How does the Nimitta occur? I mean does it come all of a sudden (like torch turned on) as a shining bright white light or does it come as light gradually increasing brightness of varied colors?

I am able to see a faint glimmer of blue circular object but not getting anywhere with it. The brightness and color remains constant for few minutes and it vanishes afterwards. Is it Nimitta? What should I do to brighten it

3 Answers 3


NOTE: Please look at Ven. Dhamma Dhatu's answer below. Thank you --Oyamist

MN128 has a long long discussion about what to do when nimitta vanishes:

MN128:15.3: “Well, sir, while meditating diligent, keen, and resolute, we perceive both light and vision of forms. But before long the light and the vision of forms vanish. We haven’t worked out the reason for that.”

It's rather lengthy, so I won't repeat it but it starts here:

MN128:16.1: “Well, you should work out the reason for that. Before my awakening—when I was still unawakened but intent on awakening—I too perceived both light and vision of forms. But before long my light and vision of forms vanished. It occurred to me: ‘What’s the cause, what’s the reason why my light and vision of forms vanish?’ It occurred to me: ‘Doubt arose in me, and because of that my immersion fell away.

And continues for a very long explanation...

Regarding what is actually seen, that too is mentioned in DN16. Specifically, visions can be internal or external; limited or limitless; blue, red, yellow or white.

DN16:3.26.1: Perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limitless, both pretty and ugly. (...)

Notably, one should also not be attached to such visions. Let them come and go. Watch without grasping.

MN111:4.5: And he meditated without attraction or repulsion for those phenomena; independent, untied, liberated, detached, his mind free of limits.

In particular, limited visions will have forms, since forms are limited. Just watch.

  • Thankyou for the answer but sorry you didnot answer my main question of whether the nimmata comes all of a sudden or it comes gradually. Also in your answer what id 'vision of forms'? How it it related to nimitta. I have read that nimmata is a circular disk. Jul 24, 2020 at 7:42
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    Thank you. The information you seek is in DN16. I've extended the answer. Let go of expectations such as "sudden" or "gradual". Just watch.
    – OyaMist
    Jul 24, 2020 at 15:33
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    MN 128 is not about the jhana nimitta. MN 128 is about the development of psychic powers. Mar 20 at 9:42
  • @DhammaDhatu, please say more? Perhaps we can all read your own answer. It would be quite helpful. Thank you.
    – OyaMist
    Mar 20 at 16:10
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    OK... i posted an answer Mar 20 at 18:26

We practice wholesome mind and mind factors on one meditation object, not nimitta, however nimitta is an effect of more power mind. When wholesome mind begin to concentrate stably more and more gradually, the Nimitta is going to appear brighter and brighter little by little gradually, too. At first, it would be like a very transparent gray could, pin, etc., after it would be like a bright star, or sun, or flower, etc. And when it is a PatibhagaNimitta, it is super beautiful bright and stable like your stable mind. This may use 1-3 hours per sitting, 12h a day everyday for a year in monk, but someone may use just few months. It depends on one's past Pāramī. However, Nimitta appearing or not is not important because when the years of the concentration gone by, you can see the developing stable, claim, fast thinking which being better for complex insight meditation. That's the point to keep the concentration meditation for years to the the of life. I do it for 1-2 hours a day, 5 times a week for 2 month there are just unstable transparent cloud and some spectrum color appear to me. I try hard to care not of them because I lose the meditation when I lose focus from the meditation's object to Nimitta, broken meditation.

So, the only way to do is relax your mind and body, don't excite of whatever happen. Just go back to the meditation object, breathe, etc. We will focus on nimitta only when the nimitta is stable brighter and brighter enough. Then it is going to overlay the meditation object. When this overlaying nimitta is stable enough, we focuses on Nimitta instead.

This maybe require long time for layman. So it's okay if you want to meditate or listen the insight meditation if you worry you will miss the insight meditation. However, my experience tell me "I can't enlighten Nibbāna, although I meditate the insight meditation, if my 5 hindrances still often arise, no citta-visuddhi. When I realized this, I trow my time on the concentration meditation more and more, thenmy insight meditation is better than I have been before.

If I could go back, I will start the concentration meditation as early as I can and keep it to the end of my life, **either getting Nimitta or not because my Sutta and Abhidhamma study are easier after I've focused on the concentration meditatio. Another my insight meditation and emotion controll are better, too.

"Nimitta"'s references in DN.SubhaSutta to overlay the "(Kāma-)Nimitta and it's detail" in 6 SatiSanvara, "Escape Kāma and Escape Unwholesome" in 1st Jhāna, and "Pariyodāta (for Ānenjā)" in 4th Jhāna and 8 Vijjā: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/39817/10100

Information: https://medium.com/capoeirawellness/instructions-on-anapanasati-meditation-for-beginners-38db38787fe3

Video: Revara PaAuk's student Dhamma Talk

  • Thankyou for the answer but sorry you did not answer my main question of whether the nimmata comes all of a sudden or it comes gradually? Jul 24, 2020 at 12:15
  • I already added it to the answer. However, the main idea still at mind practice for Ānāpānassati. The object practice is for some think like Kasina which we practice after 4th Jhāna of Ānāpanassati in Buddhism, except Kasina is done before or past Pārami allow it. See MN KāyagatasatiSutta and DN SubhaSutta.
    – Bonn
    Jul 24, 2020 at 16:40
  • Good answer. Upvoted.
    – XPD
    Aug 3, 2020 at 18:52

The nimitta comes all of a sudden (like torch turned on) as a shining bright magnetic white light. The nimitta arises when ultimately the breathing (due to its tranquilization) is impossible for the mind to discern. The mind creates the nimitta to replace the breathing as the meditation object. However, concentration is so developed here that the nimitta is the ultimate mark/sign & initiator/entry of jhana. Here, the mind magnetically & immovably locks onto the nimitta. The nimitta is the sign of & inseparable from the jhana factor of ekaggata (which is why the Buddha did not mention the nimitta but instead mentioned 'ekaggata' as a jhana factor). The nimitta consumes & stops the ordinary thought function of the mind. What is called 'vitaka & vicara' in jhana are very subtle movements of apprehending consciousness rather than ordinary (verbal) thought & intention.

The analogy of immovable ekaggata in the Commentaries is a calf tied with a rope to a post. The calf is always tied to the post and cannot be removed from the post. However, the calf has some scope to wander around the post (which is vitakka & vicara, i.e., consciousness very subtlety moving around exploring the other jhana factors). When the calf settles down to lie down next to the post, without any wandering & movement at all, this is the analogy for the second jhana.

Note: there is always various brightnesses experienced in meditation but generally volitional attempts to utilize these in meditation is a result of attachment. Thus the brightness will fade away because brightness is born from neurological purification rather than from attachment.

The topic of various nimitta is primarily from the Visuddhimagga. My recollection is the none of the nimitta in the Visuddhimagga are actually signs of jhana (attainment concentration) but are only signs of neighbourhood concentration.

Unfortunately, teachers ranging from Buddhadasa to Ajahn Brahm have entertained the children talking about these various immature/premature non/pre-jhana nimittas; although Ajahn Brahm has also wisely discussed their limitations.

Ultimately, prior to entry into jhana, the mind is too busy engaging in the constant subtle practice of "letting go" for it to concern itself with the emerging brightness from meditation/purification. In SN 48.10 the Buddha was clear that jhana is reached by making "letting go" ("surrender"; "vossagga") the meditation object.

And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana...

SN 48.10

In other words, the only important nimitta is the final mature jhana nimitta, which the mind non-volitionally creates.

  • Thank you. I have added a note from my answer to this one.
    – OyaMist
    Mar 20 at 23:41

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