Pali Term: Nimitta

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santa100
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by santa100 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:02 pm

A broad term with different meanings depending on the context. See Ven. Nyanatiloka's dictionary's definition here

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Kumara » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:31 am

santa100 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:02 pm
A broad term with different meanings depending on the context. See Ven. Nyanatiloka's dictionary's definition here
A broad term, no doubt, but perhaps it's actually not as broad as we think, if we limit the context within the Suttas.

If we're to translate it with just one word, within the context of the Suttas, what would be best? (I think "sign" is out.)
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:20 am

Kumara wrote:Or is did this meaning arise only in later texts?
In the course of time, Pali terms underwent semantic shift, - but this process has some laws, e.g. the shift from abstract to tangible, as described above. So we can sometimes reverse this sematic shift. Thus later texts are quite useful.
Kumara wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:31 am
A broad term, no doubt, but perhaps it's actually not as broad as we think, if we limit the context within the Suttas.
For better or worse, it's just impossible to understand the terms clearly just on the basis of Sutta. Without later texts, the Tipitaka would be quite vague.
Kumara wrote:If we're to translate it with just one word, within the context of the Suttas, what would be best?
That's what I often observe in "Early Buddhism" - trying to limit themselves to the Suttas, people, seeking certainty in the fog, attempt to find all-business interpretations.

We can go back in time only as far as our sources allow, and no further. If the earliest clear explanation is found only in Visuddhimagga, that's the best we can find.

Samvarappadhana sutta helps to reverse the semantic shift and clarify the meaning of 'nimitta' in the context of samadhi:
katamañca bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ? Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu uppannaṃ bhaddakaṃ samādhinimittaṃ anurakkhati aṭṭhikasaññaṃ pulavakasaññaṃ vinīlakasaññaṃ vipubbakasaññaṃ vicchiddakasaññaṃ uddhumātakasaññaṃ. Idaṃ vuccati bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ.

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-p.html

(4) “And what is striving by protection? Here, a bhikkhu protects an arisen excellent concentration-representation: the perception of a skeleton, the perception of a worm-infested corpse, the perception of a livid corpse, the perception of a festering corpse, the perception of a fissured corpse, the perception of a bloated corpse. This is called striving by protection.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Kumara » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:55 am

Dmytro wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:20 am
Kumara wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:31 am
A broad term, no doubt, but perhaps it's actually not as broad as we think, if we limit the context within the Suttas.
For better or worse, it's just impossible to understand the terms clearly just on the basis of Sutta. Without later texts, the Tipitaka would be quite vague.
I get your point, but it's not how I see it. To me, the commentaries has distorted much of the Buddha's teaching.

FYI, I started with Orthodox Theravada and stayed with it for at least 8 years. After that, it took much time and effort for me to distinguish between the earlier and the later. It's been rewarding though, especially in terms of practice. Much that didn't make sense earlier (because of commentarial explanations) began to make sense to me.
That's what I often observe in "Early Buddhism" - trying to limit themselves to the Suttas, people, seeking certainty in the fog, attempt to find all-business interpretations.
In my opinion, the fog is created by the commentaries. The earlier texts are fine, so long as there are practitioners who understand the Path.
Samvarappadhana sutta helps to reverse the semantic shift and clarify the meaning of 'nimitta' in the context of samadhi:
katamañca bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ? Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu uppannaṃ bhaddakaṃ samādhinimittaṃ anurakkhati aṭṭhikasaññaṃ pulavakasaññaṃ vinīlakasaññaṃ vipubbakasaññaṃ vicchiddakasaññaṃ uddhumātakasaññaṃ. Idaṃ vuccati bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ.

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-p.html

(4) “And what is striving by protection? Here, a bhikkhu protects an arisen excellent concentration-representation: the perception of a skeleton, the perception of a worm-infested corpse, the perception of a livid corpse, the perception of a festering corpse, the perception of a fissured corpse, the perception of a bloated corpse. This is called striving by protection.
For me, as a practitioner, the translation here for samādhinimitta is simply "basis of composure/collectedness". The perception of these objects is a basis for composure/collectedness for one with much lust.

At this point, I find using 2 English words to be adequate to cover all usages of nimitta in the Suttas: "basis" and ”object“. I invite others to try it out.
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:23 am

Kumara wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:55 am
Much that didn't make sense earlier (because of commentarial explanations) began to make sense to me.
For me, it took a lot of time and effort to delve through accretions and semantic shift, but eventually I managed to decipher and apply the instructions on 'nimitta' in Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga. When one knows how to do it, it's quite doable and enjoyable.
Kumara wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:55 am
At this point, I find using 2 English words to be adequate to cover all usages of nimitta in the Suttas: "basis" and ”object“. I invite others to try it out.
For me, this certainly doesn't fit this passage and other numerous usages (referred to above).

I have also referred to usages in other traditions, which escape the popular "sutta-commentary" simplified dichotomy.

One more case - an excellent early Sanskrit source on the meaning of “nimitta” in the context of perception, Saundaranandakavya by Ashvaghosha:
2.The Restraint of the Senses

tataḥ smṛtim adhiṣṭhāya capalāni svabhāvataḥ /
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyo nivārayitum arhasi // Saund_13.30 //


By taking your stand on mindfulness you must hold back from the sense-objects
your senses, unsteady by nature.

bhetavyaṃ na tathā śatror nāgner nāher na cāśaneḥ /
indriyebhyo yathā svebhyas tair ajasraṃ hi hanyate // Saund_13.31 //


Fire, snakes, and lightning are less inimical to us than our own senses,
so much more dangerous. For they assail us all the time.

dviṣabdhiḥ śatrubhiḥ kaś cit kadā cit pīḍyate na vā /
indriyair bādhyate sarvaḥ sarvatra ca sadaiva ca // Saund_13.32 //


Even the most vicious enemies can attack only some people at some times, and not at others,
but everybody is always and everywhere weighed down by his senses.

na ca prayāti narakaṃ śatruprabhṛthibhir hataḥ /
kṛṣyate tatra nighnas tu capalair indriyair hataḥ // Saund_13.33 //


And people do not go to hell because some enemy has knocked them down and cast them into it;
it is because they have been knocked down by their unsteady senses that they are helplessly dragged there.

hanyamānasya tair duḥkhaṃ hārdaṃ bhavati vā na vā /
indriyair bādhyamānasya hārdaṃ śārīram eva ca // Saund_13.34 //


Those attacked by external enemies may, or may not, suffer injury to their souls;
but those who are weighed down by the senses suffer in body and soul alike.

saṃkalpaviṣadigdhā hi pañcendriyamayāḥ śarāḥ /
cintāpuṅkhā raiphalā viṣayākāśagocarāḥ // Saund_13.35 //


For the five senses are rather like arrows which have been smeared with the poison of fancies,
have cares for their feathers, and happiness for their points, and fly about in the space provided by the range of the sense-objects;

manuṣyahariṇān ghnanti kāmavyādheritā hṛdi /
vihanyante yadi na te tataḥ patanti taiḥ kṣatāḥ // Saund_13.36 //


shot off by Kama, the God of Love, they hit men in their very hearts as a hunter hits a deer,
and if men do not know how to ward off these arrows, they will be their undoing;

niyamājirasaṃsthena dhairyakārmukadhāriṇā /
nipatanto nivāryās te mahatā smṛtivarmaṇā // Saund_13.37 //


when they come near us we should stand firm in self-control, be agile and steadfast,
and ward them off with the great armor of mindfulness.

indriyāṇām upaśamād arīṇāṃ nigrahād iva /
sukhaṃ svapiti vāste vā yatra tatra gatoddhavaḥ // Saund_13.38 //


As a man who has subdued his enemies can everywhere live and sleep at ease and free from care,
so can he who has pacified his senses.

teṣāṃ hi satataṃ loke viṣayāṇ abhikāṅkṣatām /
saṃvin naivāsti kārpaṇyāc chunām āśāvatām iva // Saund_13.39 //


For the senses constantly ask for more by way of worldly objects,
and normally behave like voracious dogs who can never have enough.

viṣayair indriyagrāmo na tṛptim adhigacchati /
ajasraṃ pūryamāṇo 'pi samudraḥ salilair iva // Saund_13.40 //


This disorderly mob of the senses can never reach satiety, not by any amount of sense-objects;
they are rather like the sea, which one can go on indefinitely replenishing with water.

avaśyaṃ gocare sve sve vartitavyam ihendriyaiḥ /
nimittaṃ tatra na grāhyam anuvyañjanam eva ca // Saund_13.41 //


In this world the senses cannot be prevented from being active, each in its own sphere.
But they should not be allowed to grasp either the general features of an object, or its particularities.

ālokya cakṣuṣā rūpaṃ dhātumātre vyavasthitaḥ /
strī veti puruṣo veti na kalpayitum arhasi // Saund_13.42 //


When you have beheld a sight-object with your eyes, you must merely determine the basic element (which it represents, e.g., it is a sight-object),
and should not under any circumstances fancy it as, say, a “woman” or a “man.”

sacet strīpuruṣagrāhaḥ kva cid vidyeta kās cana /
śubhataḥ keśadantādīn nānuprasthātum arhasi // Saund_13.43 //


But if now and then you have inadvertently grasped something as a “woman” or a "man,"
you should not follow that up by determining the hairs, teeth, etc., as lovely.

nāpaneyaṃ bhūtato bhūtaṃ śaśvad indiyagocare /
draṣṭavyaṃ bhūtato bhūtaṃ yādṛṣaṃ ca yathā ca yat // Saund_13.44 //


Nothing should be subtracted from the datum, nothing added to it;
it should be seen as it really is, as what it is like in real truth.

evaṃ te paśyatas tattvaṃ śaśvad indriyagocare /
bhaviṣyati padasthānaṃ nābhiyādaurmanasyayoḥ // Saund_13.45 //


If you thus try to look continually for the true reality in that which the senses present to you,
covetousness and aversion will soon be left without a foothold.

abhidhyā priyarūpeṇa hanti kāmātmakaṃ jagat /
arir mitramukheneva priyavākkaluṣāśayaḥ // Saund_13.46 //


Coveting ruins those living beings who are bent on sensuous enjoyment by means of pleasing forms,
like an enemy with a friendly face who speaks loving words, but plans dark deeds.

daurmanasyābhidhānas tu pratigho viṣayāśritaḥ /
mohād yenānuvṛttena paratreha ca hanyate // Saund_13.47 //


But what is called “aversion” is a kind of anger directed towards certain objects,
and anyone who is deluded enough to pursue it is bound to suffer for it either in this or a future life.

anurodhavirodhābhyāṃ śitoṣṇābhyām ivārditaḥ /
śarma nāpnoti na śreyaś calendricam ato jagat // Saund_13.48 //


Afflicted by their likes and dislikes, as by excessive heat or cold,
men will never find either happiness or the highest good as long as they put their trust in the unsteady senses.
Saundaranandakavya, xiii, 30-56; translated by Edward Conze

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#ch2.2
http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gre ... vsaunu.htm
http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gre ... vsau2u.htm

Note that here the English translation “grāhya” and “grāhaḥ” as “grasping” is an established error, - as well as such translation of Pāli “gaṇhati”.

In the context of perception, this verb means:

“receives into the mind, apprehends, learns”

as explained in Margaret Cone’s dictionary.

So this text talks about apprehending of representation (nimitta) of somebody as “man” or “woman”.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:57 pm

budo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:06 pm
Also what kind of nimitta is the Vissudhimagga referring to? Feelings or something else?

Here is Bhikkhu Sona's article where he talks about the visual nimitta in the vissudhimagga.
https://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/nimitta.html
In the course of time, Pali terms underwent semantic shift from abstract and flexible to specific and tangible:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2770&start=45#p416838

In Visuddhimagga, nimitta retains some flexibility, - it can be either tactile or visual, and some abstraction - "But it has neither colour nor shape" (VisM IV. 31).

According to Visuddhimagga XIV 130:
sabbaa va sa~njaanana-lakkha.naa, tad ev’etan ti puna sa~njaanana-paccaya-nimitta-kara.na-rasaa daaru-aadiisu tacchakaadayo viya, yathaa-gahita-nimitta-vasena abhinivesakara.na-paccupa.t.thaanaa hatthi-dassaka-andhaa (udaa. 54) viya, yathaa-upa.t.thita-visaya-pada-.t.thaanaa ti.na-purisakesu miga-potakaana.m purisaa ti uppanna-sa~n~naa viyaati.

All (saññā) has the characteristic of recognition (sa~njaanana); its property is the making of a representation (nimitta) that is a condition of noting again, 'this is the very same thing' - as carpenters and so on do with wood, etc.; its manifestation is the producing of conviction by virtue of a perceptual image that has been accordingly learnt - like the blind perceiving the elephant (Ud 68-9); its basis is whatever object that has come near - like the saññā 'people' that arises for young animals in respect of scarecrows.
However, In the chapter on earth kasina, Ven. Buddhaghosa skips the abstract definition of nimitta as representation (given in corresponding place of Vimuttimagga), and just gives specific examples, contributing to further semantic shift toward specific and tangible.

In Visuddhimagga, nimitta seems to just appear (as if out of the blue) as something specific. By contrast, in Gavi sutta nimitta is an attunement which is found and developed though effort:
“In the same way, there are some cases where a monk—wise, competent, familiar with his pasture, skilled in being quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation—sticks with that theme (nimitta), develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN9_35.html

Visuddhimagga's nimitta is still recognizable as attunement from the suttas. And the instructions are still usable, as long as one understands the nature of nimitta, and reverses the semantic shift.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by budo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:33 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:57 pm
budo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:06 pm
Also what kind of nimitta is the Vissudhimagga referring to? Feelings or something else?

Here is Bhikkhu Sona's article where he talks about the visual nimitta in the vissudhimagga.
https://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/nimitta.html
In the course of time, Pali terms underwent semantic shift from abstract and flexible to specific and tangible:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2770&start=45#p416838

In Visuddhimagga, nimitta retains some flexibility, - it can be either tactile or visual, and some abstraction - "But it has neither colour nor shape" (VisM IV. 31).

According to Visuddhimagga XIV 130:
sabbaa va sa~njaanana-lakkha.naa, tad ev’etan ti puna sa~njaanana-paccaya-nimitta-kara.na-rasaa daaru-aadiisu tacchakaadayo viya, yathaa-gahita-nimitta-vasena abhinivesakara.na-paccupa.t.thaanaa hatthi-dassaka-andhaa (udaa. 54) viya, yathaa-upa.t.thita-visaya-pada-.t.thaanaa ti.na-purisakesu miga-potakaana.m purisaa ti uppanna-sa~n~naa viyaati.

All (saññā) has the characteristic of recognition (sa~njaanana); its property is the making of a representation (nimitta) that is a condition of noting again, 'this is the very same thing' - as carpenters and so on do with wood, etc.; its manifestation is the producing of conviction by virtue of a perceptual image that has been accordingly learnt - like the blind perceiving the elephant (Ud 68-9); its basis is whatever object that has come near - like the saññā 'people' that arises for young animals in respect of scarecrows.
However, In the chapter on earth kasina, Ven. Buddhaghosa skips the abstract definition of nimitta as representation (given in corresponding place of Vimuttimagga), and just gives specific examples, contributing to further semantic shift toward specific and tangible.

In Visuddhimagga, nimitta seems to just appear (as if out of the blue) as something specific. By contrast, in Gavi sutta nimitta is an attunement which is found and developed though effort:
“In the same way, there are some cases where a monk—wise, competent, familiar with his pasture, skilled in being quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation—sticks with that theme (nimitta), develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN9_35.html

Visuddhimagga's nimitta is still recognizable as attunement from the suttas. And the instructions are still usable, as long as one understands the nature of nimitta, and reverses the semantic shift.
Thanks for the response! So would you say a nimitta is more like a familiar intuition, or a familiar hunch? Like a landmark or pattern that one has recognized before leading to jhana?

Take for example when someone gets a special tingling in their feet and then they recognize that particular tingling leading to a painful muscle cramp, so this special tingling is the nimitta of the muscle cramp about to come. Whenever I felt that tingling I would know to relax, if I didn't relax then the painful muscle cramp came.

Same with entering jhana, when I felt the piti and saw my vision turn white, I knew Jhana was coming and it came.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:46 am

budo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:33 pm
Thanks for the response! So would you say a nimitta is more like a familiar intuition, or a familiar hunch? Like a landmark or pattern that one has recognized before leading to jhana?


In Mohavicchedani (Mya: .161) we read:
"Samathova taṁ ākāraṁ gahetvā puna pavattetabbassa samathassa nimittanti samathanimittaṁ."

"The representation (nimitta) of calm (samatha) is a representation used to produce calm again when one has already learnt the appearance of calm."
Say, there's a delightful meadow in the forest, full of fragrant flowers, with a comfortable resting place. Those who find it do their best to remember the way to the meadow, and each traveler selects his own landmarks.
budo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:33 pm
Take for example when someone gets a special tingling in their feet and then they recognize that particular tingling leading to a painful muscle cramp, so this special tingling is the nimitta of the muscle cramp about to come. Whenever I felt that tingling I would know to relax, if I didn't relax then the painful muscle cramp came.

Same with entering jhana, when I felt the piti and saw my vision turn white, I knew Jhana was coming and it came.
Sounds like an excellent way to return to jhāna, once the hindrances has been dealt with. Nimitta here plays a rather utilitarian role, as a landmark to arrive to a particular state.

To enhance this orienting role, you can not just passively watch what happens, but also actively reflect on what was it like to arrive to jhāna.
For example, one person found her metaphor of jhana being similar to riding a horse. The Buddha described his set of metaphors in Samadhanga sutta.

Such "land-marking" can be also done with smaller advances on the path, - like placing a guide rope to a farthest spot you explored so far in the cave.

For example, here's a description of smaller scale usage in Anapanasati chapter of Patisambhidamagga:
Iti kira ‘‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’’ti sikkhati, ‘‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’’ti sikkhati. Evaṃ sante vātūpaladdhiyā ca pabhāvanā hoti, assāsapassāsānañca pabhāvanā hoti, ānāpānassatiyā ca pabhāvanā hoti. Ānāpānassatisamādhissa ca pabhāvanā hoti; tañca naṃ samāpattiṃ paṇḍitā samāpajjantipi vuṭṭhahantipi.

So then he trains thus 'I shall breathe in calming the body fabrication;' he trains thus 'I shall breathe out calming the body fabrication:' that being so, there is production of the experience of wind, and there is production of out-breaths and in-breaths, and there is production of mindfulness of breathing, and there is production of concentration by mindfulness of breathing, and consequently the wise enter into and emerge from that attainment.

Yathā kathaṃ viya? Seyyathāpi kaṃse ākoṭite paṭhamaṃ oḷārikā saddā pavattanti. Oḷārikānaṃ saddānaṃ nimittaṃ suggahitattā sumanasikatattā sūpadhāritattā niruddhepi oḷārike sadde, atha pacchā sukhumakā saddā pavattanti. Sukhumakānaṃ saddānaṃ nimittaṃ suggahitattā sumanasikatattā sūpadhāritattā niruddhepi sukhumake sadde, atha pacchā sukhumasaddanimittārammaṇatāpi cittaṃ pavattati.

Like what? Just as when a gong is struck. At first gross sounds occur and [mind occurs] because the sign (nimitta) of the gross sounds is well apprehended, well attended to, well observed; and when the gross sounds have ceased, then afterwards faint sounds occur and [mind occurs] because the sign of the faint sounds is well apprehended, well attended to, well observed; and when the faint sounds have ceased, then afterwards mind occurs because it has the sign of the faint sounds as its object --

Evamevaṃ paṭhamaṃ oḷārikā assāsapassāsā pavattanti; oḷārikānaṃ assāsapassāsānaṃ nimittaṃ suggahitattā sumanasikatattā sūpadhāritattā niruddhepi oḷārike assāsapassāse, atha pacchā sukhumakā assāsapassāsā pavattanti. Sukhumakānaṃ assāsapassāsānaṃ nimittaṃ suggahitattā sumanasikatattā sūpadhāritattā niruddhepi sukhumake assāsapassāse, atha pacchā sukhumakaassāsapassāsānaṃ nimittārammaṇatāpi cittaṃ na vikkhepaṃ gacchati.

so too, at first gross in-breaths and out-breaths occur and [mind does not become distracted] because the sign (nimitta) of the gross in­breaths and out-breaths is well apprehended, well attended to, well ob­served; and when the gross in-breaths and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards faint in-breaths and out-breaths occur and [mind does not become distracted] because the sign of the faint in-breaths and out-breaths is well apprehended, well attended to, well observed; and when the faint in-breaths and out-breaths [are so faint that perception of them] has ceased, then afterwards mind does not become distracted because it has the sign of the faint in-breaths and out-breaths as its object

[i.e. the subtle awareness of the material body which remains when the faint breaths are too faint to be noticed -- this remaining 'sign' being either as small as the nostril area (or upper lip in one breathing through the mouth), or as large as the internal felt-sense of the whole body (indicated previously as being the sign for anchoring mindfulness, and at this level of subtlety represents its full development as the sign of calm abiding)].

Evaṃ sante vātūpaladdhiyā ca pabhāvanā hoti, assāsapassāsānañca pabhāvanā hoti, ānāpānassatiyā ca pabhāvanā hoti, ānāpānassatisamādhissa ca pabhāvanā hoti; tañca naṃ samāpattiṃ paṇḍitā samāpajjantipi vuṭṭhahantipi.

That being so, there is production of the experience of wind, and there is production of in-breaths and out-­breaths, and there is production of mindfulness of breathing, and there is production of concentration by mindfulness of breathing, and conse­quently the wise enter into and emerge from that attainment.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by budo » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:09 am

Dmytro wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:46 am
budo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:33 pm
Thanks for the response! So would you say a nimitta is more like a familiar intuition, or a familiar hunch? Like a landmark or pattern that one has recognized before leading to jhana?


In Mohavicchedani (Mya: .161) we read:
"Samathova taṁ ākāraṁ gahetvā puna pavattetabbassa samathassa nimittanti samathanimittaṁ."

"The representation (nimitta) of calm (samatha) is a representation used to produce calm again when one has already learnt the appearance of calm."

Thank you Dmytro, I appreciate the knowledge!

It reminds me of the NLP/Hypnosis word "Anchoring":

"In NLP, “anchoring” refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, re-accessed."

You can anchor states to triggers.

"Its a simple way to allow you to change an unwanted feeling to a resourceful feeling in a matter of moments. When you create an NLP anchor you set up a stimulus response pattern so that you can feel the way you want to, when you need to."

" Anchoring is a process that on the surface is similar to the “conditioning” technique used by Pavlov to create a link between the hearing of a bell and salivation in dogs."

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:55 am

You are welcome!
budo wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:09 am
It reminds me of the NLP/Hypnosis word "Anchoring"
Yes, it's somewhat similar. The difference is that nimitta is used consciously to enter samadhi. Simple stimulus-response link won't be of much use here, since samadhi is a higher order, less conditioned state. One has to deconstruct current persistent stimulus-response links, to purify the perception of object-support (arammana).

For example, air contact may habitually evoke all kinds of associations from past experience, and they should be brought to awareness and acknowledged. When household associations are set aside, associations of rapture may come to the fore.

As said in Potthapada sutta:
"Seeing that these five hindrances have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.

"Quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, the monk enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. His earlier perception of sensuality ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:06 pm

P.S. I have explained nimitta above in several different ways, which may seem mutually exclusive. I feel this deserves some clarification.

It so happens that when the mind is clear and just one object-support is predominant (ekaggata), the mind becomes naturally colored by that object-support. This can be compared to the state of deep infatuation, when one seems to see and hear the object of passion everywhere. The perception is thoroughly colored by the representation of the object.
subhanimittaṃ ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno vā rāgo uppajjati uppanno vā rāgo bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattati.

For one who attends inappropriately to the representation of the beauty, unarisen passion arises and arisen passion tends to growth & abundance...

AN 3.68
And so representation of the object-support (especially in its extended, all-pervasive form) is simultaneously an "attunement", a landmark to enter the state where just one object-support is predominant. For example, in Anapanasati jhana, which is a subtype of air kasina, the body becomes "airy", as described in Vimittimagga. And this omnipresent "airiness", be it tactile or visual light-ness, is simultaneously a landmark to enter the jhana again.

This helps to understand how nimitta as "attunement" in Sutta underwent a semantic shift to representation of jhana object-support. Since this concept is complex to comprehend, it was eventually simplified in some works into just a visual image, say, an inner image of light.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Volovsky » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:49 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:08 pm
...
Seems like a whole set of all kinds of misunderstandings. I will address the most obvious ones.
"... the learning sign has the appearance of moving. If the water has bubbles of froth mixed with it, the learning sign has the same appearance, and it is evident as a fault in the kasina. But the counterpart sign appears inactive, like a crystal fan set in space, like the disk of a looking-glass made of crystal."
Visuddhimagga V, 4
(here representation of a particular object gets purified and transformed into a representation of water as an element)
It does not get transformed into water element. Water kasina is a concept, water element is practiced in 4 elements meditation. These are two different meditations. This is also very clear in Vism.
"... some say that when it appears it does so to certain people producing a light touch like cotton or silk-cotton or draught. ..."

Visuddhimagga VIII, 214


And then, in the course of centuries, the meanings of the terms shift to common and specific terms. 'Nimitta' becomes "an arbitrary vision seen in meditation", and 'kasiṇa' transforms from 'total coloration of perception' to "circular disc used in ancient times for meditation".
First, not every image, which is seen in meditation is nimitta. Second, you don't cite the whole passage of Buddhagosa, where the later describes the whole set of examples, where nimitta is an image. And Buddhagosa even mentions about ānāpānasati nimitta the following:
Then he should not give attention to the sign as to its colour, or review it as to its [specific] characteristic.
Because image is a usual nimitta, not touch. Color is its main characteristic, therefore Buddhagosa warns not to pay attention to it (if one would it is not ānāpānasati anymore, but a color kasina practice). If touch would be usual nimitta, he would say something like "don't pay attention to temperature of touch", etc

According to sub-commentary, the tactile sensations are uggaha nimitta, not paṭibhāga nimitta (i.e. not nimitta with which one achieves upacāra and jhāna). Moreover, even Buddhagosa says about tactile sensations "some say" that nimitta appears like touch. But then he says that another viewpoint is ... And talks about image nimittas. So, he presents two viewpoints, and a tradition of ancient commentators was to present the viewpoint they themselves think to be true as last one (see Sayadaw U Silananda's talks on Vism, where he talks about this tradition). So, Buddhagosa himself was a supporter of image nimittas.
And then, in the course of centuries, the meanings of the terms shift to common and specific terms. 'Nimitta' becomes "an arbitrary vision seen in meditation", and 'kasiṇa' transforms from 'total coloration of perception' to "circular disc used in ancient times for meditation".
I'm not sure what is 'total coloration of perception' (perception is nāma, color is rūpa, you cannot paint on nāma). I also don't know, where have you taken these ideas about kasinas from, but according to Pa-Auk Sayadaw "circular disc" is just a support (same as flowers) for those who are not skilled enough to visualize the colors without looking at anything. Once one can do this without support, one can increase the size of this visualized kasina to as big as one is able to.
while Ven. Upatissa in Vimuttimagga would call this the extension of nimitta:
"To the yogin who attends to the incoming breath with mind that is cleansed of the nine lesser defilements the image [nimitta]
May be you have to think first of all, why is it translated as "image", before accusing contemporary venerables for introducing non-traditional understandings of nimitta.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:42 pm

Volovsky wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:49 pm
According to sub-commentary, the tactile sensations are uggaha nimitta, not paṭibhāga nimitta (i.e. not nimitta with which one achieves upacāra and jhāna).
In reality, Visuddhimagga-Atthakatha states it differently:
231. nimittanti uggahanimittaṃ, paṭibhāganimittaṃ vā. ubhayampi hi idha ekajjhaṃ vuttaṃ. tathā hi tūlapicuādiupamattayaṃ uggahe yujjati, sesaṃ ubhayattha.
That is, the one like cotton, etc. applies only to uggaha, and the rest to both.
Moreover, even Buddhagosa says about tactile sensations "some say" that nimitta appears like touch. But then he says that another viewpoint is ... And talks about image nimittas.
Not at all. In the second part, touch is mentioned again:
ayaṃ pana aṭṭhakathāsu vinicchayo, idañhi kassaci tārakarūpaṃ viya maṇiguḷikā viya muttāguḷikā viya ca, kassaci kharasamphassaṃ hutvā kappāsaṭṭhi viya dārusārasūci viya ca, kassaci dīghapāmaṅgasuttaṃ viya kusumadāmaṃ viya dhūmasikhā viya ca, kassaci vitthataṃ makkaṭakasuttaṃ viya valāhakapaṭalaṃ viya padumapupphaṃ viya rathacakkaṃ viya candamaṇḍalaṃ viya sūriyamaṇḍalaṃ viya ca upaṭṭhāti.
215. But this is the exposition given in the commentaries: It appears to some like a star or a cluster of gems or a cluster of pearls, to others with a rough touch like that of silk-cotton seeds or a peg made of heartwood, to others like a long braid string or a wreath of flowers or a puff of smoke, to others like a stretched-out cobweb or a film of cloud or a lotus flower or a chariot wheel or the moon's disk or the sun's disk.
So according to Visuddhimagga-Atthakatha, tactile nimitta "like that of silk-cotton seeds or a peg made of heartwood" can very well be paṭibhāga nimitta.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Volovsky » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:02 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:42 pm
So according to Visuddhimagga-Atthakatha, tactile nimitta "like that of silk-cotton seeds or a peg made of heartwood" can very well be paṭibhāga nimitta.
It sounds strange that text says "silk-cotton seeds". As far as I know there is no silk seeds. The text might mean something else or is corrupted. It might be, of course, that English translation is not correct about silk seeds.

But ok, let's even accept, that Vism does mention touch nimitta. But it is very clear that image nimittas are not only mentioned there but are the main ones. Even for the wind kasina (which as you pointed elsewhere is similar to ānāpānasati according to Abhidhamma Comm) only image nimitta is mentioned. Although wind kasina can be developed by touching sensations (as ānāpānasati).

So image nimitta is by no means the invention of the contemporary teachers. And there is no "significant difference" between Vism and Pa-Auk Sayadaw's approach to nimitta. Do you agree on this?

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Sat Oct 20, 2018 5:32 am

Volovsky wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:02 pm
It sounds strange that text says "silk-cotton seeds".
These must be the seeds of silk-cotton tree.
But ok, let's even accept, that Vism does mention touch nimitta. But it is very clear that image nimittas are not only mentioned there but are the main ones. Even for the wind kasina (which as you pointed elsewhere is similar to ānāpānasati according to Abhidhamma Comm) only image nimitta is mentioned. Although wind kasina can be developed by touching sensations (as ānāpānasati).
Yes, in Visuddhimagga indivudual nimittas are mostly described as visual ones.
So image nimitta is by no means the invention of the contemporary teachers.
I never said such a thing. I am talking about a semantic shift, when the sense of the words gradually changes over time.

In Visuddhimagga, the role of nimitta is explained in charter XIV, 130:
"sabbāva sañjānanalakkhaṇā, tadevetanti puna sañjānanapaccayanimittakaraṇarasā dāruādīsu tacchakādayo viya, yathāgahitanimittavasena abhinivesakaraṇapaccupaṭṭhānā hatthidassakāndhā (udā. 54) viya, yathāupaṭṭhitavisayapadaṭṭhānā tiṇapurisakesu migapotakānaṃ purisāti uppannasaññā viyāti."

All (saññā) has the characteristic of recognition (sañjānana); its property is the making of a representation (nimitta) that is a condition of noting again, 'this is the very same thing' - as carpenters and so on do with wood, etc.; its manifestation is the producing of conviction by virtue of a perceptual image that has been accordingly learnt - like the blind perceiving the elephant (Ud 68-9); its basis is whatever object that has come near - like the saññā 'people' that arises for young animals in respect of scarecrows.

In Visuddhimagga nimittas are unique for each object-support, and represent its qualities.

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