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RE: Fire Kasina Retreat

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Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 1/24/16 4:49 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Ryan J 2/17/15 9:17 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat John M. 2/18/15 3:14 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Oochdd 2/18/15 5:28 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Florian Weps 2/18/15 6:11 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/18/15 9:12 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Oochdd 2/18/15 9:40 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/19/15 8:23 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Steph S 2/18/15 11:08 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/18/15 12:06 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/18/15 4:49 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Steph S 2/18/15 5:20 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/19/15 8:29 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/19/15 10:57 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/21/15 1:54 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/21/15 3:13 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat tom moylan 2/20/15 9:22 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 4/27/15 4:27 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jigme Sengye 4/27/15 9:42 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Dada Kind 4/27/15 1:49 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/18/15 12:12 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat CJMacie 2/19/15 6:48 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Angra Mainyu 2/19/15 3:20 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat CJMacie 4/28/15 6:19 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 4/30/15 3:52 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Oochdd 4/30/15 5:58 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 5/3/15 1:19 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Oochdd 5/3/15 11:26 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 5/4/15 2:54 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat CJMacie 5/5/15 9:36 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 5/14/15 9:26 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jehanne S Peacock 5/14/15 11:05 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 5/15/15 9:45 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Westco 12/9/15 10:21 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Shamadhi Sam 1/1/16 8:43 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 1/2/16 12:24 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Shamadhi Sam 1/2/16 12:30 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 1/2/16 2:54 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Angra Mainyu 1/2/16 6:30 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat CJMacie 5/15/15 2:01 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Shamadhi Sam 1/14/16 9:27 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Westco 1/22/16 2:58 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat elizabeth 1/23/16 5:53 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Angra Mainyu 2/18/15 2:49 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/18/15 4:47 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/19/15 8:22 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat x x 2/19/15 10:25 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Robin Woods 2/21/15 5:00 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/21/15 5:49 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jigme Sengye 2/21/15 7:09 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/21/15 7:26 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Laurel Carrington 2/21/15 8:08 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/21/15 8:12 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Dada Kind 2/21/15 4:07 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/27/15 9:33 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jigme Sengye 2/21/15 7:41 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat spinflip36 2/25/15 12:04 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 2/25/15 9:30 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat spinflip36 2/26/15 1:58 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jenny 2/27/15 9:29 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Dada Kind 4/21/15 12:58 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Daniel M. Ingram 4/21/15 7:25 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Pyro 1/5/16 2:12 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Shamadhi Sam 1/5/16 8:49 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Pyro 1/6/16 6:05 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Shamadhi Sam 1/6/16 2:51 PM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Pyro 1/6/16 11:18 AM
RE: Fire Kasina Retreat Jigme Sengye 1/6/16 12:00 PM
Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/24/16 4:49 AM
Duncan B., Florian Weps, and myself went on about a two week retreat dedicated to the candle-flame kasina and the powers. Tommy M joined us for two days of it towards the late middle part. It was a screaming good time, great practice, great setting (we rented a medieval tower in Scotland called the Tower of Hallbar), great conversations about practice, and great food, as everyone there could cook.

We have started a website that we will populate with the material that comes out of that: www.firekasina.org and hopefully people will find things to inspire them to practice this and related techniques there, as they reveal lots of interesting things.

It should also be noted that the contrast between what happened there to some of the various interests and threads here was a bit striking on returning to learn about what had been going on.

More to come later when I get the time.

Practice well,

Daniel

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/17/15 9:17 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"It should also be noted that the contrast between what happened there to some of the various interests and threads here was a bit striking on returning to learn about what had been going on."

Call me paranoid, but the whole time the events of the DhO were unfolding, somewhere in the back of my head I was thinking, "This is all because Daniel Ingram used the powers on the DhO or Alan Chapman is somehwere in the background doing something something about white brotherhood this or that giggling to himself..."

Anyways, nice blog, I look forward to further information.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 3:14 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Fascinating stuff and a real motivator to re-engage with this mode of practice, so thanks for that. I've found my own experiments with fire kasina practice stymied by the post-dot "gulf" as described in the talk, so it was of immediate interest to hear how that territory unfolds.

You mentioned travelling briefly out of body -- is fire kasina practice especially well-suited for inducing these kinds of experiences? If so, is there anything one can do within the kasina practice to "optimize" for having them? I've heard the link between jhana and OOBE discussed elsewhere, but I'm having trouble connecting the dots in a practical, how-it's-done sort of way.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 5:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
So probably this is a stupid question, but maybe someone can clear this up for me: but what is the goal here? Just to see cool images? Does it do anything otherwise? Does it have some positive effect on daily life? 

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 6:11 AM as a reply to Oochdd.
Hi Oochdd

Oochdd:
So probably this is a stupid question, but maybe someone can clear this up for me: but what is the goal here? Just to see cool images? Does it do anything otherwise? Does it have some positive effect on daily life? 


The goal was to get into jhana states by concentrating on the visual field or parts of it, like the afterimage and the resulting nimitta; to have a lot of fun; to see what a mind which is still and directed and focussed over longish periods of time can do; to explore intent, magick, siddhis / iddhi, visions, weird sensory expansion/augmentation in the afterglow of such concentration states; to observe the "three doors" type experiences just before fruitions in high detail in good, solid concentration states, and so on; to have good dharma companionship and eat nice food and enjoy the atmosphere of speding two weeks in a medieval tower with dangerous stairs and low-hanging rock ceilings emoticon

Does it do anything otherwise? Well, yes, even if the focus was on samatha, we all found we could not help powering the insight cycles, experience fruitions, explore the ñanas in high detail, including the dukkha ñanas, and dealing with quite a bit of "content" along the way. We all left behind loved ones for these two weeks, we all found various degrees of previously unconscious stuff surfacing, and so on.

Does it have some positive effect on daily life? Speaking for me, these were very restful, healing, insightful weeks. Bathing the mind for 12+ hours a day in steady focus did a lot for me. There is something to not yanking the mind around all the time, focus on this, consider that, fend that off, open to this... simply staring at a candle or the back of my eyelids allowed some irritated spots to heal, I think. I returned to work the day after I got back, and while it was certainly a bit jarring, it was nowhere as bad as I had imagined it would be, and it seems to keep on giving in some way (now on day three of back to work).

I'll try to expand on these in a future blog post at the site Daniel set up for this, referenced in his initial post.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Oochdd.
The visual kasinas have many benefits, some of which were noted by Florian above. I would add that the visuals add a great appreciation for things about the jhanas, as their widths of attention, their phase aspects, their frequency predispositions, and the like are greatly clarified when you can see it before you like a diagram. It similarly vastly increases the ability to phenemonologize well.

As Duncan said, he could now see clearly all of the stuff about frequencies and the patterns of attention in the jhanas that he had previously wondered how in the world I could know. Things about the Three Doors similarly became much clearer to those there.

When playing around with kasinas in high dose, one learns a ton about attention, about its regulation and control, about what it does, now it interacts with phenomena, and how this varies in various phases of practice. It is knowledge that is hard to gain in that same clearly defined way elsewhere.

They also help develop strengths of concentration that objects like the breath often don't, as the visuals give such immediate feedback on how concentration is doing in that second, sort of like what they are trying to do with million-dollar fMRIs and $80,000 EEGs but costing about a dollar for a candle or free by just using the LED on the camera of your phone or a video of a candle on your computer screen (thought it doesn't get quite the same retinal burn to produce a good learning sign.)

We actually used 30x300mm German church altar candles that burned very well and cleanly, and, if you do this, I recommend similarly good candles, as they make a difference in not having to deal with their maintenance, dripping, guttering, and the like. 30mm (1.25in) is a nice width for this, neither causing the flame to crater into a valley with tall waxy sides nor dripping due to overflowing the insufficient edges.

High-dose kasinas often produce siddis (powers), and siddis teach you lots of things about yourself and the experiential world and are just darn interesting. Plenty of people watch fantasy movies and yet few say, "Why would anyone watch fantasy movies?", and yet you somehow have to explain the fun it is to play with siddis to people: very odd, that.

One also gets to experience many strange ways of seeing things. Example: there is a stage up in the sequence where the visuals exhibit what we began to call pseudo-paralax, meaning that the distant parts stay relatively anchored when you move your head side to side, as if they were fixed things in the room, but the closer parts move with your head in a way that is graded by the closeness to you, such that you get this really strange thing that is like paralax but not quite the same as typical visuals.

There can also be this marked appreciation of color in all its rich shades and variants that applies not only to the images produced during the practice but also after you open your eyes, such that the colors of the ordinary world seem enhanced and the nuanced depths of shade and tone one can suddenly perceive are much more than they were before. This effect fades, but I can still feel something of that lingering a few days after I stopped and I really like it. It enhances the joy of simply seeing things.

The jhanas also have their own rewards: the deep restful states, the bliss, the rapture, the peace and the like are skillful, healing, very deeply enjoyable, and also allow one to enter into territory regarding one's stuff that is hard do to in less refined states. Just as one notices that one may have markedly reduced or totally absent physical pain from sitting while in jhana, which often contrasts sharply to the pain from sitting just minutes before the jhana set in, just so emotional issues perceived in jhana are much easier to handle. It is like getting a free pass to see what one is feeling and thinking about old wounds and current issues while not having so much pain around them, like becoming a much more objective and yet attentive party to them, and this allows degrees of clarity and wisdom to arise that it is much harder to find in non-jhanic states.

The sense of mastery that one acquires as one progresses deeper and deeper into the sequences of presenting stages and visuals with more competence and skill as the practice progresses is very rewarding. You can clearly see the fruits of your labors exactly as the various phases become more clear and more accessible and you learn how to progress to the next phase of the visuals. It is hard to get that same sense of clear progress using other non-visual objects. In that same way, as the stages are so clear, one gets immediate feedback on one's attentional experiments in how to progress, and that greatly increases the meta-skill of how to figure out how to improve attention in deeper and deeper states, which is of such value to the competent meditator.

There are probably more benefits, but that is a good start.

Practice well,

Daniel

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 9:40 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks a lot, that does clear up a lot! 

So summarizing: the visuals actually give you a lot of immediate feedback on the concentration state or insight stage that you're in, and this helps your stabilize and develop those states and stages more effectively?

So next question (you can also refer to me to an upcoming post on your new website if you want to emoticon : for whom would you recommend this practice? Would you recommend first getting a few paths under your belt, and then switching to this? Would it be a good practice from the start? Would it be especially recommended for people that are stuck in their practice in a specific way? Or would you recommend that everybody just try it and see if they have any affinity with it? (ofcourse at this stage it might be hard for you guys to judge whether this would be a good practice for a new meditator)

Thanks again for all the good practice tips and for exploring this new territory!

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 11:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hell. yes.

I'm going to be on a work trip all next week and will have lots of free time in the evenings to practice. Real fire is probably an iffy idea to attempt in a hotel, but I'll see what I can work with as far as other lights.

Daniel - any chance you're planning or would be interested in another retreat with people back here in the US at some point... heck I'd be in for even a shorter weekend long one. I'm in the Midwest.

Steph

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 12:06 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Hell. yes.

Daniel - any chance you're planning or would be interested in another retreat with people back here in the US at some point... heck I'd be in for even a shorter weekend long one. I'm in the Midwest.


I'd like to second Steph's hell, yes, with regard to planning a U.S. version of this retreat! I'm in the mid-Atlantic South.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 12:12 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Wow, Florian and Daniel. 

Seeing is beautiful.

Daniel, I find what you say about dealing with psychological stuff in (after?) these states intriguing and something I've not heard you say before. You do mention this same benefit almost in passing in your greatly expanded and reworked jhana chapter of MCTB2. I've queried you for a bit more information there.

(We need to make sure the firekasina.org site is added to your bibliography if you mean to leave the site up.)

Jenny

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 2:49 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel

Did you do sun gazing there too?
I would rather use sun than any artificial light sources. I actually did some sun-gazing few years ago. I was watching it for long periods of time in the morning and evening. It was quite mesmerizing... Given that my sight only improved over time I do not think it did me any harm.

I would suggest against suggesting using any LEDs because strong blue light is dangerous to eyes, not to mention LED light is very concentrated. Candle flame is much bigger and have continuous light spectrum with mostly warm colors with little blue, so it is much much safer to eyes. Besides, candle is nice to look at, cheap and quite popular so they are in every larger store. You just can't go wrong with candles.

Paweł

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 4:47 PM as a reply to Angra Mainyu.
Blue light triggers insomnia and migraines (and migraine auras) too.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 4:49 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Dear Steph,

Please check your message box for a p.m. from me. 

Jenny

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/18/15 5:20 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Thanks. Got it and replied via email. 

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 10:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Really neat! I listened to both podcasts as I lay in bed last night. Congrats to Daniel, Florian, and Duncan for the exploration and great example of comradary in practice!

(p.s. I'm AKA betawave from the old board.)

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 3:20 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

There can also be this marked appreciation of color in all its rich shades and variants that applies not only to the images produced during the practice but also after you open your eyes, such that the colors of the ordinary world seem enhanced and the nuanced depths of shade and tone one can suddenly perceive are much more than they were before. This effect fades, but I can still feel something of that lingering a few days after I stopped and I really like it. It enhances the joy of simply seeing things.

Have you tried to induce those effects more directly?
I described few methods here

I did a lot of practice with this stuff, basically most of the time I had eyes opened and closed for past few years

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 6:48 PM as a reply to Jenny.
re: Jenny (2/18/15 12:12 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.)
"(We need to make sure the firekasina.org site is added to your bibliography if you mean to leave the site up.)"

And/or explore various given ways of using web-archiving services to fix/permanentize (un-annicca-size?) link targets. That looks to work well for simple documents, e.g. a web page that's just a pdf file. I'm not sure if/how its usable for archving a whole website, i.e. traversing and copying a plexus of links, without getting off into copying the whole internet (and possibly infinite recursion). The problem must have been addressed already somewhere. Perhaps those here who are active geeks in the area could assist here.

Here's a recent source for such information (quoting a post of mine in another context):
 
"If hyperlinks to documents are used (in-line or in footnotes), there's the potential that they someday, e.g. tomorrow, no longer work (aka "link rot", "content drift", "reference rot"). A recent New Yorker article details this (explaining those colorful quoted terms), and mentions ways of making links one wants to use "permanent". ("The Cobweb: Can the Internet be Archived?" Jan 26, 2015 edition, pp.34-41 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/26/cobweb)."

(I noted this to you in the MCTB2 context; repeating it here in case others are interested.)

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 8:22 PM as a reply to Angra Mainyu.
As to sun-gazing, I did some, briefly eyes open with UV filtering glasses on, then with eyes closed but still staring in that direction, and would get huge nimitas off of that and then would stabilize them and open my eyes, and everything where the nimita was would stay this bright magenta like I was looking through rose-colored glasses for a long time.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 8:23 PM as a reply to Oochdd.
I would recommend this practice to anyone. Just realize that past the red dot, the vague and wide part takes some skill and a moderate number of practice hours for most to get good at.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 8:29 PM as a reply to Steph S.
@ Steph S: re: retreat in the US: sure, why not? For this retreat we just rented a place, bought food, retreated and that was it: very simple. Luckily the small group in Scotland included only people who were all helpful, kind, thoughtful, reasonable, diligent, low-maintenance and non-dramatic practitioners, which really helped. I would recommend a similar group if we did this again, as this stuff can get wiggy and you need people who can handle that.

I am pretty booked until the Fall with trips and the like, so it would have to be sometime like Sept-Dec likely. What would people be up for? I like this stuff and it is fun to practice. If we could find the time, a good group, and a nice place, we could do a few days somewhere. I just burned up all my vacation time for the year, but I do get days off here and there between blocks of shifts, so there is likely a way to schedule something if it lined up with other people's free time. Holidays are hard for me to get off, just FYI.

Definitely don't burn down the hotel! ;)

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/19/15 10:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:

What would people be up for?

Practicing being nondramatic from now to September so as to be uncut from the list?

Seriously, though, what would the practice-level and other prerequistes be and are you the one deciding?

I'll take my answers elsewhere sometime, not here.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/20/15 9:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
i dug the acid recap esp. the visuals, a very apt analogy that, noticing the olfactory tie-in with visuals etc.

being in germany i have easy access to altar candles so the rest should be a cakewalk ;-)

very much fun, especially the voice to thumbnail connection to florian.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 1:54 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jenny:

Practicing being nondramatic from now to September so as to be uncut from the list?

Seriously, though, what would the practice-level and other prerequistes be and are you the one deciding?

Actually, sounds like a valid question for here. Practicing being nondramatic would thrill me in general from a DhO mod point of view! ;)

As to who would decide, the retreat as we did it was a group of friends that wanted to do a specific practice in a specific dose and all mutually approved of the others. I envision something similar, such that each person would be looking at the group who was interested and thinking about whether or not they would want to do something like that with that group and make their choices based on that. Group dynamics can get complicated on retreats, which can be intimate things that bring up complex sides of ourselves in strange mindstates.

Said another way, I would be deciding who I would want to be on retreat with, as would everyone else, as individual agents, and then, where there was overlap of interest, compatibility and schedule, a retreat could happen. Hopefully, people would end up doing a retreat with those they felt comfortable with, as that really helps for this sort of thing when you are living together, eating together, practicing together, processing what comes up together, and exploring together. It takes a lot of trust to do that well and to be comfortable sharing the deep stuff.

The retreat we did was not a lead retreat: just 4 retreatants coming together to share, help each other, and practice well.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 3:13 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Group dynamics can get complicated on retreats, which can be intimate things that bring up complex sides of ourselves in strange mindstates.

Group dynamics can get complicated even on family vacations!

I can certainly imagine how being in that intimate, intense situation, in strange mind states, with whatever comes up coming up would require fortitude, commitment, and comfort with the people.

The larger the group, in my experience, the harder it is for harmony to prevail, especially where there is no lead and no formal, externally imposed expectations. 

I'm off to stare into the mirror and do my best "nondramatic" act. I can pull it off, you know, because I was a drama major in college. ;)

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 5:00 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Does anyone know if the red dot and black dot relate to the samatha Jhanas? Or are they pre-jhanic or unrelated? Thanks!

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 5:49 AM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Red dot initially is first jhana.
When it gets the rapidly spinning gold inner parts that change with the phase of the breath, that is 2nd jhana.
When you get the black/dark larger area and the complex somewhat 3D lines around it, that is 3rd jhana.
When you get to the very nicely 3D images doing their own thing filling the visual field and perhaps the whole experience field, that is 4th jhana.
There are other fine points and pathways, but that is the basics.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 7:09 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
One thing that I didn't get from the two recordings was how much time you guys spent staring at the candle and how much time or when you'd alternate to closing your eyes to stare at the closed-eye imagery like the red dot and what evolved from it. I mean that in terms of the proportion of time per practice hour and how much time you'd spend each time you'd close your eyes. I assume it evolved and that closed eye time increased as the nimittas or other visual phenomena got stronger, but could you list how you ended up going about that?

For example, I tend to only do an hour of candle flame practice a day on average, and I spend nearly all of that time staring at it with eyes open and only have a few bouts of a few seconds to a few minutes each of closing my eyes and staring at or looking for stable or moving closed eye visual patterns. This depends on how absorbed I am, which varies wildly and wether the experience has more of a continuous jhanic absorption feel or more of a moment to moment vipassana noticing feel.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 7:26 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
How much time we stared at the flame totally varied.

Initially, most of us looked at it fairly often. In general, we would look at the flame for a minute or two, get the retinal burn, close our eyes, see the red dot, it would get the spinning yellow stuff, then it would fade, move off to the side, and finally vanish, and we would open our eyes and do it again a few minutes later. Thus, we were looking it maybe 10-30% of the time with rapid cycles.

However, fairly rapidly, we began to push farther out into the murk, that which happens when the black/dark area appears around the place where the red dot was with the vague colors and complex but faint patterns. This takes time, and exactly when to stop is hard to determine. So, within a day or so, I am estimating, our ratio of open to closed eyes shifted farther to closed eyes, and our cycles got longer.

This is something you have to determine for yourself when you are doing it. I have no perfect answers. So long as you are paying really good attention to the visuals, more candle time with more rapid cycles is ok, but eventually you need to get good at going out past the red dot into the wider, more complex murk, as out past that murk is the high-def 3D stuff, traveling, the molten gold, the photo-realistic images, and all of that.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 7:41 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
About the candles themselves, you mentioned that Duncan had gotten big wide high quality ones. Since late December, I've been using one huge 8.5 cm wide by 15.5 cm tall pure beeswax candle (from here http://achetonsquebec.com/produits-diversifies/155-chandelles-medievales.html , it's the one listed as CM13, sorry that the page is in French). I had found that regular candles and the one non-artisanal beeswax candle (I'm guessing that it probably wasn't pure beeswax) I tried tended to give me lung irritation the next day after doing an hour of staring practice. This one doesn't.

One thing I've found with this wide candle is that I tend to have to adjust the edges of the candle after each practice session by pressing them in when they're still soft to keep a crater from forming. I've found that if I don't flatten the wax on the sides each time, the flame will will flicker a lot (rather than being a solid continuous unmoving flame) and also cause a consistently bigger flame. If I let the crater get deeper, the flickering and the length of the flame will increase. At first I found this annoying for my attempts at deepening jhana, but I then found the fast strobe-like flickering fascinating and a good support for fast noticing or fast noting (I just note seeing), which gives a very different feeling when used for a whole hour-long sitting.

Did this happen with your candles and if so, did you try to exploit the effect? I got the impression from the recording that this wasn't the case. Did the sides burn fully rather then needing to be pressed in?

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 8:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
My question has to do with practicing at home. While it would be impossible to replicate retreat conditions, if a person did an hour or more each evening, what might she be able to achieve? I realize results would vary from person to person, but would such a thing be worth trying? 

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
2/21/15 8:12 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
It is totally going to vary by the person. There is wide range of natural talent. I would defintely try it in daily life and see what you can get. Most people get more effects than they think they will.

I taught this to a class of beginning to indermediate meditators (one of which had crossed the A&P a few times and hit Equanimity a few times but not gotten stream entry yet) and everyone could get the red dot, many could get the spinning stuff in it, and the one person who had crossed the A&P and gotten to Equanimity a few times got a blue goddess who was seeming alive and intelligent and looking right at her after doing this for less than an hour the first time she did it.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
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2/21/15 4:07 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is all totally awesome. I've never gotten past the murky area myself so this is really useful to me.

I wonder, did you guys ever try to correlate the colors with any known systems? Qabalistic color scales, chakra models, elemental models, etc? I ask because I get a purple-violet fog stuff sometimes without having a steady concentration practice and I've wondered whether it relates to the crown chakra or the 'akasha' element. Franz Bardon says akasha is purple and most closely related to the fire element. If you look at the top of his magician card you'll see the purple right above the embracing, consenting deities. In IIH he mentions in passing that sexual practices are the "greatest of all mysteries".

I also wonder how the results would be different if you guys used a different kasina object for the whole 2 weeks. How would the colors, sequence, images, cycling, magickal experiences, technical aspects, etc change?

Anyway, super interesting thanks for getting this out there.

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2/25/15 12:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is my first post, so hello, all! I'm a long-time lurker who has found the info on this forum very useful, but I have to ask some questions about this practice.

Specifically, I'm wondering about this 'red dot,' phase which, elsewhere in this thread, you've equated with first jhana. Now, I'm a relatively novice meditator, and I thought that, previously, I had only at best skirted the edges of jhana absorbtion. However, inspired by this thread, I decided to give the technique a go. The first time I closed my eyes after staring at the flame for perhaps 10 minutes, I saw an obvious afterimage of a red dot on my retina. It was obviously there, though I didn't really feel that 'absorbed.' I could become momentarily distracted by some thought and return, and it was still there. By the end of my first sit, the image had taken on several other forms (Colors, coronas, and othter minute manifestations), but that red dot remained fairly constant when I had my eyes shut.

I suppose my question is that - it seems like the appearance of that red dot on one's vision is explainable by understanding how our retina cells respond to overexposure, and I wonder if simply being able to percieve this phenomena means one has reached jhana? Because, as I have said, I am fairly new at this (Only about 4 or 5 months of regular practice) and I don't believe I've yet reached true absorbtion, even after seeing this 'red dor' and it's somewhat stranger manifestations - It didn't really feel very absorbtive, if you understand?

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2/25/15 9:30 AM as a reply to spinflip36.
Depths of absorption vary widely, and a huge range is possible.

You will notice, as it says in the texts, that the red dot respones well to applied and sustained concentration, and, while those are in place and the red dot is glowing, the mind is relatively free of adverse negative mind states and distractions.

You will also notice the fact that the problem with the first jhana, particularly when not well-developed, is that it can rapidly revert to a pre-jhanic state.

On this retreat we constantly were dealing with the temptation, as jhana gets stronger, to leave off the visuals and attend to the more bodily effects of jhana, which are pleasureable, sometimes extremely so, which makes the temptation stronger. That said, strong focus on the visuals alone can produce deeply concentrated and profound states that nearly or totally lack the standard bodily components, as the mind is so focused on the visuals and not on the body.

You might notice that if you progress and can find a stable balance of dividing your attention between the red dot and the body that more physical jhanic things occur. This also takes a greater strength of practice, as divided attention is more complex to sustain, and it doesn't quite provide the nice, clear feedback that the visuals do in quite the same way.

Further, the first jhana is a huge thing, really, as are the others, and there are many focuses, emphases, variants and things you can develop all while being in it, as with the other jhanas.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
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2/26/15 1:58 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I see. I think I've briefly groped the physical aspects you describe several times in my practice, including both times I've tried using this technique. Whenever I did, each time it arose, it was able to distract me and somewhat douse itself.
If I understand you correctly, while I am still working towards access concentration - and using this technique - I should attend only and strictly to the "visual" phenomena I experience?
(Quotes around 'visual' becuase I don't think everything that falls under that is exactly coming from the eye)

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
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2/27/15 9:33 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Red dot initially is first jhana.
When it gets the rapidly spinning gold inner parts that change with the phase of the breath, that is 2nd jhana.
When you get the black/dark larger area and the complex somewhat 3D lines around it, that is 3rd jhana.
When you get to the very nicely 3D images doing their own thing filling the visual field and perhaps the whole experience field, that is 4th jhana.
There are other fine points and pathways, but that is the basics.
I've not had time to listen to much of the recording yet, but will try to so tonight/tomorrow. I've been practicing this with pretty intense concentration, but I'm not getting the red dot as I did months ago, just momentarily here and there. Is the red dot required for some reason, or do some people skip it?

Interestingly, I can really "see" the differences in the jhanas by gazing on the flame itself--3rd jhana being really, really interesting with the choatic zigzags as a wide halo far outside the flame, like DN auras. And I learned that my body disappears in 2nd jhana, not just in 4th/5th! I know this because the 2nd jhana had sparkly movement effects around the flame at top and bottom of breath--yet body "disappeared" at that jhana, too. 

Anyway, no red dot. But pretty quickly a gorgeous ice-blue color that spread and I could see as a faint tint even with eyes open. One night got the wild vision stuff with eyes closed (many underwater images, giant purple jellyfish, etc), but last night 1.5 hours and nothing--until I gave up and blew out the oil lamp. Then and only then did the visions, even wilder, start up and keep going for the rest of the sit, which was in total darkness, no flame at all.

So am I off task or on task? Is the red dot stage necessary for something that later takes place? Or, if we are seeing things and hearing things, regardless of how we get there, is that this particular practice?

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
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2/27/15 9:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:
On this retreat we constantly were dealing with the temptation, as jhana gets stronger, to leave off the visuals and attend to the more bodily effects of jhana, which are pleasureable, sometimes extremely so, which makes the temptation stronger. 

Yes! Even when the body feels "gone," there is some sense of wanting to fall off the visuals and sink back into even a mere placeholder "center" and that silky breath bliss flowing through it. Resisting that familiar bliss to stay with the visual focus is actually stressful at a certain point, which gave me some insight into how wedded I am to this "center" even when it isn't ostensibly here by sign of physicality, and even though awareness has lately seemed gone over to the other side from me, fused with objects. This exercise revealed just how much has not in fact gone over. I guess this is off task, haha, but nonetheless interesting.

Did you all find any strategies for staying with the visuals in the face of the seductive bodily and nonbodily sensations? It seems that brute-force concentration would be counterproductive, but what else is there?

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4/21/15 12:58 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sorry for gravedigging this a bit.

But I wonder, will there be similar retreats for the remaining elements or even other classical objects? It would be a win for recreational meditation.

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4/21/15 7:25 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Regarding possible further retreats, the three of us mentioned possibly doing another one in a somewhat different setting with more water, as this one got pretty fire-heavy and finally needed some elemental rebalancing.

We considered some place with a large body of water, like a lake, with nice air and earth around (view, mountains), so the Austrian Alps sounded good to us, and I also like some places in the Caribbean as possibilities. It is possible that in 2-3 years we might do that. We retreated together well, as our dietary, emotional and magickal sensibilities aligned nicely.

The problem for me is that getting that much time off to do this is really a project, the sort of thing that takes very long-term planning.

However, the cool thing about kasinas is that you just do them and cool thing happen, so, it would be easy for those who have more time availability to just go to some cool or at least convenient place, pick an object, and do that kasina thing and see what happens. Pick people who are able to keep it togethter and know when to do things like back off, go for long walks alone, talk about what is going on, and have a pretty high degree of stability and emotional balance: my best advice, as high-dose kasina practice can get pretty out there. Said another way, pick only people you would be willing drop some big hit of something very mild altering with multiple times over the period of practice, as the criteria for who you would want to be with are going to be basically the same. Add in dietary and paradigmatic considerations when thinking about who to go with.

As to not seeing the red dot: at points you may not get a red dot but might get something else or just sort of skip to the murk of 3rd, which can be murky initially: just stay with anything at all in the murk. If you get sheets of color: stay with those. Whatever it is: stay with it. That is the first rule of kasina practice and will get you a long way.

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4/27/15 4:27 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
My audio diary entries from the Fire Kasina retreat are up on www.firekasina.org

Look in the audio section upper right.

Enjoy,

Daniel

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
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4/27/15 9:42 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
My audio diary entries from the Fire Kasina retreat are up on www.firekasina.org

Look in the audio section upper right.

Enjoy,

Daniel

That's interesting. Thanks for posting that. I'll ask the obvious question. Did anyone else from the retreat also have this feeling of toxicity or any other retreat-related problems after going home?

About the excess of fire, do you feel the toxicity or any other unpleasant effects were due to too much fire?

Can you say more about elemental imbalance from kasina practice (or any other practice) and how to deal with it?

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4/27/15 1:49 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"Reality-tunnel", emoticon nice Leary-RAW phrase

Do you think it's a fair conjecture that the fire kasina is one of the most likely kasinas to cause serious instability?, based on magickal elemental intuition. I'd guess drilling earth kasina etc all day for two weeks would have its own set of problems but wouldn't be as extreme

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4/28/15 6:19 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
re: Daniel M. Ingram (2/18/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Oochdd.)
"We actually used 30x300mm German church altar candles that burned very well and cleanly…"
No doubt pure beeswax rather than paraffin (which I think gives off toxic fumes). Mindfulness of chemical intoxication might not be worth it.

Jhana as a slow, steady burn:
Also, reminds me of something Than-Geof(Thanissaro Bhikkhu) brought up once in passing: the Pali word from which 'jhana' is derived, 'jhaayati ' ('aa' means with the dash diacritical) – "to meditate" – has a homophone (same sound, different etymology) 'jhaayati' that means "to burn". Than-Geof mentioned that this 2nd meaning is s/t used traditionally as an image of jhanic absorption (in general, whatever the object), like an oil-lamp or flame that's very steady and captivating. I remember that because it made sense from my own experience.

According to the PTS Dictionary, 'jhaayati '1 comes from Sanskrit 'dhayaati', from 'didheti', to shine, perceive, and means "to meditate, contemplate…". 'Jhaayati '2 is from Sanskrit 'ks.aayati' -- "to burn, to be on fire…" Curious the meaning of "shine" also associated with the 1stt erm, which can evoke the image above of the slow, steady burn.

Polysemous vs. literal interpretation:

Traditional commentaries, particularly Buddhaghosa (e.g. in the Visudhimaggga), liked to cite a range of etymologies when explaining important terms, which are considered, at least by modern historians, to be a mixture of 'historical' and 'mythical' etymologies. 'Jhana' and meditation as burning would fall under mythic etymology.

On the other hand, to momentarily suspend our modernist 'scientific' bias (mythic etymology as 'bad'), perhaps ancient Indic languages, as has been argued with respect to Chinese writings of the same time, were using words in a 'polysemous' way, that is, fully intending multiple dimensions of meaning towords. Modern scholars like Linda Blanchard ("Dependent Arising in Context" and her principle source Johanna Jurewicz) cite evidence along these lines in interpreting early Vedic texts to show the background against which G. Buddha was proposing his radical re-interpretations. (And, to suggest this rambling isn't all that much OT, Johanna Jurewicz's key writings have titles like "Playing with Fire"and "Fire and Cognition in the R.gveda".)

The term 'polysemous' I came across in the context of studying Chinese philosophical and medical texts ca.300 BCE to ca. 300 CE. The reasoning there is that written texts then were not meant as definitive, literal and detailed explanations, but rather mnemonic aids, often symbolic, in transmitting oral teaching, and embodied multiple levels of meaning and interpretation. The same could be postulated about 'early Buddhist texts', as it's likely they were, at least initially, an adjunct to oral transmission.

Of course, the modernist 'literalist' scholarly movement, notably some approaches to discerning the true "earliest teachings of the Buddha", takes an opposing view: that earliest written renditions of remembered words of G. Buddha were intended as literal, detailed and exact description of the teaching. Note the possibly projectionist bias – modern historical scholarship being subject to rules of being literal, detailed, exact, etc.

Which viewpoint is the "real truth"? If you're so inclined, take your pick, and argue away. Or enjoy the richness of multiple viewpoints and the insights any of which may offer.

Practice experience? Much of this goes back to a fascination and memories – early 1950s when a raging forest fire came close to home (compelling khanika samadhi)…BoyScout campfires… votive candles late-night in church...grad-school era staring at fireplace fire, with/wout LSD et al… -- all formative experiences of samadhi.

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4/30/15 3:52 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
@ Chris: thanks for the etymology and the fine perpective on meaning and trugh. I agree, fire is intrinsically fascinating and natural object of concentration.

As to toxicity: I think I am the only one that noticed this. I am not sure why it happened and am merely reporting.

As to elemental imbalances: we did start bringing in water and earth later on during the retreat to try to balance things out and I think that helped on the retreat.

I have no idea what I might have done when I returned to work, as I was at work, and at work we have very little time for anything but work.

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4/30/15 5:58 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Still leaves the important question: Have you decided to become a Fire King now or not? emoticon

Anyways, thanks a ton for these practice journal entries. It's actually great to hear an advanced practitioner going through these motions, still having to do with annoying hours of Re-Ob here an there, and clearly the amazing amount of fun you had with the retreat.

And also interesting to read how we fabricate our memories to some extent, and colour them by our present experience. Usually people actually remember their holidays as more fun than it was at the time. Seems like you had the opposite effect. 

Thanks again for all the exploring, sharing and reporting!

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5/3/15 1:19 AM as a reply to Oochdd.
I clearly could do lot worse than become a King of Fire, so that would seem a good direction to go in. ;)

I am at the moment going for a more balanced elemental approach, adding in more water, more earth, more air, more space. What that means practically is pretty hard to explain. Since that retreat, I have had a definitely increased appreciation of all of the traditional four/five elements in a way that I didn't before, both somatically/sensorily, as well as archetypally (spelling?). For most of my Buddhist and Magickal practice, I didn't have that well-developed an appreciation of those elements, so this retreat, which was explicitly elemental, definitely helped.

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5/3/15 11:26 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Looking forward to MCTB2 by "The King of Fire, Daniel M. Ingram". Might even be slightly less controversial than the old Arahat claim emoticon

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5/4/15 2:54 AM as a reply to Oochdd.
Old? Ongoing, more like. ;)

I am only 46. I hope that is not old, though I am sure it isn't young either.

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5/5/15 9:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
re: Daniel M. Ingram (5/2/15 11:19 PM as a reply to Oochdd.)
"I am at the moment going for a more balanced elemental approach, adding in more water, more earth, more air, more space. What that means practically is pretty hard to explain. Since that retreat, I have had a definitely increased appreciation of all of the traditional four/five elements in a way that I didn't before, both somatically/sensorily, as well as archetypally (spelling?). For most of my Buddhist and Magickal practice, I didn't have that well-developed an appreciation of those elements, so this retreat, which was explicitly elemental, definitely helped."

Not to belabor a point, but I'm going into a retreat, end of June, to train in elements-contemplation (with U Jagara, PaAuk Sayadaw student since mid-1990s). So here's a bit of research comparing kasina and elements contemplations, and the question whether this corner of Visudhimagga methodology hasbeen explored or reported on much in pragmatic circles. (Searching MCTB1 on 'elements' nothing comes up other than non-related uses of the term.)

Out of curiosity, while reading this thread, I checked back in the Visudhimagga, where samadhi cultivation on the fire kasina is described pretty much along the lines you guys have described (from the Fire Kasina Retreat).

The 1st 4 kasinas are also a version of the 4 elements (dhatus), but there appears to be a difference (in Vism.) between cultivating them as kasinas and as elements per se. As kasinas they seem to be used as images to develop the counterpart sign (nimitta) as the locus for full absorption (kasina-jhanas are the first topic in that large section of the Vism. on concentration). On the other hand, the 'elements', also under the rubric samadhi, are treated (in a 26-page passage of some subtlety at the very end ofthe Vism's section on concentration) actually more, it would appear, as vipassana, and intertwined with contemplation of the body-parts -- as exercises in refining discernment as to proprioception of rupa – as body per se (its parts), and as deconstructing the perception of rupa, whether internally (body parts) or directed externally to material sensations in general.

It actually appears to state there that element and body-part contemplations go only as far asaccess-concentration, not to full absorption – so I suspect more as what we today might consider an insight method.

The elements here are defined not as images but as perceptual qualities of the experience of rupa earth as weight/lightness and hardness/softness; air as motion (and "supporting"); fire as perceived temperature (and "ripening" in terms of digestion – much as in classical Chinese medicine's 'stomach fire'); and water as cohesion and liquidity. The method is to examine each of the body-parts in terms of what mixture of these elements (qualities) makes them up perceptually. And here that strange term "kalapas" (corporeal "groups") shows up: one deconstructs body-parts into varying combinations of those perceptual elements, and learns (trains) to discern them as "groups" of these primitive perceptual qualities (sensations), rather than as substantial entities. (Kalapas are also s/t investigated analagously as groups of khandhas.)

I haven't read enough of Mahasi's writings to have noticed if or how this method comes up there, but was introduced to it in a retreat (2013) with the teacher Ven. U.Jagara, a Canadian-born, 40-year monastic, originally ordained by Mahasi, but who has worked the last 20 years with PaAuk Sayadaw. So perhaps this body-parts/elements method is more a specialty of the PaAuk approach?

In 3 previous retreats (prior to 2013) with U. Jagara and Shaila Catherine, I managed to get a good practical grasp of the 4 jhanas (Pa Auk style). But in the last one, on the body-part/elements, I got only a vague sense of it. Coming-up -- June 25-July 5 -- is another retreat with Jagara and Shaila on the same theme, where I hope to get more deeply into the practice. If so, will no doubt report back on it here.

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5/14/15 9:26 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
@Chris: Thanks for the practical scholarship. We were following the general instructions in the Visuddhimagga at least loosely. I have actually gotten most of the way through a commentary on the text of the Earth Kasina as it related to our retreat, and when it is finally up on www.firekasina.org I will let you know. Good luck on your retreat and let us know how it goes.

In other news, I haven't done much kasina practice at all since I got back, and my work schedule has been hard. That said, I did do a solid hour or so of formal sitting early this morning (as I am flipping from nights back to evenings, and my sleep schedule is all mucked up), and, while walking back to our bedroom in the dark, so as not to disturb my sleeping wife, I thought, "You know, wouldn't it be great to have a black-light night-light here along this route so that I didn't run into this bookshelf and risk walking into the door frame, etc., but, being dark purple, when I opened the door it didn't wake her," when all of a sudden the whole field of experience filled with deep purple, rich, thick and confluent, just like when I was on that retreat three months ago.

I was totally surprised, as I hadn't really asked for it, just though of the color, and "poof!", it was there. So, wondering how much farther I could take things, I thought, "blue", and, sure enough, it began to morph to blue, and then I thought, "red", and, sure enough, it began to morph to red. Very cool, that! Still have some color control, or at least at times. Nice to see some of the effects lingering.

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5/14/15 11:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel!
Thank you for sharing all this information. I'd like to ask one clarifying question on this:
Daniel M. Ingram:

In other news, I haven't done much kasina practice at all since I got back, and my work schedule has been hard. That said, I did do a solid hour or so of formal sitting early this morning (as I am flipping from nights back to evenings, and my sleep schedule is all mucked up), and, while walking back to our bedroom in the dark, so as not to disturb my sleeping wife, I thought, "You know, wouldn't it be great to have a black-light night-light here along this route so that I didn't run into this bookshelf and risk walking into the door frame, etc., but, being dark purple, when I opened the door it didn't wake her," when all of a sudden the whole field of experience filled with deep purple, rich, thick and confluent, just like when I was on that retreat three months ago.


Did the purple color (or the others) help you actually see in the dark, or was the blackness just transformed into colors?

I remember reading TripleThink write about being able to develop the skill to actually see in the dark and this sounds like it could possibly be related. Interesting in any case!

Jehanne

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5/15/15 2:01 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
re: Daniel M. Ingram (5/14/15 9:26 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie.)
"… all of a sudden the whole field of experience filled with deep purple…just like when I was on that retreat three months ago… just though of the color, and "poof!", it was there. … thought, "blue", and, sure enough, it began to morph to blue, and then I thought, "red", and, sure enough, it began to morph to red. Very cool, that! Still have some color control…"

That's pretty amazing.

Descriptions like that I haven't found in places like the Visudhimagga, but in interviews with U Jagara he mentioned one can do similar things with jhana in general (we were discussing breath-object and metta sorts) – simply recalling an experience from a past sitting, e.g. on retreat, and immediately re-absorbing into it. A dimension of practice development (bhavana – 'becomingness') that demonstrates how the brain is plastically reshaping?

Perhaps also an aspect of 20th-21st-century consciousness (from personal experience) that didn't occur to the ancient commentators with their cultural mindset – what I've taken to calling a modern, pragmatic commentary on the dhamma.

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5/15/15 9:45 AM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
About seeing in the dark:

I was so distracted by the fact that purple washed into everything and that I could control the color like I did back on retreat that I wasn't paying much of any attention to the rest, as by that time a few steps had taken me to the bedroom door, and from there I typically go by feel, so I honestly have no idea.

However, my guess would be that the colors would, if anything, make it harder to see stuff around me in the dark, as they were pretty strong and wide color presentations, and so likely would mask other details.

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12/9/15 10:21 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is all very facinating.

Honest question, how does a arhat have a fruition? 

Thank you so much for the inspiration and motivation.

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1/1/16 8:43 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, in the first part of your audio diary you mention doing a fire mantra. You mention that the mantra used was a variation of your standard mantra. I was just curious if you or anyone else had any suggestions as to ideas on how to craft/pick a mantra to go along with a fire kasina practice, as well as for other elemental-based kasina practices? Thanks.

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1/2/16 12:24 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
As to fruitions: they are basically the same, just lacking in some subtle elements that were present before and now are gone, so there is something cleaner about them, but, other than that, the phenomenology is largely the same.

As to mantras: I have no idea where I got the mantra I use. It just came to me totally out of the blue. I really like it, as it has a lot of resonant power and just feels good to get it rolling.

However, as to where to get one, you could just do the traditional one, "Fire!" again and again, internally intoned with resonance, like it was a word to slowly shake the universe.

Fire in Pali is "aggi", so you could use that is you were in a very traditional mood.

Most important, pick a mantra you really like the sound of, that has meaning for you, and isn't clunky or akward to intone internally.

My thoughts this early morning. Enjoy!

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1/2/16 12:30 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sounds like some good advice! I'll be hitting up the Pali and Sanskrit online dictionaries to see what I can come up with.

Another question that comes to mind is, based on your experiences, do you have any tips for skillfully incorporating mantra into a fire kasina retreat? For example, do you tend to do sits consisting solely of mantra and others working with the flame, or more often do you mix the two during an individual sit.

As for me, just starting out with the practice, I've been using mantra mostly as a go-to when I'm having trouble getting an after image. Very curious to know what additional tips you might have based on your retreat experience. I realize this may seem like a subtle point, but I've noticed that subtle details can have significant effects. Thanks!

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1/2/16 2:54 PM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
I tend to use the mantra nearly all the time along with the candle flame. Sometimes one or the other will get stronger, and then I drift more into that one. At times the mantra felt like an orchestra in the room. At other times the images became my whole world. Both are good, but, in general, I use them together.

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1/2/16 6:30 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Which mantra do you usually do?

I did some testing with 'Om' and it seems repeating it is 'adding' it to everything. It make me feel it on all senses, it overloads pretty much all senses and everything so that I feel it in my body, see it in my minds eyes, colors change to be 'om'ish and I feel its fragrance in the air and taste in my mouth. It itself have white-amaranth color and soft but also strong and clear appearance and it make everything have these qualities.

Haven't really tried any other mantra but I can kinda guess how each will feel when repeated: like how it itself feels.
But maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe I should not concentrate on its synesthetic 'version' so much.... trying to repeat 'om' but without using synestetic perception make those same qualities arise, just in different 'places' revealing that it does always cause the same sort of waveform and where it adds it depend on what is used when mentally reciting it.

Quite interesting tool those mantras. I should do more testing of it.

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1/5/16 2:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I saw the red dot (as bright as a laserbeam) the first time I tried this practice. However, now the afterglow of the candle turns into a bright white dot that expands and has a deep dark aura surrounding it which itself is surrounded by rings of very light green, yellow and orange

When I really focus on the white dot I can force it to appear red for a blink of an eye before it turns back to white.

Any idea why the dot behaves like this? emoticon

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1/5/16 8:49 PM as a reply to Pyro.
@Pyro can you describe some of the specifics of your practice in more detail? For example, how many sits of Fire Kasina practice have you done? How long do you usually sit at a time? How much time total spent on the practice so far? How far do you sit from the candle? What type of candle are you using (especially curious to know if it's surrounded by glass)? Etc.

BTW, you definitely have the perfect screen name for Fire Kasina pracitce!

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/6/16 6:05 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
@Shamadhi Sam:

I started the practice about a month ago but did it very irregularly. Now, since two weeks or so I am doing a 30-1 hour sit every evening.

To my setup: I am sitting on a "dinner"-chair having a regular "dinner"-candle on my "dinner"-table (sorry for the "dinners" but after the second one I thought a third one would be funny emoticon ). The candle is about 50 - 100 cm in front of my face and there is no glass in between. I usually turn off  all lights since I feel the images get stronger the darker the room is I sit in.

To the red dot: As I said it appears whiteish. Yesterday, however, I experienced an intersting change. When I started, the usual white dot appeared. So I told myself that this dot is supposed to be red and then the white appeared red (allthough I knew that it was white). Does this make any sense? Kind of hard to explain.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/6/16 2:51 PM as a reply to Pyro.
Using a candle that's encased in glass can cause a white "halo" in the afterimage that overshadows the retinal burn from the flame itself. So if that's not the issue, it's one possible culprit eliminated.

As to the ability to change the color of the after image by willing it, that doesn't sound surprising at all. If you listened to Daniel's audio diaries from the retreat, there are multiple instances where he was able to change the color on the visuals he was experiencing by thought alone.

It would be interesting to note whether the image starts to turn to red on its own after repeating the procedure several times.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/6/16 11:18 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
It would be interesting to note whether the image starts to turn to red on its own after repeating the procedure several times.
I will try and keep you updated emoticon Might even start my own practice log... seems a good idea (as a beginner) to me.

I have another question that is really bugging me lately. Does fire kasina practice lead solely to higher concentration states or does it also lead to insight?

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/6/16 12:00 PM as a reply to Pyro.
Pyro:
It would be interesting to note whether the image starts to turn to red on its own after repeating the procedure several times.
I will try and keep you updated emoticon Might even start my own practice log... seems a good idea (as a beginner) to me.

I have another question that is really bugging me lately. Does fire kasina practice lead solely to higher concentration states or does it also lead to insight?
Once you get into the groove of getting absorbed when looking at the candle flame, it's easy to also do noting or moment-to-moment noticing, much easier than just noting or noticing without doing some kind of samatha. In my personal experience, vipassana tends to work better with samatha than without it. I haven't spent much time paying attention to the closed-eye visuals, but paying attention to what the red dot evolves into sounds like a moment-to-moment meditation on change, in other words, more vipassana.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/14/16 9:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, any idea when the Earth Kasinia Audio might be comming out? Thanks.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/22/16 2:58 PM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
Not sure if I should start a new thread or not. I had a question about this practice.

I have been practicing Fire Kasina for around 15-20 hours now over the course of 10 days. I usually sit for around 45-60 minutes with the flame before switching to noting Vipasana with eyes closed. I have practiced this way for 9 days straight.

I have yet to see the "sign" in any significant manner. I believe I am following the directions closely but maybe someone here could find a flaw. 

I practice sigil magick fairly often. When I stare at my sigil it takes around 10 seconds for the entire sigil to start shinning around all edges. After about 1 minute I can get that light to be pretty bright and consume the sigil, mostly.

So when I hear that in fire kasina you are more or less looking for the same thing before you close your eyes I thought this would be a piece of cake.

I can stick with the flame for long periods of time without any major interuption or constant mind wondering. I don't use a mantra (I tried) instead I concentrate heavily on the flame while waiting for my mind to start thinking or wandering like a cat at a mouse hole. This seems to work pretty well and my mind gets really quiet with about 2-3 times a minute it briefly flashes a thought before I catch it. 

Staring at the flame its easy to get the flame, the candle, candle holder and the plate underneath to light up around the edges. Usually at this point everything around my object of meditation goes black. When I close my eyes I can still see the round plate or the silhouette of the candle but not the flame. These images stay around for about 5 seconds with the plate filling up with a blue or sometimes purple color.

There has been 3 occasions where a super super super small red dot appeared and then vanished after about 1 second. It was about the size of a ball point pen making a red mark on paper. Im not sure if this is the red dot people are talking about or not.

RE: Fire Kasina Retreat
Answer
1/23/16 5:53 AM as a reply to Westco.
Westco:

Staring at the flame its easy to get the flame, the candle, candle holder and the plate underneath to light up around the edges. Usually at this point everything around my object of meditation goes black. When I close my eyes I can still see the round plate or the silhouette of the candle but not the flame. These images stay around for about 5 seconds with the plate filling up with a blue or sometimes purple color.

There has been 3 occasions where a super super super small red dot appeared and then vanished after about 1 second. It was about the size of a ball point pen making a red mark on paper. Im not sure if this is the red dot people are talking about or not.


A couple of suggestions 

Try to focus just on the candle flame. Not the whole of the candle and not the plate underneath. I stand the candle on a muted/dark background rather than a plate that stands out. I look at the flame for a few minutes. Then close my eyes and see what is there. If that tiny red dot shows up I just watch it and see what it does. (Yes it is can be very tiny)  This isn’t about making it appear or do anything. It is more about curiosity and just seeing what comes (and goes). It may move it may get a bit bigger. It might take on other colors or details. It might go away and reappear. At some point it will go away and not come back.  Just enjoy the show whatever it is.  

At that point,  I might open my eyes and look at the flame for a few minutes and repeat. Or if I have done a few rounds already I might just wait and see if it some of the next stages arise.

It may also be helpful to play with how much you focus on the flame - hard sharp focus or much softer blurred focus or somewhere in between.