In Buddhism, Kasiṇa (Pali; Sanskrit: kṛtsna) refers to a class of basic visual objects of Meditation.
There are ten Kasiṇa mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka:
- earth Kasina (paṭhavī Kasiṇa),
- water Kasina (āpo Kasiṇa),
- air Kasina, wind (vāyo Kasiṇa),
- Fire Kasina (tejo Kasiṇa),
- blue, green Kasina (nīla Kasiṇa),
- yellow Kasina (pīta Kasiṇa),
- red Kasina (lohita Kasiṇa),
- white Kasina (odāta Kasiṇa),
- enclosed space Kasina, hole, aperture (ākāsa Kasiṇa),
- bright Light Kasina (ā Loka Kasiṇa).
The Kasiṇa are typically described as a colored disk, with the particular color, properties, dimensions and medium often specified according to the type of Kasiṇa.
The earth Kasiṇa, for instance, is a disk in a red-brown color formed by spreading earth or clay (or another medium producing similar color and texture) on a screen of canvas or another backing material.
Kasiṇa Meditation is a Concentration Meditation (variously known in different traditions as Samatha, Dhyana, or Jhana meditations), intended to settle the Mind of the practitioner and create a foundation for further practices of Meditation.
In the early stages of Kasiṇa Meditation, a physical object is used as the object of Meditation, being focused upon by the practitioner until an eidetic image of the object forms in the practitioners Mind.
In more advanced levels of Kasiṇa Meditation, only a Mental image of the Kasiṇa is used as an object of Meditation.
Unlike the Breath, Buddhist tradition indicates that some Kasiṇa are not appropriate objects for certain higher levels of Meditation, nor for Meditation of the vipassana (Insight) type.
The ten Kasiṇa are part of the forty Kammatthana: objects of Meditation.
They are described in detail by Buddhaghosa in the Meditation section of the Visuddhimagga.
A survey of Meditation techniques in the UK found that those who do Kasiṇa practice Form about 3-15% of total meditators
Although practice with kasiṇas is associated with the Theravāda tradition, it appears to have been more widely known among various Buddhist schools in India at one time.
Asanga makes reference to kasiṇas in the Samāhitabhūmi section of his Yogācārabhūmi.
(perhaps related to Sanskrit krtsna, 'all, complete, whole'), is the name for a purely external device to produce and develop Concentration of Mind and attain the 4 absorptions (Jhāna q.v.).
It consists in concentrating one's full and undivided attention on one visible object as preparatory image (parikamma-nimitta), e.g. a colored spot or disc, or a piece of earth, or a pond at some distance, etc.,
until at last one perceives, even with the eyes closed, a Mental reflex, the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta).
Now, while continuing to direct one's attention to this image, there may arise the spotless and immovable counter-image (patibhāga-nimitta), and together with it the neighbourhood-Concentration (upacāra-Samādhi) will have been reached.
While still persevering in the Concentration on the object, one finally will reach a state of Mind where all sense-activity is suspended,
where there is no more seeing and hearing, no more Perception of bodily impression and Feeling, i.e. the state of the 1st Mental absorption (Jhāna, q.v.).
The 10 kasinas mentioned in the Suttas are:
"There are 10 kasina-spheres: someone sees the earth kasina, above, below, on all sides, undivided, unbounded .... someone see the water-kasina, above, below, etc." (M. 77; D. 33) Cf. abhibhāyatan, bhāvanā; further s. Fund. IV.
For space and Consciousness-kasina we find in Vis.M. V the names limited space-kasina (paricchinnākāsa-kasina; . . . s. App. ) and Light-kasina (ā Loka-kasina).
For full description see Vis.M. IV-V; also Atthasālini Tr. I, 248.