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Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?

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Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/16/14 6:15 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/16/14 6:24 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/16/14 6:28 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/14 5:07 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? ftw 9/17/14 7:24 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Raazik Gatrad 9/17/14 9:28 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 9/25/14 1:51 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/17/14 3:32 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Daniel M. Ingram 9/17/14 4:22 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Psi 9/25/14 9:57 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/17/14 3:25 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 9/21/14 3:59 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Daniel M. Ingram 9/22/14 1:27 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Dream Walker 9/22/14 10:53 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 9/23/14 5:40 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 9/23/14 5:46 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 9/25/14 1:43 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Nikolai . 9/25/14 7:56 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/2/14 12:53 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 10/3/14 3:53 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/4/14 3:54 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/7/14 1:37 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/3/14 6:12 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/3/14 6:24 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 10/3/14 4:20 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/3/14 10:21 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/4/14 3:48 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/6/14 4:28 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Nikolai . 10/4/14 4:27 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/5/14 12:53 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Nikolai . 10/5/14 3:45 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/5/14 10:13 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/6/14 9:18 PM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Jenny 10/7/14 1:55 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? CJMacie 10/7/14 9:02 AM
RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing? Piers M 10/7/14 3:21 AM
Okay, so the last few days I’ve tried the Candle Kasina meditation. I’ve followed the advice given by Nikolai . in this link:
http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/nicks-current-candle-flame-kasina.html

I was going to experiment with a coloured disc and maybe I will at some stage because I wonder how it would differ and if it would be harder to get an imprint when you close the eyes.

So far, I start by staring at the flame for about 5 minutes. I note intently, usually the colour as in “bright white, bright white” or yellow yellow. Sometimes I note the motion as in “moving, moving” or the shape etc. But usually I prefer to settle on the brightest spot of the flame. I note at a rate of maybe 3x per second. If I do it too slow (Nikolai notes every 5 secs he said) wandering mind has a tendency to take over.

After this initial settling in period I close my eyes and begin to note the impression. It takes maybe 30secs or so usually for the image to consolidate and become clearer. Initially it tends to be a greenish colour, which changes to a pinkish or redish hue. Then it sometimes turns black or very dark. Whilst it is pink or black there is often what I think has been termed a “halo effect” behind the object. Very bright white light which sometimes “threatens” to consume the object completely only for the image to re-emerge from the light. Occasionally, there is a kind of a “super nova” effect when the bright light “overwhelmes" the object and the image is almost gone, down to a full stop size dot, which is fading. Eventually it does disappear altogether. When this happens I sometimes linger a bit wondering if it will come back. The bright lights are sometimes still there a bit. (When it is black/pink/red the image is around the size of a large rice grain). When it is rice grain size there seems to be a spinning disc inside usually redish/pink colour.

When the image eventually fades – this process takes around 5-7 minutes I reckon. I open my eyes to “top up” for about 2 – 3 mins or so. Therefore in 60 mins, I probably open my eyes around  6 or 7 times. Don’t know if this is relevant or typical or what exactly.

Written as a descriptive above, it all sounds more dramatic/impressive than it really is. It’s quite mundane although relatively enjoyable. Of interest to me (and I’ve sat like this about 10 times now for an hour each time) is that I’m not waiting for the alarm to ring alerting me that the time is up. In fact I’ve even gone past the 60 minute mark for a few mins if I’m ingrossed in the image. Even when I’ve been sitting with aches and pains in my back. If I had been noting the rising/falling of the abdomen or anapana at the nostrils or body scanning sensation I would have invariably been hankering for the alarm to ring. And gotten up pretty much straight away once it had.
Also, when the eyes are shut, my concentration seems to be far better than any other object (primarily breath or walking) I’ve used in the past. Far less wandering mind.  And I’m not even on retreat.

Any helpful comments thus far to what I’m doing would be appreciated.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/16/14 6:24 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Why am I doing this?

I have started to think about trying to attain first Jhana. And how important this could be. It doesn’t matter to me how long or short this process takes. (Obviously the quicker the better – I was listening to Ayya Khema (from a talk in the 1990s) who mentioned that one of her students in Germany aged 78 had attained first Jhana after trying for 25 years!! And he was then walking round like the cat that got the cream. Hopefully it won’t take me as long as that).

I’m not even sure if it matters whether it is soft or hard (in terms of attaining first path)...... I’ve read many differing opinions on this forum about what does/doesn’t constitute Jhana, and whether you even need concentration (for first path at least). See here a little booklet by Bhikkhu Bodhi entitltled “The Jhanas & The Lay Disciple according to the Pali Suttas” which you can read online here.

I’m also confused about when some of the nanas are matched to Jhanas  (When I say Jhana I’m talking about Samatha Jhanas. Are some of the nanas so called Vipassana Jhanas?) Further, I read/heard  some people saying you need to come out of Jhana to then practice insight. Ajhan Brahm I know has said this. Because he says the mind has calmed down sufficiently and the hindrances are suppressed enough for clear insight to arise. He reckons if you’ve really attained jhana, that for some people this “washover period” – my term – will last a few hours and  for others it can even be several days.

[ sorry I cannot give you all the sources – I really ought to use a notebook when I read/hear these things to jot down the detail of who said it/when or the book etc].

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/16/14 6:28 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Incidentally, Daniel suggests trying this for 10-15 hours for a couple of days to see the results. This would be difficult for me at home.

Unless I can find a place to self retreat, I am wondering where you can practice these kinds of Kasina meditations in a retreat environment. I’ve heard that they do it in Pa Auk in Burma but you need to have mastered the 4 Jhanas first through ananpansati (which begs the question for me, if you’ve mastered the first 4 Jhanas with breathwork, why would you then need to use an object such as a candle or a disk? For what purpose?)

Any suggestions for Kasina retreats?

Thanks Piers.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 5:07 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Try a hotel, or, if you have conducive weather, a national park or similarly cheap area.

When I learned this I was in a very small wooden cabin out at Bhavana Society in the dead of winter in West Virginia with a cantankerous wood stove for heat and no power.

It doesn't really take anything but the candle (I actually typically use an oil lamp for this, as you can go longer), freedom from distractions, time and work. Setting can be really simple. Just need a relatively clean and undistracting background. There really is no substitue for the momentum you get from a few days of doing this basically all day long.

Other recommendations:

use no clock
sit in a very comfortable sitting situation if possible to maximize the time you can keep at it and remove pain as a distraction
when you have to get up as your legs/eyes/back can't take it anymore, walk while trying to visualize or at least visually detail exactly what you see while you are walking
as soon as you can go back to sitting, do so
really pay attention to the colors above all else and whatever is happening in the visual field regardless of what it is
mantras can add more umpf, so play with one of those: a very simple one that can naturally ring on in the background without requiring much thought about it, one that sounds good to you and you like and means something good and powerful to you

Daniel

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 7:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I hope the owner of the thread doesn't mind me asking in here but I have a problem with candle meditation. Watering eyes. How do you deal with those? How far should candle flame be? If it's to far it's after image is small, to close it's to bright. Tips?

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 9:28 AM as a reply to ftw.
emoticon

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RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 3:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks Daniel. Hotels - too expensive but it's a good idea and gives me the thought about renting a caravan in a caravan park. If it's out of season and not school holidays (ie when noisy families might be around) it could well be ideal.
I can only imagine that momentum is key.

Thanks for the other pointers. Tell me, the bright white lights I get whilst seeing the Kasina image and when the image fades. Should I pay any attention to it or not? I've had bright white lights (and to a lesser extent a few varients, example: kinda tourquoise colours but not for long) whilst doing Mahasi style noting of rising and falling abdomen but have always been told by various teachers not to give it any importance. Just basically ignore (or note "seeing seeing" briefly before returning to primary object).

The lights I see now are very similar if not the same. Are they the same phenomena?

Thanks again. Piers

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 3:32 PM as a reply to ftw.
ftw:
I hope the owner of the thread doesn't mind me asking in here but I have a problem with candle meditation. Watering eyes. How do you deal with those? How far should candle flame be? If it's to far it's after image is small, to close it's to bright. Tips?

Erm, I don't really get that problem of watering eyes (even when it seems very bright at times which I quite like), so sorry can't give you any tips. You are right, too far and the image is rather small. Also, I usually wear glasses but don't like to when sitting (no point) so I need the image fairly close to my face anyhow (if I stretch out my arm in front of me the candle flame is roughly at my wrist). That seems about the right distance for me.
As the other link suggests perhaps switching to a coloured disc might be the solution.
Just a further thought. I do blink. Do you blink? If you don't that might be the cause of watering eyes.
Piers

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/17/14 4:22 PM as a reply to ftw.
I find that about 4-6 feet (~1.2-1.7 meters) away is good and positioned so that the flame is probably at approximately the height of your upper abdomen to lower chest, such that eyes are angled down gently.

It is really important to learn not to strain the eyes and not to confuse tensing eye and facial muscles for the act of bringing more concentration and effort to the practice, something that initially can take some sorting out. More practice with attention to this typically sorts this out in a few minutes or hours.

Just let the eyes rest easily on it, noticing that flames are naturally enchanting, easy to just stare at, and that it requires no strain to see them, as they are bright already. You need not stare at the flame for very long, maybe a minute or two, and then close the eyes and see the afterimages and go from there. Again, even with the eyes closed, there is still this habit of straining eye muscles as a false proxy for turning attention to internally generated images: try to gently relax and not do this, which may take some steady practice until it is natural.

Daniel

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/21/14 3:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

When you say:
when you have to get up as your legs/eyes/back can't take it anymore, walk while trying to visualize or at least visually detail exactly what you see while you are walking

Do you mean visualize the object (in this case the candle flame) as you see it with eyes open or the imprint image when the eyes are shut? Or the second highlighted sentance "visually detail exactly what you see while walking". What does this mean? The eyes are open. You see objects in the room or outside such as a chair or trees...... Could you elborate a bit please?
mantras can add more umpf,

I am just considering how to factor in a mantra at the same time as trying to intently note the objects colours/characteristics..... it seems mutually exclusive.....to have two thought processes going on at the same time......I know I need to try it first really but it is something that comes to mind as I think about gearing up for a self retreat (hopefully) in a few weeks time.

Thanks, Piers

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/22/14 1:27 AM as a reply to Piers M.
By visualize, I mean see the images you have been working with while walking around. This takes strong concentration and not many can do it without a seriously large amount of momentum if at all.

By visually detail, I mean very careful and interested attention to exactly what you are seeing as you walk around, particularly noticing things like perspective shifting as you walk around, how three-dimensionality is created as you walk around, subtleties of lighting, and the like.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/22/14 10:53 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
By visually detail, I mean very careful and interested attention to exactly what you are seeing as you walk around, particularly noticing things like perspective shifting as you walk around, how three-dimensionality is created as you walk around, subtleties of lighting, and the like.

I just started to notice Parallax last weekend doing concentration exercises, mostly walking. Things got very extra 3D.


RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/23/14 5:40 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Unfortunately, I cannot see in true 3D, because I lack stereoscopic vision (eye surgery when a baby). I have to infer depth perception by seeing that things that are far away are smaller than things near. This is why I suck at sports.

I also tried this candle flame meditation a few times over the past week. I did it for only about 45 minutes each time because it was before bed on a work night. I guess I wish I had more detailed instructions and understood the purpose of doing concentation this particular way (kasina).

It does help to be mindful not to tense up the face and brow; otherwise, it can be unpleasant to keep watching a jittery flame. Although I tend to enjoy looking into a bon fire, so go figure.

When I closed my eyes, I always would see a purple or cobalt blue disk. It grows in size for a short while and then fades away. Nothing spectacular, and I have a tendency to want to keep eyes closed and just go on into Boundless Space, etc. I am slightly concerned that this kind of meditation could be migraine-inducing if continued for many hours, but maybe it wouldn't. I think it would be difficult, though. Maybe one has to work up to it.

Again, is there a special purpose to this kind of meditation object?

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/23/14 5:46 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:
By visualize, I mean see the images you have been working with while walking around. This takes strong concentration and not many can do it without a seriously large amount of momentum if at all.
So by "visualize" you mean actually see, see it in front of one--not merely imagine it, correct?

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/25/14 1:43 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Hi, Piers,

I'm doing these meditations now as a little experiment because I am trying to strengthen concentration and explore jhanas. I'm usually heavily into whole-body breath meditation vis-a-vis Thanissaro Bhikkhu. I am not really a "noter," more just a noticer. I need to come back and read Nick's thread you linked to (when it isn't way past bedtime).
Written as a descriptive above, it all sounds more dramatic/impressive than it really is. It’s quite mundane although relatively enjoyable. Of interest to me (and I’ve sat like this about 10 times now for an hour each time) is that I’m not waiting for the alarm to ring alerting me that the time is up. In fact I’ve even gone past the 60 minute mark for a few mins if I’m ingrossed in the image. 

This rings true for me, too. I just sat for an hour but it felt more like just 20 minutes, and I felt like I could keep going--only I needed to go to sleep for work in the morning. All my aches disappeared, and toward the end, my sense of body was gone--even with my eyes open!

Since I don't yet know the special purpose or good technique for this meditation object, I'm kind of winging it until I can do more reading. But I tried adding a mantra tonight (om mani padme hum, because that was the only one I could remember, back from my Tibetan Buddhism days), and that seemed to make everything more intense somehow, more Moiré patterned. When I close my eyes I see a bright purple disk. Tonight it started showing a greenish-golden border. I'm wondering if it is best to focus on one aspect of the flame, such as the light, or the whole thing. The color of flame is a bit hard for me to discern unless I close my eyes slightly, and then it looks very pale orange, almost white.

Maybe on the weekend I can spend a longer stretch of time doing this meditation. It certainly goes by fast. Also, the afterglow tonight feels really endorphic, but maybe that is because I slipped into one of those formless realm things toward the end. I'll check back and see how yours is going.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/25/14 1:51 AM as a reply to Raazik Gatrad.
Raazik--very helpful "attachment" emoticon. Thanks!

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/25/14 7:56 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jenny:



Since I don't yet know the special purpose or good technique for this meditation object, I'm kind of winging it until I can do more reading. 


The purpose, as I see it, is to calm, direct and sustain the incessant flow of thought. Though these days, I would lean more to advising the practice of the Buddha's more body-orientated anapanasutta instructions. The idea, as I see it though, is to learn how to direct thought till it is sustained thought. This may then allow pleasure and joy to establish. Thems there are the 1st jhana factors in place. Then it is a matter of letting go of the grosser aspects/factors of the jhana to experience the next one up and so on. 

A short Experiment:

Stare at a visual object in front of you. Don't do anything else. Just stare at it for a minute.
VERSUS
Stare at the same visual object in front of you but at the same time contemplate the 'shape' or the 'colour' or the 'perception' of it as a 'thing', or some other quality being mentally assigned to it. 

Which way seems to direct the flow of thought more so?

The candle kasina instructions in the linked article use the latter method. One contemplates a quality of the flame along with staring at it. The contempalting aspect is actively moving the flow of thought in a direction away from the usual objects of the 5 hindrances. And as I see it, so do the anapanasutta instructions. The Buddha asks one to contemplate secondary objects along with the incoming and outgoing breath.

One is actively directing the energy of thought in a particular direction, eventually leading to sustained thought. With the tempering of the 5 hindrances, pleasure can get established. Joy leaps from the pleasure. If this is fullbodied as the anapanasutta instructions set one up for, all the better to let go of at 4th jhana to experience the mental realms and/or cessation.

Nick's cent.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
9/25/14 9:57 AM as a reply to ftw.
Hey, first off , Candle meditation is awesome! Trataka 

Trataka  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C4%81%E1%B9%ADaka


But:  Be safe, and healthy some candle smoke contains toxins, use soy or beeswax


http://www.theredheadriter.com/2012/03/the-truth-about-paraffin-wax-candles-are-they-toxic/

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/2/14 12:53 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
NIck,

Thanks for the explanations. I've always done breath meditation--whole body breathing that involves really a type of body scanning--via Thanissaro Bhikkhus. My sits have become confusing, so I've thought it a good time to experiment with new objects

I had a pretty wild experience with the candle last night. I don't want to highjack this thread, though. So here is the link to my journal, and the date would be October 1, if anyone is interested in commenting on what happened.

EDITED to see if I can make the link work this time: 

Jenny

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/3/14 6:12 AM as a reply to Piers M.
re Piers M (9/16/14 6:15 AM )
"Okay, so the last few days I’ve tried the Candle Kasina meditation. I’ve followed the advice given by Nikolai . in this link: …"

Where does this conception of 'kasina' meditation come from (in the link from "The Yogi Toolbox," and as apparently commonly agreed upon in this forum)? No sources, written or oral are mentioned there. I ask on the chance that there is, in fact, some tradition that uses 'kasina' in this sense, as a sort of vipassana practice (noting changing stuff), and using "momentary concentration" (khanika-samadhi), which is similar to access-concentration and s/t taught in the context of vipassana meditation.

And I'm curious because this is different from the kasina practices in the Theravada Pali Canon (both the Suttas and the commentaries):

First, there were traditionally 10 kasina objects – the 4 Great Elements (earth, water, fire, air/wind); 4 colors (blue,  yellow,  red and white); plus space and light (or s/t consciousness).

Second, each was considered a pure phenomenon, i.e. only earth,… only blue,…; that is, as exclusive, one-pointed object, to the exclusion ("seclusion", s/t considered suppression of all other objects), i.e. as an object for absorptive concentration (jhana).

Third, the respective object (or rather the mind's corresponding nimitta) is cultivated to fill consciousness, and then to be 'extended' beyond all boundaries, all limits, to become an 'immeasurable' experience. The term is kasina-ayatanaayatana as in the term for the 4 'higher' jhanas, which also use 'unbounded' objects (in fact, 2 of those are in the kasina list). In the suttas (in AN, DN, MN), the expression is (in one English rendering) "one perceives [the kasina object] above, below, on all sides, undivided, unbounded." In the Visudhimagga (commentaries) extending the sign (nimitta) was described in more detail (Chapter IV, 126ff). Note: the Brahma-Viharas (goodwill, compassion,…) also were, for G.Buddha, "immeasureables", and as such among the possible objects of jhana absorption.

As Jenny put it (9/23/14 5:40 PM as a reply to Dream Walker): "Again, is there a special purpose to this kind of meditation object?

In the original sources, the purpose of kasina objects was for attaining jhana.

Nikolai answers (9/25/14 7:56 AM as a reply to Jenny) "The purpose, as I see it, is to calm, direct and sustain the incessant flow of thought,"

i.e. standard preparation of jhanic factors for 1st jhana. He adds "The Buddha asks one to contemplate secondary objects…" i.e. vipassana interpretation of anapanasati instructions. (Sujato, tho, seems to insist the thrust of anapanasati is towards jhana.) But this all lacks mention of working with the immeasurable quality to deepen the ekaggata (one-pointedness of mind) factor. Is that because these instructions are intended only at a beginning level?

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/3/14 6:24 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
(9/16/14 6:24 AM as a reply to Piers M. -- Why am I doing this?

"…I’ve read many differing opinions on this forum about what does/doesn’t constitute Jhana, and whether you even need concentration (for first path at least) …"

Interesting light is thrown on this topic in talks by Than-Geof (aka Thanissaro Bhikkku, aka Ajahn Thanissaro – I asked him once, 'thanissaro' means 'born on Wednesday'). He described achieving stream-entry (SE, first path,…) in two ways, one relating to concentration, one relating more to vipassana. (Neither of which descriptions, btw, is in his book "Into The Stream," which deals mostly with Sutta material.)

1) via concentration – in a day-long dharma-talk (on 'papanca'), April 28, 2012 at IMC (Redwood City, CA)
(available at audiodharma.org: 20120428-TG-IMC-reading_continued_part_3.mp3)
The following I transcribed from the talk, starting at about 1hr 20 minutes into the MP3, shortly before the end.

QS "… this term stream-entry,  sotapana, people talk about it, but in different ways,… would you tell us what you think about that?"

ANS: "What I think about that? (chuckling) (QS: Yes, would you define it for us…) It's bascially…stream-entry happens when you've got the mind as quiet as possible that you can through your concentration practice. And you start asking the question – is there still some stress here? And you look for it. And this is one of the reasons that you look for inconstancy, because you want to see the rise and the fall of the level of stress experienced by the mind. (We're not talking about the body now.) And you begin to notice that there's certain things that you do that are going to raise the stress level, just minor things at this point in your concentration. And you say 'I going to stop doing that.' And then you stop doing that, and that will take you to another level of concentration. So you go through the levels of concentration this way. Finally you get as far as you can go in concentration, and you begin to realize, you know, if I make…, once you get that question comes up -- there's stress if I stay here, but there's going to be stress if I move. And this is where is gets kind of paradoxical, because you neither stay nor move. There's no intention either way. Because you realize whichever way you intend, there's going to be stress. And it's in that moment of non-intention that things open up. And it's very impressive – it's not one of those things you say "Gee, I had stream-entry and I didn't know it." (laughter) I mean it's earth-shattering."

That sounded to me like a description from first-person experience. (Note, the text isn't as polished as Than-Geof's writtings; some grammatically strange wordings, as it's impromtu dialog.) That clearly relates to concentration practice, tho inter-mixed with insight work in reflecting upon, evaluating the concentration experience.

2) At another place, in some dharma talk (forget where), he describes it from the viewpoint of vipassana alone (but not so vividly):

(paraphrasing frommemory) "you examine experience exhaustively exploring cause-and-effect at work, the conditioned nature of of every aspect of experienced phenomena, in greater and greater detail…eventually, once you can see how conditionality is present totally in every 'thing', the mind gets to a place where it can finally understand ( or 'touch', or some other term) what is unconditioned."

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/3/14 3:53 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jenny, how are you getting on now?
I'm wondering if it is best to focus on one aspect of the flame, such as the light, or the whole thing. The color of flame is a bit hard for me to discern unless I close my eyes slightly, and then it looks very pale orange, almost white.

Yes, it's a bit of a funny one. Sometimes the flame lengthens - quite tall - and although I do sometimes look at the tip or the darker bit where the wick is, I usually settle on the brightest spot in the "middle". Feels quite comfortable. I used to perceive the colour as bright white or bright yellow but these days it doesn't seem so bright any more (not sure why, same type of candle) and seems to take on an almost dullish yellow hew.
Once I shut my eyes that's when it's usually obvious what to focus on but that said when the halo is very bright or occasionally it the background changes to a purplish colour a bit like an inky midnight sky, then I feel like looking at that out of interest (but don't).

Had a funny one today or yesterday when it was briefly like being cross eyed (when my eyes were shut) and I had two images floating around before they merged. Maybe my physical eyes had crossed or something although they weren't when my eyes were open.
I'm kind of winging it until I can do more reading
Have you managed to read up about it yet?

Just been reading up from the link you gave to your journal. Phew whee, you've been going through some interesting stuff lately.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/3/14 4:20 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Interesting light is thrown on this topic in talks by Than-Geof (aka Thanissaro Bhikkku, aka Ajahn Thanissaro – I asked him once, 'thanissaro' means 'born on Wednesday'). He described achieving stream-entry (SE, first path,…) in two ways, one relating to concentration, one relating more to vipassana. (Neither of which descriptions, btw, is in his book "Into The Stream," which deals mostly with Sutta material.)
Hi Chris,
Are you saying that he is describing the same experience from two different perspectives?

Listening to Ajahn Brahm recently (if I can find out which talk I'll post it later but I've heard a few lately) I'm pretty sure he said that ultimately there was little difference between concentration and insight practices.
I've also heard him say in another talk that insight practices can be done whilst in jhanic states (ie samatha jhana)....

Piers

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/3/14 10:21 PM as a reply to Piers M.
re Piers M (10/3/14 4:20 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie. )
"Hi Chris, Are you saying that heis describing the same experience from two different perspectives?"

I suspect the first description, using concentration, shows how he actually experienced SE, while the second description is more a theoretical teaching, but an equally valid approach.

"Listening to Ajahn Brahm recently … ultimately there was little difference between concentration and insight practices..."

Yes, follow that line of thought /teaching. Than-Geof often makes the same point (as well as aboute very major Theravadan monk (or nun – check out Ayya Khemma) / teacher who's written / taught in English). Namely that concentration and insight are two sides of the same coin, complement each other, in practice virtually inseparable (though conceptually distinguishable). The recorded teachings of G. Buddha reflect this again and again.

A contemporary problem is that the traditional discussions, which at times make a conceptual distinction between samadhi and vipassana for the sake of analytical exposition, have been interpreted as two distinct 'Paths'. This reflects at least two influences:

1) The inclination of Western mind to disect things into either/or dichotomies and wage scholarly if not armed crusades on either side of the dichotomy. (This tendency finds root in Aristotlian logic, but also clearly manifests in the history of the Christian, Hebrew, and Islamic religions.)

2) The historical situation is that concentration / samadhi practice was not much or well introduced to the West until the last couple of decades. In fact, in Asian Buddhist countries, samadhi practice had been somewhat lost during the period (19th-20th centuries) of rapid, often disruptive change as traditional societies came into contact with Western culture. The prominent teachers of English-American VM (vipassana or insight movement) were not exposed to concentration / jhana teaching in the formative years of their careers. The standard teachings in the institutions they founded (IMS, SRMC/Spirit-Rock, etc.) clearly reflect this, to the point of routinely denegrating Jhana practice as a) not necessary, and b) dangerous ("addicting").

(I attended the annual 'concentration' retreat at Spirit Rock back in 2012, as distinct from the 40 or so 'vipassana' retreats there every year. Only one of the four teachers had any credible background in Jhana, which he was noticable reserved about in the formal teachings. The overall teaching was along the lines of 'momentary (kanika) concentration', and actively discouraged discussion, questions along the line of jhana, nimitta, etc. aspects. And in the last couple of days, the retreat turned into a total focus on 'choiceless awareness' vipassana techniques.)

Tellingly,  the book "The Experience of Samadhi" by Richard Shankman (a VM heavyweight), though it surveys the topic well, emphasizes the idea of two distinct, separate paths. The book is basically an apolegetic discourse to support the VM attitude towards concentration / jhana. The best part of the book, in my estimation, is inclusion of interviews with 8 'experts' from across the spectrum, from Kornfieldto Pa Auk Sayadaw --  including some biased towards the primacy of vipassana (e.g. Kornfield, Salzberg), some with the traditional balanced view (e.g. Than-Geof, Gunaratana), and Pa Auk Sayadaw, who's routinely seen as a jhana extremist (but in fact, when one reads his books fully, teaches the 'balanced' view).

Thank god [or whatever -- in Stephen Levine's words: 'God, Shiva, Buddha, Yahwey, Allah,… or Fred the Duck'] for hardcore Dharma!!!

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/4/14 3:48 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Yes, for whatever reason, when I left Tibetan Buddhism I gravitated to the Thai Forest tradition, particularly to Thanissaro, and they teach not to separate concentration practices from vipassana. As you say, the two are conceptually different, but the idea is to practice both in any given sit. Jhana, in this way, is elevator up and down to the platforms from which to investigate the 3Cs. I loved those interviews in Shankman's book, as well. I got a lot out of them, especially Thanissaro's. 

If I remember correctly, yeah, kasina practice is a marginal practice in the Pali Canon. 

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/4/14 3:54 PM as a reply to Piers M.
Hi, Piers,

Well, I traveled up to Virginia this weekend to stay with a long-lost cousin in her 200-year-old, perhaps haunted (!) colonial home. I didn't bring my candles, which I'm sure the owners are relieved to know because a huge fire broke out here a few years ago and destroyed much of the second floor. So my last work on the fire kasina is near the end of my practice journal (Jen Pearly's Practice Journal). I've done some reading. I would like to spend many hours with this practice, as Daniel suggests, to see if something new breaks out from the momentum.

Jenny

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/4/14 4:27 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
re Piers M (9/16/14 6:15 AM )
"Okay, so the last few days I’ve tried the Candle Kasina meditation. I’ve followed the advice given by Nikolai . in this link: …"

Where does this conception of 'kasina' meditation come from (in the link from "The Yogi Toolbox," and as apparently commonly agreed upon in this forum)? No sources, written or oral are mentioned there. I ask on the chance that there is, in fact, some tradition that uses 'kasina' in this sense, as a sort of vipassana practice (noting changing stuff), and using "momentary concentration" (khanika-samadhi), which is similar to access-concentration and s/t taught in the context of vipassana meditation.

Hi Chris,

The idea comes from my own experience and take, from my own experiments and analysis in and of  practice. Thus no sources, written or oral are mentioned there. Whatever works goes into the yogi toolbox. It worked for me in getting to the place I wanted to get to, so to speak, in practice. 




And I'm curious because this is different from the kasina practices in the Theravada Pali Canon (both the Suttas and the commentaries):

First, there were traditionally 10 kasina objects – the 4 Great Elements (earth, water, fire, air/wind); 4 colors (blue,  yellow,  red and white); plus space and light (or s/t consciousness).

Candle flame could be considered the 'fire' element, no?

Second, each was considered a pure phenomenon, i.e. only earth,… only blue,…; that is, as exclusive, one-pointed object, to the exclusion ("seclusion", s/t considered suppression of all other objects), i.e. as an object for absorptive concentration (jhana).

And the candle flame as the 'fire' element cannot be taken like so?

Third, the respective object (or rather the mind's corresponding nimitta) is cultivated to fill consciousness, and then to be 'extended' beyond all boundaries, all limits, to become an 'immeasurable' experience. The term is kasina-ayatanaayatana as in the term for the 4 'higher' jhanas, which also use 'unbounded' objects (in fact, 2 of those are in the kasina list). In the suttas (in AN, DN, MN), the expression is (in one English rendering) "one perceives [the kasina object] above, below, on all sides, undivided, unbounded." In the Visudhimagga (commentaries) extending the sign (nimitta) was described in more detail (Chapter IV, 126ff). Note: the Brahma-Viharas (goodwill, compassion,…) also were, for G.Buddha, "immeasureables", and as such among the possible objects of jhana absorption.

Do you think the candle flame could not be taken to be experienced like so? If so, why? 

As Jenny put it (9/23/14 5:40 PM as a reply to Dream Walker): "Again, is there a special purpose to this kind of meditation object?

In the original sources, the purpose of kasina objects was for attaining jhana.

Same for the instructions but probably more for beginners. It is one way to tame the five hindrances as I see it. 

Nikolai answers (9/25/14 7:56 AM as a reply to Jenny) "The purpose, as I see it, is to calm, direct and sustain the incessant flow of thought,"

i.e. standard preparation of jhanic factors for 1st jhana. He adds "The Buddha asks one to contemplate secondary objects…" i.e. vipassana interpretation of anapanasati instructions. (Sujato, tho, seems to insist the thrust of anapanasati is towards jhana.)

So do I,  just jhana that have discernement established as well. By contemplate I mean also to direct the flow of thought in a particular direction and trigger a particular result. 

But this all lacks mention of working with the immeasurable quality to deepen the ekaggata (one-pointedness of mind) factor. Is that because these instructions are intended only at a beginning level?

I'm pretty confident that they can get one to 1st jhana.

This factor of ekaggata is from the Abhidhamma and visuddhimagga only, no? Not the suttas? (see links) 

Nick

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/5/14 12:53 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai:
I'm pretty confident that they can get one to 1st jhana.

This factor of ekaggata is from the Abhidhamma and visuddhimagga only, no? Not the suttas? (see links) 

Nick

Hi, Nick,

My current cutting edge in jhanas is the 5th one, Boundless Space, which, since SE I repeatedly go to automatically, often racing through or even seemingly skipping the others. So I am not quite a beginner in the sense that I get hard jhana states up through Boundless Space. You aren't suggesting that kasina practice is just for beginners who are trying to get first jhana, are you? In MCTB Daniel documents one or two of his experiences with fire kasina, states that it is one of his favorite meditations, and states that he was a very advanced practitioner when doing these practices. I'm still wondering whether there is something different or special about the kasina practices. In other words, if I'm already able to get 5th jhana with breath meditation, what difference can this particular practice make.

For background, my current best guess, as that of those who follow my journal, is that I'm just past Review of first path and am now working second path. Since SE I've been suddenly quite interested in strengthening my concentration to the extent possible and exploring the powers. Thanks in advance for your help!

Jenny

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/5/14 3:45 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jenny:
Nikolai:
I'm pretty confident that they can get one to 1st jhana.

This factor of ekaggata is from the Abhidhamma and visuddhimagga only, no? Not the suttas? (see links) 

Nick

Hi, Nick,

My current cutting edge in jhanas is the 5th one, Boundless Space, which, since SE I repeatedly go to automatically, often racing through or even seemingly skipping the others. So I am not quite a beginner in the sense that I get hard jhana states up through Boundless Space. You aren't suggesting that kasina practice is just for beginners who are trying to get first jhana, are you?

I only ever used a candle flame, a blue breakfast bowl and a toilet roll where the light from under the door could come through as kasina-like objects mostly pre-1st path. Post 1st path, concentration levels and jhana access where freakly naturally high. I simply then dropped using the kasina props and played with the power of 'intention' to absorb (or not) more in each jhana. It is up to each person to decide what works and what doesn't for them. Experiment.

In MCTB Daniel documents one or two of his experiences with fire kasina, states that it is one of his favorite meditations, and states that he was a very advanced practitioner when doing these practices. I'm still wondering whether there is something different or special about the kasina practices. In other words, if I'm already able to get 5th jhana with breath meditation, what difference can this particular practice make.

'The difference' you talk of is best not told to you but you play with it yourself. That way if you trully see it doesn't trigger results you want, then there is no second guessing and you move on to what does (or doesn't) work and so on. 

For background, my current best guess, as that of those who follow my journal, is that I'm just past Review of first path and am now working second path. Since SE I've been suddenly quite interested in strengthening my concentration to the extent possible and exploring the powers. Thanks in advance for your help!

The more one is able to keep attention in one place, the more one can see, and the sublter stuff comes to the surface as well as how 'attention' is working in the moment. There are many ways to do this. The more curiouser an object the more interesting and magnetic it is for attention to move continuously towards. See how attention is operating. Is it bouncing about? Is it segreating and cutting up the field of experience? Is it stable? Is it all over the place? So much good stuff to mine here. 

Experiment: try finding a strong light somewhere, preferably from one of those old globes ( ot the energy saving ones). Stare at it. See if you can find a viewpoint (you may have to squint eyes or look to side or some other shuffling of view) of the light till you see the rays and reflected light. See if you can ssee the rainbow colours, then see if you can see refracteded light within the refracted light. (even if this is not possible, be curious about what more sublte details you can see. 

While doing this post-path, I was able to trigger some very interested mindstates that were very conducive for progress. The more you learn to fabricate, the more you know how far fabrication can take you, and the more fabrication you can develop dispassion towards and see drop. 

Jenny

Experiment!

Nick

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/5/14 10:13 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai:

'The difference' you talk of is best not told to you but you play with it yourself. That way if you trully see it doesn't trigger results you want, then there is no second guessing and you move on to what does (or doesn't) work and so on. 

The more one is able to keep attention in one place, the more one can see, and the sublter stuff comes to the surface as well as how 'attention' is working in the moment. There are many ways to do this. The more curiouser an object the more interesting and magnetic it is for attention to move continuously towards. See how attention is operating. Is it bouncing about? Is it segreating and cutting up the field of experience? Is it stable? Is it all over the place? So much good stuff to mine here. 

Experiment: try finding a strong light somewhere, preferably from one of those old globes (the energy saving ones). Stare at it. See if you can find a viewpoint (you may have to squint eyes or look to side or some other shuffling of view) of the light till you see the rays and reflected light. See if you can ssee the rainbow colours, then see if you can see refracteded light within the refracted light. (even if this is not possible, be curious about what more sublte details you can see. 

While doing this post-path, I was able to trigger some very interested mindstates that were very conducive for progress. The more you learn to fabricate, the more you know how far fabrication can take you, and the more fabrication you can develop dispassion towards and see drop. 

Thanks, Nick. Great response. The last time I worked with the candle flame, I did in fact notice all these rays that shot out like long sticks of hard, uncooked vermicilli. I was using a mantra, too, and I noticed that the rays popped out longer in rhythm with the mantra, the low notes making them shoot out ridiculously far. By keeping with the mantra, I was able to make the rays stabilize at their very long length. So I guess I wasn't off task, after all. Good to know that I'm not supposed to be getting X result but rather experimenting and learning organically. Nice! And thank you again; I know that you are very busy these days.

Jenny

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/6/14 4:28 AM as a reply to Jenny.
re Jenny (10/4/14 3:48 PM as a reply toChris J Macie.)

"… Jhana, in this way, is elevator up and down to the platforms from which to investigate the 3Cs.."

That's a great image – seems to summarize the progression Than-Geof presented in what I take to be a description of his own SE. May be useful in practice. Thanks.

"If I remember correctly, yeah, kasina practice is a marginal practice in the Pali Canon."

It is odd that the Visudhimagga starts off Jhana instruction with the kasinas, with earth. Maybe that was a common practice in his time. And the anapanasati approach, which seems most popular and accessible (the breath is right there; you don't have to go through the extra work of making a physical kasina object), is buried way down in the list. I don't recall Buddhagosa presenting any rationale for the ordering in his exposition.

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/6/14 9:18 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
re Nikolai (10/4/14 4:27 PM as a replyto Chris J Macie.)

"The idea comes from my own experience…"
"Candle flame could be considered the 'fire' element, no?"

Fair enough.
"And the candle flame as the 'fire' element cannot be taken like so ['onlyblue, only earth'] ?"
"Do you think the candle flame could not be taken to be experienced like so ['immeasurable'] ? If so, why? 

Likewise reasonable. Just that the discussion here has focused largely on the variablity in the experience – shifting colors, shapes, focus of attention, etc. With no mention of the pure, immeasurable / unbounded qualities. That is, from the discussion here, it appears NOT to be taken as such in how people practice, even though it COULD be. Hence my surprise and inquiry.

Incidentally, in using the BrahmaViharas as object of jhana – a separate but related topic -- the extension of nimitta to immeasurability is essential. How could jhanic absorption be possible into a verbalizedintention of feeling towards other people (or any 'sentient being')?

Now, it's also possible we're talking here with markedly different definitions of jhana. If the discussion here, your ideas, are based on the Brasington-Bucknell-StuartFox intrepretation, then we're talking past each other. (More about this below and later.)

"It is one way to tame the five hindrances as I see it."

Interesting topic. (Presenting a viewpoint from my own experience) Beginning jhana practice with Shaila Catherine's "Focused and Fearless", and several (anapanasati) jhana-retreats she taught, the emphasis was on the discerning, dealing with the 5 hindrances and corresponding jhanic factors. Progress was slow. Later it became clear that the standard retreat format – being with 20-30 (more in some venues) other yogis, in a 40-60min sit, 30min walk, etc. schedule – was actually a serious hindrance in itself. The Buddha routinely instructed: "go to an abandoned hut, roots of a tree, a charnal ground…" i.e. into total seclusion; and sit, put-off worldly cares (including timers), etc. to develop jhana. Leaving the meditation hall and sitting in my room, or off in some isolated corner, and for 1+hour periods -- started to get somewhere. Then one retreat with Ven U. Jagara (protégé of Pa Auk Sayadaw) as co-teacher, he emphasized just getting comfortable and going only for the breath, back to it, again and again, getting closer and closer to it, breath sensation gradually becoming mental object (nimitta), closer, deeper, more peaceful, letting-go more and more… holding this direction on and on… then… suddenly but naturally the nimitta 'swallows' the mind, the mind 'falls into' the nimitta. Bingo! His view / method was to go for the ekaggata, so to speak, and with the intensification of which, the hindrances recede on their own having no room in the mind to operate. That's a viewpoint, an approach. It happens to work. For others maybe not; maybe vipassana-style pre-occupation with the hindrances and constructing the factors works also.

An interesting footnote: once having a handle on absorption, the issues of external 'seclusion' away from the other people ( noises, etc), timed schedules and so on, melted away. On a good day, the internal seclusion (from the senses) can withstand whatever's going on out there – shades of Sariputta sitting in jhana at the side of a road, impervious to "500 chariots roaring by".

Maybe substantial differences ofviewpoint here, but it is gratifying to be able to have suchdiscussions.

"This factor of ekaggata is from the Abhidhamma and visuddhimagga only, no? Not the suttas? (see links)

 This is a major topic on its own, and diverges from the theme of practicing with kasinas, so I will address it in a separate message. (Should it go into a separate or new thread?)

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/7/14 1:37 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Piers,

Last night my sit suddenly became scary, so I had to abort it early. I'm not scared anymore; I was just startled by what happened. I was seeing the purple disc when I closed my eyes, and it suddenly started to grow big and contain little brighter purple sparkles. That was fine, and I was just watching it rapidly grow. Then, with my eyes still closed, my vision suddenly "popped," making my whole visual field flame-bright orange--scared the hell out of me! I opened my eyes and saw the real flame shooting up high, which also rattled me, but it quickly settled back down to a normal flame height. I blew it out and went to bed. I was trembling, so called this session "done" after only 33 minutes.

This is a photo I took when the flame had calmed back down; I use a fancy oil lamp that I bought a few years ago.


RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/7/14 1:55 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi, Chris,

I'm going to reread what you've given here again when it isn't past bedtime. 

Unless the OP wants the thread split, I'd say keep it here. This is all interesting and relavent--to me, anyway.

By the way, I've gotten nimittas for nearly a year, but they have never been stable, still, and immeasurable. They are violet and shift to pure white briefly at times. I wonder if something more "immeasurable" is what happened with my vision last night, when it "popped" into total bright light (pale orange, like flame, with my eyes closed).

Cheers,

Jenny

[Edited "violent" to "violet"]

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/7/14 3:21 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

This is a major topic on its own, and diverges from the theme of practicing with kasinas, so I will address it in a separate message. (Should it go into a separate or new thread?)

I'm quite happy for you to continue here (it's all interesting and related stuff) but if you think it warrants a new thread....up to you. But if you do start a new thread perhaps you can reply here with the link to the other thread for future reference.
Cheers, Piers

RE: Just Started Kasina practice - How am I doing?
Answer
10/7/14 9:02 AM as a reply to Jenny.
re Jenny (10/7/14 1:55 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie.)

"Unless the OP wants the thread split, I'd say keep it here. This is all interesting and relavent--to me, anyway."

The further discussion relates to exploring the nature of what I call the "Brasington-Bucknell-StuartFox" model of jhana. This last January, I was at a retreat with Leigh teaching, and asked his sources; he pointed to ('his mentor') Ayya Khemma, and a paper by Rodney Bucknell. Martin Stuart Fox is an author Bucknell bases his interpretation on (and with whom he has collaborated in other publications). Their papers are available on-line.

I need to go over that stuff again, and compare it with a just-discovered discussion in Ajahn Sujato's BLog ("Why vitakka doesn’t mean ‘thinking’ in jhana"). Interpreting 'vitakka-vicara' as simply 'thinking' is a key argument in Martin Stuart Fox's theory of jhana 'as the Buddha really taught it'. So far, I've found nothing in Ayya Khemma talks corresponding to Leigh's views. Also, probably first take a look at what Alexander Wynne has to say, in "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation," that just came to my attention in a the new thread here in DhO ("RE: Scientific research on the Jhanas"). I'd rather have a good grasp of at least these (conflicting) views before engaging the topic in this forum, where no doubt a host of further views would emerge.

Perhaps there's also some other, established place in DhO for this kind of historical and textual analysis.

" I've gotten nimittas for nearly a year, but they have never been stable, still, and immeasurable. They are violet and shift to pure white briefly at times. I wonder if something more "immeasurable" is what happened with my vision last night, when it "popped" into total bright light (pale orange, like flame, with my eyes closed)."


My experience also – nimitta experience as unmistakable but not as reliably stable as Pa Auk Sayadaw et al might recommend. While it's probably not exactly the same issue, the 'immeasurability' aspect I believe holds major promise in terms of deepening practice, as it's clearly crucial in the 'arupa' jhanas, which I have yet to really get into.

It is clear that nimitta figures prominently in 'absorption;' as U. Jagara put it, the mind actually absorbs in itself (the nimitta as 'counterpart' mental image of the concentration object).

What you mention ("popped" into total bright light") does seems a little like that moment of absorption (that I referred to as "Bingo!" in my post). Something shifts radically -- suddenly there's this awesome, engulfing stillness of mental activity like the opening of a vast space, even though sound, light etc. and thought-like sensations often still show up, but not center-stage; more held off at the edges of that space.

As I brought up briefly somewhere in some thread, the Abdhidhamma writers (maybe even tracable back to something from Sariputta) hold that the 'mind-moment' of jhana absorption shares a unique characteristic with the mind-moment of path-fruition – called 'change-of-lineage'. Namely, mental focus shifts from the concentration object to the mind's own nimitta of that object (but this is conditioned, temporary). In the case of path-fruition, shifting to the presence / touch or whatever of Nibbana, the 'Deathless' – I can't say to have experienced such. (Daniel's rendition of 'change-of-lineage' (p.241 in MCTB seems on a more metaphorical, pragmatic level -- less abhidhammic technical.)