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“Bootstrapped” Kasina

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“Bootstrapped” Kasina
Answer
3/22/19 4:19 PM
Within Chapter 29 - Kasina Practice of Part 3 of MCTB2, I became interested in a particular statement regarding the section on choosing a Kasina:

“For those who see colors, even subtle ones, when they close their eyes or are in the dark, you can even bootstrap a kasina off those with enough careful attention to the colors and to cultivating and organizing them, a skill that takes merely practice to learn.”

Would anyone experienced with Kasina practice expound more deeply into this aspect of choosing a Kasina and the resulting technique? Particularly,


  • How specifically would one choose/develop this “bootstrapped” kasina?
  • What would the Kasina be like and what are the characteristics of the downstream Nimitha?
  • How would one go about this technique systematically given no inherent cycles of opening and closing the eyes?
  • Could one still describe the resultant Nimitha as “clean, clear, [and of] interesting organization and brilliance” that is described with the traditional method of practice?
  • Has anyone tried this method and what have been their experiences? 
I am wondering if this may prove to be a useful technique if one could learn to utilize an “internal kasina”. While (assuming) a potentially more difficult upstart since it may not have the captivation and brilliance of a candle flame, maybe it would prove advantageous subsequently when navigating the “murk”/visual static territory, as the initial training inherently involves drawing out observations of the grey/black static.

MCTB2 goes on to state that the “...first point about navigating in the murk is that dark colors, such as black and grey, are totally valid kasina objects you can play with and pay attention to.” As such, could one choose the “murk” (or aspects of it) as the object of concentration from the start without necessarily requiring an external kasina? Are there any warnings or suggestions to those pursuing this technique?

My sincere thanks for your attention!

RE: “Bootstrapped” Kasina
Answer
3/23/19 12:34 AM as a reply to Avi.
I cant answer much of what you are looking for but here is my experience which might help. After doing a lot of fire kasina practice, I can boot strap it pretty easy. Before that practice, I barely noticed the visual field.

I look for anything remotely resembling a dot and pay attention to the detail very closely. Use as loose of a definition of a dot as you can. Look for impermanence in the center especially spinning or rotation. Maybe it is lighter in the middle. If you dont see anything wait patiently with fascination paying close attention to the detail. A gentle intention and imagination might help. If you can see the beginnings of a nimitta, look for spinning, color, pixels, rotation. Stay with the detail.

I have not tried this outside of just daily sits. The nimitta is not very mature.

I was told that there is no cheating with this practice. If it holds your fascination, it is fair game. 

RE: “Bootstrapped” Kasina
Answer
3/25/19 6:17 AM as a reply to Avi.
Hi Avi
  • How specifically would one choose/develop this “bootstrapped” kasina?
Bootstrapping a kasina can be an interesting practice for its own sake. Or it can be done in the "murk" phase of fire kasina practice. For example, one might boostrap a kasina from a light pixel in the murk in order to centralise focus of attention (i.e. move attention away from the periphery and back to the centre of the visual field). I sometimes do this if I have been in the murk for (what feels like!) a long time and my mind starts to crave a focused attention object. Other times I try to just stay with a more peripheral attention in the murk. Depends on the sit. 

  • What would the Kasina be like and what are the characteristics of the downstream Nimitha?
Using a light pixel or a colour as a kasina is not as easy as using a stable "real world" object, mostly because it is a more subtle phenomenon that tends to rapidly flicker and move. I am not sure what you mean by the "downstream nimitta"? Personally I only experience a very strong, clear and powerful nimitta when using a candle flame as a kasina. (e.g. other forms of meditation such as mantra meditation produce a much weaker nimitta for me). A bootstrapped kasina does not produce a nimitta for me at all, rather it can lead to other visual phenomena (such as swathes of colour or images) appearing in the murk. 

  • How would one go about this technique systematically given no inherent cycles of opening and closing the eyes?
Simply close your eyes and choose a pixel or colour to focus on. I would keep eyes closed unless your concentration is strong enough that you can quite easily maintain visual phenomena with open eyes. Focusing on a single pixel with open eyes can be quite challenging. 

  • Could one still describe the resultant Nimitha as “clean, clear, [and of] interesting organization and brilliance” that is described with the traditional method of practice?
For me, there is no resulting nimitta, but rather a phenomenologically different visual effect of colour swathes and spontaneous imagery. It might be different for others. 

  • Has anyone tried this method and what have been their experiences? 
As above! 

  • As such, could one choose the “murk” (or aspects of it) as the object of concentration from the start without necessarily requiring an external kasina? 
Yes!

  • Are there any warnings or suggestions to those pursuing this technique?
The only suggestion is that by skipping the candle gazing and subsequent after image and nimitta sequence you might miss out on some valuable insights and jhana states (or just a really enjoyable light show!)

Happy practice emoticon