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I have a question about nimitta

NamelessRiverNamelessRiver Veteran
edited October 2009 in Meditation
OK guys I am having a problem with my understanding of anapanasati. I can't quite figure out what this mental sign or nimitta really is.

I am reading a book on anapanasati that I got from buddhanet and, if I understood correctly, after a while, when concentrating on the breath, you start concentrating on the tip of the nose or point of contact, then a visual image is supposed to form and its called nimitta?

I find the whole concept kind of...weird...Did anybody experience this? Can anybody shed some light on this nimitta thing?

Comments

  • NamelessRiverNamelessRiver Veteran
    edited October 2009
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Wow yeah it helped a lot thanks :-D The guy in the book mentions the exact book I am reading about the subject, although I though the whole deal about seeing things could be a mistake in translation. Apparently it isn't.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Hallucinations and Illusions (from http://www.noetic.org/research/medbiblio/ch_intro1.htm )
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Kornfield (1979, 1983) noted that there was a strong correlation between student reports of higher levels of concentration during insight meditation, when the mind was focused and steady, and reports of altered states and perceptions. He reported that unusual experiences, such as visual or auditory aberrations and hallucinations, and unusual somatic experiences, are the norm among practiced meditation students. Walsh (1978) reported that he experienced hypnagogic hallucinations, and Goleman (1978-79) reported visionary experiences during deep meditation. Shimano and Douglas (1975) reported hallucinations similar to toxic delirium during zazen. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The studies of both Kohr (1977a, 1977b) and Osis et al. (1973) reported that there was almost no correlation between meditators' moods before and after meditating, indicating that meditation produced a different state of consciousness. Kubose's (1976) data revealed that meditators categorized most of their thoughts along a present-time dimension, whereas control subjects categorized their thoughts as past or future. In an unpublished paper Deikman has described vivid, autonomous, hallucinatory perceptions during meditation. Earlier, Deikman (1966a) reported that during meditation on a blue vase, his subjects' perception of color became more intense or luminous, and that for some of them the vase changed shape, appeared to dissolve, or lost its boundaries. Maupin (1965) reported that meditators sometimes experience "hallucinoid feelings, muscle tension, sexual excitement, and intense sadness." [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The contemplative literature contains numerous descriptions of the perceptual distortion produced by meditation. It is called makyo in Zen Buddhist sources, and is characterized in some schools as "going to the movies," a sign of spiritual intensity but a phenomenon that is regarded to be distinctly inferior to the clear insight of settled practice. In some Hindu schools it is regarded as a product of the sukshma sharira, or "experience body," in its unstable state, and in that respect is seen to be another form of maya, which is the illusory nature of the world as apprehended by ordinary consciousness.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]In a similar manner, St. John of the Cross described the false enchantments that may lure the aspirant in prayer, warning that "devils may come in the guise of angels." URL="http://www.noetic.org/research/medbiblio/ch_endnotes.htm#edn51"]51[/URL In his allegory of the spiritual journey, The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan described Christian's losing his way by following a man who says he is going to the Celestial City but instead leads him into a net. In all the great contemplative manuals, one is taught that detachment, equanimity, and discrimination are required for spiritual balance once the mind has been opened and made more flexible by prayer and meditation. Illusions and hallucinations, whether they are troubling or beatific, are distractions—or signposts at best—on the way to enlightenment or union with God.[/FONT]
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited October 2009
    And just a quick reminder should anyone reading this experience any hallucinations or other tricks of the mind while meditating, they're no big deal and nothing to get hung up on or attached to. Keep going. Just smile, nod your head, and be on your way. :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited October 2009
    Hi Nameless

    The Buddhist commentaries correctly refer to three levels of concentration, namely, momentary, neighbourhood & attainment concentration.

    The nimitta will only arise on the level of attainment concentration, namely, when entering the first jhana. It will be a perfect solid sphere of white light which the mind sticks to like glue. This is ekkagattacitta or one-pointedness.

    Then word nimitta means 'sign'. It is merely a sign of the occuring of jhana rather than having some inherent benefit.

    On the level of neighbourhood concentration, there is plenty of peace, insight & liberation to be found.

    All sixteen steps of Anapanasati can be fulfilled on the level of neighbourhood concentration (before consciousness naturally changes gear & must start gain from the beginning on the attainment concentration path.)

    There is no need to confuse one's practise concerned about the nimitta.

    Just learn to let go. Let go of craving, let go of regarding things as positive or negative, let go of grasping at meditation experiences.

    This is the best path of Anapanasati.

    Kind regards

    DDhatu

    :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited October 2009
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Kornfield (1979, 1983) noted that there was a strong correlation between student reports of higher levels of concentration during insight meditation, when the mind was focused and steady, and reports of altered states and perceptions. He reported that unusual experiences, such as visual or auditory aberrations and hallucinations, and unusual somatic experiences, are the norm among practiced meditation students. Walsh (1978) reported that he experienced hypnagogic hallucinations, and Goleman (1978-79) reported visionary experiences during deep meditation. Shimano and Douglas (1975) reported hallucinations similar to toxic delirium during zazen. [/FONT]
    The nimitta is unrelated to the article above.

    Ignore the article above and forget about the nimitta.


    :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited October 2009
    Just learn to let go. Let go of craving, let go of regarding things as positive and negative, let go of grasping at meditation experiences.
    Hello again Nameless

    If you are reading Buddhadasa's books about the nimitta, these will be confusing.

    When Bhikkhu Buddhadasa was alive, in person, he instructed students as in the quote above.

    Kind regards

    DDhatu

    :)
  • NamelessRiverNamelessRiver Veteran
    edited October 2009
    should anyone reading this experience any hallucinations or other tricks of the mind while meditating, they're no big deal and nothing to get hung up on or attached to.
    It will be a perfect solid sphere of white light which the mind sticks to like glue. This is ekkagattacitta or one-pointedness.

    Can I just say if that happened to me I'd freak out a little bit? :eek:

    Thanks for the responses :-)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited October 2009
    DHatu wrote: »
    It will be a perfect solid sphere of white light which the mind sticks to like glue. This is ekkagattacitta or one-pointedness.
    Can I just say if that happened to me I'd freak out a little bit? :eek:
    Hi Namless

    Actually, you would not freak out because to reach this level or state, you mind must have trained itself perfectly and thoroughly in equinimity; in mere watching.

    The nimitta arises because the mind is ready for it to arise. Plus, most of your "I" in meditation will have disappeared by that point.

    Best wishes for your practise

    DDhatu

    :smilec:
    Akasha
  • edited October 2009
    NamelessRiver, if you are reading something from the internet and questioning it, it would be good to have a link to it so we can read the text ourselves before replying.

    With Metta,
    kaya
  • NamelessRiverNamelessRiver Veteran
    edited October 2009
    http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf (this is the first part of the book,which is incomplete)

    http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books3/Buddhadasa_Anapanasati-Fourth_Tetra.pdf
    (this is the last part of the book above)

    They are both pdf files.
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited October 2009
    This book is quite old and whilst having alot of practical knowledge, is actually quite scholarly. It is most based on the Theravadin commentaries and was not a book emphasised in Buddhadasa's monastery in later years.

    My guess is it was compiled to draw attention to Anapanasati in a formal and scholarly way, acceptable to the monastic culture at that time which did not greatly embrace meditation.
    This is very excellent. It provides an excellent discussion on the subject matter and is useful even for only some wisdom development (and opposed to clear insight).

    Here, is a very rare & accurate exposition on the subject matter, difficult to find in Buddhism.

    :)
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