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Earth Kasina

Earth Kasina
12/27/15 9:22 PM
I have questions about set-up suggestions for an earth kasina practice. I found the instrutions on incredibly helpful. That site, along with the follow-up discussions here on DHO, especially in regards to the diagnostic criteria for the four jhanas, provided a clear benchmark for practice.

In addition, the discussions here in regard to a water kasina practice seem like a simple tweak on the fire kasina set-up (ideally use a clear bowl, with blue food coloring and provide lighting from underneath in the form of  a LED bulb).

My question is how you would translate this to an earth kasina practice. I have heard of people forming a round lump of clay into a disk and letting it dry on a pice of canvas, but it seems like getting the after image would be orders of magnitude harder than for the two above mentioned practices.

I'm quite curious about this and the other elemental kasinas, since those interested in using kasina practice for elemental balancing would ideally want to be able to gain access through each of the elemental types.

RE: Earth Kasina
12/28/15 5:18 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
re: Shamadhi Sam (12/27/15 9:22 PM)
"I have questions about set-up suggestions for an earth kasina practice..."

You could also go back to get it "straight from the horse's mouth", so to speak – in the Visudhimagga:

Chapter IV, starting sections 21-32 (pp. 117-120), and subsequent sections on developing the concentration, as the earth kasina is used as the primal example of developing concentration (jhana) here at the start of Part II of the book – Concentration.

Note the 4 elements as kasina objects are more kasina (i.e. concentration) meditations than element meditations, which are more vipassana. Description of the vipassana 4 element (Mahadhatu) meditations (as used, for instance, in Mahasi- or PaAuk-system training) comes at the end of the whole Visudhimagga section on concentration, in Chapter IX, paragraphs 27-117 (pp. 381-406), where discerning elemental qualities is used to deconstruct the perceptions of all the 32 body parts, on the way to discerning that there's no substance to such material phenomena. This, at the very end of Part II, leans into Part III, the part of the Visudhimagga on Understanding (pannya), where the stages of insight stuff is described.

(Discussions in DhO don't seem to follow those distinctions, though.)

RE: Earth Kasina
12/28/15 8:00 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
I had the same question after working with the fire kasina material and a candle and seeing Daniel's suggestion for water.

I’ve tried using Smokey Quartz spheres for Earth Kasina practice. On a light box or against a white or light colored background. Both work, the lightbox version was much closer to candle – that is there is a distinct afterglow, without it it was more like jumping directly into the next stage of the practice.  Having listenedto fire kasina audios and worked with a candle myself was helplful.  Also when I was doing this I was also making time to get outside and walk in a trail in the woods by water and to be aware of all the elements in nature.

Here’s an excerpt from my practice diary when I tried it perhaps it will be helpful.

I wondered if I could use a crystal on a light box for earth. Here is the one I used, (photo on the light box, in the dark). It is smokey quartz sphere (approx 4 inch diam) with lots of rainbow message plates so it glows pretty well.

Did this in a darkened room. Just over a one hour sit. Worked amazingly well. I could get after images. Usually blue green purple shades. Brighter center – usually aquamarine. Circle tended to change shade toward darker blue/ purple sometimes going all the way to grey green black. Sometimes with brilliant purple or amethyst threads breaking through. Sometimes with a black void center opening up with the grey green earth color almost falling to it closing up gradually till the hole was gone.

Got to places with sparks and threads of color. Once to a place filled with tiny multicolored confetti like thousands of reflected rainbow windows. Once huge swath of bright green on top of pink background that filled the entire field. Then a state shift (no clue what happened) to dark purple/black field with a swath of burgundy almost ruby red.

The colors were amazing Much more brilliant than anything than with a candle. Some of it was extremely 3 dimensional. At times including right before the state shift it was trying to shift from a visual field ' in front' of me to something perhaps a centerless field. Don't think it quite got there. Lots of energetic chakra stuff going on too – mostly in the background but occasionally moving to the foreground and taking over for awhile. Nice afterglow too.

Did a short run 30min at a daytime version.

Tried with and without glasses. Both ways could get eyes open but somewhat unfocused edge effects (darker edge to sphere, shifting white 'light' halo around it. Could not get an after image so just looked at it for quite a while then closed my eyes. Went right to the place where everything is washed out but sort of pointilated and moving. Got swath of washed out color going through the field but nothing bright at all. No intensity or depth to the color. Not even points or threads. Felt it shift deeper a couple of times. Definitely working with perspective. trying to go 360. At the end I was trying Mukti's elevator technique. Eyes forward but feel yourself going down. Something happened. It was as if the viewscreen stayed in front but the camera could swing in any direction. It also seemed to be able to move away so I could look back toward my body or outside beyond the room. Not getting images but impressions still washed out no real shapes. But the perspective was somehow different. 'I' was still sitting there looking forward but information was coming from somewhere else.

Tried version on light box again tonight shorter 30 min.
Got after images first sort of green with the purple threads later more light blue with darker blue center that expanded to fill the circle. A bit less intense than yesterday but still plenty of color

Past that stage definitely less color and not as intense but did get to a place with a wash of putty color that deepened to terracotta then just a splotch of the burgundy ruby. Another time got more of a green wash of color.

At the end it was again more about perspective than image or color. Spacious 360 sort of. Focused my attention on energy at then end to sort of smooth things out.

Felt more like going through steps in more detail to really learn them than yesterday's whirlwhind tour.

Worked with a different sphere tonight. A bit larger and darker. probably close to an hour.

got after images. sometimes more strongly than others. usually blueish center sometimes with the dark purple threads. Color fairly muted again today. Did get threads and specks of color. Not much more than that. The fairly colorless place was very 3D though and shifting, moving around. clouds or something. 

RE: Earth Kasina
12/28/15 12:30 PM as a reply to elizabeth.
@Chris J Macie, Thanks for the advice of returning to the source via the Visudhimagga. I think checking out source materials is always a good idea.

@Elizabelth P, I think your idea of using a lightbox is right on the money. I had thought about focusing some bright lights on the canvas/paper background in order to create a negative retinal burn, where the clay disk would be the only part of the visual image not brightly illuminated, however your idea seems like it would be significantly more effective.

It looks like you used some kind of material to block out the portion of the lightbox, not immediately under the crystal. I am very curious to know what you used. I am tempted to just put an object directly on the light box but have a slight concern that staring at a bright object with a much larger surface area then a flame or LED might be rough on the eyes. Thanks.

RE: Earth Kasina
12/28/15 1:28 PM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.

the ight box components.  crystal is sitting directly on it but in the darkness it can't be seen in the photo. I think at least some of the time I put a dark colored cloth  at the base of the lightbox on the side toward me (away from the cord).  I was usually trying this in at least a semi darkened room as well.  Evening or very early morning.  little artifical light so it didn't take much light with the crystal to generate the after image.

With a smokey crystal it is actually not a bright  or concentrated as a candle.  So retinal burn seemed less but definitely work with positioning the crystal so it is comfortable to look at.  There were definitely many different possible levels of brightness some more consistent than others.

The dark crystal against a light background without a light also worked surprisingly well. Though I might play around to see if I can get more contrast with an external light.   I've found that i can get enough of an after image to start the process just with light dark contrast.  Often with little or not set up or intent - for example on a plane and just noticing light patterns, seeing a bit of afterimage and using that as a start of a concentration sit.

Thanks for posting about this, I should probably work with this again. 



RE: Earth Kasina
12/28/15 4:03 PM as a reply to elizabeth.
Thanks Elizabeth, that was extremely helpful! I'm going to work on procuring the materials for the setup. I'll post my results once I've had a chance to try it out.

RE: Earth Kasina
1/11/16 9:35 PM as a reply to elizabeth.
So I made myself a lightbox, using your photos as inspiration. Mine is actually a shoebox with a small (1cm) hole cut in the center of the lid. Inside I have a 500 lm plug-in LED light that I bought at Lowes. The light gets warm but not hot enough to be a fire risk. I went to a local rock shop and found a tumbled piece of smokey quartz. It isn't a sphere, but at $3 I couldn't beat the price. Initially the light was way to diffuse for me to get a good retinal burn on

The whole crystal would light up with several bright spots throughout. To fix this, I actually used tiny strips of black duct tape to cover everything but the flat bottom of the quartz and a small roughly circular aperture I left as my viewing object. Now I have a singular circular area to look at, once again, roughly 1cm across with a single bright spot in the middle.

With this set-up, I am able to get a good retinal burn and after image for about the first 30 minutes of a sit. Afterwards, obtaining the after image is much more challenging. I don't have this problem when using either a candle flame or a bowl of water with blue food coloring. Another interesting phenomenon I'm noticing is that I'm getting a droplet shaped retinal burn, instead of a circle. This seems to be due to the irregular bright spot in the center of my kasina, due to imperfections in the rock.

I have noticed that after reaching 3rd jhana ("the black hole") that the after image really wants to morph into some kind of object very quickly. Strange as it may sound, it's as if the droplet shape simply does not have the same "structural integrity" as a circular after image, and therefore it is compelled to morph into something else with little prompting.

So I tend to get tiny visuals with the practice along with the grey-scapes that come before full blown 4th jhana. So fire the fire kasina has been the easiest practice for me to get 4th jhana with, with water and earth (using the lightbox method) being noticeablly more challenging.