Pali Term: Nimitta

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Dmytro
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:40 pm

ToVincent wrote:Is the mental state (quale,) related to the "something it is like to have that experience"; inside or outside my head is one question.
But is the "salty", the sensual sign (nimitta,) outside or inside my head; is another question. The taste is certaily inside, but where does the "salty" lies?

Can we then, agree with Stephen Hodges when he considers nimitta to be exclusively a percept ("in your head"); or is nimitta also external to satta?
Good question.

In some contexts the word 'nimitta' does mean external sign. But unfortunately, in cases when it does mean internal representation, the English translation is often skewed to preserve the uniformity of terms. One of such cases is experession "nimittaṃ gaṇhāti" (apprehends the representation).

Visuddhimagga (XIV 130) explains the recognition (saññā) in such a way:
"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 representation (nimitta) that is a condition of recognizing again, 'this is the very same thing' - as carpenters and so on do with the wood, etc.; its manifestation is the producing of conviction by virtue of a representation (nimitta) that has been accordingly learnt - like the blind perceiving the elephant ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ); its basis is whatever object that has come near - like the recognition (saññā) 'people' that arises for young animals in respect of scarecrows."

Ven. Analayo writes in his book "Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation":
The term “sign” renders the Pāli word nimitta. A nimitta is a sign in the sense that it can refer to the outward characteristic mark of things. These characteristics are the signs, the sign-als, that make it possible to recognize things.

...

In relation to the process of perception in general, the nimitta is what causes one to recognize something. An illustrative example for this function of the nimitta can be gathered from a situation depicted in the Raṭṭhapāla-sutta. Raṭṭhapāla had gone forth against the wish of his parents. After a long time had passed, he decided to visit his home town. Having arrived there, he approached his parental house while begging for alms. Seeing him from afar, his father did not recognize him and started abusing him, expressing his resentment towards these shaven-headed recluses who he felt had lured his only son away from him. Raṭṭhapāla turned around and left.

Here the father had not been able to recognize the characteristic marks, nimitta, of his own son, probably because he had never seen him dressed as a monk and with shaven head. In addition to the different outer attire, Raṭṭhapāla would also have been walking in a more self-restrained manner than earlier, when he was still living at home. All these differences, combined with the fact that the father only saw the monk from afar, would have made recognition difficult.

The story does not end here. A female servant left the house to throw away some stale food. Raṭṭhapāla approached her and asked that she give the food to him, instead of throwing it away. On coming close to Raṭṭhapāla to do that, the female servant recognized that this monk was the son of the head of her household. The Raṭṭhapāla-sutta and one of its parallels preserved in the Madhyama-āgama agree in using the term nimitta (and its Chinese equivalent) in this context, specifying that she recognized Raṭṭhapāla by the nimitta of his hands and feet, as well as by the nimitta of his voice.34

This shows the functioning of a nimitta as a central factor in the operational mechanics of memory and recognition. It is with the help of the nimitta that the perception aggregate is able to match information received through the senses with concepts, ideas, and memories.
The term "nimitta" can indeed mean "sign", but in this context the usage of "sign" is strained, and seems to result from current tendency to find one translation of the term for all contexts.

Let's examine the sentence from Ratthapala sutta mentioned by Analayo:

"Atha kho āyasmato raṭṭhapālassa ñātidāsī taṃ ābhidosikaṃ kummāsaṃ āyasmato raṭṭhapālassa patte ākirantī hatthānañca pādānañca sarassa ca nimittaṃ aggahesi."

First, "nimitta" here is singular, and not plural 'sign-als', 'characteristic marks', or "characteristic features" in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
... While she was doing so, she recognised the characteristic features of his hands, his feet, and his voice.

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn82
Secondly, what causes one to recognize something is not some features of the object, but rather an inner representation of the object that one has acquired previously (as explained in Visuddhimagga passage above). When this inner representation turns out to be congruent with what one perceives, then one recognises the object.

So the literal translation of this sentence would be:

"While a slavewoman belonging to one of venerable Raṭṭhapāla's relatives was pouring some old porridge into venerable Raṭṭhapāla's bowl, she apprehended (gaṇhāti) her inner representation (nimitta) of his hands, his feet, and his voice."

This apprehension is a controllable mental act, as described in instructions on guarding sense doors:
'ehi tvaṃ bhikkhu, indriyesu guttadvāro hohi, cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā mā nimittaggāhī ..."

Go, monk, guard well the doors of sense faculties. Seeing form with vision, don't apprehend the representation ...

(MN 107 and other suttas)
and this apprehension (gaṇhāti) differs somewhat from recognition (saññā), since it describes a part of recognition when one attends to inner representation, without part of using sense faculties, or of making a representation.
And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sensual desire and for the increase and expansion of arisen sensual desire? There is, bhikkhus, the sign of the beautiful: frequently giving careless attention to it is the nutriment...
...
And what, bhikkhus, is the denourishment that prevents unarisen sensual desire from arising and arisen sensual desire from increasing and expanding? There is, bhikkhus, the sign of foulness: frequently giving careful attention to it is the denourishment...
SN 47.51
Careless attention (to sign of beauty) => letting it in ( => consciousness).

Careful attention (to sign of foulness) => Not letting the sign of beauty in.
The sensual desire often increases in absence of physical object, when one recalls and contemplates the attractiveness of something.
Similarly, dispassion can grow in absence of physical object, when one gives attention to inner representation of bloated corpse, or similar.
Meditate on the signless,
Throw out the underlying tendency to conceit,
And when you have a breakthrough in understanding conceit,
You will live at peace.”
Thag 21.1
Then forget about the "signs of your own mind"
You may find useful the thread on "animitta":

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=16303

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:01 pm

Dmytro wrote:.....
Hi! Dmytro,

Thanks for your references on nimitta and animitta.

I hope, you will not be offended if I say that I never rely to the Visuddhimagga or other commentaries; and that I stick only to the suttas that have parallels in the other books.
So I will keep only the good references of your early suttas; which are sufficient by themselves.

That being said, there is plenty to discuss here.

If "nimittaṃ gaṇhāti" means "apprehends the representation"; we still have to define clearly what this "representation" is.

From the reading of the EBTs, this representation is either internal or external.
- External, when you see a tree, and that, it's sensual representation is its visual form, defined by colors.
- External, when you taste a grain of salt, and that the saltiness in the grain, is it's sensual representation.
- Internal, when you have a mental cognitive content of something that is not there externally (imagination - maññita).
- Internal, when you have your own cognitive content of the clinging khandhas; or the four establishments of mindfulness, etc. Or when you pick up the representation (sign) of your own mind to counteract the external representations (signs) that have turned into clinging khandhas, or present in the dwellings of four establishments of mindfulness, etc.

In any case this representation (sign) has one single meaning, it seems.
The sensual "salty" in the tasted salt - The sensual "visual forms (colors)" in the sighted form - The sensual "minty" in the smelled mint - The sensual "tuny" in the heard (sound) guitar - The sensual "in-put mental object", or the reasoned "ex-cogitation" in the intellected thought.

When the representation (sign), e.g. "salty", interacts with the ajjattika āyatana's indriya (the external base/sphere of sense), viz. the tongue's faculty; there is consciousness. Not sañña (perception,) as Hodges believes; but sense-consciousness (tongue-consciousness).

The difficulty resides in the interaction between: :

1.
a. the representation (sign) of the thought in the external base (sphere of senses - bāhirāni āyatanāni), and
b. the intellect (mano).

and

2.
a. the representation (sign) of the ex-cogitated thought in mano itself (representation/sign of one's own mind) and
b. the intellect (mano).

For instance,
1. when someone you confront, sends a bad thought; if you let this sensual ill-will sign (representation) interact with your intellect's faculty; then mind/intellect consciousness ensues, with contact; then feeling, then perception, then thinking.

2. This last thinking is still a thought of ill-will; but you could change it by ex-cogitating a new sign (representation) of your own. You could then "pick the sign of your own mind". Like a thought of good-will; whose sign (representation) is just "good-willy".
If we were to compare that with the analogy of the grain of salt, there would be no salt in the process; just the "salty". For what comes out of the mind is manomaya (mental), as you know.
"Good-willy" as in "salty".

Note:
Passion, aversion and delusion are also a making of representations (sign-nimitta). They are to be added to #2 above.


Let us digest this, before going further with "representation-less awareness-release".
There is indeed, by definition, a long path to reach the representation/sign-less cetosamādhi.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:59 pm

ToVincent wrote:I hope, you will not be offended if I say that I never rely to the Visuddhimagga or other commentaries; and that I stick only to the suttas that have parallels in the other books.
So I will keep only the good references of your early suttas; which are sufficient by themselves.
I'm not offended - you have a right to think on your own. However, for discussion to be meaningful, we need a common basis of textual sources. Suttas don't give all the definitions, and wider textual basis is necessary - which would include all strata of Pali texts, and even texts in other languages of Buddhism.

Stephen Hodge, for example, has an advantage of studying a wide variety of texts:
http://www.harperreach.com/author/stephen-hodge/

I've read some "Early Buddhism" research, and discovered it depends very much on personal preferences of the "Early Buddhism" authors, who create their own reconstructions of "Early Buddhism".

My conclusions may also have some errors, but at least I consult wide variety of texts, early and late Pali, and even sometimes Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese, to make conclusions reliable. Of course, Visuddhimagga is less authoritative and reliable than Suttanta, but modern Early Buddhism reconstructions turn out to be even less reliable.

Modern trend of rejecting "Commentaries" seems misdirected to me. The actual Commentaries are mostly unknown and poorly studied.
People tend to direct their rejection of common Asian religious practices to "Commentaries" - as if those "Commentaries" are nowadays exactly applied in practice in Asian Buddhism. In reality, they are largely forgotten or distorted.

You refer to English translations, - and I wonder if you are aware that they deeply reflect the Western "Commentary" as a product of Western Buddhology. When you plant seeds, you need them raw and uncooked. Similarly, for deep viable exploration of Pali terms, one needs original, untranslated, Pali glosses.

Having said this, I hope you are not offended, and wish you success. English translations of suttas provide excellent food for thought, applicable in real life.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:42 pm

Dmytro wrote:.......
By embracing less, it seems that one can do more. And it is not Buddha, who spoke about the danger of diffusedness, that would contradict this.

I do have a special folder named "Dmytro" with all your Pali words' posts. But I must say that I do screen them off the commentaries' passages.
They are still very useful indeed.

As far as Early Buddhist Texts (EBT) are concerned, I rely for instance, on works, who compare the suttas in the different books.
That allows to assess the likelihood that any particular element of doctrine was present in the common ancestral collection, from which the different extant texts are presumably descended.
Confining oneself to the sutra-aṅga, for instance, is also a good way to circumscribed oneself to the mere doctrinal content of the suttas.

Stuff like that; relying on several good translators, and trying to do my best with the Pali.

Then what one talks about is neither Theravadin, or Sarvāstivādin or Mūlasarvāstivādin, or whatever; but purely Buddhist. No more argument about "this was added", or "this was taken off"; or "this was misinterpreted".

Thanks for your encouragement.
Metta


P.S.
Stephen Hodge, for example, has an advantage of studying a wide variety of texts:
http://www.harperreach.com/author/stephen-hodge/

Unfortunately, despite his great knowledge, that might be a bit deluging, Hodge seems to have a hard time with clear understanding, when he just sees (as stated above in a previous post) - firstly, nimittas as "created inside the individual by saññā" ?!? - Secondly, as seing nimittas ""created inside the individual".
When he says further: "I believe that "nimitta" are mental phenomena rather than external things per se"; I think he is missing something through some kind of bias.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by cjmacie » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:42 pm

Quite by accident – organizing my growing collection of dictionaries – I tested out "ENGLISH - PĀLI DICTIONARY [by] A. P. Buddhadatta Mahathera" that I'd downloaded at some point. Testing word search, just happening to use "nimitta", came up with the list below. This reflects not necessarily what's in the Pali language, per se, but rather what English translators have "read-in" there in correspondence with English ideas, meanings.

Many interesting tidbits show-up:
1) So many references to the area of "augur", "divination", "omen", etc., etc.; it's all Pali so must come from somewhere in the Pali Canon – perhaps the Jakata or other places collecting religious, mythic stories?
2) The "cause" idea in "for", "instrumentally", "motive", "reason", "sake", "why", etc.
3) "haply", "fortuity" – is "ninnimittam" perhaps an unrelated construct?
4) "muck"?
5) "precursor", "premonitive", "presage", "prodrome", "prognosis" (medical application?) -- less magical forms of the sense in (1) above.
6) "Pyromantic" ?
6) "Spectrum" ?
7) "Straggle" ?

Overall, nimitta not just an image from the past, but a strong sense of relating to, opportunity, or even agency with respect in some phenomena yet to arise?

augur : (m.) nimittapāthaka. (v.t.) subhāsubham apekkhati.
augural : (adj.) nimittāyatta; anāgatadassaka.
augury : (nt.) nimittapathana.
auspice : (nt.) pubbanimitta; subhanimitta. (nt.; plu.) maṅgalādhipacca.
bodeful : (adj.) pubbanimittasahita.
casual : (adj) atakkita; āgantuka; ninnimitta.
diviner : (m.) nimittapāthaka.
female organ : (f.) yoni. (nt.) itthinimitta.
for : (prep.) uddissa. In pali its meaning is expressed by the dative or the words hetu; nimittam; kāranā and (conj.) yasmā; tasmā; tena.
foreboding : (nt.) pageva-sūcana; pubbanimitta.
foreshadow : (v.t.) pubbanimittaṃ dasseti. (pp.) dassitapubbanimitta.
foretoken : (nt.) pubbanimitta. (v.t.) pubbanimittaṃ dasseti; pageva sūceti. (pp.) dassitapubbanimitta; pageva sūcita.
fortuity : (nt.) ninnimitta. (f.) yadicchāsiddhi.
geomancer : (m.) pamsunimittapāthaka.
geomancy : (nt.) pamsunimittapathana.
haply : (adv.) vidhiyogena; ninnimittam.
harbinger : (nt.) āgamanasūcana; pubbanimitta. (m.) purecārī; sandesahara. (v.t.) āgamanam sūceti or pakāseti. (pp.) sūcitāgamana.
herald sign : (nt.) pubbanimitta.
ill-omen : (nt.) asubhanimitta.
instrumentally : (adv.) kāranato; nimittato.
mascot : (nt.) subhanimitta; mangalavatthu.
maunder : (v.i.) animittam āhindati; avyattam jappati. (pp.) animittam āhindita; avyattam jappita.
motive : (nt.) nimitta; nidāna; kārana. (m.) hetu. (adj.) cālaka; pavattaka; hetubhūta. (v.t.) hetum sampādeti.
muck : (m.) gomayādi. (v.t.) aparisuddham karoti; landam pāteti; animittam āhindati. (pp.) aparisuddham kata; landam pātita; animittam āhindita.
omen : (nt.) nimitta; pubbanimitta || good omen: (nt.) subhanimitta.
on that account : tato nidānam; tannimittam.
portend : (v.t.) pagevasūceti; pubbanimittam dasseti. (pp.) pagevasūcita; pubbanimittam dassita.
portent : (nt.) pubbanimitta.
portentous : (adj.) pubbanimittasahita; asubhasūcaka.
portentously : (adv.) pubbanimittavasena.
precursor : (m.) aggesara; purecāri. (nt.) pubbanimitta.
precursory : (adj.) puregāmī; pubbanimittabhūta.
premonitive : puttanimittabhūta.
premonitory : puttanimittabhūta.
presage : (nt.) pubbanimitta. (v.t.) pageva sūceti. (pp.) sūcita.
prodrome : (nt.) rogapubbanimitta. (m.) puretara-gantha.
prognosis : (nt.) roganimitta.
prognostic : (nt.) pubbanimitta.
prognosticate : (v.t.) pubbanimittam dasseti; pagevasūceti.
prognostication : (nt.) nimittapathana.
prognosticative : (adj.) anāgatasūcaka; pageva nirūpaka.
prognosticator : (m.) nimittapāthaka; anāgatasūcaka.
pyromantic : (m.) agginimittapāthaka.
reason : (nt.) kārana; nimitta. (m.) hetu; ñāya. (f.) yutti; vicāranasatti. (v.i.) 1. takketi; vicāreti; yuttim katheti; hetum dasseti. (pp.) takkita; vicārita; yuttim kathita; dassitahetuka.
sake : (nt.) nimitta; kārana. (m.) hetu.
score : (nt.) gananācinha; (f.) chinnarekhā; vīsatisankhyā; (nt.) nimitta; hetu; (v.t.) rehkāhi anketi. (pp.) rekhankita.
soothsayer : (m.) nemittika; nimittapāthaka.
spectrum : (m.) tiyamsakāce dissamānachabbanna. (nt.) uggahanimitta.
straggle : (v.i.) samūhato viyujjhati; vikinnākārena yāti; animittam āhindati. (pp.) samūhato viyutta; vikinnākārena yāta.
symptom : (nt.) pubbanimitta; rogalakkhana.
symptomatic : (adj.) sūcaka; ñāpaka; nimittabhūta.
vagina : (nt.) kosākāravatthu; itthinimitta.
vulva : (nt.) itthinimitta.
why : (adv.) kasmā? kena? nanu. (nt.) nimitta; kārana. (m.) hetu.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by cjmacie » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:51 pm

Dmytro wrote: ... an inner representation of the object that one has acquired previously
(this may seem afield, but does come back to nimitta)

Brings to mind the neurological hypotheses of Antonio Damasio ("Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain" 2010) as to how images, representations are apprehended, stored, and recalled. Specifically the point that though the brain creates picture-like mappings from sensory input (and all 6 senses), these are stored (as processed, "perceived", i.e. sanna-like) not as literal, so to speak, bit-maps, but rather as a combination of some aspects of the data AND aspects of the experiential process that accompanied the acquisition of that which gets stored. So recall is actually a replay of the algorithm, so to speak, of the original event.

(Btw: This and several other tantalizing ideas / hypotheses in Damasio's book lead me to suspect that if he had been born in a particular distant age, he would have been an "Abhidhammiker"; for that matter, perhaps he was once born so. ;) And, of course, he does deal with "qualia".)

1) Perhaps the slavewoman of Raṭṭhapāla's family wasn't just recognizing pictorial images, so to speak, of his features and vocal tone, but also the manner of his behavior. We can probably recognize this in "recognition", especially those of us with some age under the belt – meeting someone from high-school at the 50th reunion, the appearance may be rather unexpectedly strange, but then the vocal and other behavior help tease out the memory and make recall connections.

2) I would argue tentative experiential evidence of such: Namely when having a well-developed sense of nimitta that can occur in achieving anapanasati-samadhi. Recalling this, with further practice, it becomes progressively easier and quicker to attain absorption – not just because the "image" is sharper or what-not, but because it includes recall of the mental activity, behavior of entering jhana – how the "path" of it is to be traversed. (This might apply generally – recall in performing music, of how to ride a bicycle,…)

In the linguistic analysis, is it possible to detect any analogous relationship between the nominal and verbal aspects (both the "picture" and the "play" so to speak) in the term "nimitta"?

The verbal aspect has been at least implicit so far – as in Dmytro's "This apprehension is a controllable mental act…", where (perhaps) the ontological bias of our language uses the noun "act" to refer to what's in vivo an "acting". Also, the vedana aspects (clinging khandhas) that can so strongly associate are inclinations to acting-out.

(Damasio's radical hypothesis, back in the 1970's, that "consciousness" arose (in evolution) / arises from, originates with "emotions", by which he means what we know as the vedana – from the most primitive level of organism, e-moting (Latin: "moving-out") with attraction to potential food, or with aversion to potential predator/eater. That hypothesis was ridiculed in the science world back then, but was experimentally verified in the 1990's.)

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:59 pm

cjmacie wrote:2) I would argue tentative experiential evidence of such: Namely when having a well-developed sense of nimitta that can occur in achieving anapanasati-samadhi. Recalling this, with further practice, it becomes progressively easier and quicker to attain absorption – not just because the "image" is sharper or what-not, but because it includes recall of the mental activity, behavior of entering jhana – how the "path" of it is to be traversed. (This might apply generally – recall in performing music, of how to ride a bicycle,…)
This reminds me of the passage I quoted above:
Samathova taṃ ākāraṃ gahetvā puna pavattetabbassa samathassa nimittavasena samathanimittaṃ.

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

Mohavicchedani (Mya: .161), Atthasalini
In the Tika this is explained as:
Taṃ ākāraṃ gahetvāti samādhānākāraṃ gahetvā. Yenākārena pubbe alīnaṃ anuddhataṃ majjhimaṃ bhāvanāvīthipaṭipannaṃ hutvā cittaṃ samāhitaṃ hoti, taṃ ākāraṃ gahetvā sallakkhetvā.

'Apprehending that appearance/aspect': apprehending the appearance/aspect of concentration (samādhāna). By whatever appearance/aspect the mind became concentrated before -- not being lax and agitated, [being] centred, and going along the track of practice -- apprehending, observing that appearance/aspect.
Such attunement to representation of samadhi is described in Gavi sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
(translated as 'theme").

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:55 pm

Could not agree more than with Damasio's protoself, second-order, and "feeling feeling" process.
"Feeling feeling" - Hey! Are you here Hodge?.

I always had a hard time seeing Damazio's interest for Spinoza. I have always consider the latter as a poor Samkhya; having reduced matter to its possible interest; and having deduced that it was better to go back to evolved materialism (and the ludicrous worship of God).
The Samkhya did, on the other hand, find a far more noble escape.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by cjmacie » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:51 am

Dmytro wrote:
cjmacie wrote:2) I would argue tentative experiential evidence ... the "image" is sharper or what-not, but because it includes recall of the mental activity, behavior of entering jhana – how the "path" of it is to be traversed. ...
This reminds me of the passage I quoted above:
Samathova taṃ ākāraṃ gahetvā puna pavattetabbassa samathassa nimittavasena samathanimittaṃ.

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

Mohavicchedani (Mya: .161), Atthasalini
Exactly. Sorry I didn't catch that on earlier sifting through this s/w bulky thread – or perhaps only subliminally. Interpreting then "the appearance of calm" that one has learnt and using to reproduce it, might be understood as "the appearing of calm", i..e. the "doing" (which may or may not be justified in the linguistics).

That too occasions reconsideration of my earlier critique of Thanissaro's use of "theme" for "nimitta", since a musical theme, though representable as a static image of written notes (or perhaps as a vocabulary of modal relations among notes in Indian music), only comes to be ("becoming" rather than "exists", as in bhuta) in the temporal dimension, in lived experiencing.

Other classical descriptions too of nimitta experience imply motion – a sense of smoke swirling, or a field of scintillating gems or pearls, as mentioned in the Visuddhimagga, and in Pa Auk Sayadaw's writing, no doubt straight out the the former. Another imaging I've noticed (as well as these) which I'm convinced falls into the same ball-park though not (yet) found classically described, is a visual field of multi-colored tree-leaves, quivering and translucently lit by sunlight from the other side, though the sun itself isn't visible.

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by cjmacie » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:03 am

ToVincent wrote:Could not agree more than with Damasio's protoself, second-order, and "feeling feeling" process.
"Feeling feeling" ...
Ha! Thanks. Having brought up Damasio's idea several times, in multiple forums, finally someone else knows something about his books and ideas.

A friend gave me of copy of "Self Comes to Mind" after hearing a radio interview with him. Don't know the context, but Damasio was asked if he knew Buddhism -- answer "no". To my mind that helps the credibility of his ideas (as distinct from the writings of all those Buddhist psychologist "neuroscientists" who seem not have heard of "confirmatory bias").

Spinoza I know mostly just by name (haven't that Damasio book), though Thanissaro ("Buddhist Romanticism") does go into his ideas in connection with influence / contrast among some of the German Romantics. In my next read of TG's book (will be 3rd reading), will pay more attention to the mentions of Spinoza, and compare with "Samkhya".

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:27 pm

To put it simply, sensory informations (sights, smells, sounds, etc.) are processed through the senses and in the corresponding brain’s sensory areas. Then the info is passed along to the amygdala, which is the entryway to the emotion regulating limbic system. The amygdala uses informations from stored knowledge to tell the person how to react emotionally. The result reaches (or not) the autonomic nervous system; and the person reacts (or not).
Gradually, the amygdala creates a salience map of the environment of the individual.


"Grain of salt" = khandhas and components of nāmarūpa.
"Taste" of the grain of salt = the sensual part (external ayatana) of the grain of salt.
"Salty" = nimitta (sensual representation/sign/quality/attribute/property) of the taste. (not a quale)


The suttas show that the taste (and its nimitta,) interact first with the internal base (sphere of sense-ayatana,) that is the tongue (mouth).
That is consciousness (or "protoself", as Damasio puts it.)
Because this feeling, perception, etc. (nāmarūpa's khandhas in the taste) are considered as self*, there is a descent of the faculty (indriyana) of the tongue; and the quale of "salty", (the "oh that is what salt tastes like",) is triggered.
Then come contact and feeling. Then this feeling, perception, saṅkhara and consciousness are made "mine" (clinging-khandhas).

https://i.imgur.com/ewXkRNF.png (very schematic)

* SN 22.47 (several strict parallels).
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:20 am

ToVincent wrote:"Salty" = nimitta (sensual representation/sign/quality/attribute/property) of the taste. (not a quale)
I would say that when attention (manasikāra) is paid to certain kinds of representations (nimitta), it influences recognition (saññā), as shown by link from manasikāra to saññā on the diagram:

http://dhamma.ru/lib/paticcas.htm

As said in Ahara sutta:
Ko ca bhikkhave, āhāro anuppannassa vā kāmacchandassa uppādāya uppannassa vā kāmacchandassa bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya: atthi bhikkhave, subhanimittaṃ. Tattha ayonisomanasikārabahulīkāro, ayamāhāro anuppannassa vā kāmacchandassa uppādāya uppannassa vā kāmacchandassa bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya.

"And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:38 am

cjmacie wrote:Brings to mind the neurological hypotheses of Antonio Damasio ("Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain" 2010) as to how images, representations are apprehended, stored, and recalled. Specifically the point that though the brain creates picture-like mappings from sensory input (and all 6 senses), these are stored (as processed, "perceived", i.e. sanna-like) not as literal, so to speak, bit-maps, but rather as a combination of some aspects of the data AND aspects of the experiential process that accompanied the acquisition of that which gets stored.
I just came upon a Hesychast parallel:
154. Most of us do not realize that all evil thoughts are but images of material and worldly things. Yet if we persist in watchful prayer, this will rid our mind of all such images; it will also make if conscious both of the devices of our enemies and of the great benefit of prayer and watchfulness. 'With year eyes you will see how spiritual sinners are recompensed; you yourself will see spirituality and understand', says David the divine poet (cf Ps. 91:8).

155. Whenever possible, we should always remember death, for this displaces all cares and vanities, allowing us to guard our intellect and giving us unceasing prayer, detachment from our body and hatred of sin. Indeed, it is a source of almost every virtue. We should therefore, if possible, use it as we use our own breathing.

156. A heart that has been completely emptied of mental images gives birth to divine, mysterious intellections that sport within it like fish and dolphins in a calm sea. The sea is fanned by a soft wind, the heart's depth by the Holy Spirit. 'And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: "Abba, Father" '
(Gal. 4:6).

St Hesychios the Priest
On Watchfulness and Holiness
Written for Theodoulos

https://archive.org/stream/Philokalia-T ... /mode/2up/

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:34 pm

Dmytro wrote: I would say that when attention (manasikāra) is paid to certain kinds of representations (nimitta), it influences recognition (saññā).
Again, we depart a bit into diffusedness.

What "certain kinds" of nimitta?
What recognition?

As far as sañña is concerned, it seems to be an "(ap)perception after inquiry" - Sañña as in trying to know about the nimitta (the attribute of something); or sañña, as the retrieval of perceived qualities, related to past experience. The "feeling feeling" of Damasio.

1. SENSE-CONSCIOUSNESS
Recognition (acknowledgment) looks more like the process of "sensual-consciousness", than sañña.
You cognize the "salty" (sour, etc. nimittas,) [SN 22.79]; or you cognize the "pleasant, unpleasant,..." of nāmarūpa's khandhas* [MN 43].
You cognize all that as self; as a continuity; although it's not yours.
*although what is pleasant for nāmarūpa might become unpleasant to you.

However if your consciousness follows the drift of (lit.: 'flows after') the nimitta of the form, is tied to the attraction of the nimitta of the form, is chained to the attraction of the attribute of the form, is fettered & joined to the attraction of the attribute of the form: Consciousness is said to be externally scattered & diffused. (MN 138)


You haven't yet really made that cognizance "yours".

2. FEELING
Then comes the clinging-feeling of "saltiness". The feeling from nāmarūpa is differentiated to become your own feeling. This is the quale. The "oh that is what salt tastes like (in me)".

3. PERCEPTION
The quale "salty" (or bluey, etc.) is perceived [SN 22.79 & MN 43,] as a reflection - as an observation and a truly personal acknowledgment. You perceive the feeling, the nimitta as quale, as yours.

4. SAṄKHĀRA
Then you think about it, you manosañcetanize about it (SN 12.39,) you papañcaize about it, etc;

5. CONSCIOUSNESS
and you send it to consciousness that is maintained.


These are "yours" now. These are your clinging-khandhas.

---

So what does it mean when you say:
When attention (manasikāra) is paid to certain kinds of representations (nimitta), it influences recognition (saññā).

It sounds evident that ignorance-contact (SN 22.47) will trigger some form of sañña on the nimitta, with the help of attention; while some already lived experience might not.
It is also evident that picking the nimittas of your own mind (citta) will trigger some form of sañña on the nimitta, again with the help of attention.
In other words, if you don't know what "salty" is, you will put some attention into it, and try to probe into it. If you already know what "salty" is, you might just not pay attention to it. And if you decide to pay attention to that "salty" (that nimitta,) on your own behalf; you will inquire into it on your own.
All these through sañña.

I don't see how this helps to better define nimitta? - It just sounds like common sense to me.

As I just said before, nimitta is just the particular sensual representation / sign / quality/ attribute/ property of some external sense (taste, sight, smell, sound, touch, thought); or some sensual picking of one own's mind (citta).
E.g., the sign of foulness can be a "dead rat rotten corpse" (attribute of the sight,) smelling "awful" (attribute of the smell) - and incidently, one might or not pay attention to it.
On the other hand, as soon as there is contact, one triggers the process of making this nimitta "his"; attention or not.

---



Note:
Manasikara & Yoniso-manasikara

Manasikara is just attending to something or some event.
There is the notion of "true cause" in yoniso. Yoniso manasikara is "attention to the true cause". Yoniso means "uterus/womb". Getting proper attention to the true, genuine (original) cause of something is yoniso manasikara.
For instance, the sign (nimitta) of the beautiful is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sensual desire. The sign of the beautiful is therefore, the "truly original cause"; the yoniso for the arising of unarisen sensual desire.
Therefore, giving frequently careful attention to the sign of foulness is the denourishment that prevents unarisen sensual desire from arising and arisen sensual desire from increasing and expanding.
The yoniso; the (true, original) cause of sensual desires is the sign of beauty.
The yoniso; the (true, original) cause of the end of sensual desire is the sign of foulness.
Also, appropriate/careful attention is just attending to the right, true, original cause of something. And inappropriate attention is just the opposite.

P.S.
Interesting sketch of rūpa-nāma of yours.
Thanks. I put that in my "Dmytro" folder.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:15 am

ToVincent wrote:What "certain kinds" of nimitta?
What recognition?

Recognition (acknowledgment) looks more like the process of "sensual-consciousness", than sañña.

So what does it mean when you say:
When attention (manasikāra) is paid to certain kinds of representations (nimitta), it influences recognition (saññā).
There's a thread on sañña: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2834

Representations are used in recognition for filtering of perception.

Sustained attention to subhanimitta will develop subhasaññā.
E.g. if one keeps in mind representaions of attractive girls, one will notice them first of all in any context.

Sustained attention to asubhanimitta will develop asubhasaññā.
E.g. if one keeps in mind representaions of bloated corpses, one will notice the unattractive features of bodies in any context.

Tika to aforementioned Ahara sutta (sorry, untranslated):
Asubhārammaṇādhammāti asubhappakārā asubhajhānassa ārammaṇabhūtā dhammā. Kāmaṃ indriyabaddhāpi kesādayo asubhappakārā eva, visesato pana jigucchitabbe jigucchāvahe gaṇhanto ‘‘dasā’ ’ti āha. Yathā manasikaroto sabhāvasarasato tattha asubhasaññā santiṭṭhati, tathā pavatto manasikāro upāyamanasikāro. Asubhe asubhapaṭikkūlākārassa uggaṇhanaṃ, yathā vā tattha uggahanimittaṃ uppajjati, tathā manasikāro asubhanimittassa uggaho. Upacārappanāvahāya asubhabhāvanāya anuyuñjanā asubhabhāvanānuyogo.
on the other hand, as described in Petakopadesa, when asubhasaññā is developed, mind won't get fixed on subhanimitta:
tattha katamā asubhasaññā? “satta saṅkhārā asubhā”ti yā saññā sañjānanā vavatthapanā uggāho, ayaṃ asubhasaññā. tassā ko nissando? asubhasaññāya bhāvitāya bahulīkatāya subhanimitte cittaṃ nānusandhati na sandhati na saṇṭhahati, upekkhā vā paṭikkūlatā vā saṇṭhahati, ayamassā nissando.
This principle is applied in fundamental attention (yoniso manasikāra) and is a key to Satipatthana practice. Fundamental ttention, directed to appropriate representations, gives rise to skilful behaviour.
However if your consciousness follows the drift of (lit.: 'flows after') the nimitta of the form, is tied to the attraction of the nimitta of the form, is chained to the attraction of the attribute of the form, is fettered & joined to the attraction of the attribute of the form: Consciousness is said to be externally scattered & diffused. (MN 138)
With thoroughly fundamental attention, consciousness stops to automatically follow the alterations of nāma-rūpa, without attachment to fixed representations of them.

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