The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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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 (paṭhavī kasiṇa),
water (āpo kasiṇa),
air, wind (vāyo kasiṇa),
fire (tejo kasiṇa),
blue, green (nīla kasiṇa),
yellow (pīta kasiṇa),
red (lohita kasiṇa),
white (odāta kasiṇa),
enclosed space, hole, aperture (ākāsa kasiṇa),
bright light (āloka 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.