For a while other meditation subjects become clearer at each higher stage, this one does not: in fact, as he goes on developing it, it becomes more subtle for him at each higher stage, and it even comes to the point at which it is no longer manifest.
However, when it becomes unmanifest in this way, the bhikkhu should not get up from his seat, shake out his leather mat, and go away. What should be done? He does not get up with the idea "Shall I ask the teacher?" or "Is my meditation subject lost?"; for by going away and disturbing his posture, the meditation subject has to be started anew. So he should go on sitting as he was and [temporarily] substitute the place [normally touched for the actual breaths as the object of contemplation]
The point made here is that if the breaths themselves get temporarily too faint to be observed, he should carry on by observing the tip of the nose or where they normally touch until they become apparent again. He brings the meditation back to mind for the moment, "as the place (desato)' where they were last noticed, instead of "as breaths", which have temporarily vanished.
Vism, VIII; 208
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725Compassionate Hands Foundation
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