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imagination in theravada

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:27 pm
by effort
i think i read a sutta which buddha give some monks instruction about imagination, but i cant found that now, do you know anything about imagination practice in theravada or it was something in different tradition.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:31 pm
by mikenz66
Hi effort,

Do you mean a practice that involves some sort of visualisation?

:anjali:
Mike

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:33 pm
by effort
hello mike,

yes i mean practice that involves some sort of visualisation.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:36 pm
by Mkoll
effort wrote:i think i read a sutta which buddha give some monks instruction about imagination, but i cant found that now, do you know anything about imagination practice in theravada or it was something in different tradition.
Vajrayana definitely has a lot visualization from what I've heard at Dharma Wheel. Theravada, not as much, though there are the kasinas and nimittas as described in commentaries and by modern meditation teachers. There's also the 32 body parts and corpse meditations from the satipatthana sutta.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:12 am
by effort
this is what i remember about the sutta:

budhha met a group of monks that he found their mind is agitated and he instruct them to imagine some beautiful visuals. After a while those monks become more calm and concentrated.

i'm getting sceptical even if it was a sutta.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:25 am
by Mkoll
effort wrote:this is what i remember about the sutta:

budhha met a group of monks that he found their mind is agitated and he instruct them to imagine some beautiful visuals. After a while those monks become more calm and concentrated.

i'm getting sceptical even if it was a sutta.
Yeah, it doesn't sound like something from the Buddha of the Pali Canon AFAIK.

Beautiful dog in your avatar BTW.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:39 am
by mikenz66
There are some examples of this in the Suttas.

For example, MN 20 The Removal of Distracting Thoughts
“Here, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is giving attention to some sign, and owing to that sign there arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion, then he should give attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome. When he gives attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome, then any evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion are abandoned in him and subside. With the abandoning of them his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated. Just as a skilled carpenter or his apprentice might knock out, remove, and extract a coarse peg by means of a fine one, so too…when a bhikkhu gives attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome…his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated.
The recollections also involve some visualization:
But, bhikkhus, I say this: If you have gone to a forest or to the foot of a tree or to an empty hut, and fear or trepidation or terror should arise in you, on that occasion you should recollect me thus: ‘The Blessed One is an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’ For when you recollect me, bhikkhus, whatever fear or trepidation or terror you may have will be abandoned.
http://suttacentral.net/search?query=sn+11.3
:anjali:
Mike

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:12 am
by paul
Visualization is necessary in Theravada meditation, but it is not called visualization, but acquisition of the sign (nimitta).
In the process of developing concentration on any of the subjects of meditation, one passes through the stages of the preparatory image, the acquired image and the counter-image, which marks the attainment of access concentration and is a clear and immovable mental image of the subject of meditation.

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:26 am
by paul
'Mental (reflex-) image', obtained in meditation. In full clarity, it will appear in the mind by successful practice of certain concentration-exercises and will then appear as vividly as if seen by the eye. The object perceived at the very beginning of concentration is called the preparatory image (parikamma-nimitta). The still unsteady and unclear image, which arises when the mind has reached a weak degree of concentration, is called the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta). An entirely clear and immovable image arising at a higher degree of concentration is the counter-image (patibhága-nimitta). As soon as this image arises, the stage of neighbourhood (or access) concentration (upacára-samádhi) is reached. For further details, s. kasina, samádhi.'
Buddhist Dictionary

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:54 pm
by andyebarnes67
paul wrote:Visualization is necessary in Theravada meditation, but it is not called visualization, but acquisition of the sign (nimitta).
In the process of developing concentration on any of the subjects of meditation, one passes through the stages of the preparatory image, the acquired image and the counter-image, which marks the attainment of access concentration and is a clear and immovable mental image of the subject of meditation.
Good summary Paul.
Yes, I have read of kasinas in the Visudhamagga and will soon start trying the use of an earth kasina (although unsure if I will adopt this method into my practice, which is currently only vipasanna and some metta).
Rather than trying to 'visualise' as in imagining, I understood the commentary to instruct the actual internalisation of the kasina in the mind's eye. More of a remembering than an imagining.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:28 pm
by paul
Hi Andy,
You are encouraged to persevere with the Visuddhimagga, it's almost a millennium closer than the suttas and is the essence of the teaching in practical form. The key is to understand its structure, beginning with the threefold division of Parts into Morality, Concentration and Understanding and how insight instructions begin with the third purification, Purification of View. Within Purifications 3, 4 and 5 are the most necessary understandings in the practice, viz. the separation between mind and body, the difference between ultimate and conventional realities and of course impermanence, which is determined by full-understanding as investigating.
It is only necessary to have acquired access concentration to practise vipassana and that can be acquired through intense study, drawing etc. as well as through the meditation subjects, in which case the 'entirely clear and immovable image' will be noted when one becomes 'locked in' to the subject.
So if one has had practise in intense concentration, the most important area of focus would be the Purifications from 3 onward.

Regards,
paul.

Re: imagination in theravada

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:25 am
by Sylvester
effort wrote:this is what i remember about the sutta:

budhha met a group of monks that he found their mind is agitated and he instruct them to imagine some beautiful visuals. After a while those monks become more calm and concentrated.

i'm getting sceptical even if it was a sutta.

Perhaps you were thinking of SN 47.10, where the monks are encouraged to direct the mind to an inspiring sign (pāsādaniyā nimitta)?