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CHAPTER V
THE REMAINING KASIṆAS
(Sesa-kasiṇa-niddesa)
[THE WATER KASIṆA]
1. [170] Now, the water kasiṇa comes next after the earth kasiṇa (III.105). Here
is the detailed explanation.
One who wants to develop the water kasiṇa should, as in the case of the earth
kasiṇa, seat himself comfortably and apprehend the sign in water that “is either
made up or not made up,” etc.; and so all the rest should be repeated in detail
(IV.22). And as in this case, so with all those that follow [in this chapter]. We
shall in fact not repeat even this much and shall only point out what is different.
2. Here too, when someone has had practice in previous [lives], the sign arises
for him in water that is not made up, such as a pool, a lake, a lagoon, or the ocean
as in the case of the Elder Cūḷa-Sīva. The venerable one, it seems, thought to
abandon gain and honour and live a secluded life. He boarded a ship at
Mahātittha (Mannar) and sailed to Jambudīpa (India). As he gazed at the ocean
meanwhile, the kasiṇa sign, the counterpart of that ocean, arose in him.
3.
Someone with no such previous practice should guard against the four
faults of a kasiṇa (IV.24) and not apprehend the water as one of the colours, blue,
yellow, red or white. He should fill a bowl or a four-footed water pot1 to the brim
with water uncontaminated by soil, taken in the open through a clean cloth
[strainer], or with any other clear unturbid water. He should put it in a screened
place on the outskirts of the monastery as already described and seat himself
comfortably. He should neither review its colour nor bring its characteristic to
mind. Apprehending the colour as belonging to its physical support, he should
set his mind on the [name] concept as the most outstanding mental datum, and
using any among the [various] names for water (āpo) such as “rain” (ambu),
“liquid” (udaka), “dew” (vāri), “fluid” (salila),2 he should develop [the kasiṇa] by
using [preferably] the obvious “water, water.”
4. As he develops it in this way, the two signs eventually arise in him in the way
already described. Here, however, the learning sign has the appearance of moving.
[171] If the water has bubbles of froth mixed with it, the learning sign has the
1.
Kuṇḍika—“a four-footed water pot”: not in PED.
2.
English cannot really furnish five words for water.
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same appearance, and it is evident as a fault in the kasiṇa. But the counterpart
sign appears inactive, like a crystal fan set in space, like the disk of a looking-
glass made of crystal. With the appearance of that sign he reaches access jhāna
and the jhāna tetrad and pentad in the way already described.
[THE FIRE KASIṆA]
5. Anyone who wants to develop the fire kasiṇa should apprehend the sign in
fire. Herein, when someone with merit, having had previous practice, is
apprehending the sign, it arises in him in any sort of fire, not made up, as he
looks at the fiery combustion in a lamp’s flame or in a furnace or in a place for
baking bowls or in a forest conflagration, as in the Elder Cittagutta’s case. The
sign arose in that elder as he was looking at a lamp’s flame while he was in the
Uposatha house on the day of preaching the Dhamma.
6. Anyone else should make one up. Here are the directions for making it. He
should split up some damp heartwood, dry it, and break it up into short lengths.
He should go to a suitable tree root or to a shed and there make a pile in the way
done for baking bowls, and have it lit. He should make a hole a span and four
fingers wide in a rush mat or a piece of leather or a cloth, and after hanging it in
front of the fire, he should sit down in the way already described. Instead of
giving attention to the grass and sticks below or the smoke above, he should
apprehend the sign in the dense combustion in the middle.
7. He should not review the colour as blue or yellow, etc., or give attention to its
characteristic as heat, etc., but taking the colour as belonging to its physical
support, and setting his mind on the [name] concept as the most outstanding
mental datum, and using any among the names for fire (tejo) such as “the Bright
One” (pāvaka), “the Leaver of the Black Trail” (kaṇhavattani), “the Knower of
Creatures” (jātaveda), “the Altar of Sacrifice” (hutāsana), etc., he should develop
[the kasiṇa] by using [preferably] the obvious “fire, fire.”
8. As he develops it in this way the two signs eventually arise in him as already
described. Herein, the learning sign appears like [the fire to keep] sinking down
as the flame keeps detaching itself. [172] But when someone apprehends it in a
kasiṇa that is not made up, any fault in the kasiṇa is evident [in the learning
sign], and any firebrand, or pile of embers or ashes, or smoke appears in it. The
counterpart sign appears motionless like a piece of red cloth set in space, like a
gold fan, like a gold column. With its appearance he reaches access jhāna and
the jhāna tetrad and pentad in the way already described.
[THE AIR KASIṆA]
9. Anyone who wants to develop the air kasiṇa should apprehend the sign in
air. And that is done either by sight or by touch. For this is said in the
Commentaries: “One who is learning the air kasiṇa apprehends the sign in air.
He notices the tops of [growing] sugarcane moving to and fro; or he notices the
tops of bamboos, or the tops of trees, or the ends of the hair, moving to and fro; or
he notices the touch of it on the body.”
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10. So when he sees sugarcanes with dense foliage standing with tops level or
bamboos or trees, or else hair four fingers long on a man’s head, being struck by
the wind, he should establish mindfulness in this way: “This wind is striking
on this place.” Or he can establish mindfulness where the wind strikes a part of
his body after entering by a window opening or by a crack in a wall, and using
any among the names for wind (vāta) beginning with “wind” (vāta), “breeze”
(māluta), “blowing” (anila), he should develop [the kasiṇa] by using [preferably]
the obvious “air, air.”
11. Here the learning sign appears to move like the swirl of hot [steam] on rice
gruel just withdrawn from an oven. The counterpart sign is quiet and motionless.
The rest should be understood in the way already described.
[THE BLUE KASIṆA]
12. Next it is said [in the Commentaries]: “One who is learning the blue kasiṇa
apprehends the sign in blue, whether in a flower or in a cloth or in a colour
element.”3 Firstly, when someone has merit, having had previous practice, the
sign arises in him when he sees a bush with blue flowers, or such flowers spread
out on a place of offering, or any blue cloth or gem.
13. [173] But anyone else should take flowers such as blue lotuses, girikaṇṇikā
(morning glory) flowers, etc., and spread them out to fill a tray or a flat basket
completely so that no stamen or stalk shows or with only their petals. Or he can
fill it with blue cloth bunched up together; or he can fasten the cloth over the rim
of the tray or basket like the covering of a drum. Or he can make a kasiṇa disk,
either portable as described under the earth kasiṇa or on a wall, with one of the
colour elements such as bronze-green, leaf-green, añjana-ointment black,
surrounding it with a different colour. After that, he should bring it to mind as
“blue, blue” in the way already described under the earth kasiṇa.
14.
And here too any fault in the kasiṇa is evident in the learning sign; the
stamens and stalks and the gaps between the petals, etc., are apparent. The
counterpart sign appears like a crystal fan in space, free from the kasiṇa disk.
The rest should be understood as already described.
[THE YELLOW KASIṆA]
15. Likewise with the yellow kasiṇa; for this is said: “One who is learning the
yellow kasiṇa apprehends the sign in yellow, either in a flower or in a cloth or in
a colour element.” Therefore here too, when someone has merit, having had
previous practice, the sign arises in him when he sees a flowering bush or
flowers spread out, or yellow cloth or colour element, as in the case of the Elder
Cittagutta. That venerable one, it seems, saw an offering being made on the
flower altar, with pattaṅga flowers4 at Cittalapabbata, and as soon as he saw it the
sign arose in him the size of the flower altar.
3.
Vaṇṇa-dhātu—“colour element” should perhaps have been rendered simply by
“paint.” The one Pali word “nīla” has to serve for the English blue, green, and sometimes
black.
4.
Pattaṅga: not in PED. Ásana—“altar”: not in this sense in PED.
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16. Anyone else should make a kasiṇa, in the way described for the blue kasiṇa,
with  kaṇikāra flowers, etc., or with yellow cloth or with a colour element. He
should bring it to mind as “yellow, yellow.” The rest is as before.
[THE RED KASIṆA]
17. Likewise with the red kasiṇa; for this is said: “One who is learning the red
kasiṇa apprehends the sign in red, [174] either in a flower or in a cloth or in a
colour element.” Therefore here too, when someone has merit, having had
previous practice, the sign arises in him when he sees a bandhujīvaka (hibiscus)
bush, etc., in flower, or such flowers spread out, or a red cloth or gem or colour
element.
18. But anyone else should make a kasiṇa, in the way already described for the
blue kasiṇa, with jayasumana flowers or bandhujīvaka or red koraṇḍaka flowers,
etc., or with red cloth or with a colour element. He should bring it to mind as
“red, red.” The rest is as before.
[THE WHITE KASIṆA]
19.
Of the white kasiṇa it is said: “One who is learning the white kasiṇa
apprehends the sign in white, either in a flower or in a cloth or in a colour
element.” So firstly, when someone has merit, having had previous practice, the
sign arises in him when he sees a flowering bush of such a kind or vassikasumana
(jasmine) flowers, etc., spread out, or a heap of white lotuses or lilies, white cloth
or colour element; and it also arises in a tin disk, a silver disk, and the moon’s
disk.
20.
Anyone else should make a kasiṇa, in the way already described for the
blue kasiṇa, with the white flowers already mentioned, or with cloth or colour
element. He should bring it to mind as “white, white.” The rest is as before.
[THE LIGHT KASIṆA]
21.
Of the light kasiṇa it is said: “One who is learning the light kasiṇa
apprehends the sign in light in a hole in a wall, or in a keyhole, or in a window
opening.” So firstly, when someone has merit, having had previous practice, the
sign arises in him when he sees the circle thrown on a wall or a floor by sunlight
or moonlight entering through a hole in a wall, etc., or when he sees a circle
thrown on the ground by sunlight or moonlight coming through a gap in the
branches of a dense-leaved tree or through a gap in a hut made of closely packed
branches.
22. Anyone else should use that same kind of circle of luminosity just described,
developing it as “luminosity, luminosity” or “light, light.” If he cannot do so, he
can light a lamp inside a pot, close the pot’s mouth, make a hole in it and place
it with the hole facing a wall. The lamplight coming out of the hole throws a
circle on the wall. He should develop that [175] as “light, light.” This lasts
longer than the other kinds.
23. Here the learning sign is like the circle thrown on the wall or the ground. The
counterpart sign is like a compact bright cluster of lights. The rest is as before.
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[THE LIMITED-SPACE KASIṆA]
24.
Of the limited-space kasiṇa it is said: “One who is learning the space
kasiṇa apprehends the sign in a hole in a wall, or in a keyhole, or in a window
opening.” So firstly, when someone has merit, having had previous practice, the
sign arises in him when he sees any [such gap as a] hole in a wall.
25. Anyone else should make a hole a span and four fingers broad in a well-
thatched hut, or in a piece of leather, or in a rush mat, and so on. He should
develop one of these, or a hole such as a hole in a wall, as “space, space.”
26. Here the learning sign resembles the hole together with the wall, etc., that
surrounds it. Attempts to extend it fail. The counterpart sign appears only as a
circle of space. Attempts to extend it succeed. The rest should be understood as
described under the earth kasiṇa.5
[GENERAL]
27.
He with Ten Powers, who all things did see,
Tells ten kasiṇas, each of which can be
The cause of fourfold and of fivefold jhāna,
The fine-material sphere’s own master key.
Now, knowing their descriptions and the way
To tackle each and how they are developed,
There are some further points that will repay
Study, each with its special part to play.
28. Of these, the earth kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as the state described
as “Having been one, he becomes many” (D I 78), etc., and stepping or standing
or sitting on space or on water by creating earth, and the acquisition of the bases
of mastery (M II 13) by the limited and measureless method.
29. The water kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as diving in and out of the
earth (D I 78), causing rain, storms, creating rivers and seas, making the earth
and rocks and palaces quake (M I 253).
5.
In the Suttas the first eight kasiṇas are the same as those given here, and they are
the only ones mentioned in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī (§160–203) and Paṭisambhidā (Paṭis
I 6). The Suttas give space and consciousness as ninth and tenth respectively (M II 14–
15; D III 268; Netti 89, etc.). But these last two appear to coincide with the first two
immaterial states, that is, boundless space and boundless consciousness. The light
kasiṇa given here as ninth does not appear in the Suttas. It is perhaps a development
from the “perception of light” (āloka-saññā) (A II 45). The limited-space kasiṇa given
here as tenth has perhaps been made “limited’ in order to differentiate it from the first
immaterial state. The commentary on the consciousness kasiṇa (M-a III 261) says
nothing on this aspect. As to space, Vism-mhṭ (p. 373) says: “The attainment of the
immaterial states is not produced by means of the space kasiṇa, and with the words
‘ending with the white kasiṇa’ (XXI.2) the light kasiṇa is included in the white kasiṇa.”
For description of space (ākāsa) see Dhs-a 325, Netti 29. Also Vism-mhṭ (p. 393) defines
space thus: “Wherever there is no obstruction, that is called space.” Again the Majjhima
Nikāya Þīkā
 (commenting on MN 106) remarks: “[Sense desires] are not called empty (ritta)
in the sense that space, which is entirely devoid of individual essence, is called empty.”
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30. The fire kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as smoking, flaming, causing
showers of sparks, countering fire with fire, ability to burn only what one wants
to burn (S IV 290), [176] causing light for the purpose of seeing visible objects
with the divine eye, burning up the body by means of the fire element at the time
of attaining Nibbāna (M-a IV 196).
31. The air kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as going with the speed of the
wind, causing wind storms.
32. The blue kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as creating black forms, causing
darkness, acquisition of the bases of mastery by the method of fairness and
ugliness, and attainment of the liberation by the beautiful (see M II 12)
33.
The yellow kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as creating yellow forms,
resolving that something shall be gold (S I 116), acquisition of the bases of
mastery in the way stated, and attainment of the liberation by the beautiful.
34. The red kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as creating red forms, acquisition
of the bases of mastery in the way stated, and attainment of the liberation by the
beautiful.
35.
The white kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as creating white forms,
banishing stiffness and torpor, dispelling darkness, causing light for the purpose
of seeing visible objects with the divine eye.
36. The light kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as creating luminous forms,
banishing stiffness and torpor, dispelling darkness, causing light for the purpose
of seeing visible objects with the divine eye.
37.
The space kasiṇa is the basis for such powers as revealing the hidden,
maintaining postures inside the earth and rocks by creating space inside them,
travelling unobstructed through walls, and so on.
38.
The classification “above, below, around, exclusive, measureless” applies
to all kasiṇas; for this is said: “He perceives the earth kasiṇa above, below, around,
exclusive, measureless” (M II 14), and so on.
39.
Herein,  above is upwards towards the sky’s level. Below is downwards
towards the earth’s level. Around is marked off all around like the perimeter of a
field. For one extends a kasiṇa upwards only, another downwards, another all
round; or for some reason another projects it thus as one who wants to see
visible objects with the divine eye projects light.  [177] Hence “above, below,
around” is said. The word exclusive, however, shows that anyone such state has
nothing to do with any other. Just as there is water and nothing else in all
directions for one who is actually in water, so too, the earth kasiṇa is the earth
kasiṇa only; it has nothing in common with any other kasiṇa. Similarly in each
instance.  Measureless means measureless intentness. He is intent upon the
entirety with his mind, taking no measurements in this way: “This is its
beginning, this is its middle.”
40.
No kasiṇa can be developed by any living being described as follows:
“Beings hindered by kamma, by defilement or by kamma-result, who lack faith,
zeal and understanding, will be incapable of entering into the certainty of
rightness in profitable states” (Vibh 341).
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41. Herein, the words hindered by kamma refer to those who possess bad kamma
entailing immediate effect [on rebirth].6  By defilement: who have fixed wrong
view7 or are hermaphrodites or eunuchs. By kamma-result: who have had a rebirth-
linking with no [profitable] root-cause or with only two [profitable] root-causes.
Lack faith: are destitute of faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Zeal: are
destitute of zeal for the unopposed way. Understanding: are destitute of mundane
and supramundane right view. Will be incapable of entering into the certainty of
rightness in profitable states
 means that they are incapable of entering into the
noble path called “certainty” and “rightness in profitable states.”
42. And this does not apply only to kasiṇas; for none of them will succeed in
developing any meditation subject at all. So the task of devotion to a meditation
subject must be undertaken by a clansman who has no hindrance by kamma-
result, who shuns hindrance by kamma and by defilement, and who fosters
faith, zeal and understanding by listening to the Dhamma, frequenting good
men, and so on.
The fifth chapter called “The Description of the
Remaining Kasiṇas” in the Treatise on the Development
of Concentration in the Path of Purification composed
for the purpose of gladdening good people.
6.
The five kinds of bad kamma with immediate effect on rebirth are, in that order of
priority: matricide, parricide, arahanticide, intentional shedding of a Buddha’s blood,
and causing a  schism in the Community, all of which cause rebirth in hell and remaining
there for the remainder of the aeon (kappa), whatever other kinds of kamma may have
been performed (M-a IV 109f.).
7.
The no-cause view, moral-inefficacy-of-action view, the nihilistic view that there is
no such thing as giving, and so on (see DN 2).