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Yantra Meditation
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11/23/10 5:58 AM
Does anybody know how to meditate on a Yantra? These geometric shapes have always intrigued me since my yoga days but the instructions I've found on the web seem to be at odds with each other. One set of instructions says to keep focus at the centre and don't let you focus be pulled into the outer shapes, another says to start at the centre then gradually move out through the triangles and then to the circles and then gradualy move back to the centre again, another site says to focus at the centre but let the rest of the yantra fill your vision.

Does anyone have any experience of this type of meditation or can anyone point me towards some instructions?

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/23/10 4:29 PM as a reply to John H.
I could give you instructions on how to use a yantra as a kasina object, which could provide an interesting concentration practice. Any kasina could also be used as a basis for insight meditation, since you can notice the true nature of any sensation no matter what. But as for the specific techniques of yantra, the things that set yantra apart from other visual meditation objects, I don't know what to tell you. The best thing would be to find a teacher who knows about yantra, and the next best thing would probably be a good book on the subject.

Those descriptions, btw, sound to me like different concentration phenomena with the yantra as an object. Specifically, the first instruction you mention sounds like first jhana; the second instruction sounds like smoothly moving from first jhana territory up into higher territory and then back down, without the well-delineated transitions that we usually encounter using Theravada concentration techniques. The third instruction seems like you start at first jhana and then try to widen the "attentional spotlight" as much as you can without losing the center; this would put you at the second jhana if you never permitted a loss of focus at the center, or if you permitted a loss of focus at the center then you would go through the third jhana up into the fourth.

Again, I don't know much about yantra yoga, so I could be entirely off here.

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/24/10 5:53 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
That's interesting that you see those instructions as descriptions of jhanas. Maybe each set of instructions is aiming at a particular jhana or something like that.

I'd like to hear your instructions on using the Yantra as a kasina object, if that's ok. I found that a lot of the descriptions of yantras on the web focus largely on the mystical/dogmatic aspects of the yantra, so it would be good to hear instructions that come from a concentration perspective as my aim is to increase concentration.

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/24/10 12:05 PM as a reply to John H.
Hi John,

Funnily enough, I'd been thinking along the same lines as yourself as I have experience using yantras, specifically the tattwas, to attain dhyana in previous work. I was actually wondering about incorporating them as kasina objects since they've worked well for me in the past and allowed me to study what I now understand to be the jhanas.

As for meditation technique using them, and bear in mind that I'm still new to the terminology of Theravada, my practice used to involve taking one of the main tattwas and gazing at it until the 'flashing colours' appeared on the periphery of the shape. Depending on my intent i.e. concentration on or examination of the element involved, I would then either direct my vision to a blank space on the wall and concentrate on the after-image of the shape of the tattwa, or close my eyes and stabilise the after-image internally before using it as 'astral doorway' to explore the nature of the tattwa. I know that these techniques helped me to improve concentration to an astounding degree and as I study Dan's book I'm become more aware of how these experiences can be understood within the Dharma.

I'd like to add to this question, if I may (sorry if I'm hijacking your thread here John!), and ask if using tattwas or the symbols of other traditions e.g. Kabbala is acceptable during samatha and/or vipassana practice? I'd prefer to keep it purely Theravada until I gain more understanding of this model but as a preliminary practice, do any of the more advanced practitioners foresee any contraindications here?

Good luck on your searching John, this site is an outstanding source of information.

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/25/10 8:55 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Ident,

Thanks for chiming in. Have you ever meditated on the Sri Yantra? I've stared at the Sri Yantra for a few minutes and found that the outer edges, mainly the circles and squares started to get a bit wobbly, like the shimmering air on a very hot day or the way patterned curtains look when you've taken some magic mushrooms. I think I may stare at it for a longer period tonight and see what happens.

It was a passage in MCTB in the Re-Observation chapter that roused my interest in yantras:

MCTB:
those who are crossing this territory with strong concentration abilities and using some very rarefied object, such as a complex visualization on sacred geometry as one of many possible examples, may, if they are very good, pass through this stage with little or no difficulty at all


Sounds good!

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/25/10 10:01 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
J Adam G:
But as for the specific techniques of yantra, the things that set yantra apart from other visual meditation objects, I don't know what to tell you. The best thing would be to find a teacher who knows about yantra, and the next best thing would probably be a good book on the subject.

Yantras usually have syllables that accompany them, and these contain an incredible wealth of knowledge that can be aquired through contemplation of the yantra. Not for the head, but for the heart. This kind of meditation then can look like calligraphy as you can draw the thing hundreds of times and deepen your understanding every time. The knowledge there is very dense, they're masterpieces, don't know if this approach can work without a teacher. I've looked for, but never seen a useful book on the devanagari written in / translated into english, and around the shri yantra you can place all the syllables. Each syllable has its meaning, as has each triangle. Hindu yantras (I don't know about mandalas) were made for preserving knowledge about reality's working and for reshaping your mind, not only for reaching a jhana.

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/25/10 1:48 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Seems like this requires more knowledge than I first anticipated. I may stick to candle flame meditation until such time as I can find a good resource to guide me through it. I wouldn't want to do a disservice to the yantra or mess around with something that I don't know much about.

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/25/10 4:58 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Yantras usually have syllables that accompany them


Is this similar to the bija mantra?

Hindu yantras (I don't know about mandalas) were made for preserving knowledge about reality's working and for reshaping your mind, not only for reaching a jhana.


My studies in the past have been mainly Kabbala based although I've worked with some parts of the Hindu system of meditation so I understand where you're coming from. I agree that their sole purpose is certainly not for reaching a jhana but I think they can be useful as a starting point, although perhaps something less symbolically loaded would be more appropriate. I'm realising that myself as I considered using tattwas but I've decided to stick to the breath or a candle as a basis!

RE: Yantra Meditation
Answer
11/27/10 4:11 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Ident Silence:
Yantras usually have syllables that accompany them


Is this similar to the bija mantra?

Yes, it's only bijas afaik. Something like the yoga sutra is already very dense, and the few yantras that I have seen seem to be even denser. No words, only lines and sounds.

Nothing wrong with using the yantra's geometry for visualization and meditation though if they appeal to you, I haven't tried that yet. Just know that this is not the only way to use the yantras.