imagination in theravada

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible in order to double-check alignment to Theravāda orthodoxy.
Post Reply
User avatar
effort
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

imagination in theravada

Post by effort » Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:27 pm

i think i read a sutta which buddha give some monks instruction about imagination, but i cant found that now, do you know anything about imagination practice in theravada or it was something in different tradition.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16981
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:31 pm

Hi effort,

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

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
effort
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by effort » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:33 pm

hello mike,

yes i mean practice that involves some sort of visualisation.

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6504
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by Mkoll » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:36 pm

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

User avatar
effort
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by effort » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:12 am

this is what i remember about the sutta:

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

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

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6504
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by Mkoll » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:25 am

effort wrote:this is what i remember about the sutta:

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

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

Beautiful dog in your avatar BTW.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16981
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:39 am

There are some examples of this in the Suttas.

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

paul
Posts: 1512
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by paul » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:12 am

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

paul
Posts: 1512
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Cambodia

Post by paul » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:26 am

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

User avatar
andyebarnes67
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:59 pm
Location: Tewkesbury, UK
Contact:

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by andyebarnes67 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 8:54 pm

paul wrote:Visualization is necessary in Theravada meditation, but it is not called visualization, but acquisition of the sign (nimitta).
In the process of developing concentration on any of the subjects of meditation, one passes through the stages of the preparatory image, the acquired image and the counter-image, which marks the attainment of access concentration and is a clear and immovable mental image of the subject of meditation.
Good summary Paul.
Yes, I have read of kasinas in the Visudhamagga and will soon start trying the use of an earth kasina (although unsure if I will adopt this method into my practice, which is currently only vipasanna and some metta).
Rather than trying to 'visualise' as in imagining, I understood the commentary to instruct the actual internalisation of the kasina in the mind's eye. More of a remembering than an imagining.
Metta
:meditate:
Andy Barnes
My comments are by nature, subjective interpretations from my mind. As such, they are never wrong, They are as they are. They are never right, They are as they are.

paul
Posts: 1512
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by paul » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:28 pm

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

Regards,
paul.

Sylvester
Posts: 2205
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: imagination in theravada

Post by Sylvester » Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:25 am

effort wrote:this is what i remember about the sutta:

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

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

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

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 27 guests