I'm having trouble truly understanding nimattas. I use visualization for my jhana mediation. It's what focus my mind best and allowed me to almost enter jhana. But if i do visualize, will the nimatta still appear? How would i recognise it? And once it appear do i move off my object to it?

Also i read this passage explaining what a nimtta means in the modern day. I wish to know does this do a great job explaining it.

Now certainly it is true that if you become VERY concentrated you might see an image that looks like "a star or a cluster of gems" or "chariot wheel or the moon's disk," etc. And it is also true that you can with sufficient concentration absorb into that experience so deeply that you no longer hear sounds, or are aware of your body, or are even aware of the passage of time. This is not what is described in the suttas; however, this is indeed what the later commentaries mean when they use the word "nimitta."

  • great question,you mean samadhi?What is your object of meditation
    – user13064
    Apr 17 '18 at 9:35
  • Sorry it took forever to respond i deleted the app. But my object is a visual representation of love. Seem odd but it works
    – DeusIIXII
    Apr 23 '18 at 1:03
  • where do keep this object?
    – user13064
    Apr 23 '18 at 13:31
  • What do you mean? Like the location i focus on?
    – DeusIIXII
    Apr 23 '18 at 19:58
  • 1
    I don't seek the experience, i just focus in my object and they come over time. What i mean is i read to fully enter jhana once you start experiencing a pleasant sensation you move off your object to that sensations which over time will bring rapture and full first jhana
    – DeusIIXII
    Apr 23 '18 at 20:18

Yes. Breath is also such object of meditation. There are many different objects of visualisation for Shamatha practise. For instance, I have seen many Tibetan Buddhists (here, Karma Kagyu Karmapa) advising to choose object similar to practise of tonglen instead of focusing on breath (in mindfulness of breath).

The important part is that you have to abandon and let go of it it to experience nimitta.

From Ajahn Brahm's - "Stepping towards Enlightement":

As your unbroken mindfulness watches the breath calming down, joy (step five) and happiness (step six) naturally arise like the golden light of dawn on an eastern horizon.


The breath at these fifth and sixth steps appears so tranquil and beautiful—more attractive than a garden in springtime or a sunset in the summer—that you wonder if you will ever want to look at anything else. As the breath becomes ever more beautiful, as the joy and happiness grow in quiet strength, your breath may seem to completely disappear. This seventh step does not happen when you want it to but when there is enough calm.


Just as the Cheshire Cat [Alice in Wonderland] disappeared and left only its grin, so the meditator’s body and breath disappear, leaving only the beautiful. For Alice, it was the most curious thing she ever saw. For the meditator it is also strange, to clearly experience a free-floating beauty with nothing to embody it, not even a breath.


Two common obstacles occur after this seventh step: exhilaration and fear. In exhilaration, the mind becomes excited: “Wow, this is it!” If the mind thinks like this, then the jhana is unlikely to happen. This “wow!” response needs to be subdued in the eighth step of anapanasati in favor of absolute passivity. You can leave all the wows until after emerging from the jhana, where they properly belong. The more likely obstacle, though, is fear.

Only after overcoming the eight phase, nimitta arises.


the question is regarding nimittas, following of visualisation . A little effort to answer you,aroused after thought giving based on understanding of buddhist teachings after simple teachings of goenka guruji and book by william hart "The art of living-vipassana as taught by goenka". teachings of buddha as per my understanding is very simple. not developing new sankharas and eradicating accumulated sankharas since many lives and thus attaining shunyata i.e no volitions left (nibbana). to attain this simply observations of bodily sensations arised upon the contact of the sensory bases,remaining neutral i.e not to avert the unpleasant and not to crave for the pleasant ones , and thus slowly weakening the habit of mind of reacting(aversion or craving) and finally totally liberated from the habit/conditioning of reacting of mind. now in your case the visualisation . who will visualise? the answer is mind and the mind is solely responsible for the suffering. it is master in deceiving and keeping the self engrossed in innumerous nimittas . Afterall how it will allow to eradicate its habit/conditioning which will be its death. buddha has stubbornly discouraged being distracted/engrossed by the so called nimittas,visions,some ecstasic feeling . I have not tried the visualisation bcs from the very beginning i had mis or right conception that , if at all it is matter of visualisation then why not to visualise that nibbana is attained. alas it would have been so simple. hope little bit light upon your question . to add one thing , in indian language the meaning of nimitta means excuse. in english "catalyst" but advantageous in reverse way i.e instead of boosting the chemical reaction the nimitta here retards it . hoping and wishing to you for getting still more right understanding of buddha's teachings and starting the journey.

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