alan... wrote:so if you meditate using anapanasati to access concentration and see the nimitta do you drop the breath and make the nimitta your new object of meditation? or keep the breath?
further, should you do a different combination such as once you see the nimitta you drop the breath and focus on a pleasant sensation only, ignoring both the nimitta and the breath, or focus on the pleasant sensation but keep the breath? or focus on all three, just two or what?
depends who you ask and what type of jhana youre looking to achieve. if you're going to practice with visual nimitta Ajahn Brahm has the most clear instructions imo... Ajahn Brahm would have you ignore the nimitta until it comes back so intensely its impossible to ignore, not take it up immediately once it appears:http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Jhanas.htm
stay with the breath until it gives way to pure piti-sukkha:
But when one is on the stage of the beautiful breath, when it feels so delightful and effortless to be mindful of the breath for long periods of time, then as the mind grows in stillness, the perception of the breath grows more subtle. Soon one is not aware of an in breath, or of a beginning or middle or end of a breath. One is simply aware of a seemingly unchanging perception of breath, a single experience that hardly alters from moment to moment. What is happening is that some of the external features of breath, such as in and out, beginning and end, have been transcended, All one sees is the heart of the breath experience, beyond these labels.
Because of the extreme simplicity of the meditation object, the breath, stillness and pitisukha can grow even stronger.
When in the stage of the beautiful breath, the breath disappears, only the beauty remains. One is aware not of nothingness, but of beauty, the pitisukha without any perception of breath.
ignore the nimitta until you cant any more:
It is more uncertain what to do when a nimitta appears at the stage of the beautiful breath, when the breath has yet to be calmed to disappearance. Again, the nimitta appears intrusive, It interferes with the main task of sustaining one's awareness on the beautiful breath. If one deliberately turns away from the breath and on to the nimitta, it usually doesn't remain long. The mind is not refined enough yet to hold a subtle nimitta; One needs to practice on the breath more. So the best thing to do is to ignore the nimitta and let all one's attention train on the beautiful breath.
Often having followed this advice, the nimitta comes back, stronger and brighter. Ignore it again. When it returns a third time, even more powerful and radiant, go back to the breath. Practicing this way, eventually a hugely powerful and brilliant nimitta will break into your awareness. You can go with that one. Actually, it is almost impossible to ignore. That one usually takes you into Jhana.
The best nimitta of all, that which is the most suitable for Jhanas, begins as being similar to the full moon at midnight in a sky free of clouds. It rises unhurried when the beautiful breath softly disappears. It takes three or four seconds to establish its presence and settle down, remaining still and very beautiful before the mind's eye. As it remains without effort it grows brighter, more luminous. Soon it appears brighter than the sun at midday, radiating bliss. It becomes, by far, the most beautiful thing one has ever seen. Its beauty and power will often feel more than one can bear.
when a suitable nimitta comes up, amplify it:
one can shine up the dirty nimitta in the meditation itself This is achieved by focusing the attention on the center of the nimitta. Most areas of the nimitta may appear dull, but the very center of the nimitta is always the brightest and purest part. It is the soft center of an otherwise stiff and unworkable nimitta. As one focuses on the center, it expands like a balloon to produce a second nimitta, purer and brighter. One looks into the very center of this second nimitta, the spot where it is the brightest of all and that balloons up into a third nimitta even purer, even brighter. Gazing into the center effectively shines up the nimitta. One continues in this way until the nimitta is beautifully brilliant.
then stay with it till you enter absorbtion:
So when the nimitta is stable and bright, just be patient. Don't move. One is building up the Jhana factors of pitisukha and one, pointedness. When they are built to sufficient power, they will unfold into Jhana by themselves.
“The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are. To follow a path with heart, we must understand the whole process of making war within ourselves and without, how it begins and how it ends."