Hundred years ago there were many natural beautiful things to observe and it was also easy to cultivate happiness. But in today's city life, we are surrounded by long buildings, roads, and traffics. We rarely spend our time with nature and are mostly surrounded by man-made things. Although breathing meditation can be done anywhere and this cultivates a lot of relief from our suffering, I was just wondering whether Lord Buddha had given any suggestion on the contemplation of manmade things to cultivate happiness/peace?

Is it possible to become peaceful by just contemplating on any man-made things and if yes then how?

3 Answers 3


OP: Is it possible to become peaceful by just contemplating on any man-made things and if yes then how?

You can meditate on kasinas. Please see the wikipedia page on kasina.

Technically, this is concentration on a man-made mental object.

I quote from it below.

Kasiṇa meditation is one of the most common types of samatha meditation, intended to settle the mind of the practitioner and create a foundation for further practices of meditation. In kasiṇa meditation, a mental object (kasina) is used as the object of meditation, being used to keep the mind focused whenever attention drifts.

The meditation treatise the Visuddhimagga is centered around kasina-meditation. According to American scholar monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu, "[t]he text then tries to fit all other meditation methods into the mold of kasina practice, so that they too give rise to countersigns, but even by its own admission, breath meditation does not fit well into the mold." He argues that by emphasizing kasina-meditation, the Visuddhimagga departs from the focus on dhyana in the Pali Canon. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states this indicates that what "jhana means in the commentaries is something quite different from what it means in the Canon."

There are ten kasiṇa described in the Visuddhimagga, which are also mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka:

  1. earth पठवी कसिण (Pali: paṭhavī kasiṇa, Sanskrit: pṛthivī kṛtsna)
  2. water आपो कसिण (āpo kasiṇa, ap kṛtsna)
  3. fire तेजो कसिण (tejo kasiṇa, tejas kṛtsna)
  4. air, wind वायो कसिण (vāyo kasiṇa, vāyu kṛtsna)
  5. blue, green नील कसिण (nīla kasiṇa, nīla kṛtsna)
  6. yellow पीत कसिण (pīta kasiṇa, pīta kṛtsna)
  7. red लोहित कसिण (lohita kasiṇa, lohita kṛtsna)
  8. white ओदात कसिण (odāta kasiṇa, avadāta kṛtsna)
  9. enclosed space, hole, aperture आकास कसिण (ākāsa kasiṇa, ākāśa kṛtsna)
  10. consciousness विञ्ञाण कसिण (viññāṇa kasiṇa, vijñāna kṛtsna); in the Pali suttas and some other texts; bright light आलोक कसिण āloka kasiṇa according to later sources, such as Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga.

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.


In today's city life, we are surrounded by material possessions. How should we regard them?

DN15:9.1: So it is, Ānanda, that feeling is a cause of craving. Craving is a cause of seeking. Seeking is a cause of gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause of assessing. Assessing is a cause of desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause of attachment. Attachment is a cause of possessiveness. Possessiveness is a cause of stinginess. Stinginess is a cause of safeguarding.

We should regard material possessions as impermanent and unsatisfactory.

DN15:17.2: Suppose there were totally and utterly no seeking for anyone anywhere. When there’s no seeking at all, with the cessation of seeking, would the gaining of material possessions still be found?”

DN15:17.3: “No, sir.”

If one can regard a tuk-tuk or a Ferrari with equanimity of transport, then one would be well on the way to living without wishes in this very life. And that would require giving up assessment and attachment.

So in the city, see the city. In the forest see the forest. Let go of "me, myself and mine". Just see.


I believe the OP is not asking about materialism. Setting kasina aside and addressing the broader question: No, it doesn't matter whether the object of the senses is manmade or not. For example, a member of the opposite sex is not artificial while a fancy car or phone is. Lust can form for both. Likewise, we can easily find examples of when the both natural and artificial objects can trigger aversion.

Regarding meditation, in reality, the objects of meditation are really only 6, the six sense doors. Everything we know is known by the mind at these 6. The kind of objects you are talking about are objects of these sense doors. With some practice, they don't really matter. What matters is the reactions on sense doors and the feeling tones generated in the mind as a result.

The seclusion that the Buddha talked about was really seclusion of the senses. Yes, he did recommend going to an empty house, the root of a tree etc, but this was the aid seclusion of the senses. Notice that he did *not ask anyone to go to a place of natural beauty or look for beautiful natural things. This is one of the most common misconceptions about meditation - that you need a quiet, beautiful place.

The path is for practice wherever we are. There is some value to allowing somewhat favorable conditions, but this is not the first order endeavor.

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