Pali Term: Nimitta

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cjmacie
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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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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by ToVincent » Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:38 pm

Dmytro wrote:.....
As I already mentioned before, I do not rely on commentaries, let alone subcommentaries (Tika).
Petakopadesa; hmm! - EBT?

For sañña, I would rely on this instead:
http://output.jsbin.com/giwahekuxu
Trying to avoid the suttas with no parallels.
Again these are from the Sthaviravāda scriptures; but it should give a good idea of what Buddha taught by himself.

From this reading, IMHO, I came up with the following result:
Saññā = (ap)perception after inquiry.
Now, this is my reading.
But at least, I made up my mind on what seems to be, the most probable sayings of Buddha. And I shall oblige no one to follow that interpretation; while at the same time strongly encourage people to read these excerpts and the corresponding suttas.

---

Now I do agree with your definition of Nimitta as "representation"; although I also believe that it should encompass the notion of "attribute".

For instance, If you touch a sponge:
Touch (phoṭṭhabba) + Body/hand (kāya) will fire body-consciousness.

A representation (nimitta) of that sponge, sounds closer to a display to the mind (in the form of an idea or an image,) than a mere acknowledgment of its qualities. There is in representation somewhat of a reflection on the sponge's nimittas. While acknowledging the characteristics, (the attributes) of the sponge is just a mere data reading.
That is indeed what we should do intentionally. Viz. a mere reading of the datas.

There should be no ideas, nor images, nor representations in "touch". There should only be mere attributes. Attributes as abstractions that belong to that sponge. Like mushy, soft, a bit scratchy, etc.
AT that level, nimittas (attributes) are not yet related to the mind. But related to the internal ayatana (sense) per se. There is not yet an "idea" or "personal" feeling of what the sponge is; but just a mere acknowledgment of what its properties are.

Now, at that level of sense-consciousness the following:
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)
is closely related to the often occuring formula:
And how does a monk guard the doors to his sense faculties?
There is the case where a monk, on feeling a tactile object with the body, does not grasp at any sign (attribute) or variations (secondary characteristics) (kāyena phoṭṭhabbaṃ phusitvā, na nimittaggāhī hoti nānubyañjanaggāhī) by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the body — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him.
AN 4.37, MN 27, MN 38, MN 39, MN 53, MN 60, MN 101, SN 35.127, etc

The important idea behind this, is not to grasp at any attribute and secondary characteristics of the sponge.
Again it is about, not to have a representation of the nimittas; but a mere reading of the attributes by the body (hand, for instance). At that level, the nimitta is not processed by the mind (mano).

So it is evident that you have to put some attention into that. Common sense!
But we shall see that intention (cetana) has much more to do than attention in the process.

The important part is that you should not be tied to the attraction of the nimitta(s) & nānubyañjana(s) of the sponge, says the sutta - that you should not be chained to the attraction of the attributes & secondary characteristics of the sponge - that you should not be fettered & joined to the attraction of the attribute & secondary characteristics of the sponge.
There is much more will and intention (saṅkhāra/cetana) involved in that, than attention.

How not to have your sense-consciousness get attracted, says AN 4.37 above?. By not grasping the nimittas, (the attributes) of the sponge. And how not to grasp the nimittas, says the same sutta: by restraining the senses faculties - by guarding their doors.

So the sense (ayatana) acknowledges the nimitta (attributes); but the restraining of the sense-faculty (indriya) prevents the grasping of the nimittas.
We have seen that the "idea of a self" is the cause of the descent of the faculties (SN 22.47). By restraining these faculties, we almost act as if we do not recognize this idea of a self. We are more in accord with reality. We break the continuity between satta and nāmarūpa. We break the continuity that is the intrisic notion of a self. By doing that, what will be processed later on, will not be able to be called "mine".
Restraining is not deleting; but certainly a good start.

The process of searching for the true cause (yoniso) of the good or bad perception, that follow a grasping of the attributes and secondary characteristics of a form; and the attention required to do that, come later on.
Probing the feeling as "mine", is not the process of sense-consciousness.

Here one is just asked not to grasp the attributes and secondary characteristics of the forms; by guarding the doors of his sense faculties. So as not to have a consciousness attached to the mushiness of the sponge; or repelled by its scratchiness.
One just have to acknowledge, without grasping, through the restraint of the senses faculties.

There is ethic behing this process. There is the will not to get attracted - It is not just about letting the attributes (nimitta) come in, without intervention.
This is the first step of the right knowledge process. That is to say, guarding the door to the sense faculties.
There is the intention (cetana) to have a sense-consciousness non-scattered and non-diffused.

The intention not to grasp the nimitta and the nānubyañjana (a.k.a anuvyañjana), triggers a sense-consciousness non-scattered and non-diffused.
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
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Dmytro
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:08 pm

Pecularities of borān kammaṭṭhāna literature can provide valuable insights about the evolution of meaning of Pali terms.
These texts are interesting in what they don't contain, - there's no abstract methodology, - just the specific actions to be performed step-by-step.
"Once the practitioner has achieved the nimitta (eidetic image) of each subject of meditation in turn, they mentally draw it through the nostrils into their own body, locating it at various energy centres in turn, and then deposit it in the womb (garbha). The various nimittas are then combined in complex permutations which are understood as constructing an internal Buddha as well as enabling the ability to affect external reality.

...

In borān kammaṭṭhāna obstetrics becomes a “practical technology applied to a new, religious end”: an embryonic Buddha is developed in the practitioner’s “womb,” and medicine is applied nasally in order to manipulate the various factors conducing to (spiritual) health."

LAURENCE COX
Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern-Era Suppression, by Kate Crosby.
http://web.archive.org/web/201604100712 ... /cox14.pdf
http://www.globalbuddhism.org/jgb/index ... sue/view/6
In their bodily specificity such texts are quite similar to late Byzantine Hesychast instructions like:
"Then sit down in a quiet cell, in a corner by yourself, and do what I tell you. Close the door, and withdraw your intellect from everything worthless and transient. Rest your beard on your chest, and focus your physical gaze, together with the whole of your intellect, upon the centre of your belly or your navel. Restrain the drawing-in of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily, and search inside yourself with your intellect so as to find the place of the heart, where all the powers of the soul reside. To start with you will find there darkness and an impenetrable density. Later, when you persist and practice this task day and night, you will find, as though miraculously, an unceasing joy. For as soon as the intellect attains the place of the heart, at once it sees things of which it previously knew nothing. It sees the open space within the heart and it beholds itself entirely luminous and full of discrimination."

St Symeon the New Theologian The Three Methods of Prayer
https://archive.org/stream/Philokalia-T ... 9/mode/2up
and Taoist "Immortal Embryo" concept:
Energy assembles and becomes essenoe. Essence is set in motion and becomes spirit. Spirit is transformed and becomes the immortal embryo, The embryo rises up and turns into a realized being. This realized being ascends and becomes an infant. He, in turn, is the perfected within.

https://books.google.com/books?id=RTH8e ... &lpg=PA209
In the course of centuries, religious abstract notions and elaborate methodologies tend to be transformed for use in tangible step-by-step techniques. And then, since rigid techniques turn out to be dangerous without expert supervision, they tend to be replaced by safe and easy rituals and text readings.

This transformation of practice leads to semantic shift of terms, - from abstract and flexible to specific and tangible. God gets transformed from incomprehensible omnipresent entity to a nice guy on the picture, whom you just have to accept, Buddha becomes a statue to pay homage, etc.
In case of nimitta and kasiṇa, they did have tangential connection with natural objects, - flowers and stars, - as described in Aṭṭha abhibhāyatanāni section of Mahaparinibbana sutta
5) Without perceiving forms internally, someone sees forms externally, blue, blue-coloured, of blue appearance, shiny blue, just as the flower called Ummā is blue, ...

6) Without perceiving forms internally, someone sees forms externally, yellow, yellow-coloured, of yellow appearance, shiny yellow, just as the flower called Kaṇikāra is yellow, ...

7) Without perceiving forms internally, someone sees forms externally, red, red-coloured, of red appearance, shiny red, just as the flower called Bandhujīvaka is red, ...

8) Without perceiving forms internally, someone sees forms externally, white, white-coloured, of white appearance, shiny white, just as the Osadhī star, is white, ...

https://suttacentral.net/en/dn16
(see the pictures of those flowers at http://dhamma.ru/lib/colours.htm )

but in the words of the Buddha, nimitta and kasiṇa were used as abstract technical terms.

Ven. Buddhaghosa in Visuddhimagga gives experiential examples of nimittas for various object-supports, with correspondence between the quality of nimitta and object-support, e.g. for water nimitta:
"... 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)

At the same time, Ven. Buddhaghosa retains the nimitta in its abstract sense of 'representation' in his definition of 'saññā':
"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."

Visuddhimagga (XIV 130)


His example for ānāpānasati nimitta is partly tactile:
"... 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".

So it's no wonder that when Ajān Lee Dhammadharo uses the term 'nimitta', he applies it to visions. For the tactile representation of air which he extends all over the body, he uses the term "refined breath":
Keep careful watch over the mind. Keep it one. Keep it intent on a single preoccupation, the refined breath, letting this refined breath suffuse the entire body.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html
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] 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. Thus in breathing in and out, air touches the nose or the lip and causes the setting-up of air perception mindfulness. This does not depend on colour or form. This is called the image. If the yogin develops the image [nimitta] and increases it at the nose-tip, between the eyebrows, on the forehead or establishes it in several places, he feels as if his head were filled with air. Through increasing in this way his whole body is charged with bliss. This is called perfection."

(Vimuttimagga, Mindfulness of Respiration. Procedure, pp.158-159)
https://archive.org/stream/ArahantUpato ... 1/mode/2up
Last edited by Dmytro on Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:31 pm

Dmytro wrote: In borān kammaṭṭhāna obstetrics becomes a “practical technology applied to a new, religious end”: an embryonic Buddha is developed in the practitioner’s “womb,” and medicine is applied nasally in order to manipulate the various factors conducing to (spiritual) health."

http://www.globalbuddhism.org/15/cox14.pdf
The link's dead. Use this:

http://web.archive.org/web/201604100712 ... /cox14.pdf

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Dmytro
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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Dmytro » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:30 am

Dhammanando wrote:The link's dead. Use this:

http://web.archive.org/web/201604100712 ... /cox14.pdf
Thank you, Bhante!

One can also access this article by Laurence Cox at http://www.globalbuddhism.org/jgb/index ... sue/view/6

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Re: Pali Term: Nimitta

Post by Kumara » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:45 am

Dmytro wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:04 am
Regarding the translation of 'subhanimitta':

'subha-nimitta' is also 'that-which-when-attended-to-leads-to-change-of-mental qualities', as in Ahara sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
or Samvara sutta (AN 2.16 (4.14))
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... c-passages
where various contexts of 'nimitta' meet together.

The person with 'subhanimitta' is so much looking for sensual pleasure, that he is focused exclusively on the attractive features, ignoring anything else - unattractive features, causes and consequences of actions.

For example, modern cars fan looks at the latest car, being attuned to the attractiveness of its lines, and immediately wants to buy it and have it as a part of 'self'.

In such cases a person does not have a 'perception of attractiveness' - 'attractiveness' is not an external object which is perceived. It is more correct to say that the person has attunement to the representation of attractiveness, or 'perceptual attunement' to attractiveness.

Stephen Hodge wrote:
The reason why "subha-nimitta.m" cannot be translated properly as "pleasurable (sense) object" is quite simple: there are no pleasurable sense objects. They are just objects and it is we who make them pleasurable or otherwise. Thus the experience of pleasurable nimitta.m must be a mental event synthesized from the raw sense data, vedanaa, memories and conventions etc. If the sense object itself were pleasurable, then it would remain so for all people, which is clearly not the case. Take, for example, opera. I know of people who find opera a highly pleasurable experience, whereas to me it is little better than a caterwauling cacophany (ie rather unpleasant). But there is nothing in the combination of operatic sounds per se that is pleasurable or unpleasurable -- it is one's nimitta (image) of the bare sounds that make it one thing or another.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pali/message/5280
But by translating nimitta as "object", it doesn't necessarily refer to the external object. It's just like how "arammana" is used on Orthodox Theravada. That's what I think.

Also, I'm wondering: Is there anything in the Suttas that shows without any doubt, or at least strongly suggests, that "nimitta" means sign/representation? Or is did this meaning arise only in later texts?
I'm not just a monk. I'm a human being. — Sayadaw U Jotika

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