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Fire Kasina and madness


#1

Can anyone tell if the linkage between the practice of fire kasina and risk of madness is something that can be traced back in the EBTs and/or associated commentaries?

Have you ever heard of such thing, Venerable @Dhammanando ?

:anjal:


#2

Interesting. Can you share where this is attested please?


#3

I have recently seen a fellow who is a forest monk in Thailand saying this was said by an elder monk (cannot recall the name).

At the same time I have a vague memory of that warning in regards to that practice being found in Visudhimagga or commentaries.

And I speculate a reason for that could be to stop newly ordained monks to play with fire and candles near the huts and minimize the risk of accidents! :sweat_smile:


#4

I haven’t myself met with this in any texts. In the Visuddhimagga neither the fire kasiṇa nor any other kasiṇa are among those meditation subjects that come accompanied by health warnings regarding the dangers that might issue from wrong practice (e.g., using a female corpse if you’re a male doing cemetery contemplation; speculating on the Buddha’s cognitive range when doing buddhānussati; using someone of the opposite sex when developing mettā for ‘a friend’, etc.).

On the other hand, there’s no denying that the supposed association between kasiṇa meditation and insanity is a very widely-held notion in the different practice traditions of the Theravada world. I mean it’s not just, say, the ‘dry insight’ folks trying to put people off samatha-bhāvanā, or the Pa Auk or Buddhadāsa folks wanting everyone to do ānāpānassati.

My own view is that though there’s an element of truth to the idea, it’s not so much that kasiṇa practice drives people mad (in fact most who try it just get bored to death and soon give it up) but rather that it’s a practice with a tendency to attract people who are already mentally unbalanced, largely because it’s perceived as a fast-track to iddhividhā-abhiññā. Possibly kasiṇa practice exacerbates their condition, but then so would many other kinds of meditation that they might undertake.


#5

The method explained in Vissuddhimagga to achieve iddhividhā-abhiññā using Kasina is not that easy. Practicing all kasinas and jhānas with number of combinations seems very complicated where achieving patibhāga nimitta also is very difficult.


#6

Reminds me of the story of LP Ophasee, and how his meditation on the fire kasina almost burnt Wat Boworn to the ground.


#7

Well, there is this site, which seems devoted to the practice of the fire kasina. Perhaps they might know …but then again, if fire kasina practice causes madness… perhaps they only think they know…:thinking:

A reporter asks the psychiatrist “How do you select who should be admitted to your facility?”
The psychiatrist replies: “We fill a bathtub with water and give the person a spoon, a cup and a bucket. Then we ask that person to empty the bathtub.”
The reporter smiles: “Ah, I understand, if you are sane you would take the bucket.”
The Psychiatrist replies: “No, a sane guy pulls the plug of the tub to drain water. Do you want a room with or without a balcony?”
:grin: