Kasinas

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Kasinas

Postby Individual » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:18 am

Is "kasinas" meditation literally envisioning a circle or disc of color, or it metaphorical, in the same way that the Pali translation might say the "sphere of logic" or "realm of logic" (not literally a sphere or realm).

If so, what is the significant reasoning behind viewing a circle or disc of color rather than an entire plane or field of view?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: Kasinas

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:23 am

Greetings Individual,

I think it's just a basis for jhana, presumably one that existed prior to the Buddha's dispensation. I don't know if there's any great significance or reasoning behind any of it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Kasinas

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:02 am

Individual wrote:Is "kasinas" meditation literally envisioning a circle or disc of color, or it metaphorical, ...

Physical. The Visuddhimagga explains how to make the various kasinas, how big, how far away, how you go from looking at the physical kasina to visualising it, and so on into jhana. Here's an extract:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bits061.htm
And there is a summary here, in more readable English:
http://zencomp.com/greatwisdom/ebud/bud ... each36.htm
Suppose, for instance, an aspirant takes an earth-kasina for his object (kammatthāna).

The surface of a circle of about one foot in diameter is covered with clay and smoothed well. This concentrative circle is known. as the preliminary object (parikamma nimitta). He sets it down some four feet away and concentrates on it, saying -- pathavi, pathavi (earth, earth), until he becomes so wholly absorbed in it that all adventitious thoughts get automatically excluded from the mind. When he does this for some time -- perhaps weeks or months or years -- he would be able to visualize the object with closed eyes. On this visualized image (uggaha nimitta), which is a mental replica of the object, he concentrates until it develops into a conceptualized image (patibhāga nimitta).

According to the Visuddhi Magga the difference between the first visualized image and the second conceptualized image is that "in the former a fault of the kasina object appears while the latter is like the disc of a mirror taken out of a bag, or a well-burnished conch-shell, or the round moon issuing from the clouds."

The conceptualized image neither possesses colour nor form. It is just a mode of appearance and is born of perception.

As he continually concentrates on this abstract concept he is said to be in possession of "proximate concentration" (upacāra samādhi) and the innate five Hindrances to spiritual progress (nivarana) -- namely, sensual desires (kāmacchanda), hatred (vyāpāda), sloth and torpor (thīnamiddha), restlessness and worry (uddhaccakukkucca), and indecision (vicikicchā), are temporarily inhibited by means of one-pointedness (ekaggatā), zest (pīti), initial application, (vitakka), happiness (sukha), and sustained application (vicāra) respectively.

Eventually he gains 'ecstatic concentration' (appanā samādhi) and becomes absorbed in Jhāna, enjoying the calmness and serenity of a one-pointed mind.

This one-pointedness of the mind, achieved by inhibiting the Hindrances, is termed 'Purity of Mind' (cittavisuddhi), the second stage on the Path of Purity.




I have no personal experience with them, but a friend here did a three month retreat with a Tibetan-lineage teacher last year. They worked through all kinds of kasina objects. Some of the interpretation was different from the Theravada Canon, but the kasinas themselves sounded the same.

As for your other question, I imagine it's easier to do the visualisation if it is something of a moderate angular size.

Mike
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Re: Kasinas

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:48 am

One of my teachers ( Theravada ) used to deploy Kasinas for people who were depressed and/or given to much discursive and speculative thought.
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Dmytro » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:04 am

Hi Individual,

Is "kasinas" meditation literally envisioning a circle or disc of color


It's a popular legend.

'Kasina' means 'whole', and the aim of kasina practice is to make the mind one-pointed, single-focused on the basis of concentration:

[4] "There are these ten totality-dimensions (kasina-ayatana). Which ten? One perceives the earth-totality (kasina) above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. One perceives the water-totality... the fire-totality... the wind-totality... the blue-totality... the yellow-totality... the red-totality... the white-totality... the space-totality .. the consciousness-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. These are the ten totalities. Now, of these ten totalities, this is supreme: when one perceives the consciousness-totality above, below, all-around: non-dual, unlimited. And there are beings who are percipient in this way.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 0-029.html

See more on this term in the thread:
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=31453

Discs of color can be optionally used as learning devices for the practice of color kasinas. As described in the Visuddhimagga, one might as well use the flowers of suitable color, or whatever. It's not a 'visualization', but rather attunement of recognition (saññā) to the basis of concentration.

For air kasina, one can use either visual contact with air, or air contact. So the kasina isn't necessarily practiced through visual means. In Anapanasati jhana practice, which is essentially a practice of air kasina (see Dhammasangani-Atthakatha 200), the element of air is attuned to through the tactile contact.

Kiṃ pana pathavīkasiṇaṃ ādiṃ katvā aṭṭhikasaññāpariyosānāvesā rūpāvacarappanā, udāhu aññāpi atthīti? Atthi; ānāpānajjhānañhi kāyagatāsatibhāvanā ca idha na kathitā. Kiñcāpi na kathitā vāyokasiṇe pana gahite ānāpānajjhānaṃ gahitameva; vaṇṇakasiṇesu ca gahitesu kesādīsu catukkapañcakajjhānavasena uppannā kāyagatāsati, dasasu asubhesu gahitesu dvattiṃsākāre paṭikūlamanasikārajjhānavasena ceva navasivathikāvaṇṇajjhānavasena ca pavattā kāyagatāsati gahitāvāti. Sabbāpi rūpāvacarappanā idha kathitāva hotīti.

"But is this all the absorption belonging to the consciousness of the sphere of refined form, beginning with the earth kasiṇa and ending in the perception of the skeleton? Or is there anything else?"
"Yes, there is. There is ānāpāna jhāna and the development of kāyagatāsati, which have not been spoken of here."
"Why not?"
"Because ānāpāna jhāna is included in the air kasiṇa; the development of kāyagatāsati arisen by virtue of the fourfold and fivefold jhānas with reference to the hair etc., is included in the colour kasiṇas; the kāyagatāsati produced by virtue of the jhānas attending to the unattractiveness in the thirty-two parts of the body, and that of the jhāna attending to the colours of the nine kinds of corpses in the charnel grounds is included in the ten repulsive things. Thus all the absorptions of consciousness connected with the sphere of refined form have been included here."

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:09 am

One question!
are they found in the suttas?

I have never seen them described in the sutttas although there are similare meditations I have read!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Kasinas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:16 am

Sort of. See MN 77: Mahā-sakuludāyisutta
http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... yi-e1.html
Again, Udāyi, I have declared to my disciples the method for developing the ten kasina signs. One perceives the sign of earth, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign of water, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign of fire, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign of air, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign blue, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign yellow, above, below, across without another, limitlessly One perceives the sign red, above, below, across without another, limitlessly One perceives the sign white, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. One perceives the sign space, above, below, across without another, limitlessly One perceives the sign consciousness, above, below, across without another, limitlessly. Thus too my disciples abide aiming perfect knowledge for emancipation.

Not easy to figure out what the method is from this, though...

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Re: Kasinas

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:39 am

Hi Mike,
I suppose it would or may be similare to metta in a directional sense?
but wonder if there are any more?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Kasinas

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:22 am

Sorry Manapa, but I am unsure what you mean, any more what ?

:anjali:
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Re: Kasinas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:44 am

Hi Manapa,

If you want more information I suggest you read the 70 or so pages of text in the Visuddhimagga about kasina meditation. Not to mention the 30 or so pages on the Brahmaviharas...
There is also a summary of a lot of this stuff in:
Knowing and Seeing
Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw
http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/cpg1420 ... =11&pos=23

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Re: Kasinas

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:34 am

The Bhikkhu I was referring to thought that they were particularly useful for people who were anxious, and so found even Anapanasati difficult because of the intial effect of raising awareness of the extent of the anxiety.
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Dmytro » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:31 am

Hi Manapa,

I suppose it would or may be similare to metta in a directional sense?
but wonder if there are any more?


There's more in:

Cula-suññata sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Maha-Rahulovada sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Contemporary practice:

http://www.kasina.org/files/web%20conte ... Kasina.doc
http://www.buddhaleela.com/meditation.htm

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Kasinas

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:44 am

Wow thats clever.(the kasina.org material ) I haven't read the text in detail, but the idea of a web resource is very good.
Thank you for posting Dmytro.

:anjali:
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Macavity » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:01 pm

Manapa wrote:but wonder if there are any more?


Yes. It isn't the most common practice, but there are still a few places where you can learn it.
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Individual » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:02 pm

You've all been very helpful!
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: Kasinas

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:24 pm

Macavity wrote:
Manapa wrote:but wonder if there are any more?


Yes. It isn't the most common practice, but there are still a few places where you can learn it.


It struck me looking at the photo that the carpet doesn't help does it ? :tongue:
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:28 pm

Hi Dmytro
Thanks
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Thanavuddho » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:11 pm

Individual wrote:Is "kasinas" meditation literally envisioning a circle or disc of color, or it metaphorical, in the same way that the Pali translation might say the "sphere of logic" or "realm of logic" (not literally a sphere or realm).

If so, what is the significant reasoning behind viewing a circle or disc of color rather than an entire plane or field of view?


The kasina-nimitta is first limited and the yogin needs to learn how to make it unlimited. The kasinas can lead to psychic powers if the practitioner has the past kamma for this. But this is not the purpose of the practice. The purpose is simply to reach a calm state of mind and then develop Vipassana. I know a few good teachers in Thailand who can assist in this practice if someone is interested (Luang Por Plien and Laung Por Piek).
“Tasmātihānanda, attadīpā viharatha attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā, dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā.”(DN16)
Forum: http://www.avoinsangha.fi
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:12 pm

PeterB wrote:One of my teachers ( Theravada ) used to deploy Kasinas for people who were depressed and/or given to much discursive and speculative thought.


That's very interesting, thanks for sharing it :anjali:
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Re: Kasinas

Postby Aloka » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:41 pm

Seems likely that some methods used in Color Therapy - eg focusing on and/or visualising colored discs may have originated with the Kasinas.

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