Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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pilgrim
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Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by pilgrim » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:00 am

It is rare to come across instructions on working with the breath nimitta. So I thought this brief article by Bhante Subhuti who practises in the Pa-Auk tradition would be useful
When To Look At The Light
https://subhuti.withmetta.net/2018/05/2 ... the-light/

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budo
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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by budo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:23 pm

I give feeling (rapture/bliss aka piti/sukha) higher priority than the light. If I don't get piti/sukkha but I get a stable visual nimitta like the light then I will focus on the light.

The reason is if you get absorbed into piti/sukha then no more effort is required and you can sit several hours, which would then allow you to explore whatever you wish without getting tired/burned out. If you ignore the piti/sukkha and focus on the visual nimitta, then you could get easily burnt out if the visual nimitta is not stable and you don't get absorbed.

So you can go either route, whichever comes first to you and is strongest.

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DooDoot
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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by DooDoot » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:54 pm

1st jhana has five factors (arising & existing together). Piti & sukha without the immovable oneness nimitta is probably piti & sukha arising from neighborhood concentration. Its probably not jhana. Not all piti & sukha is jhana.

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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by budo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:54 pm
1st jhana has five factors (arising & existing together). Piti & sukha without the immovable oneness nimitta is probably piti & sukha arising from neighborhood concentration. Its probably not jhana. Not all piti & sukha is jhana.
You're too focused on scriptures, definitions, concepts and theory whereas I'm focused on practicality and first hand experience.

Do you meditate at all?

I'm saying that it's much easier to get into full absorption (or vissuddhimaga's definition of absorption) if you allow piti and sukha to grow first. However as I also said, that's not always possible since sometimes piti and sukha come later, point being is if you have a window of opportunity to grow piti/sukha you should definitely take it as it makes things much easier since they dispel pain/burn out.

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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by paul » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:29 pm

budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm
You're too focused on scriptures, definitions, concepts and theory whereas I'm focused on practicality and first hand experience.
:goodpost:
The element which unifies the texts is direct knowledge:
"While in a literate culture in which systematic thought is highly prized the lack of such a text with a unifying function might be viewed as a defect, in an entirely oral culture—as was the culture in which the Buddha lived and moved—the lack of a descriptive key to the Dhamma would hardly be considered significant. Within this culture neither teacher nor student aimed at conceptual completeness. The teacher did not intend to present a complete system of ideas; his pupils did not aspire to learn a complete system of ideas. The aim that united them in the process of learning—the process of transmission—was that of practical training, self-transformation, the realization of truth, and unshakable liberation of the mind."---"In the Buddha's Words", Bikkhu Bodhi.

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budo
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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by budo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:08 pm

Yes, and the Buddha's words seems to align with my experience.

From DN9:

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

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



So to sum it up:

Focusing/direct thought and attention on breath -> overcoming five hinderances -> Gladness -> Rapture -> Tranquility -> Pleasure -> Concentration -> First Jhana

Dropping directed thoughts/evaluations -> unification (Ekagatta) -> 2nd jhana

You're trading directed thoughts/evaluations for unification/one pointedness


"Then, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, the monk enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. His earlier perception of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of seclusion ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of concentration. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of concentration. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases."


Dropping rapture -> equanimity -> 3rd jhana

You're trading rapture for equanimity


"And then, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' His earlier perception of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of concentration ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of equanimity. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of equanimity. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases."


Dropping pleasure -> full equanimity -> 4th jhana

You're trading pleasure for full equanimity (neither pleasure nor pain)


"And then, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — the monk enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. His earlier perception of a refined truth of equanimity ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of neither pleasure nor pain. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of neither pleasure nor pain. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases.


The sutta goes on into formless jhanas which I will not review because I haven't experienced the formless jhanas yet.

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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by budo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:40 pm

Here is my "theory" of insight all the way to Phala (Fruit).

Overcoming/dropping 5 hindrances (first insight weakening aggregate of body form of 5 aggregates) -> Rupa/Form jhanas

Dropping aggregate of Feelings of 5 aggregates -> 4th jhana

Dropping aggregate of Body Perceptions and Forms of 5 aggregates -> 5th jhana (arupa/formless jhana)

Dropping aggregate of Consciousness of 5 aggregates -> 7th jhana

Dropping aggregate of Mind Perceptions of 5 aggregates -> 8th Jhana

Dropping aggregate of Intention (sankhara) of 5 aggregates and first link after Ignorance in dependent origination -> Cessation

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DooDoot
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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by DooDoot » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:54 am

budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm
You're too focused on scripture
Sutta are often a mirror to overestimating & misinterpreting experiences.
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm
Do you meditate at all?
No. Definitely not. Does the "you" meditate? If the "you" entered jhana, why is the one-pointedness of each jhana called "citta ekaggatā" ("one-pointedness of mind") rather than "atta ekaggatā" ("oneness of self")?
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm
I'm saying that it's much easier to get into full absorption (or vissuddhimaga's definition of absorption) if you allow piti and sukha to grow first.
Never read the VM about jhana.
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:42 pm
However as I also said, that's not always possible since sometimes piti and sukha come later, point being is if you have a window of opportunity to grow piti/sukha you should definitely take it as it makes things much easier since they dispel pain/burn out.
The 1st jhana has five factors according to the suttas. The suttas also say jhana & wisdom are co-dependent. If there is no clear wisdom of anatta then maybe no real jhana.
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:08 pm
From DN9:

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

Quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, the monk enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. His earlier perception of sensuality ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases."
There are different degrees of rapture. All rapture is not necessarily jhana. The abandoning of the five hindrances does not necessarily result immediately in jhana.

So to sum it up:

Focusing/direct thought and attention on breath -> overcoming five hinderances -> Gladness -> Rapture -> Tranquility -> Pleasure -> Concentration -> First Jhana

Dropping directed thoughts/evaluations -> unification (Ekagatta) -> 2nd jhana

You're trading directed thoughts/evaluations for unification/one pointedness
One-pointedness is a factor of every jhana according to the suttas. When the suttas refer to " unification of awareness" in the 2nd jhana, the Pali is "cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ" rather than "cittaṃ ekaggaṃ" ("one-pointedness"). Cittaṃ ekaggaṃ is a factor of each jhana according to the suttas.
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:08 pm
Yes, and the Buddha's words seems to align with my experience.
Buddha alignment is cittaṃ ekaggaṃ appeared to bring the 1st jhana.
My energy was roused up and vigorous, my mindfulness was established and lucid, my body was tranquil and undisturbed, and my mind was immersed in samādhi. Āraddhaṃ kho pana me, bhikkhave, vīriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption...

MN 19
The first absorption has five factors. “Paṭhamaṃ kho, āvuso, jhānaṃ pañcaṅgikaṃ. When a mendicant has entered the first absorption, placing the mind, keeping it connected, rapture, bliss, and unification of mind are present. Idhāvuso, paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa bhikkhuno vitakko ca vattati, vicāro ca pīti ca sukhañca cittekaggatā ca.

MN 43
budo wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:40 pm
Dropping aggregate of Consciousness of 5 aggregates -> 7th jhana

Dropping aggregate of Mind Perceptions of 5 aggregates -> 8th Jhana

Dropping aggregate of Intention (sankhara) of 5 aggregates and first link after Ignorance in dependent origination -> Cessation
How can perception occur when consciousness has been dropped? How can sankhara occur when perception has been dropped? This sounds like the opposite of the suttas; which seem to say sankhara (thought) is caused by perception and perception is caused by consciousness.
consciousness arises... is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about.

MN 18

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budo
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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by budo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:36 am

OK so you don't meditate, got it.

Here is LeighB's article on the sutta jhanas being four factored not five according to over 100 suttas.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana_4factors.htm

And table of jhana comparisons

http://www.leighb.com/jhanatrd.htm

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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by bksubhuti » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:45 pm

I am glad that my article is being read and appreciated.
In order to "see the hindrances" which is your quote from the Buddha, you need to "know and see"
You can read the book "Knowing and Seeing" to get a good sense of what that means.

Without the light you cannot see with your eyes. It is a cause for seeing.
Without the light in your mind, you cannot see with your mind.
Light in the mind is cause by wisdom. That is why darkness is another word for ignorance.

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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by Akashad » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:24 pm

This is a helpful article.Thank you very much.I like the example about looking at cars passing a street and viewing them as cars as a whole not not the colour or manufacturer.

I'm not sure if you can call it a nimitta if it moves around.Its very distracting.i don't think you should look at a nimitta until it merges with the breath I think it does that on its own.it gets drawn to wherever your watching the breath so there's no need to look at a nimitta as it will replace the breath.


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Re: Detailed instruction - working with breath nimitta

Post by bksubhuti » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:27 am

Hopefully you are defending or agreeing my points. I have always said that one should not call it a nimitta unless they are the same and it does not move around, yet sticks around. I also say at the very end that one actually never really ever "looks" at the light. It is known and appears in the mind. There is no looking because we percieve "looking" as if we have eyes even though they are closed.

The vissudhimagga says that when the nimitta gets pure and bright it is without the eyes. (Earth kasina section)

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