THE MYSTERY OF THE BREATH NIMITTA
OR THE CASE OF THE MISSING SIMILE
By Bhikkhu Sona.
As the title suggests, there is a significant puzzle to be solved by any meditator or scholar who tries to clearly understand the qualities of experience, which accompany the transition from mere attention to respiration to full immersion in jhanic consciousness. I will attempt to show that there are good grounds for confusion on this matter as one traces the historical progression of the commentarial accounts from the Patisambhidamagga through the Vimuttimagga to the (later) Visuddhimagga.
Since the Visuddhimagga is so influential and so widely quoted by modern teachers, it would seem critical that it is reliable and, if in certain aspects it is not, then, with supporting evidence, to show clearly why it is not.
The body of this essay will show that a description of the mind of the jhanic meditator found in the Canon itself and quoted in the Patisambhidamagga as a simile involving a comparison of mind with a full clear moon, degenerates to a mistaken literalization of these images as internally produced visual data. Since the contents of mind are not easy to point to, the Buddha frequently used similes comparing visual and other sense objects with mental contents in order for meditators to clearly understand what they should be seeking and experiencing.
In religious traditions of all kinds we often find a naive tendency to take literally what is meant as a simile. It seems this process has occurred somewhere along the line and has become enshrined in the Continue reading
By Nynatiloka, Buddhist Dictionary
Nimitta: mark, sign; image; target, object; cause, condition. These meanings are used in, and adapted to, many contexts of which only the doctrinal ones are mentioned here.
- ‘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 (paṭ””’ibhāga-nimitta”). As soon as this image arises, the stage of neighbourhood (or access) concentration (upacāra-samādhi) is reached.
- ‘Sign of (previous) kamma’ (kamma-nimitta) and ‘sign of (the future) destiny’ (gati-nimitta); these arise as mental objects of the last karmic consciousness before death (maraṇ””’āsanna””’ kamma.
Usages (1) and (2) are commentarial (s. App.). In Sutta usage, the term occurs, e.g. as: Continue reading
Day 10 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge
Yesterday I wrote about samapattis, which are slightly strange, and often a bit disturbing, experiences that can arise in meditation. They’re often a bit hallucinatory, and it’s not a good idea to pay much attention to them.
Nimittas are another kind of unusual experience we can have in meditation, but they’re more useful. The word “nimitta” literally means a “sign” or a “hint.” These are experiences we can have that let us know we’re making progress in meditation.
Nimittas, like samapattis, come in different forms. They can be visual, or kinesthetic, or even auditory.
In one classic meditation text, the Vimuttimagga, the arising of nimittas is described like this:
“the nimitta arises with a pleasant feeling similar to that which is produced in the action of spinning cotton or silk cotton. Also it is likened to the pleasant feeling produced by a breeze.”
These are kinesthetic nimittas. They can be auditory, like a subtle sound accompanying the breathing that’s not heard through the ears. Visual nimittas might take the form of a stable image, or just a stable perception of light. Continue reading
Day 9 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge
During my sit I saw a bright white/yellow circle shape flash of light in between my eyebrows (closed eye meditation). The light came rushing at me and filled my vision then vanished. While very interesting, it actually freaked me out a bit. Is there a name for this experience?
I replied, “It’s what we call a samapatti. There are various kinds of these, and some of them involve light, although they can be tactile, proprioceptive, auditory, etc. They usually arise as the mind is starting to settle, and they’re more common in people who are relatively new to meditation. They’re nothing to worry about (they’re common) nor are they something to get very excited about (they’re just “noise” in the system).”
I see samapattis as arising in a few ways: They’re very similar to experiences that people have when they’re exposed to sensory deprivation, which makes me think there’s an element of that going on; the mind is getting quieter, but we’ve not fully tapped into the richness of our experience — especially of the body — and so the mind starts trying to make sense of random neuronal “noise.” One of the most common samapattis is the perception of “swirling lights.” Continue reading
by Walter Last [Edited]
Sexuality is closely related to spirituality in several ways. In its negative aspects of lust, sexual excess, degradation and rape, it appears as the antithesis of spirituality, and in this light it has been seen in the Christian tradition. However, in its positive aspects our sexuality can open our heart to love, and enable us to have experiences similar to meditative states and mystical bliss during or instead of an orgasm and its afterglow. In a less obvious way, sexual energies can be channeled upward to develop our energy centers or chakra system and higher energy bodies. According to esoteric and yoga teachings, this is all part of our spiritual evolution.
The idea of celibacy for priests, nuns and monks is to spiritualize sexual energies as in meditation, rituals and other devotional practices. While this generally involves conscious exercises as in yoga, Christian mystics commonly transformed their energies without conscious awareness through intense Continue reading
The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World
“First published around 2388 B.C. Fifth Kemetic (Egyptian) Dynasty under the title: Teachings of the Prefect of the City, Dja Ptahhotep ynder the majesty of the king of the South and the North. Assa Djed-Ka-Ra. living eternally forever.”
by Hilliard III Asa G. (Editor), Larry Williams (Editor), Nia Damali (Editor)
…Ptahhotep, instructs the ignorant in the knowledge and in the standards of good speech. A man teaches as he acts… The wise person feeds the soul with what endures, so that it is happy with that person on earth. The wise is known by his good actions. The heart of the wise matches his or her tongue and his or her lips are straight when he or she speaks. The wise have eyes that are made to see and ears that are made to hear what will profit the offspring. The wise is a person who acts with MAAT [truth, justice, order, balance, harmony, righteousness and reciprocity] and is free of falsehood and disorder.
—Ptahotep 2350 B. C. E. Continue reading
By Professor Wolf, 2011
Melanin is said to be responsible for pigment and not much more info is offered to the general public, and to be honest the general public doesn’t really ask for much anyway. Scientific studies are now showing with physical proof what spiritual masters and Elders have been teaching for ages, Melanin is the “GOD” Particle. Dark matter, chaos, carbon, Lucifer and many many other names. I will provide you with a greater understanding of the true communication conduit between you and the universe.
The Fullness There Of
Imagine yourself in a swimming pool filled with others doing various activities. In one corner some are doing physical therapy, in another some are doing laps and there is a swimming lesson going on in the fourth corner. You enter the pool with intention of doing laps and find that you have to share your lane with the beginner receiving lessons. While in the pool you realize there is way to much going on around you. Water splashing, noise and way to many distractions to focus on your workout. The pool is full with activity. Continue reading