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Kasina Conundrum

Kasina Conundrum
fire kasina
11/25/17 1:20 PM
So far in attempt of fire kasina, the afterimage fizzles out after a while, no “counterpart sign” or “red dot” that I can move around.
Perhaps this is because I’m not giving it an intensive amount of practice in a short period of time, as Dan recommends. So I’m thinking of trying 10 hours a day for two days straight.

Conundrum: Should I get the right practice down before committing time, or committ time to get the right practice?

Is it the amount of practice that will bring results?
Or am I not seeing results because my method is unskillful—I need to “practice better” before attempting long practice?

Hope that makes sense, don't want to commit so much time going in the wrong direction. This is what I’m doing:
  1. Sit comfortably, don’t move, so that you look slightly angled down at a flame 4-6 feet in front of you
  2. Let the eyes rest easily on the flame, concentrate on perceiving its color
  3. After a minute, close eyes and concentrate on the afterimage
  4. When it disappears, repeat steps 1-3
Other questions (no need to answer them all!)
  • I’ve never gotten to the “counterpart sign” or “red dot” that I can move around phase. But if I do, I suppose I keep concentrating on its light/shape as long as I can?
  • How do you get from the after image to the counterpart sign / red dot?
  • I heard somewhere of the practice is to “recreate” or “visualize” the flame—as opposed to concentrating on the afterimage which will inevitably disappear. Anything to that?
  • Why might you choose a candle instead of an iphone flashlight?
  • Is there a candle that works best? I often see a big dark disk afterimage from the top of the candle wax, though after a while just the small dot from the flame remains.
  • Must one keep eyeballs unmoving, fixed to one spot when eyes are shut? (always a strong temptation to recenter them)

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/26/17 11:45 AM as a reply to Jack.
Jack .... this is exactly the sort of question that i think people should be able to ask on here, i'm going through a similar thing myself w/ focus on breathing, as in my own sporadic practice seems to make very slow progress and i'm unwilling to waste days and days of navel gazing.

Me personally i think that whatever is your practice it should be phrased in such a way that you get some feedback on whether or not it has been effective, so you need to take notes, and periodically compare current with a week/ month earlier. 

Now, perhaps, somehow, you need to fill that leaky bucket (as per TMI/Culadassa) and there's a minimum amount of effort needed, which may differ from person to person.  So from that perspective its worth experimenting with 2hrs per day before a full on attempt, I have not ever heard anyone say that 2hrs per day will have no effect, but those that know please do leap in and correct me if I'm wrong, I have an interest in this as well.  I was thinking of trying a kasina just to see if it was easier than breath (I'm aiming at Jhana as a first phase). 

I've gone back to Leigh Brassington who says (approximately) 'you can't chase it, you just have to sit and wait and suddenly it goes wild', but how to do the sit and wait??? If nothing happens then how to know if you're wasting time or not??

IMHO if your practice appears to not change anything, then it's appropriate to experiment with variations, reasearch for suggestions (as you are doing now), or just try something different, you could even try an analytic practice, or an open awareness sit with an intention to have a good idea on how to move fwds.  .... So in that respect time developing right practice is a good idea.  Ummm, i just realised that  means I'm assuming that 10hrs pd is not needed :-) or not guaranteed to work....

FWIW I tried the FK some time ago and i did see the red dot & I'm not an expert, don't remember being able 'to move it around', it kind of did that on its own.  I stopped as i kept spilling cande wax on the carpet :-(

Take all this with some skepticsim, i'm posting largely to see if anyone says i'm completely barking up the wrong tree.  I want to hear peoples answers too!

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/26/17 7:51 PM as a reply to Jack.
What dose of practice have you done so far? How long are your sessions. What is it that you do see? What do you do with that. How long to you look at the flame? How long to you go with eyes closed before opening again?

For more on the fire kasina, see the new book The Fire Kasina.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/26/17 10:42 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It's out! Perfect timing, Dan. So psyched to read this, thanks.

Practicing 45-60+ minutes, rarely over an hour, every other day for last ten days (alternating days with breathing concentration meditation).

Attached a sketch approximating what I see:
First, the dark of the candle with a small dot or seed-shaped highlight where the flame was. Then, just a dark outline of the flame, light inside and light glow outside that blends into darkness. The outline closes in until it’s just a small dark dot. Then eventually I realize it is gone.

I just try to keep seeing it as long as I can.

Timed my last round: 2:14 looking at the flame. 3:01 with eyes closed until disappearance.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/27/17 8:06 PM as a reply to Jack.
As for my conundrum, I believe I can self-diagnose: I simply don't have strong enough concentration.
I will try out internal mantras and see if that helps.
I will also practice longer sessions, say three hours, but not go cold turkey yet into a full-day retreat, though reading the new book makes it tempting.

Wondering: how "red" is this red dot? Something obvious like scarlet that I'll know, or is it just "slightly reddish light"?

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/28/17 3:08 AM as a reply to Jack.
Hi Jack,
based on the pictures my guess would be that what you are seeing is in fact the red dot. I believe it can be of different color variying between persons. The eventual loosing of the dot would the 3rd jhana according to my understanding.

After staring at the candle, try blowing it out or facing another way so that the background is more dark. This for me enhances the visual effects and I can more readily see the greens and purples and small stars inside the dot. Of course there is variations from sit to sit: sometimes the red dot is bigger with more details, sometimes it's tiny... Just keep on practising!

That's my two cents emoticon

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/28/17 4:42 AM as a reply to Jack.

I couldn't concentrate on breath due to FK... so i bought some tea lights. They have quite a small flame and i sat about 2 ft away.

It's been over a year since i last tried and it took 6 cycles of about 1 minute each to see the red dot; my first 5 attempts were quite like your pictures.  (but I'm not disagreeing w/ Jehanne).

Here's 2 piccies of what i see usually in this sequence.  The dot heads north and i follow and then it disappears, but i can get it back, it's like chasing a cat, you have to let it come to you.
 The diffuse blob (as in your orignals i guess is an after image of the candle, this gets replaced by some more abstract (fuzzy) circle before the red dot appears. The red dot is smaller than the flame after image (about 1/4 size).

But that's just me.   Next stop is trying to stabilse and sustain it i guess.
Interestingly This time round it started off as much brighter than i remember, Ive been working thro' Culadasa to stages 5 and 6, but not getting overwhelmd w/ piti, so i have some way to go yet.

Good luck!

RE: Kasina Conundrum
11/28/17 7:54 AM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
Thanks Jehanne, I'll give it a shot. And "keep practicing" is great advice indeed!

My red dot isn't as red as your pic, Baba. Perhaps I should use tealights! Thinking of making a butter lamp today.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/2/17 3:28 PM as a reply to Jack.
Hello, Jack, I have recently started practicing with fire casina and I feel I can relate to your experience. Full report here, but essentially I seemed to go through the same phases. As far I understand, the dot that is observable immediately after you close your eyes is a physiological phenomena, and not a mind object. Although it wouldn't make any difference as far as practice goes probably, you still give it your full attention.

2 baba ganoush

The "red blob" on your third image is very alike to something I observed during my last session with kasina, it was a large (significantly larger than the dot) disk, saturated red in color. It looked like it might have been a mind object, so I immediately switched attention to it. It didn't last too, however, though, floating out of the FOV and disappearing.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/4/17 6:07 AM as a reply to Inky.
Hi Inky,

"As far I understand, the dot that is observable immediately after you close your eyes is a physiological phenomena, and not a mind object. Although it wouldn't make any difference as far as practice goes probably, you still give it your full attention."

A mind object or not, I've noticed that at times my concentration has been so poor that I have not been able to maintain any afterimage or dot for any significant amount of time whatsoever. This leads me to believe that being able to observe anything on the spot the candle flame used to be, is a sign of some sort of concentration and not just a physical afterimage since clearly one does not always observe this afterimage.

I do think though, that actually seeing the reddish, rather large dot, is a sign of better concentration than a smaller dot as in the drawings on the original poster. I've seen this red dot with all the fine details (colored rings, stars inside..) myself and my impression is that the visuals get more excuisite the higher is the state of concentration. I tried again the other night, and all I would get was a dark spot with some colored rings around it until it faded to complete darkness. Not sure where to draw a line with regards to calling it some jhana though, I'm no expert...!

How has the practise been going, Jack?

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/6/17 8:03 PM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
Thanks for asking, Jehanne. I hadn't upped to two hours solid kasina yet, despite my bold aspirations.
Meant to do it before at least replying to your post, but still haven't gotten around. Urg. I'll find time somehow.
My dot is bright, then slowly turns dark then dissappears. I don't see any pronounced red.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/12/17 4:08 PM as a reply to Jack.
Wondering: how "red" is this red dot? Something obvious like scarlet that I'll know, or is it just "slightly reddish light"?

In my experience, the red dot appears within 2-3 seconds of closing my eyes. It is very red, with distinct and precise edges, in the shape of the candle flame.

If you are staring at a static (not flickering) flame for at least 1 minute before closing your eyes, I think it's probably not lack of concentration or lack of time spent meditating but lack of knowing what to do with your eyes when you close them. I don't know if you ever did those "Magic Eye" images as a kid, where you have to focus your eyes in a particular way and then BLAMMO a 3D image pops out, but it's like that. It's not so much about concentration but focusing your eyes to look at the retinal after image which is already there.

I've actually been working with these images on a computer screen to do the kasina practice (as "light kasina" rather than "fire kasina"). The light bulb image in particular works fantastically well for me. I look at it for about 10-12 breaths, staring right into the middle part of the filament where it forms a loop, then close my eyes and within 1-2 seconds a retinal afterimage of the light bulb appears, with the light bulb part being reddish-white, and the filament black, and then with a black box around the whole thing.

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/13/17 9:15 AM as a reply to baba ganoush.
i get a BLACK dot after 2 mins of wide & gentle closed eye focus on red dot.

anyone ??

RE: Kasina Conundrum
12/13/17 9:39 AM as a reply to Duff.
Hm, I get a bright dot, maybe I'd call it yellowish at best, not really sure what that color is, but not a distinct scarlett.
Neat images. I enlarged and vectorized the second one to make it clearer (attached).

Mine too, Alguidar. The dark outline of the afterimages slowly closes in to become a black dot itself...then soon after disappears in my case.