana expert but, the system of meditation by Pa Auk Sayadaw utilizes the full range of Kasinas as well as many other objects to cultivate Jhana mastery prior to Vipassana practice. Traditionally it starts with mastery of the 4 Jhanas using anapanasati at the nostrils. It then moves on to mastery of the 4 jhanas using kasinas and other objects. Then mastery of the 4 formless Jhanas using all Kasinas.

There are 2 westerners authorized to teach the Shamatha portion of system. They have released 5 free talks and a book.
http://www.jhanasadvice.com/

There are also several free ebooks from Pa Auk sayadaw that are quite comprehensive available at the Pa Auks website.
http://www.paauk.org/

-Lee

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/11/09 6:29 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Lee,

Thanks for the hints! have you tried kasina practice?

Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/12/09 1:10 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Guillermo,

I have not tried Kasina practice yet though am quite inspired by the accounts of the 2 westerners who have progressed far with the Pa Auk system. I'm currently in Asia trying to get a path or 2 under my belt first using the Mahasi system. If I'm still here and have made some insight progress, I'd like to go to the Pa Auk forest monastery in Myanmar next fall and go as deep as I can into Shamatha practices using his system.

-Lee

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/12/09 2:00 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Mautelino,

Here's what to do:

1. Get a kasina object. You only need one. Cereal bowls or small plates work great. It should be about 8-10" in diameter, without designs. Earth colors are best, as they don't give you eye strain. (For years I carried around one of those cheap plastic bowls they use in Burma for bathing from tanks of (cold) water (yikes).)
2. Prop the bowl against the wall.
3. Sit about 4-6' away.
4. Stare at the bowl.
5. Let us know what happens. (You may be amazed at the antics a simple cereal bowl can perform.)

You don't need any prior knowledge to do this practice. A can-do attitude and a sense of adventure are all that is required. You will find out all about samatha by staring at the bowl. We will be here for you when questions arise.

6. Beware "smart person's disease." This is the tendency to think that you have to have some mental system in place before you can try something. Forget about that. Imagine that you are the first samatha pioneer. Your job is to go exploring and report back to the rest of us what you have found. Have fun!

Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/12/09 3:15 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
6. Beware "smart person's disease." This is the tendency to think that you have to have some mental system in place before you can try something.

Ouch, I think I got a bad case of that.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/12/09 4:20 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
LOL. It's okay, Lee, there's a lot of it going around. The combined intellect on this forum is quite impressive. Besides, smart person's disease isn't so bad; consider the alternative, ha, ha. With regard to practice, though, I think simple is good.

You mentioned that you are going to MBMC on Monday. Tell me more. Have you been there before? How long will you stay? What's going on with your practice? What do you hope to accomplish on this retreat? Maybe we should start another thread for that discussion? I'd love to hear about it.

Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/12/09 11:05 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Kenneth,

thanks for the hints, specially for the "smart person disease" advice. I am certainly conditioned by my education to do the "bibliographical research" before doing anything... I am also a bad case of that as well

I never tried the bowl-alternative, but the Tibetan "A". It is very weird to see how the letter "morphs" and do wild things (e.g. completely vanishing or changing its for to a face).

After crying for a while getting a running nose, the letter get "imprinted" in my retina and when closing my eyes I see bright a replica of it on my eyelids (this might sound hokus-pocus, but I guess is just a pretty usual physiological thins within the bound of the real world).

After doing this for an hour I am pretty relaxed and a bit sleepy (I guess I am not getting much clarity out of it). My question: How should I proceed in order to get more clarity, instead of sinking into dumbness?

Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/13/09 4:06 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Alright, a bit more info:

When the letter or other object is vague, some strange color, or distorted, this is the learning object/sign. When it presents strongly, cleanly and clearly (usually not much later), this is the Nimitta to use traditional terminology (which you will see in some texts), also called the counterpart sign. The counterpart sign is like a pristine version of the original kasina object. Then one just needs to stay with that and gradually expand it out larger and larger. Initially it may fade again and again, drift off to one side, and do things like that. Keep going, and it will get more stable through looking again at the disk or whatever until you feel a shift, close your eyes, and look for the image. There are some details worth knowing:
1) In the first jhana (with applied and sustained effort predominating), the dot or letter or whatever is flat, smaller, and seems somewhat stable.
2) In the second jhana (which shows itself more on its own), the image will be larger and may move or contain moving, spinning or shimmering elements in it or just around it.
3) In the third jhana (in which the center is more blind and the periphery predominates), you may see a black disk or seem out of phase with the letter or whatever object, and this jhana requires a slippery balance of staying a little more widely with what is there and takes a good bit more concentration abilities than the first two to really stabilize at the kasina level.
4) In the fourth jhana (which is panoramic, open, spacious, luminous), objects may seem to take on a life of their own and be 3D, luminous, intelligent, like independent entities, and may be made of lines of rainbow light or some such thing.

If you are getting sleepy, more effort to stay with the object and what is just around the object. Practice develops the connections that make going up to higher heights easier. Essential instruction: stay with whatever shows up continuously!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/13/09 4:12 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I also give some instructions for candle flame meditation in MCTB that a number of people I have taught it to found very fun and interesting. It is strangely easy to get the first 2 jhanas using candle flame, but again, the third jhana is frustrating past the black disk phase for most people until they have practiced a while or in good conditions (very important for kasina practice), such as on retreat.

More source material for those who like the traditional stuff: Bhante Gunaratana's The Path of Serenity and Insight, and, of course, The Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification), which is an encyclopedic monsterwork but does contain all sorts of interesting information.

More things: when the letter arises, just stay with it, just on it, not too hard, not too loosely, just with it, and see how it shifts, changes, and stay with it through any shifts that happen, as it will likely keep showing up in various forms once you have the ability to see it with your eyes closed. When you have really lost the thing, go back to the external support object, then when you feel stable on it, close your eyes again. Repetition of this again and again, staying with the letter or object until it really is completely gone and you have nothing and are just spacing out, then returning to the external object again and again will show you the jhanas and samatha territory.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/13/09 6:39 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I have a couple questions, or, really, one or two broader questions.

How does a kasina compare to the breath for concentration practice? My current practice is to use the breath to develop ease, then move to ease in the body ("steeping in jhana" as described on another post, though i'd call it a jhana-factor since it's weak) then return to the breath as a basic object once the ease (i.e., piti and sukkha) is stable. Does any of that translate to kasina practice?

Second, before I started formally meditating I'd use visual objects a lot. My experience was that the strange visual phenomena that arise, in my current judgment, are hindrances to concentration (e.g., the faces are delusions, inability to hold the eyeballs still is restlessness or aversion). Is that correct, or just holding things too tightly?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/13/09 7:05 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I have a slightly different perspective on the A-letter meditation, as practiced in the Japanese Shingon tradition (the Tibetan Dzogchen instruction would differ, which makes it obvious why meditative cross-training is possible only at very advanced levels).

So, turning from gazing to visualizing would means turning from frontal to centered. Accordingly one should place the letter A in the chest and proceed to stabilize the image there. To counteract dullness, one should pay more attention to the luminous aspect of the moondisc, and to counteract excitement, one should pay more attention to the form of letter. In addition, by holding the composite object internally in the specified location, the subtle winds are attracted into the central channel, which in itself balances the attention and supports clear perception. Hope it helps.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/20/09 4:22 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Ok, so I've been giving this a shot for a few days now. Here's where I'm at…

First, I've only been practicing in 15 - 30 minutes intervals. I've had limited time to practice this week, and am hoping to get at least couple hours in on Saturday and Sunday.

I made two colored discs out of construction paper and left over cardboard from a box of instant oatmeal. One disc is yellow, the other green, and both are about 8 inches in diameter. The yellow disc is harder on my eyes, so I've been using the green one more often. (Let me know if there are any colors that are easier to start out with, and I'll make a new disc).

I repeated the instructions Kenneth posted above, but instead of resting the disc on the ground against a wall, I taped it to the wall at about eye level.

The first thing that happens as I gaze in to the disc is that parts of it, or the whole disc, will disappear and than reappear as if fading slowly back in. After a few minutes, I start to notice a red impression of the disc, which doesn't stay quite centered with the object. This keeps happening while the disc continues to disappear and reappear.

Then, even though my eyes are wide open, my field of vision will start to fade to darkness. At first, everything disappears and fades out with it. Over time, the disc and its contrasting impression seem to merge and become black while everything is fading out. At that point, the now black disc becomes the predominant image. It's very spacey in appearance -- kind of shimmery and luminous, like looking in to some kind of energy field or black whole.

There were a few moments where I thought I felt a shift, so I closed my eyes to see if the image was apparent. So far, the image has only showed up poorly, and I am not able to focus on it clearly. I end up placing my focus back on the green disc and starting the practice all over again.

(continued)

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/20/09 4:23 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
One problem I'm running in to is that when I close my eyes, the background becomes distracting. There's a lot of flickering of light, and it's too hard to see the counterpoint sign with this disturbance. My first assumption is that I just need to practice longer, and this will clear itself up. But I also wonder if the white wall used as the background of the green disc is imprinting on my mind in some way that is not conducive to seeing the counterpoint sign when I close my eyes. Could that be the case, or is the whiteness of the wall no obstacle at all?

Also, when the disc starts to disappear, should I be actively trying to bring it back in to vision, or just be with what happens as it happens? I've noticed that the more relaxed I am, the less the disappearing act takes place. It leads me to believe that the disappearing act is caused by excitation. Just a thought.

Jackson

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/20/09 5:43 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
@Daniel & @Kennet: thanks for the practical hints. I got the book "The Path of Serenity and Insight": so far it has a lot of descriptions and details, but no really nut&bolts about the practice (mainly scholar stuff). I must read through the whole book though.

@Jackson, good to hear that someone else is trying this too. I got some similar experiences like those described in your post.

Here is some of my experiences, commentaries and further questions:
- I took a dark blue square and pinned to a white wall
- the first 10min my eyes cry and my nose was running.
- after concentration gets stronger, the background also started to get dark and got a similar color as the object. eventually the object disappears in the dark background (quite a weird experience if you consider that the object is still "out there")
- eventually a bright ghostly image forms and replaces the form of the object
- cycles of disappearance & bright object repeats (also a lot of flickering, i.e. is hard to stay focus and concetrated, no stable image at all)
- after closing my eyes everything was dark purple for a while and at some point I can see the bright counterpart of the object. This image moves around and after 1min it disappears and do not come back.
- Then I open my eyes and repeat the cycle

My question:
- should the sign eventually get stable? Or should I get use to the moving, disappearing, etc?
- from Dan's description I get that the whole busyness is not really stable (?). This makes me wonder, since a I though that the Jahna experiences are very stable (frozen). Further explanations on this are welcomed!
- kind of weird thing: thoughts are still present but somehow at the background. do they disappear once you enter a Jahna?

I will keep on trying!

Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/20/09 5:58 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Guillermo, our experiences are very similar indeed. Thanks for sharing.

It makes sense to me that a bright object would appear after using a dark colored kasina. The imprint that arises from staring at a color is usually its direct contrast. Thus, staring at red should cause a green imprint. Blue should cause an orange imprint, and purple should cause yellow, etc.

What's interesting in my limited experience is how when the two objects (the kasina and the counterpoint sign) are completely aligned, the combined image is black. It makes sense, though, as I think this happens when two contrast colors are mixed. The blackness isn't matte, but rather luminous and engaging. It's not too hard to stay interested in the object when it starts getting really spacey looking. I'm enjoying this practice a lot more than I thought I would.

I have the same questions about how stable the counterpoint sign is supposed to get, but I guess I'll find out with time. I'm just going to keep trying it for longer and longer periods until my mind finally gets it.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/21/09 11:16 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Author: msj123

All this talk has made me decide to use hard objects as well. Just a question on procedure: is this done with the eyes open, or opened for a time, and then closed (to get the signs, etc.)?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/21/09 11:39 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Guillermo,

Well, the first thing to say is that you are doing it right and your descriptions are good. I don't think there is a "right answer" to how this can manifest. But there is a trend toward more stability over time. Sometimes things are "frozen," but more often they are not.

You described a "bright ghostly image" that forms over the object. At that point, try closing your eyes and noticing the overall physical sensations. You may be in jhana at that point. Close your eyes, let yourself bathe in the sensations and see how deep and stable it gets.

The way you describe thoughts as being present but in the background accords with my own experience of jhana.

Thanks for the clear report. Keep us posted.

Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/21/09 11:42 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi msj,

Start with your eyes open as you gaze at the kasina object. You can close them if they get tired, or if you want to explore the images "on the backs of your eyelids," or if you enter jhana and want to devote all of your attention to body sensations or mental phenomena. The best thing is to experiment and build a base of experience upon which to build your practice.

Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/21/09 4:13 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Author: msj123

Kenneth,

Thanks for the tips. I especially like your idea about being a shamatha pioneer.

Matt

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/22/09 3:54 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Kennet,

thanks for the hints. I am really happy to see that:
- I always get good advice from this community, specially from those with experience in these territories
- People are willing to test this things out and get a first person experience instead of philosophize about it

I will keep on going with kasina practice as well as my regular "noting". Definitely there is a lot to explore!

Thanks, Guillermo

@ Matt: see Dan's second post for an answer. First concentrate on the external object (eyes closed) until you get the luminous sign. Then close the eyes and concentrate in the luminous object until it disappears. If gone, open the eyes again and repeat the cycle.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/22/09 7:39 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Author: msj123

Guillermo,

Thanks for the clarification. I have a very precise way of thinking--- if I don't completely understand all the steps, I get lost.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/25/09 8:19 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I got today a copy of the Vissuddhimagga (I guess that this is the geekiest dahrma book I ever bought). I flied through and I was amazed the amount of detailed explanation regarding the kashina practice! simple incredible!

Looking forward to spend a big part of my two week vacation between practice and reading the Vissuddhimagga... geek rules!

A question to the audience: is it recommended to alternate shamatha and vipassana practices? For example, a couple of hours of each of them through the day. I wonder if they are some how incompatible? (e.g. by doing too much shamatha, you will not be able to do y fast noting, or by doing much noting you wont be able to concentrate) What is your take on this?

Regards,

Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/25/09 12:34 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I think you can do concentration practice "only" if you want. Insight practice involves concentration, however, and so it will increase along with your insight work (depending upon the technique), although I would imagine it would be slower than "pure" concentration work. Speaking from my own experience, I barely did any concentration practice and I have noted being in "soft" forms of all 8 Jhanas at one time or another.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/26/09 1:23 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
The hard part is developing applied and sustained attention so keep the objects very simple at first and gently steady the wandering and wavering of attention simply and barely on the object. Don't worry about whether it is a tangible object or a mental representation of it just think of it as one object and steady the attention. This may seem entirely wrong for some long time insight only practitioners. Once you find the best ways for you to transition from focusing on an object to being fully taken up with it you can continue that practice in a variety of ways and you will see how this process may base itself on nearly anything. The traditional objects have particular advantages for various reasons but there are plentiful examples of Jhana production in innumerable ways and in endless forms.

Some basic kasina I have always found handy include those circular cement paving stones you can get for about 5 bucks. They are easy to rest the eyes on and have a nice even earth tone for earth kasina practice. In a pinch you can make a good one with a plate, a pen, scissors and the inside of a cereal box. For the colored Jhanas you can use colored construction paper instead. Bold flat primary colors work well.

I would recommend staying away from using anything that disturbs you until you understand how even those objects will work in this way, things like sculls or bones or meat. A sunbeam can be used for light or space and a loop of wire for air or space, etc.. A clear glass bowl of water works well. A clear blue sky is excellent or pitch darkness and a still pool or sparkling river is irresistible for me. There are all kinds of possibilities. Be creative and experiment but stay with themes that work and develop them. All are 'forms' of concentration unless of course they are 'formless'.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/28/09 1:40 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Author: msj123

My practice with concentration is going like so:

Pick an object (breath or kasina). Lay attention on object.

If my mind is too active, I note inner states until they diminish. Usually this works, and I can focus continuously on the object, with the thoughts softly arising and passing in the perimeter.

After a while, I get tingling sensations of varying intensities. Also, at a cetain point, it takes less effort, and I can usually "rest" the attention on the object. With kasinas, the object becomes blurred, fluid, and changing. With the breath, the breath becomes solid. At this point, do I switch to the tingling sensations? Or do I wait for bliss sensations? Or just stick with the object?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/28/09 7:37 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
The bliss is what arises in the absence of any wavering of attention. The rapture is the 'elevation' of attention as attention is released from the changing forms and consolidates steadily on the particular form or object of concentration. There is a sense of relief but it simply feels like a joy similar to that which might arise when something is clearly discerned via insight but it is steady. So if it steadies attention develop that kind of attention for concentration and if it leads attention to waver or wander let it go. Slowly and gently add whatever attention is at the periphery to the attention applied to the object of the exercise until there is no peripheral attention. No need to attend to the bliss or rapture until they are fully present and steady and impossible not to note them when they are steady, if present. When there is nothing arising external to the particular form of concentration the bliss and rapture are examinable very directly as these qualities predominate in the first kinds of jhanas. It is a natural reflex of the steadied mind. Because there is some subtle vibrating or wavering in the bliss and because the bliss and rapture predominate these qualities are let go of and there is only the stability, steadiness or evenness of mind in the 'higher' jhanas. Bliss and rapture - joy and relief/release from the shifting flow.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
3/16/09 10:38 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Ok, I have been practicing with kasinas for 1.5xHour/Day for almost 2 weeks. Here are some observations/experiences:
- I get pretty stable concentration with the eyes open
- after 15min I close my eyes and concentrate on the counterpart image until it fades away (about 5-10 min)
- while fading I try to concentrate harder on it and it becomes stable. Seems like I can prolong the "death" of the image
- then repeat the cycle
- when relaxation kicks in feels dam good! I am glad that kasina practice is legal ;-)
- after finishing practice the peace/good feeling last a couple of hours. Actually the sensation is being a bit "spacey"

I can sense that there is some progress but here is a question:
- The Visuddhimagga talks about the "counterpart sign" (patibhaga-nimitta) also known as "mental image"
- Does any body can explain me what the old guy meant? Is it symbolic/poetic language or something concrete (seen a the light with the eyes closed, etc)?
- What should I look for?
- The description goes like this: "...But the counterpart sign appears as if breaking out from the learning sign, and a hundred times, a thousand times more purified, like a looking-glass disk drawn from its case, like a mother-of-pearl dish well washed, like the moon's disk coming out from behind a cloud, like cranes against a thunder cloud. But it has neither color nor shape; for if it had, it would be cognizable by the eye, gross, susceptible of comprehension (by insight) and stamped with the three characteristics. But it is not like that. For it is born only of perception in one who has obtained concentration, being a mere mode of appearance (Vism. 125-26; PP.130) "
- By the way: after coming down from the Lucy-in-the-sky-with-diamons-trip I have done very good in the insight practice: is like recharging the battery and being able to pin-point very fast sensations.
Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
3/16/09 8:27 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Guillermo,
I am no expert in this but I may be able to give some references I know about the counterpart sign. According to Pa Auk Sayadaw it is a form of mentally produced visual perception indicating the attainment of access concentration. The learning sign is the same but not as brilliant and radiant as the counterpart sign. You might want to check out the recordings from the Jhana practice group:
http://www.paauk.org/files/jhanapracticegroup.html
Best wishes,
Martin

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
3/16/09 9:34 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Reading over the thread again a couple thoughts came to mind from doing this kind of practice for many hours a day. I put the kasina on the floor about an arms length in front of me. The reason I ended up doing this consistently was because I could keep my neck straight close my eyes half way and gaze at a slight down angle, all of which proved preferable over the longer term.

As far as signs and counterpart signs,etc.. I have more or less dumped this idea in favor of processes that result in different sorts of singularities of attention. The advantage of solid or steady or consistent external objects is that they are stable already unlike anything in the untrained, undeveloped or 'unconditioned' body/mind. I ended up just seeing all of these steps in between first attending to an object and then the stages of this becoming a kind of singular and steady experience. I found it unhelpful to concern myself with what stage was what. I applied analysis to what was happening and eventually this became a combined practice which alternated between focusing on concentration and focusing on vipassana. I had thought it better to limit the concentration work but I have finally had some thoughtful encouragement to focus on it more and so I am going to return to a balanced approach where if concentration is improving I focus on that and if concentration is elusive I focus on insight and analysis just continues along.

There is a difference between body bliss and mind bliss, attention stable on an external object, attention stable on an internal object and attention stable on a mental object. In the beginning just go for stability or steadiness and don't worry about discriminating distinctions, when you get some time in you will figure all these out. What is best to find out first is when applied and sustained attention are dropping off and why. Either it is because attention isn't enough or else either applied or sustained it has momentum.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
3/17/09 3:53 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hey all,

Here's a link to a very useful samatha exercise using a specially created visual aid:

http://tinyurl.com/2r8rj6

Let us know how it goes.

Guillermo, I agree with Triplethink that worrying too much about the traditional descriptions of nimittas and countersigns can be more trouble than it's worth. That particular system is just one way to talk about samatha/jhana practice. For me, it's more productive to notice the jhanas as they arise by focusing on the mental and physical phenomena that correspond to each jhana. (You can notice the sensations without deconstructing them, i.e. you can be very clear on which jhana you are in without practicing vipassana.)

I only use the kasina to focus the mind to the level of jhana; once I'm in jhana, I close my eyes and let the jhana take over and suffuse the mind/body. If the mind wanders, you can open your eyes again and use the kasina to settle down until the next jhana arises.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/2/09 3:26 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I just tried this technique for the first time, and it was amazing - i don't know which jhana(s) I may have entered, but it was very, very pleasant and surreal.

I don't have time to go into detail right now, but wanted to let anyone interested know, I used a kasina that I created on PowerPoint and put it on my monitor -- it worked great and I'll be happy to share with anyone who's interested - just PM me with your e-mail addy.

Thanks,
John

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/11/09 5:38 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Kenneth, how 4-6' translates into meter-santimeter thing?how far to seat from kasina?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/11/09 5:58 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Elena, try a plate or bowl that's about 20cm in diameter and sit about 1.5 meters away. Adjust the distance according to your comfort. There is no perfect distance, it's more about what works best for you.

Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/11/09 8:11 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
thank u Kenneth

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/17/09 2:09 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
all right,i tried it for 30 min three days-first time experience much like that of Jakson-counterpart appeared on top of the blue circle that i cutted,it was orange color,didnt stay stable,mooved from side to side.all thing darkened once in a wile and circle became black and sometimes disappeared totally o partially for few seconds.second time the imprint appeared much quicklier-after few seconds of looking on the object,but didnt disapear at all(poor concentration?)but on this time i saw distinctly the conterpart of orange color mooving totally from the object and staing for about 10 seconds on the floor nerebuy the blue circle.i didnt even know if to watch the blue one or concentrate on the orange.before it disappere the new orange imprint would already appere on top of the blue circle and start to moove offsenter.any time i close the eyes-cant see any clear object-eerything shimmering.to say the truth-i was slightly dissapointed by the second and third day experience-it didnt seem to overpass the first one with the only exeption that i sucseeded not to loose much the counterpart-saw it almost continuosly .and another thing i think i learn how the jhana feels and can tune my attention better probably when doing vipassana practice.question to Daniel-when u talk about expanding the object and about it being bigger or smaller are u talking about original one or about the one that is created on top of it and is countercolor and which color of these two u expect to see when u close your eyes?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/19/09 7:40 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi lenaloz. I recommend beginning with a more neutral color. The reverse color is an optical effect which will probably become less typical eventually with more time in on the practice. I suggest a grey color or cement like color. You will still likely get both a black and a white optical impression. Focus on the white one and allow it to predominate. When it is steady allow your eyes to close and focus on the visual imprint until it becomes a mental object or in other words an actual mental visualization and then focus on that. When you loose the mental object or the visual imprint open your eyes and begin again. When I use a cardboard cutout I make a small cardboard stand to tilt the circle up slightly at the back so that I am looking at it more straight on. Grey is nice because it is easier on the eyes and less stressful to stare at for longer. When you are experienced with a more neutral color you will be able to work more effectively with more primary colors as you will understand all of these phenomena very well by then. I like to undertake kasina practices in these ways for many hours in most every day for several months if at all possible as that leads to excellent progress. Don't worry about watery eyes or blinking but don't over stress your eyes and take breaks as needed. I see the expansion of the object as essentially synonymous with the eventual one pointed merger with the object and I don't think it is necessary to push for that, it will simply occur in due course. In fact I see the whole exercise as largely involving the ever more skillful practice of relaxation of attention to diversity and the mindful observation of these particular sequences of phenomena as they unfold. I wish you all the best in your efforts.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/20/09 12:13 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Last night I sat and did some kasina practise with a blue bowl. It certainly got me concentrated very quickly. I then felt the blissful sensations which I kept observing but I think access concentration is a far as I got for awhile. Then when I got bored I just automatically went to vipassana mode and ¨gave up ¨ trying for the jhanas and within a couple of moments I was definietely not in accesss concentration anymore. This type of concentration is still new for me as I have been primarily been doing only Vipassana ( Goenka Tradition). My mind has become quite accustomed to observing all sensations with equanimity and does so without much effort.
So when I enetered forst jhana, I wasn´t very interested in the blissful sensations and kind of let them go right away. Then I found myself in another state, maybe 2nd jhana. I kind of bypassed the 1st jhana pretty quickly and maybe even went into 3rd jhana as my experience was one where I had to let my concetration go to the edges so to speak. and see the whole picture.

My question is, is it it possible to bypass jhanas? Is the fact that my mind automatically wants to observe things equanmiously helping this?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/20/09 12:43 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
hey nick,

'observing things equanimously' is how to get into jhana in the first place.. it definitely helps. the more letting go, the deeper the level of jhana that can be accessed. as for whether or not jhanas can be bypassed, certainly - though it may be argued, from a technical point of view, that what's happening is not actual skipping of the sequence but is flying through some so quickly you barely notice them. for more clarity on this matter, if you think you have an affinity for a certain jhana, say 3rd jhana, pay attention to how you get to it. i think you'll find traces of the lower jhanas - like the focused effort of 1st, or the suffusing bliss of the 2nd - en route.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/20/09 6:59 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
thank you, Triplethink.i ll make neutral color circle.even though i was very much fascinated observing the orange light around blue circle.this practice is really good to learn how to ajust attention because u see in front of your eyes the result of it and try to do ajustments voluntary ,not just "find out" you happened into some territory.the only thing is -i cant do it more than one hour daily.i dont want to stop vipassana entirely.hope it ll have effect.i alread see clearly light imprint with my eyes closed and sustain it for about 20 seconds(big kindergarden progress!)

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
4/21/09 11:02 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Triplethink,today i already can THANK u fully-i did change the kasina color and the experience was gorgeous-vast play of lights like stage light after darckening the surroundings-from yellow to blue,purple and green and the objekt itself becoming light instead of matelial one and even mooves slightly.it was only first hour! thanks a lot.it s also much easier to see object dissapearing and maintain sertain kind of awearness,learn to manipulate with it.also it seems that i relaxe more at the end of expirium and thats were things start going deeper.also i learned to maintain concentration through eye blinking and not to start "from the beguinning "each time slightest mooving happens.the practice is very very engaging ,much easier than to concentrate on the breath,by the way -whould it mean that breath gives better concentration or it depends only on personal inclinations?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
5/10/09 7:19 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
when i look at kasina igradually shift and look not axactly at it but somehow wide-taking the area around it into attantion and when it happens it seems that i go into deeper concentration .on the other side if i continue to fix my look at the center of kasina some violet color sircle starts "evaporating"from kasina( made of backside of cereal box-light grey color).those circles go up and new are ceated on top of the kasina.and it seems that even the space between me and object is thick and some shimmering violet color moves in it with my eyes closed i see circles of violet and black color dissapearing one into another non stop.the moment one dissapears-another is created around it.when i stare at kasina it starts kind of jump slightly from side to side and sometimes i see clearly two of kasinas(probably one for each eye?)

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
5/10/09 8:46 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
oh my god that is so trippy, how long have you been doing this to get all these cool visual effects? and how long do they last for?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
5/10/09 1:26 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Well, it is probably a little different for everyone greco. I happen to be kind of an extremist, so I just kept at it for hours on end for a couple of years and that taught me a lot. Most people, with an hour a day, it may take a few years to work all the way through this stuff. I would really recommend about three hours a day on this work to make strong progress in three to six months but it is like anything, you make an investment and you get a comparable return on it.
All the best everyone.
-triplethink

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
5/10/09 4:54 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
HI Elena,

Here, too! The circles come with a very pleasant subtle tingling around the eyes and forehead, very easy to plunge into first jhana from there.

I haven't gotten the "one kasina for each eye" effect, maybe because I stuck the kasina to the back of a door, and the doorframe is in my field of vision. I'll try sticking it on a wall. Thanks!

Have you tried breath meditation since starting kasina practice? I do about 20-30 min. Kasina each day, which has really boosted my concentration with my primary object which I mainly use when meditating.

Great to hear from you,

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
5/10/09 7:12 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Tarin ,i do this practice only for the last month or so since i read the tread on casinas.first time i got this light effects i was very fascinated by them.now it "comes still " and i see as Daniel pointed out-i cant pass yhe black circle.i dont see it threedimentional or rainbow.it teaches me probably that i can attain 3-d jana but not 4th yet.
Florian-nice to hear from u guy!i do kasina at day time and breathing at night(when daylight is not available)but i ll try kasina on electricity light also-dont think its problem.plesent sensations all over the body do come when practicing with kasina and they have nature of A&P-champane like bubles but on low pleasant scale-not frickening me like on A&P event itself/and also there ape moments of cooling and profound calmness'stillness/
about the placement of kasina-triplethink recomended to put it on the flour and i put it against the wall on the flour to get comfortable angle.my wall is slightly mint color-it may add somehow to effect.also the violet comes even with my eyes closed.the most important i learned- to adjust attention to kind of having all background in vision but stay lightly with kasina-when i sucseed to do that-deepest moments come(instead of just staring on kasina harshly) good luck everybody!Lena

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/22/09 1:16 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I just recently used a kasina on pupose for the first time in my practice. I chose my small Buddha statue and sat it on the floor in front of me a few feet away. Thanks to Daniel's book (which I have read once already, and a few threads on the subject here) I think I attained to the 3rd jhana. It was very different, pretty incredible, and reminiscent of my contemplative Christian prayer days.

After my experience I can see how one could easily become a jhana junkie, because I'd definitely like to do it again. One of the benefits of the jhanas that I can see is that during my 'dry insight' sittings, which has been every time, it seemed like I was in the middle of an eight-lane highway with my sensations whizzing by at a speed that seemed hard to note anything at all. After reaching one of the jhanas it seems that the sensations were slowed to parade speed and lined up one by one to be noted. The only problem is that I have been sitting for only 20 minutes, so by the time I reached a level of jhana, the time was up and I didn't get any real insight practice done.

Anyways, that's where I am at right now. Serious thanks to Daniel and everyone here. It's a big difference in reading about something and actually experiencing it for yourself.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/22/09 8:16 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Jamie,

It's called "dry insight" for a reason. I was very reluctant for a long time to do pure concentration practice; some weird macho guilt thing.

Kenneth made a diving comparison once; concentration practice is like training to hold one's breath, allowing deeper and longer dives.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/29/09 12:24 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I am so excited to have found this site, and Daniel's book! I have been practising by myself for over a year and a half, with not much to show for it. I have been vacillating between "traditions", sometimes vipassana, sometimes Zen, but nothing really felt right. But more than anything, I felt like I needed to nail down jhanas because they seemed to me to be a natural process that *should* be accessible. I just had a hard time finding the nitty gritty details on the formula for that process.

I have been exclusively working on the breath...counting, counting, counting. But try as I might, I could never get to access concentration. I had been wary of using kasinas because they seemed to me to be a crutch. But these last few days since finding Daniel's book and this site have changed my mind, and I am willing to give it a go since they clearly work. And I now clearly see how concentration plays a role in the whole insight process because I have a map!

So, long winded introduction, but I have tried the kasina a couple of times now. Alas, no real progress, but I may not be giving it a fair chance. So here are a couple of practical questions that I hope someone might be able to answer:

1. How important is colour? I tried green first, with no real luck. From other responses in this thread, my next crack at it will use a buff/grey colour, but at the end of the day, are there "easier" or "harder" colours? I have no doubt that once I get to access a couple of times, it will be less relevant, but for a first-timer?

2. How long, realistically, should it take. I know, there is a huge "it depends" component to that, but seems to me a first-timer is unlikely to achieve access in two minutes. But 30 minutes? An hour? Many one hour sessions? I need a carrot, here.

I am really looking forward to cracking this nut and moving to the real work.

Thanks,
tomo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/29/09 6:05 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi tomo

It's great to have you here. Welcome!

Some tips (from my experience, not necessarily useful for everyone):

1. adopt a light, curious attitude of fun almost. I'm not staring down demons here, just gazing lightly, attention directed at the kasina.

2. start at 15 minutes max. I currently do "kasina sits" for 30 minutes. The tears and running nose seem to be a side effect of straining.

3. the only color I tried so far was brown.

4. don't expect any great light shows or unusual optical effects. They'll arise on their own, but in my case weren't what I expected at all.

5. as with any concentration practice, I found the "teaching a kid to ride a bike" analogy quite useful: at first, hold on to the bike, but try letting go after some time, intervening only if balance is lost. In the end, just jog along.

6. Go ahead and do some "real work" (such as noting practice) right after an initial 15 minutes "warm-up" with the kasina. I've found that my insight meditation practice has helped my concentration, and vice-versa.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/30/09 1:59 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
So I tried it a couple of more times now, first with my green, then buff cutouts, and then with a larger (12") earthen plate. No light shows, for sure, and try as I might, I could not get anything resembling "a sign" with my eyes closed.

That said, on my last attempt, after my 30 minute bell rang, I decided to just keep my eyes closed and keep going just with the breath as I seemed pretty relaxed by then. The breathing was pretty deep, and I tried to look at the end of my nose with my eyes closed. Maybe because of the kasina prep, or maybe just coincidence, I found it pretty easy to stay with my breathing, which actually started to get shallower and quicker. Then I really started to "feel" my breathing... not sure how better to explain it, and then quite suddenly my head really felt like it was expanding. Kind of like what I vaguely recall pot feeling like (the couple of times I did that many many years ago). This puffed up feeling lasted for a number of minutes and then subsided, although I was still able to follow my breathing fairly tightly. But that large feeling did not come back.

Based on the ache in my knees (I am still sitting Burmese) I would say I spent another 30 minutes after the first 30 doing this. Since I did not get that joy/rapture kind of feeling, I presume this was not jhana 1, but it was quite unlike anything I have experience since I started sitting.

W00t!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/30/09 3:25 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hey Tomo,

Welcome to the site man.

Your recollection above sounds definitely like access concentration. Especially the part about "really starting to 'feel' the breath." That speaks volumes. The expansion you felt could be a lot of things. It could have been access concentration, or maybe the beginning of the 1st jhana. The mind automatically progresses through the jhanas, but will "fall apart" if the jhana isn't "grabbed." So what likely happened is that you were in access concentration, the mind got annoyed by it and decided to give 1st jhana a try. Not knowing what 1st jhana felt like or how to keep it going, it evaporated quickly. With that in mind, it would probably be a good idea to get a clear picture of what needs to be done to maintain 1st jhana so that next time it shows up, you'll know what to do! Though, if you just play with it enough, you'll figure that out quite naturally, so it's all good.

Btw, some people just don't do well with kasinas. If you want a hard object that will almost assuredly catch your attention, which is also really awesome for attaining 1st and 2nd jhana, try a candle flame. Same basic instructions as a kasina, but the flame itself is just so entrancing and beautiful that it automatically reinforces one's ability to concentrate on it. Also, because "light" is such a powerful factor of 2nd jhana, the flame already has that built right in. Lastly, I would hold it much closer than a kasina, just don't burn the beard!

Best,
Trent

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/30/09 3:45 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Thanks Trent, that is encouraging. I was actually going to give the candle a try next anyhow! I am a little wary of relying on hard objects to attain jhanas because, as I understand it, you can only go so far with them. But at this point, I need to get to first base, as it were, and do it reliably before I can toss that crutch and use something built-in like the breath.

Any advice on "...a good idea to get a clear picture of what needs to be done to maintain 1st jhana so that next time it shows up..."?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
6/30/09 4:20 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Tomo,

Try not to think of the candle as a crutch-- it's just an object, like the breath is an object. Although open and closed-eye are quite different in how they are experienced, they also share core similarities in how the mind is held, hence why we can still call them by the same jhana number. That also means attaining a jhana with eyes open will allow you to pretty easily transition into closed eye. Open is often far more interesting in my opinion!

As for resources: the chapter in Dan's book on 1st jhana, and the "pages" section of the DhO (found on the left hand side).

Very quick outline: watch the object like a madman until you feel yourself "getting into the groove." Do that until you can tell you're not really getting any "deeper" into the groove. When you hit that point, say and feel to yourself "this effort is quite stressful" and gently pull back until about 75% of the effort has been removed (all the while, still focusing primarily on your object). If all went according to plan, you'll feel "locked in" to a state, sort of like being glued to the object. Then just use your intuition while keeping your attention steady on the object. If you feel drawn to letting up on the effort even more, then go for it. If you feel pleasurable feelings, then feel free to focus on that as your primary object, with breath as your default point (in case you lose the "pleasure" sensations).

Trent

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
7/1/09 1:23 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Deleted by author as not being helpful...

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
7/1/09 7:58 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I have tried the candle twice. The first was a bust, but I just did it again and this time quite a bit of progress. The candle, in and of itself, did not seem to do the job. Maybe it was because my window was open, and stray noises were getting in the way. Whatever. But when it wasn't working, I closed my eyes and since, by that point I had a good "burn in", I just focused on the image I could see, which was a dark circle (the negative impression of the plate on which the candle stood) and a smaller purple circle which was the impression of the flame. But then inside that was a bright spot, which was winking on and off. I tried keeping that in my field of "view", and then I noticed my breath starting to get shallow again, and that same "stoned" head expansion thing.

Since this was clearly a reproducible effect, I just went with it and that expanded feeling went throughout my chest and arms. I stuck with that for as long as I could, probably 5 or 10 minutes. Then it faded (I really should have closed my window!), and I could not get it back...

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
7/1/09 8:01 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
... As before, I would not exactly call the feeling "rapture", or even "joy", but something is most definitely going on. I would appreciate help figuring out where I am, and how to push on. I did try to "pull back", but maybe I did not finesse it enough.

I will try again later tonight.

-- tomo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
7/1/09 4:16 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
And once again, I was able to repeat this. The candle did not produce the effect, but watching it for about 5 minutes, and then closing my eyes, produced the now recognizable feeling within about 5 minutes. I can now feel it starting as a slight tingling in what the Zen guys might call the hara, as well as a "stretching" of my forehead. I was able to go in/out of this state three times in about an hour.

Jhana, or access?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
8/27/09 2:42 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
this is about practice conditions. I'll start with my little story, you can skip it if you wish:

I am practicing kasina combined with holosync. With kasinas I first stumbled into access concentration in mid-july, and over the next week managed to dip into it almost every time I tried, but only a couple of dips of 3-15 seconds each, usually between the 25th and 45th minute of sitting.
I stopped regular practice for 14 days and practiced daily again during the 2nd week of August which I spent on holidays, singing the whole week in a choireand only dancing, eathing, sleeping, relaxing and meditating the rest of the time.
To practice there I would put a grey kasina in the corner of my white bedcover and two completely white walls. And I had a big window behind me (though the sun wasn't always shining). In front of me it was only white background and the grey disk. Within 4 days I could get to access concentration within 20 seconds and stay at that level (maybe above?) for minutes. I was so enthusiastic. then the week ended.
After a break of 3 days I resumed the practice at home, and I really sucked at it. I've been practicing 45-75 minutes daily for the last 8 days and still feel far below the level I had at the end of my holiday week.

Now the question is, how important are practice conditions for early practice?
my only guesses:
could it have been the healthy life-style, no responsibilities, singing & slow breathing and the resulting balance and well-being?
Or does a plain wall help a lot (I don't have any here)? Or is it just life?
I can't figure it out, the only thing constant is the noice level which is low there and here.
---cont.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
8/27/09 9:17 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Another recent phenomenon started during the week on vacation, 2 weeks back:
anyone got pressure between the eyes? It's extending up to the eyebrows (ajna?) at times, but comes more from below/within, like from a cold, can't say much about a directien, but tendency is upward and outward. It doesn't always arise during practice, if so it doesn't necessarily stay for the whole sitting, and also arises during the day. Not painful or uncomfortable, just clearly noticable. Focusing on it spreads it to the front of the nose and its sinuses. Easy to concentrate on. Drooping the head and leaning forward slightly seams to increase the pressure somewhat, but I could be fooling me here.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
9/26/09 1:09 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Oh my god, that was bizarre: I just hit 1st jhana with Shinzen Young's head as the kasina objekt emoticon
It was this vid http://is.gd/3Hipe but I guess it works with others as well. Anyone had sth like this or can reproduce it? Still laughing here, the look of humans (no offence, Shinzen!) is the biggest joke I've come across for ages!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/18/09 6:48 AM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Lol, that is very funny! I have practice Kasinas with different things, but you topped...

Regarding your question, my own experience resonate with yours, i.e. at the beginning you need the right conditions to reach some results (e.g. quiet place, no worries, etc). I have heard several times that for this kind of practice, the best is to go on a retreat to learn the techniques and apply them in an intensive manner.

I have trouble to get good results while doing shamata after work. For me the best is to do shamata after waking up.

I hope this helps,

Guillermo

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/25/09 9:05 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Guillermo Z:
...at the beginning you need the right conditions to reach some results (e.g. quiet place, no worries, etc). I have heard several times that for this kind of practice, the best is to go on a retreat to learn the techniques and apply them in an intensive manner.

I have trouble to get good results while doing shamata after work. For me the best is to do shamata after waking up.

Quiet place definitely helps. But the first time I entered jhana was when I thought I was too tired. The days before I'd lie down, relax, fall eventually asleep, wake up and then do some 20-30 minutes of kasina. That day, I sat first, and after about 40 minutes I experienced "the shift" for the first time (for some seconds only, but that was enough). Was good I was too tired to worry or think much.

And the best practice conditions I can get at home now is during the night in a dark room when all I can see is the computer screen with a kasina or a head on it.

A question to everybody, how do you enter higher jhanas with the kasina and eyes open? How do you recognise them and rest in one of them? So far I cannot really maneuver it, there are shifts, but I can't tell if they come from different jhanas or my eyes.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/16/10 3:49 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Oh my god, that was bizarre: I just hit 1st jhana with Shinzen Young's head as the kasina objekt


Hey Julius,

Yeah, it happened to me a couple of times, if I remember well it was with Ajahn Brahm, Tony Parsons and Jack Kornfield, I never really paid much attention to it, or connected it with being in a jhana. I have also had the same effect from staring at a friend for some 30 minutes (using him as kasina) or staring into a mirror. On youtube people would generally look very bright, more intense and somehow different, the focus and colour of the different parts of the picture (face, body, background) would also change slightly, the accompanying feelings were of calm, immersion and quiet bliss. While watching Ajahn Brahm for the first time this happened after some 20 minutes and very soon I started uncontrollably crying, a very very pleasant release :-)

In real life (ie. not while staring into a computer screen) peoples' faces would change and distort, making them look more shiny, older/younger, have different features, to looking completely different (an old boss of mine who was Indian suddenly appeared as a nomad with a head dress with a desert background/a friend suddenly had a floating Indian deity floating where his head was). It's interesting what strong concentration does, isn't it? emoticon And thank you for pointing it out to me, I kind of wrote it off as another weird experience but thinking about it now, it was more likely a concentration state (at least in some of the instances).

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/17/10 12:17 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
I probably shouldn't have told this story, but it is funny.

I was watching Bhante Gunaratana give a dharma talk when my concentration was really strong, and he got very distorted and then began to look just like a monkey and sort of fluxed back and forth between Bhante G and monkey for the rest of the talk, amusing, distracting, and very memorable. The background around him did all sorts of strange things, got brighter, got much darker, would shimmer, swirl, morph, etc.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/18/10 12:03 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
1st: so happy to be here. i'm new. thank you for this forum.

just back from a 10 day 'retreat' aka 'course.' my 1st. nameless because my experience not entirely positive, yet not here to criticize--grateful for all, etc.... day 4--i was in the waiting room, waiting for an interview with the 'assistant' teacher--the only teacher on hand for help. i overheard assistant teacher telling 'student' something to the effect of 'well, we just started covering sensation in the body (on this course) so you couldn't possibly be experiencing sensation outside your body--as sensation. we are not at that stage yet--you are just lost in imagination' teacher (assistant) said to student.

i had flashbacks of when my grandmother told me at 5 that the picture i had drawn for her was wrong because the sky could not be green and the earth could not be blue. earth=green, sky=blue. etc.

i became more clearly aware in that moment that i had unwittingly been experiencing 'outside' as 'inside' (melting snow drop hanging from pine branch) and 'inside' as 'outside,' in the beautiful natural setting of the course.

similarly (?) anapassana focus at nostril base began to open up whole sphere, sort-of-region, emerging from between shoulder blades, sometimes head area, then branching out on 'it's' own to whole room, or there-abouts. how cool, thought i.

remembering reading about kasinas, i went to read about them more, especially, extending the 'sign.' i remembered having read kasina means universal, so i hoped i could extend awareness immediately ad infinitum. ahhh greed!!! no such luck!

the more i strive, the more the sign retreats, wobbles, becomes constipated, makes me tired, etc.

what seems to help is a general, yet light, awareness at the back of the heart, between the shoulder blades, but again, too much (heavy) emphasis or focus here seems to hinder, not help.

if anyone is familiar with genesa 'crystals.' (google for more info) a genesa showed up at central point of concentration and i have been working with it. (it is a circle containing 5 platonic solids. i'm not math oriented, so, whatever) but lightly, in breath and out breath, permeate the sphere, through the dynamic shapes within. genesa turns and sparkles. solidity of body formation, thought formation, dims somewhat. inside/ outside maybe not so far apart, after all

when i get sleepy, frustrated or dim, (while sitting) intentionally brightening genesa sometimes helps. but again, too much interference from me shuts things down.

and as reported here, sometimes when it fades, or wobbles, i recognize it has slipped off central axis. 'facing forward' is a reminder i give myself to realign when alignment slips.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/18/10 12:09 PM as a reply to go back to the breath.
ahh, yes. all that was preamble to question. (sorry for long spiel.) any thoughts, pointers, practical ideas on how to extend the 'sign.' ? thank you. emoticon

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/18/10 12:19 PM as a reply to Pavel _.
Hm, I don't dare staring at my friends for 30 minutes yet ... don't they complain? So I only use a professor at university from a distance of 10 meters or more, but sometimes, with other people, some shift occurs without staring, within seconds. I'd say it's 1st jhana, but then when I don't keep staring, it does not go deeper than that... not that it would go deeper that much even if I had more time.
By the way, this fast shift now also happens with the car in front of me every now and then, and I got the setting sun for the first time a week or two ago. Sun and moon have been much more challenging than expected.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/18/10 12:51 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Okay, so I could use some feedback.. emoticon
I've read MCTB, and have been trying samatha for some time now without a lot of results. I feel that I have access concentration on most occasions.

Bear with me..
I've tried Leigh Brasington's instructions for entering jhana. I get some interesting, pleasant sensations that will wave through my body, and I'll feel more concentrated as a result, but I do not feel that it is jhana. Or if it is, I'm immediately slipping back out of it. At any rate, I don't detect anything that feels like a the "obvious altered state of consciousness" mentioned in the directions.

So I decided to give the candle flame a try. Last night, I sat and single-pointedly concentrated on the flame. It turns out to be very easy to do; something primeval there really WANTS to look at the flame. Anyway, I did this for a several minutes, and then closed my eyes. Oddly, I didn't see the imprint of the flame on my retina. Perhaps I need to do this in a darker room.

What I did see was a circle in the center of my field of vision, that seemed to be changing colors as my eyes settled. This happened for a while, and then the circle went away, and I saw a dark sphere shape. That was a new one on me..never seen that before. The sphere lasted for a minute or so, and then it went away, and another little circle came back. Again, it seemed to change color a bit, before finally vanishing. At that point, it was just me with my eyes closed.

Does this mean anything to anyone? I'm grateful for any input, or guidance. emoticon

--Ray

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/18/10 10:31 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Hm, I don't dare staring at my friends for 30 minutes yet ... don't they complain?


Hahaha. They don't complain if they are staring back :-) I think that it is a fascinating area of study, getting into jhanas through using real life external objects, using the sun/moon must have been a lot of fun. I don't know if you can get deeper into these things through practice (I never tried, I almost never do samatha). A possible setback could be the number of distractions - using something like a friend's head in a silent room with both people sitting still, or using the mirror are much easier in my case (in my experience candle flame is the easiest of them all), youtube is also pretty doable, especially when most of these spiritual teachers use very hypnotic speech patterns that kick me off even before I start staring at them. (which brings me to another point, jhana by sound? - does anyone have any experience with this?)

Rayfield: I am by no means any good at this (at all) but I use a completely dark room, I sit very close to the candle and I close my eyes as soon as I feel that my concentration is strong enough, watching the show (the circle moves, changes colour, goes black on the inside, geometrical shapes spring up in the middle, changes into a square/triangle, changes in size). A lot of the time it fades out or I find it very hard to concentrate on it (sometimes it blinks a lot in the beginning), in which case I open my eyes, stare at the candle some more and repeat from the beginning (doing this sometimes a fair number of times until it's all pretty stable). When the jhana kicks in, to strengthen it I concentrate on the feeling of the jhana, ie. if there is a pleasant field around the body or a a nice coolness, warm pleasure, or whatever, I will concentrate on that instead of the circle and that strengthens the jhana, if the jhana drops, I go back to the candle.

Also check this out: interesting excerpt by Daniel from MCTB at the end of the discussion, discussing candle flame as an insight object rather than a samatha object

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/19/10 8:38 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
Thanks for the reply, Pavel. It's possible that I'm over-thinking this process. I'm an engineer by training, and sometimes it's hard for me to stop analyzing and just watch with attention.

When accessing the 1st jhana with this method, a physical sensation is the telltale sign that you're there? That's somewhat consistent with other instructions that I've seen, but perhaps I'm looking for something earth-shattering, instead of subtler feelings.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/21/10 8:11 PM as a reply to Rayfield Neel.
It's possible that I'm over-thinking this process. I'm an engineer by training, and sometimes it's hard for me to stop analyzing and just watch with attention.


What helps me greatly is noting 'analysing', 'philosophising', 'theorizing', 'discussing', or just simply 'thought' and going back to concentrating on the object (which is the only thing you want to be doing if doing samatha). Other words may be more appropriate for what your mind does but these are the ones I use (many many times).

When accessing the 1st jhana with this method, a physical sensation is the telltale sign that you're there? That's somewhat consistent with other instructions that I've seen, but perhaps I'm looking for something earth-shattering, instead of subtler feelings.


It's almost never earth shattering for me but when it happens, you know about it, it is very noticeably different, yet there is no need to be looking for it, as your concentration makes it come out of its own accord.

I think that the distinction is not only between the different jhanas, but also in between whether the jhana is soft or hard (and any shade in between). For me, the strength is generally quite low until I have been concentrating for a while, but I have been in a ludicrously hard jhana while in the A&P when the intensity of the physical and emotional pleasure I was feeling was far off anything I have ever experienced. Normally, it's a lot subtler.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/23/10 1:07 AM as a reply to go back to the breath.
maybe the most important thing about this new (to me) kasina territory, so far, is a practical application pertaining to insight/vipassana. i am seeing 1st hand how and why kasinas and jhana practice is set up preliminary to insight proper. i've been skimming a sweet little stephen levine book, called guided meditations, explorations and healings. you would never know it was a vipassana book from the new-agey cover or the blurbs on the back--marketing problem--strange...but here's to the point:

his writings do clearly come from a strong clear, vipassana, very metta place. in the introduction he writes about coming to see how all his problems, hang ups, faults, judgements of self and others, opinions, hindrances, were floating in an enormous and kind sphere of acceptance, peace, light = 'kasina.'

i experience this now while sitting. one-pointed concentration has been yielding 'on it's own' to more expanded spaces--spaces i still can't control or expand very much or very well on my own--they have a mind of their own.

so there is a center--anapana point, and a big clear periphery sphere somewhere outside and all around the body. the new development is that the periphery lightly seems aware of the center, which is to say, it is as if an awareness outside, with an intelligence larger than 'my self' is 'looking in' at 'little me' with clarity and compassion. (if i can extend the kasina beyond thought objects they become engulfed/vanished/ suffused within the expansion.)

i discover that although i had been feeling pretty equanamous and one-pointed within my little anapana base of nose thing, that (from outside looking in) there is this low-key, pervasive negativity or whatever--subtle or not-so, angry, noisy, jagged, (coffee--must stop) impatient, yucky stuff 'in aura.' or i feel 'oh, that noisy low-level background gggrrrr in my head, underneath ordinary consciousness, is left from argument with so-and-so.' whatever.

it doesn't matter all that much except these insights (like thought objects, like they have form--mind form) seeing them shifts them, diminishes them. there is clarity, peace, no self-judgement, self-blame. just seeing. ahhh. insight! sometimes just millimeters beyond the edges of my own head--hurray!

it is this feeling levine (probably others) wrote about, all this little me-ness does literally float in cosmic universality (kasina) in which it/ 'i' does not exist. but this as realization is less sad then 'i' imagined it might be, contained in lovely kasina container--and insights into my less lovely character-istics--feels okay too. metta helps.

levine says elsewhere in the book that at a certain point in his kasina practice, meditation for hours a day on 'green' that he felt he would be doing more for his overall practice--i.e. life--to work on loving-kindness as a kasina.

i don't know. they are amazing. buddha pretty smart, etc... emoticon

creating a blanket, shock absorbers, a womb? of (no) self-acceptance--preliminary to facing all that which really is as it really is--this seems like really good idea

these are just musings, ramblings, questions. i am abidingly so grateful for this practice and for having discovered this forum. daniel ingram's book, mastering the core teachings of the buddha, arrived from amazon today. it looks sssooooo good. i went to the local kinkos and had them printout the large handout map from his website (pdf 11x17) (www.interactivebuudha.com.) i had them laminate it.

so i will buckle down and start reading now--hurray. thank you thank you thank you

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
9/9/10 2:24 AM as a reply to go back to the breath.
Hi all,

First post! Attended a 10 day vipassana retreat in January and have been doing nothing other than insight practice in my daily sits.

After reading some practice journals on Kenneth Folk's site, I've decided to start doing some kasina practice.

I started yesterday, with a kasina that is off-white, 9" in diameter, which I cut out of a cereal box. It is propped up against a wall that is covered by a black sheet.

Initially I stare too hard and my eyes strain/water. Then, I start to relax into it. However, whilst I try and focus on the centre of the disc, my eyes invariably focus on the shape as a whole when 'resting', and I have to will focus on the centre. I blink every few seconds to relieve strain/tension on the eyes, and can't focus sufficiently unless I wear my glasses, as I have a lazy left eye.

After a few minutes, when I close my eyes to rest them, a black disc surrounded by a white background (kinda like an eclipse) appears as a mental image, appearing like a picture from tv snow. It disappears after a few seconds. The longer I stare, the quicker the image arises and the more vivid it is.

Yesterday I did a quick sit when I came home from lunch (the joys of living a 10 minute walk from the office). Within 5 minutes of the 15 minute sit I felt a strong tension, almost like a headache, which became distracting and I stopped the practice. When I restarted during the same period, the tension came back again.

Last night I tried candle flame meditation, which was easier to concentrate on.

Any ideas as to what the tension might be and any advice to consolidate/improve my practice?

Many thanks!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
9/9/10 3:42 PM as a reply to Just Is.
I think that the center of the forehead tension headaches generally have a lot to do with strain, try straining less. It is completely and utterly possible (and much preferable) to concentrate well and with energy, yet without straining. It might take a while to figure this out. Also, the tension should disappear after a while, if you can not find relief from it by changing the way in which you meditate, try to meditate regardless and see whether it disappears of its own volition (may be a good idea to meditate for longer than just 15 minutes for this).

Hope this helps.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
9/11/10 6:48 AM as a reply to Just Is.
Focusing on the shape of the whole thing is very good, keep this up a little (later a couple of seconds suffice) and you should soon find the geometry of your vision stabilize and then change. Not staring at the center but looking through it, maybe in a slightly defocused way, is good. Impression of jhana is that you, for the first time, can see the whole object, not only a part of it, so embrace the kasina.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/5/10 1:42 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I have been trying for many months to get access concentration using the breath.

Now I've switched to kasina with the flame of a candlelight as object.

After a while, 5-10 minutes I close my eyes and see a dot. I try to focus on it but it disappears two ways: either it seems to moving to the top and out of sight or else my eyelids start to flicker like in REM sleep and the dot disappears.

Do you focus on the flame all the time and trying to refocus continuously or do you let the flame go out of focus?

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/5/10 2:02 PM as a reply to Christoffer S.
Hey Christoffer,

As soon as you close your eyes and see the dot, stay with it. It will move, it will change, grow, get smaller and do all kinds of other things (its supposed to do this, this is good), just stay with it. If it disappears altogether, go back to staring at the flame.

The fact that the dot disappears (not keeping a close enough eye), or that your eyes start flickering (too much strain), should be indicative of what is the best way of going about this method of meditation. There is a certain balanced and strong (not strained but stable) attention that gets the trick done but it may be required to keep on trying until that starts happening.

All the best.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/15/10 2:35 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
It also just takes practice and repetition. The dot doing those things is a standard stage of progress with better ones following with continued work.

D

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
10/28/10 7:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'm not a very experienced yogi (say 2 weeks of focused practice.) Practicing with a kasina did have remarkable results. I was able to get more concentrated for longer by leaps and bounds.

However, it did seem like a good way to get an ocular migraine, or maybe just a plain old migraine. It was extremely hard not to interfere with my blinking, which meant that when I blinked, either I lost some concentration, or I didn't blink at all, and my eyes hurt a lot.

I experienced a bunch of the visual effects - the halo effect where there was a halo around the object, the object disappearing or blending into the wall, the object distorting, the object dancing, the object becoming more defined. I think a lot of the visuals could be explained by physiological phenomena - the halo is probably related to the selected overstimulation & understimulation of rods and cones based on a fixed gaze. The object disappearing is probably an overstimulated visual cortex struggling to process the same image repeatedly, probably the same with the distortion. The dancing is probably related to holding a fixed gaze for unnaturally long. Probably I was staring too hard - but the visual effects are kind of hypnotic and make one feel like they are getting somewhere fast.

That's my long winded way of saying I look at the visual effects as hallmarks of progress with skepticism. I do, however, appreciate the concentration and practice . . .

. . . but I'm still seeing halos with my left eye, two days later.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/1/10 3:32 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hello all,

Just wanted to share a recent experience. I thought I'd try this kasina thing.. just a few minutes ago actually (kind of bored at work). I had nothing on hand so I took a chopstick wrapper from the Thai food I ordered. It is bright red, with yellow letters that are inside some black-outlined boxes. The left side of it had some text on it and, not wanting the text to distract me, I placed my iPhone upside-down on it, whose case is also red.

I start staring at the chopstick wrapper - it's just on my desk. Pretty quickly, my vision starts to distort - it doesn't take long for my eyes to get tired. The yellow letters would start flickering, without the red background flickering. Some of the letters would disappear. Vision would get blurry and un-blurry again, etc. I notice that, for example, if the letters start flickering, and I kind of re-focus my eyes, they stop flickering and become solid again for a few seconds. As I kept my eyes open longer, my entire vision turned foggy, like everything was mixed with a shade of gray. I think the center of my vision was not as fogged but I can't remember now.

At some point I close my eyes. First thing I notice is lots of distracting flickering behind my eyelids - my tired eyes were probably unhappy. Then I saw a really really clear after-image burned on my retina. It was light blue, which makes sense as that's the contrast color to red. It's funny cause it was shaped like my iPhone-chopstick combo, with a rectangle on the left, and a longer thinner rectangle in the middle. The top edge was really really sharp and distinct; it looked like a light was behind the wrapper's image or something.

A cool thing is that, instead of the letters with black box outlines I saw yellow squares with nothing inside. The yellow boxes would fade in and out. The whole after-image was very clear at first, and then it gradually faded. However, after it faded, I could kind of concentrate and bring it back, with slightly less intensity. then it would fade again. it kind of dissolved, with the blue just spreading out and fading.

This took just a few minutes. I decided not to continue since there's lots of distracting noise and stuff. I think my chopstick-wrapper kasina had much success! I definitely want to try it when I get home in a more quiet setting.

Some thoughts/questions:
* Didn't notice any rapture or anything.. but this was only a few minutes. I'll comment more about this later.
* This seems like we're just tiring out our eyes and then focusing on the after-image as an object. Is that accurate? Hey I guess if this leads to absorption states, why not?
* I'm not sure when to blink and whether to keep my eyes focused. I can keep them open for a long long time if they just get really bleary, since they start tearing up. I can keep them unfocused and keep some shimmery visual effects going (from tired eyes), or re-focus them a little and have the normal image come into focus again. I'll just play around with this.
* I think I'll try a candle flame, since I can have that candle lit with my room dark. That should minimize other visual distractions and get a really nice after-image.

Thanks for the thread everyone!

EDIT: Speaking of visual distortion... has anyone ever gotten a strange visual distorted feeling when talking to people? It's happened on a number of occasions before I started meditating, and one after. Pretty much I'll be talking to a person normally, then for some reason my perception will dramatically warp. It's hard to describe... in a sense I felt like the way I was looking at them is how they would "really" be seen, without any mental constructs on top of it - like all the spots my brain was filling it were revealed. That is probably just false perception, since any image would have to be mentally constructed by the brain somehow.. and I could still recognize a face, etc., but in a way it felt clearer. Before meditating I just kind of tried to shake it off cause it was discomforting, and it would fade in a few seconds. The time after, i tried to extend it a bit, and could keep it going a few seconds more and had it re-occur 2 more times after. Still dnno what it is, it's interesting though. I don't think it has to do with eyes getting tired from not blinking, cause I wasn't having a staring contest or anything.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/1/10 3:46 PM as a reply to House Cat.
House Cat:
I'm not a very experienced yogi (say 2 weeks of focused practice.) Practicing with a kasina did have remarkable results. I was able to get more concentrated for longer by leaps and bounds.

However, it did seem like a good way to get an ocular migraine, or maybe just a plain old migraine. It was extremely hard not to interfere with my blinking, which meant that when I blinked, either I lost some concentration, or I didn't blink at all, and my eyes hurt a lot.

I experienced a bunch of the visual effects - the halo effect where there was a halo around the object, the object disappearing or blending into the wall, the object distorting, the object dancing, the object becoming more defined. I think a lot of the visuals could be explained by physiological phenomena - the halo is probably related to the selected overstimulation & understimulation of rods and cones based on a fixed gaze. The object disappearing is probably an overstimulated visual cortex struggling to process the same image repeatedly, probably the same with the distortion. The dancing is probably related to holding a fixed gaze for unnaturally long. Probably I was staring too hard - but the visual effects are kind of hypnotic and make one feel like they are getting somewhere fast.

That's my long winded way of saying I look at the visual effects as hallmarks of progress with skepticism. I do, however, appreciate the concentration and practice . . .


I agree that probably most of the visual distortions are just physiological phenomena.. the negated after-image, for example, is cause your brain is over-compensating for seeing, for example, red all the time. This is really useful. If you've worn tinted ski-goggles, for example, when you first put them on stuff is slightly purple. Soon, your brain adjusts and you can see things normally again. When you take them off, though, everything is slightly too yellow / bright.

From what I understand, with closed-eye jhana anyway, is that upon entering 1st jhana, the after-image will turn into a normal-color version of the original object. Not sure what's supposed to happen w/ open-eye 1st jhana.

It does definitely seem easier to concentrate on these objects than on the breath.

. . . but I'm still seeing halos with my left eye, two days later.


=O don't go blind now!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/1/10 11:56 PM as a reply to House Cat.
Blinking, all the visual distortion stuff, the "visual purple" phenomena, as they are called, and headaches, and feelings of straining, all part for the course in the beginning: went through all those without the migraine (I am lucky not to get those), but still some headaches as I adjusted.

It is very true that kasinas can cause all sorts of rapid progress early on: they are fast ways to build concentration: way faster for most than the breath or whatever.

Keep at it.

As to the phone-wrapper image: that is good progress: keep at it, and with practice it will stylize itself into something more regular and then progress from there if you keep bringing it up, but I would recommend candle flame, as, at least in my own experiments, I found it much easier than larger and less bright and interesting objects. I actually spent time doing kasinas on all sorts of things: zapf dingbat characters at 250pt font size, flowers, colored paper disks, plates, my meditation teachers head's (Bhante Gunaratana distorted and stabilized as a monkey for about 20 minutes of his dharma talk: kid you not, really amusing at the time), but candle flame is my fave.

D

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/2/10 10:06 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

As to the phone-wrapper image: that is good progress: keep at it, and with practice it will stylize itself into something more regular and then progress from there if you keep bringing it up, but I would recommend candle flame, as, at least in my own experiments, I found it much easier than larger and less bright and interesting objects.


I bought a candle last night and meditated on it, and.. it worked! If the following text is too long, then please skip it - I have some questions at the end (as always =).

---

My state of mind leading up to it was very excited/hopeful/motivated. I felt like I knew it was going to 'work'/have good effects, after doing the chopstick wrapper experiment. I read the MCTB sections that talked about it so I had some idea of what to do. (Unfortunately?) at the time I was also under the influence of THC... I didn't do it just to meditate, but I partook with a friend earlier and, before going to bed, decided to try the candle flame meditation.

I got a small one which was in a jar, meaning I couldn't sit on the floor and see it well. I ended up setting it on my desk and sitting in my chair, looking at it, sometimes through the glass, sometimes by bending my body over it (which was a bit uncomfortable) and looking at the flame. I'll have to get a candle not in a jar.

So then I began staring at it. Eyes getting tired, etc. I don't know if I felt a "shift" the first time I closed my eyes, but closed them I did after a bit. I was looking for a purple after-image, but much to my surprise, I instead saw a red dot! Just like MCTB said. Sometimes when under the influence I get mild hard-to-see visuals, but this was different - it was very red, very round, and very visible.

So I start staring at the red dot. It's only solid and steady for a little bit. I notice it keeps moving off to one side, so to 'follow' it I 'turn' my eyes. I know they were closed and I wasn't looking at anything, but I felt I had to follow it with my eyes. When I'd get distracted/tired of that, my eyes would twitch a little back to center, then the dot would disappear and re-appear a few times until stabilizing again to where my eyes were looking.

That happened a few times, each time the dot coming back a little less clear. At some point it was just gone, so I opened my eyes again and stared some more. This time I definitely noticed a 'shift'. The candle flame started looking like a tiny man who was dancing around the wick. I could see 2 legs, arms, a head; it was kind of cute. I close my eyes - there's the red dot again. This time there was a purple halo around it I assume was from the eye being fatigued, but the red dot was there. Same as last time - it would be stable, then appear and disappear as my eyes twitched, although I was a bit better at not twitching them this time.

It disappeared again, so I opened my eyes again. This time I sat back and looked at the candle through the glass of the jar. I got another shift, this time with the whole jar - it seemed to be clearer, more in focus, than the background. When I closed my eyes, the dot was larger and more stable, but this time I noticed that it seemed to be flickering just like the candle was.

The red dot didn't stay red the whole time.. at some point there was a smaller dot inside it of a color I couldn't determine - maybe white-ish? At some point I might have noticed a black disk instead of the red dot, but I'm not sure.

After 4 rounds or so my concentration was breaking. My unsober state caused my mind to release many thoughts that got in the way, so I decided to go to sleep. I just wanted to describe that, since I'm pretty excited about it. It's been the most unmistakable sign that I tried something that worked =). The only doubt is that I wasn't fully sober.. which I will remedy by trying this again sober until I get similar results.

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Anyway, some questions...

* Re-reading the MCTB sections, it talks about progressing through the vipassana jhanas while doing this meditation, not the samadhi jhanas. That is really strange.. this seems like the definition of a concentration meditation. Why does it take you through the insight stages? Mm if only I could do it for 15 minutes and get my first fruition.
* Related to the previous question, but... when in a jhana, how do you switch to noting? Or rather, I can guess how, but how does staying in jhana work while noting? It seems like you need to concentrate on your object to maintain the jhanic state, but if you start noting it seems like you break it down instead.
* Where's the bliss/rapture at? I think somewhere it is written in MCTB that to really grab the first jhana, tune into the pleasant sensations of the body. When focusing on the red dot, I tried doing this. what ended up happening though is, since I'm used to using breath as an object, I would try to tune into pleasant sensations on my in-breaths. I think this diminished from concentrating on the red dot. Maybe those instructions were more particular to the breath object meditation? I think I'll just have to experiment here. Also I might have felt something, but couldn't be sure, as my mind was not fully sober.

I think I'm going to re-read the chapter on vipassana jhanas - there seems to be stuff there I missed the first time.

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/2/10 9:44 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Well I tried it sober, and... it 'worked'! The following paragraph may indicate how crazy I am right now =P.

I set up the candle, similar to before. I start staring at it. I'm not very calm, really. I'm mostly hoping it'll work like before.. Similar to before, I seem to focus more on the whole jar holding the candle, not just the candle flame. I notice some kind of shift - it's like the jar becomes more 3D in a sense, more into the foreground, more distinct, and the background fades. I close my eyes. First thing I notice is lots of flickering - I think my eyelids were flickering from my eyes being tired. Then I notice a black disc-like thing. I later realized that it was the whole candle jar after-image. And then... I see the red dot! My mental state was not calm at all. Running off in my head was relief from it working, excitement for it working, etc... then doubt sets in. "Is this 1st jhana really? it's just retina burn, man.. happens to everyone. hmm this doesn't feel much different from how I usually feel. hmm the red dot keeps moving around, I can't seem to stabilize it. aghh." And all the while I had bits of the damn song "Space Dementia" by Muse running loops in my head. Definitely not a calm mind... yet I guess I could still get 1st jhana (red dot?)! Of course after the initial exhilaration of it 'working' I had all the doubts, then disappointment of not being like pumped with bliss or w/e, then wondering if I'm doing it correctly, etc.

I like this form of meditation, though. The hour I set up passed by pretty fast. My concentration (or lack thereof) is also much more palpable. I can see I clearly have a long way to go in terms of how well I can focus. I think I was better focused yesterday as I had a clearer more stable dot at some point.

The perennial question section... I was going to put a ton of annoying questions here, but instead I'm just going to follow what is written here: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB%20Bill%20HamiltonS%20Model?p_r_p_185834411_title=MCTB%20Bill%20HamiltonS%20Model . So what I'll try is:

* Focus on flame until I can stay with it and notice a shift.
* Close my eyes and wait for the dot.
* Start not(ic)ing. Notice stability, shaking, rolling, flickering, etc.
* If the red dot/visual phenomena fade, start over.

I'll ask two (hopefully useful) questions...

* Can I try to just solidify the red dot here? Would that lead to other samatha jhanas? Or would it inevitably flicker away?

* Right now, it isn't stable for long at all. Maybe a few seconds, then it starts 'misbehaving'. Is that me going onto other insight stages or just my jhana breaking? I'm inclined to the latter because my progression hasn't gone past the flickering/rolling away. Instead of the practice shifting to a wider red dot it just disappears. Well, this is only my second time, so I'll just keep trying =).

I want to thank everyone who recommended kasinas and candle flames! I wish I had tried this sooner.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/3/10 1:16 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
A few points:

I am glad you are having fun with candle-flame. This is very underutilized and fun practice. Many can at least get some preliminary results. Getting past the black disk when it arises is a whole different order of difficult for most, but the first 1-2 are not bad.

As to whether or not this is samatha or vipassana, that differentiation and sameness becomes more predominant at later stages, so I'll wait until you get into that territory to see what you experience and what you think.

Purely visual images by their nature take us away from our body, so bodily side effects, such as bliss and good feelings will be much less than with other concentration methods: I wouldn't look for those at all: stay with the images, see what happens. Repeat again and again in high doses. If you can get a whole day or two to do this hour after hour with few pauses for say 10-15 hours each day, you are very likely to see some really interesting stuff.

Keep at it, see where it leads.

Daniel

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/4/10 9:33 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Just wanted to share some progress one more time. I noticed re-reading the posts above that the same things happened to me, so hopefully this post will help people. I won't do another for a while though as this isn't my personal practice journal...

Doing it sober, I've been getting better results. Yesterday the first few times I tried it, it was hard to focus, I saw only a tiny red dot / oval-shaped one, and it would disappear quickly. It left me feeling annoyed and really brought my mood down - I was definitely not being mindful. Ah a tip - I heard that if you have thought patterns that keep going, just intensely telling them to STOP might stop them. This is a bad idea when you're in a bad mood! I ended up just yelling at myself mentally and that got me nowhere.

Anyway, I tried it again later and had much better results. I got a nice big red dot and I could stay with it better. I think the size of the dot indicates how concentrated I am. It doesn't stay red and stable - it kind of starts flickering, the edges kind of waver. It turned yellow at some point. I wonder, "why yellow?" then I realize it kind of looked like the candle flame itself. At some point it just kind of flickers, turns black, something like that.. I can't tell if I'm losing focus or moving on, but probably the former.

I also tried noting the candle and aspects of the red dot, instead of just focusing, and the results seem similar. It's funny, I used to not have read any description about samatha vs. vipassana meditation, then after MCTB I thought I had it figured out, but now it's blurry again. My concentration is definitely getting more palpable, though.. like I can usually tell whether, if I try it right at a given moment, I'll be able to concentrate well enough. That's a plus...

Overall I like it. It's also much easier to do it for long periods of time. I think cause it has kind of a 'round' aspect to it. One round is a sequence of open eyes, flame notice, shift, close eyes, follow red dot until it disappears. That can take 5-15 mins. Then when it's over I can say "alright, one more round!" and do it for another 5-15. This aspect makes it easier than just sitting for 1 hour trying to focus on the breath. I'm going to stick with it, see where it gets me.

Strange things: I feel like I almost don't have to focus so much for the dot to appear... for example, after one round, I went to the bathroom, and I noticed that if I blinked, I'd see an outline of the dot. Then if I closed my eyes, it was actually there. And I'm pretty sure I wasn't thinking about the flame/dot on the way to the bathroom.. I also experimented with putting a blindfold on after closing my eyes to block out the candle's flickering. The result was: more interesting retina burn patterns, and the red dot was a little easier to see, but not much else. I'm pretty sure it's a mental phenomenon, and not just retina burn, cause 1) I see the retina burn of purple circles before the dot, and 2) when I had very bad focus/was yelling at myself I didn't see the dot at all even after staring for a bit.

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Aside: The most 'interesting' experience was when I tried it high one more time. It was easy to focus, I quickly got a big red dot, and it was much easier to stay with it. Even though I felt like it was moving, I could follow it perfectly - it kind of felt like my background was shifting to allow it to stick so clearly. Then it started doing cool things - it became more 3-dimensional, it started getting bumps, wrinkles, etc. This happened a bit on the last sober meditation, but it was more intense now. Then.. I started getting more interesting visuals around the dot. I kind of made a connection here - before when high, I would sometimes get closed eye visuals. These now seemed to be from the same source. So maybe I tapped into the same thing through this meditation. 2nd vipassana jhana maybe? Then the dot kind of faded, and I lost track of things... dnno if I was just losing focus on center and moving thru the jhanas, or if I just lost concentration, but I opened my eyes and re-started.

So yeah it is fun.. but I think it demoralizes my sober meditation when I don't get as good results.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/11/10 12:17 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Yeah, standard instructions are that when you get retina-burn-like phenomena to then move to a different place and keep going: this is straight out of the old texts.

If you want to stay with red: generally tune into any red colors on the back of your eyelids after the thing fades, and if you do this long enough and well enough, more and more of the field will become red, and if you do it even more, everything will seem like you are looking through red-tinted glasses for some period of time after you stop and open your eyes, as they say in the old books, "He sees red everywhere". Same goes for corpses: so don't try that unless you are unusually macabre.

Just more interesting tips based on the original instructions, which turn out to be really straightforward and useful. If you haven't read them: check out the Visuddhimagga, Chapters IV and V, particularly page 169, at least in my BPS version, also available in various places on-line.

Have fun, and glad you are enjoying this little taught but really useful practice.

More tips, borrowed from the Vedantic/Tantric kids: if your thoughts annoy you, add a simple mantra that you really like: pick any one, doesn't matter so much from a certain point of view. It can take a little time to figure out how much attention to give which object, but soon enough the mantra is taking up a lot of the verbal processing power of the thought stream and actually helps rather than hurts concentration, sort of like the kasina version of noting.

Daniel

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
11/11/10 9:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
If you want to stay with red: generally tune into any red colors on the back of your eyelids after the thing fades, and if you do this long enough and well enough, more and more of the field will become red, and if you do it even more, everything will seem like you are looking through red-tinted glasses for some period of time after you stop and open your eyes, as they say in the old books, "He sees red everywhere". Same goes for corpses: so don't try that unless you are unusually macabre.

Heh interesting. I have noticed that there would be more diffuse red around the red dot. Kind of like a larger red dot, but really faint, and much larger, so I don't think it was 2nd vipassana jhana widening of attention. I'll try sticking with it after the dot fades, see what happens.

Daniel M. Ingram:
Just more interesting tips based on the original instructions, which turn out to be really straightforward and useful. If you haven't read them: check out the Visuddhimagga, Chapters IV and V, particularly page 169, at least in my BPS version, also available in various places on-line.


Ah thanks! I was wondering if there is more stuff about this. I googled "candle flame red dot", but only got a hit from MCTB related to this. the next closest was a Wiccan manual where they say to focus on a candle flame until you can visualize it perfectly, or you can try focusing on a red dot, instead. I'll read through those chapters at some point.

The meditation is going great. I feel like I'm breaking new ground, hitting early A&P, maybe Dissolution.. in any case, getting somewhere I didn't notice before. Maybe I'll make a post about it, but thinking about what I'd want from posting it, I realize the answer would anyway be "keep noticing stuff." In any case, I think I just really needed more concentration.

I have developed a tip of my own, if anyone wants to try it. I've noticed that when I stare at the candle flame... after staring for a second or so, my eyes will 'twitch' away and back. They'll just like move a tiny bit (but not smoothly) or re-focus, or something. I realized it's really hard to actually have an intensely steady gaze on just one part of the candle flame, so I started noting the twitches withi "twitch" whenever I observed them, and tried to minimize them. Then what would happen is I wouldn't notice a twitch, but a few seconds in I'd realize I was staring slightly past the flame and off to the right! So I really tried focusing on keeping my gaze steady, and I think that helped a lot. That also helped with focusing on the red dot; that's probably where the flickering and the rolling off to one side comes from - a similar kind of twitch/attention subtly wandering.

Focusing on the twitching seems to prevent thoughts well enough. And actually I always seem to have a song running through my head when I meditate... and throughout the day, mostly. It gets a bit annoying... maybe I will try the mantra as well.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/16/11 11:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Man this stuff is awesome! Just had a very fun one last night, basically as intense as described in MCTB. I just realized probably a large part as to why I continue to do this even though I know AF is my goal is that it's just so cool. I'll have to get over that... anyway, here is the description of the sit, to show I guess what 2.5 months of practice can do... though the reason it's more brilliant now is not that I did lots of candle flame practice (almost none at all), but that I progressed a lot insight-wise. The sit was enhanced with THC, which seems to increase my concentration by an order of magnitude or so...

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I start staring at the candle, keeping my face quite close to it so the candle flame is pretty large. I believe I immediately lock into a hard 1st jhana - I can feel pleasant feelings on the surface of my skin if I focus there, I feel like my vision is focused like a tunnel in front of me. I really groove on the way the candle looks; it's quite beautiful. I can see how three-dimensional the flame actually is, all its colors, how it glows, etc...

After a few minutes I decide that's enough of that, and close my eyes. I see a huge red thing in my vision. It's not a circle, as I was moving my head around when looking at the flame (and the flame is also not a circle but has a point up), so it's much the shape of an actual candle flame.

It's there pretty brilliantly, very red and very large [Mind & Body]. (I wish we could record one's visual output, it would be fun to look at this later.) I notice vaguely how intention seems to make it move [Cause & Effect]. Then the edges start shifting around a bit, very quickly and cleanly, little black bumps appearing on the outside, and the thing starts flickering [3 Chars].

Then I feel like something 'breaks', it collapses in on itself and expands back to where it was, except now it's flickering like mad, and it's a clean light blue color [A&P]. A general sense of it being awesome to look at. I can see why even here this A&P could be mistaken for enlightenment... it flickers like crazy, things start shooting out of it, etc, all in a nice light blue/white color.

Next the whole thing stops flickering, it all calms down, and it becomes a dark red color, much darker than the 1st red, with the same outline except it's a bit smaller . There are vague colors on the outer edge of it. About here I start pushing to go forward, naming off stages in my head, so it's not as natural as earlier. When I inclined towards , it's as if everything became a large wormhole or black hole, with the center being the dark-red image, and with a bunch of things swirling around it in a 3-dimensional way, the whole thing facing up, behind me, and to the right. The next stages I named off, , , [Desire for Deliverance], I didn't observe too clearly, but it felt like each one brought a different element into the picture, similar to how Fear brought in the black-hole like thing. On [Re-Observation], all of the unique elements each Dark Night stage brought were present, kind of flipping through them rapidly or having them appear together in some confusing, annoying way.

Now something else 'breaks' and now I'm just taking it all in at once, looking at the whole visual field as one thing that includes everything . It's very pretty, many shapes start appearing and things like that. I kept observing it and looking at it a few seconds, though I don't remember much, then I felt like it kind of faded away prematurely... everything faded out into this uniform whiteness, all traces of the flame image completely gone . At first I thought I just messed up or something, that it didn't Fruition but instead turned into this white thing and kept going from there without Fruitioning... that's why I meant I felt like it faded prematurely... so I'm not entirely sure on this one. I then hung out there for a bit, not sure where it was going.

I repeated it once, this time getting a more circular image. Similar things happened, except the way Equanimity ended was that I could actually observe everything being sucked up into something, then getting spit out again.

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Anyway... fun stuff... it's just so cool!...

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/16/11 11:50 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Beoman:


Now something else 'breaks' and now I'm just taking it all in at once, looking at the whole visual field as one thing that includes everything . It's very pretty, many shapes start appearing and things like that. I kept observing it and looking at it a few seconds, though I don't remember much, then I felt like it kind of faded away prematurely... everything faded out into this uniform whiteness, all traces of the flame image completely gone . I then hung out there for a bit, not sure where it was going.

I repeated it once, this time getting a more circular image. Similar things happened, except the way Equanimity ended was that I could actually observe everything being sucked up into something, then getting spit out again.


Hey Boeman,

When you say you hung out there for a second, are you saying you hung out in the fruition or the after affects?

Candle flame practice is the bees knees!

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2010/12/nicks-current-candle-flame-kasina.html

emoticon

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
2/16/11 11:56 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai H.:
When you say you hung out there for a second, are you saying you hung out in the fruition or the after affects?


In the after effects. I felt like it was a jhana or something.. like maybe I could have gone up some samatha jhanas afterwards. Or maybe it was the visual equivalent of feeling bodily bliss all over - a nice relaxing white space of stuff that I wasn't looking too closely at. Hmm perhaps insights could be gained by investigating that, too...

I haven't been able to prolong a fruition like I heard mentioned in the Progress to Insight (they mention staying in a Fruition for 30 minutes to an hour or something?). Probably the 'longest' fruition I've had, if it is possible to do that, is once when I was falling asleep. I noticed I was cycling and getting jolted once in a while, which I thought was Fruitions, and then one particular jolt 'trapped' me or felt like it caught me, and I was in that caught/trapped state for maybe a second, probably slightly less than that, before it collapsed and I felt the bliss afterwards.

Not to make it sound like I was conscious during the cessation.. I suspect the cessation was the jolt collapsing at the end, but I wonder what the jolt was.

RE: Shamatha practices with Kasinas
Answer
1/28/12 5:12 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I've tried this a few times today.

When you close your eyes, does the after-image stay in one place in your vision? I'm having this problem where the after-image wants to migrate to the upper-right of my field of vision. So if I look directly at it, it moves up and to the right.

This is really irritating, because I want to "dive in" to the image. It looks almost like a glowing red or green portal. But every time I "move toward it", it goes up to the right and gets away from me.

Maybe my eyes are broken. :-)