I'm wondering what do other meditators see when they analyze closely the arising of a visual representation of an object in their mind?

Please do this experiment: go into meditation and think of a visual representation of an object of your choosing. Look carefully how that visual representation of the object arises in your mind. Please describe here what do you see, from the moment there is "nothing" in your mind, to the moment when the visual representation of the object arises in your mind. Please also give an estimate how many hours of meditation have you practiced in your life.

Here's what I see when I do the above experiment:

What I'm seeing is that first, there arises the wish/want/decision/effort (I use different words here, but I'm referring to the same thing). Then, there arises a subtle subtle subtle feeling of the object (no visual representation of the object can be seen yet). Then, the more I wish/want/decide/effort, the stronger is the feeling of the object (no visual representation of the object can be seen yet). Then, when I wish/want/decide/effort even more, an incomplete/dimmed/unclear representation of the object can be seen. Then, the more I wish/want/decide/effort, the more complete is the visual representation of the object in my mind.

In my life I practiced meditation for about 450 hours.


I know that in Buddhism this rule applies: "it is not appropriate to reveal personal insights" ... the reason I'm asking you to describe your personal insight in the experiment above is to see it first hand why this rule applies: "it is not appropriate to reveal personal insights". I personally don't know any experienced meditators, thus I have nobody to ask this same question and see how personal insights of others differ from mine ... that's why I'm asking here. Hope some experienced meditator will give some description of his personal insight by answering this question.

  • Is this meditation part of your Buddhist practice or do you practice meditation for other reasons? Commented May 13, 2016 at 18:50
  • I don't see my meditation as "my Buddhist practice". I came up with all my practice by observation. Today I practice meditation because of love and compassion towards other beings. I don't consider myself a Buddhist (nor anything else), but if I had to choose I would choose Buddhism.
    – beginner
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 8:53
  • In Buddhism, there is [dependent origination][1], which is a description of the process of arising of all phenomena/mindobjects in detail (12 different links). The claim is that you can observe this in all phenomena, not only in a 'visual representation of an object'. From Buddhist point of view it is also important to point out, that this process of arising of an object is completely impersonal. So there is no "I", who is observing, but just the object arising.[1]: accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html Commented May 14, 2016 at 17:22
  • Thx. When I do the above experiment, "I" also arises with the object. Just the mere act of observing, arises the "I". All of this, the "I" and the object, come from my wish/want/decision/effort. My wish/want/decision/effort come from "not knowing" where the end is, thus searching for the end with wishing/wanting/decision making. Not knowing that wishing/wanting/decision making are impermanent, thus creating seeds for future suffering.
    – beginner
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 16:53
  • problem is, that words cannot describe real experiences. It is i.e. impossible to describe the taste of an apple to somebody with words. But when you bite the apple, you know its flavour. When you know its flavour, you don't need to ask others what they taste, because you already know it. On the other side, nobody can convince you that the apple has a different flavour, because you tasted it yourself, not just heard someone saying it. It is the same with the dhamma. You can't rely on the words of others, but only on your own experience. (this is a common simile in Buddhism) Commented May 15, 2016 at 20:18

4 Answers 4


The optic nerve first goes to the amygdala where emotion resides and then to a large processing area to the back of the head where the image is formed.

So indeed feeling is first but still this knowledge must be realized for oneself by oneself through meditative attention or else it is just intellectual knowlegde.


I personally think this happens. Contact arises first "seeing or thinking", followed by apprehension of the Sign (ie "A cup"), apperhension of Characteristics (ie Ugly) and so on with liking/disliking, wanting/aversion etc


It is said in the scriptures that the order is this: contact - feeling - perception - thought formation - consciousness.

Indeed one should find out for oneself that this is true and not believe it without examining.

My suggestion to your experiment would be to vary the object you call to mind to be unpleasent, pleasent since the hardest feeling to detect is the neutral one.


I do not think it is appropriate to answer this at the level of personal experience as it is not appropriate to reveal personal insights so let me give a theoretical answer.

When a object arises in the mind the following happens:

  • you get conscious about the object to which you experience a reflexive reaction which intens manifests as sensation of pain, pleasure or neutral depending on if the reaction what a positive, negative or neutral reaction. See: consciousness and feeling / sensation
  • together with the reaction, the sensation that follow and other qualities of the object you build a perception of the object. See: perception

In summary it is consciousness and reactive / reflexive sensation that arises 1st followed by (visual) clarity of the object by filling in the details when you perceive or cognise it.

In addition see: five aggregates

  • Thx for the answer. Please see my updated question. If you do the experiment that I described in my question, do you have a different personal insight then mine? How much is your personal insight different on a scale from 1 to 10?
    – beginner
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:38
  • Mainly what you should look is if the theory is confined through the practice at an experiential. In this case it seas like it. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:03

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