# Sarvāstivāda Kasiṇa Practice

Via ChatGPT I’ve translated part of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma that discusses Kasiṇa practice (Sangītiparyāya), for those who are interested in comparing with the Theravādin teaching.

The ten pervasive locations are explained as follows:

1. Earth Pervasion: Contemplate the earth element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the first pervasive location.

2. Water Pervasion: Contemplate the water element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the second pervasive location.

3. Fire Pervasion: Contemplate the fire element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the third pervasive location.

4. Wind Pervasion: Contemplate the wind element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the fourth pervasive location.

5. Green Pervasion: Contemplate the green element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the fifth pervasive location.

6. Yellow Pervasion: Contemplate the yellow element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the sixth pervasive location.

7. Red Pervasion: Contemplate the red element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the seventh pervasive location.

8. White Pervasion: Contemplate the white element, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the eighth pervasive location.

9. Space Pervasion: Contemplate space, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the ninth pervasive location.

10. Consciousness Pervasion: Contemplate consciousness, imagining it as pervasive, extending above and below, without duality, boundary, or limit. This is the tenth pervasive location.

And how is one able to attain the concentration on the Earth Pervasion? In response, for those who are newly undertaking the practice, in the initial cultivation of meditative observation, regarding this vast Earth, in all directions, whether high or low, sharp or level, thorny or smooth, rough or dense, dangerous or impure, in each such place, no contemplation is made. Instead, regarding this vast Earth, in all directions, it is perceived as flat and clear, much like the palm of one’s hand. Beautiful and delightful places in pure gardens and groves are taken as an example. Taking any characteristic as a means to enhance understanding, the practitioner ties their thoughts to it, contemplating, imagining, and observing, establishing faith and understanding that this is a certain characteristic of a specific place. By employing the power of enhanced understanding in this way, the mind, which was previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, becomes concentrated, not wavering, tying thoughts to a single object. Contemplating, they think, “This characteristic is of the Earth, not of something else.” The mind, previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, is now concentrated, not wavering, thinking, “This characteristic is definitely of the Earth.” Thus, they are able to attain the concentration on the Earth Pervasion. To gather the scattered and flowing mind, they focus their thoughts on a single characteristic, thinking, “This is of the Earth, not of water,” and so on. They diligently and energetically contemplate this characteristic, even making the mind continuously abide for a long time. Through this practice, they can enter the concentration on the Earth, diligently and repeatedly cultivating this practice. Furthermore, they advance in cultivating and stabilizing this concentration.

Facilitation means that, through the practices, pathways to the arising of realization are cultivated repeatedly and extensively. Once these pathways to realization have arisen through the practices, they are cultivated and refined, and numerous activities are undertaken. Having thus initiated the pathways to realization through the practices, and repeatedly cultivated and refined them, the mind then settles, abides evenly, and stays close. It continuously directs its focus to a single object, contemplating that this object is indeed a characteristic of the Earth. By the mind remaining settled, abiding evenly, and staying close, and continuously directing its focus to a single object, it contemplates that this object is indeed a characteristic of the Earth. Without divergence or turning, one can enter the concentration on the Earth. However, one has not yet attained the concentration on the Earth Pervasion.

Now, how does one engage in the concentration on the Earth Pervasion if they have not yet attained it? For the practitioner cultivating meditative observation, by what means can they facilitate the attainment of the concentration on the Earth Pervasion? The answer is to rely on entering the Earth Concentration as described earlier. Make the mind compliant, tame its inclinations, gradually soften and harmonize it. Once it is directed to a single object, contemplate this Earth, gradually expanding the contemplation to the east, south, west, and north, thinking that they are all the Earth. Gradually expand the contemplation further, thinking that in all directions - east, south, west, and north - it is all the Earth. However, the mind becomes scattered and flows through various characteristics, unable to focus on a single object and contemplate this object as the Earth. The mind continues to be scattered and flowing through various characteristics, unable to focus on a single object and contemplate this object as the Earth. Since it is all the Earth, one has not yet attained the concentration on the Earth Pervasion. To gather the scattered and flowing mind, focus thoughts on the pervasive Earth, contemplating that it is not pervasive water, and so on. Contemplate this characteristic with diligence and courage, even making the mind continuously abide for a long time.

Through such practice, one gradually becomes able to enter the concentration on the Earth Pervasion. Having diligently cultivated this practice repeatedly, further progress is made by advancing in the cultivation of this concentration. This involves initiating pathways to realization through the practices and repeatedly cultivating and refining them. Once these pathways to realization have been initiated through the practices and cultivated and refined repeatedly, the mind settles, abides evenly, and stays close. It continuously directs its focus to a single object, contemplating that this object is pervasive earth. By the mind remaining settled, abiding evenly, and staying close, and continuously directing its focus to a single object, it contemplates that this object is pervasive earth, without divergence or turning. From this, one then enters the concentration on the earth Pervasion.

When it is mentioned “above and below,” it refers to the directions of up and down. When it is said “on all sides,” it refers to the directions of east, south, and so on. Saying “without duality” means without mixing. “Without limits and bounds” means that the boundaries are difficult to discern. This is the first one, signifying that among all the concentrations, it is gradually, sequentially, and continuously developed, and is thus numbered as the first. When it is said “pervasion,” it refers to all the aggregates of form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness within this concentration.

Now, how does one engage in the concentration on the Water Pervasion? For the practitioner cultivating meditative observation, by what means can they facilitate the attainment of the concentration on the Water Pervasion? In response, for those who are newly undertaking the practice, in the initial cultivation of meditative observation, when creating and cultivating the contemplation, regarding this vast expanse of water, in all directions, whether high or low, sharp or level, thorny or smooth, rough or dense, dangerous or impure, in each such place, no contemplation is made. Instead, regarding this vast expanse of water, in all directions, it is perceived as flat and clear, much like the palm of one’s hand. Beautiful and delightful places in pure gardens and groves are taken as an example. Taking any characteristic as a means to enhance understanding, the practitioner ties their thoughts to it, contemplating, imagining, and observing, establishing faith and understanding that this is a certain characteristic of a specific place. By employing the power of enhanced understanding in this way, the mind, which was previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, becomes concentrated, not wavering, tying thoughts to a single object. Contemplating, they think, “This characteristic is of water, not of something else.” The mind, previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, is now concentrated, not wavering, thinking, “This characteristic is definitely of water.” Thus, they are able to attain the concentration on the Water Pervasion.

In this world, one might choose a large body of water as a point of focus, such as a great river, a vast spring, a large pond, a substantial reservoir, a massive lake, the Sindhu River, the Yamuna River, the Ganges, the Aciravati River, the Mahi River, the Mekong River, the Eastern Great Sea, the Southern Great Sea, the Western Great Sea, the Northern Great Sea, the Four Great Seas, or a massive whirlpool. Among these, any specific aspect is selected. With the power of enhanced understanding, thoughts are tied to it through contemplation, imagination, and observation. Faith and understanding are established, believing that this particular aspect is indeed characteristic of a certain body of water. By employing the power of enhanced understanding in this way, the mind, which was previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, becomes concentrated, not wavering, tying thoughts to a single object. Contemplating, one thinks, “This characteristic is of water, not of something else.” The mind, previously scattered and flowing through various characteristics, is now concentrated, not wavering, thinking, “This characteristic is definitely of water.” Yet, they have not yet attained the concentration on the Water Pervasion.

To gather the scattered and flowing mind, one focuses thoughts on a single characteristic, contemplating, imagining, and observing. They think, “This is water, not land,” and so on, contemplating this characteristic with diligence, courage, and even making the mind continuously abide for a long time. Through such practice, one can enter the concentration on the Water Pervasion. Diligently cultivating and repeatedly practicing this approach, they then progress to further refine and cultivate this concentration.

This involves initiating pathways to realization through the practices and repeatedly cultivating and refining them. Once these pathways to realization have been initiated through the practices and cultivated and refined repeatedly, the mind settles, abides evenly, and stays close. It continuously directs its focus to a single object, contemplating that this object is characteristic of water. By the mind remaining settled, abiding evenly, and staying close, and continuously directing its focus to a single object, it contemplates that this object is characteristic of water, without divergence or turning. While one can enter the concentration on the Water Pervasion, they have not yet attained the concentration on the Water Pervasion throughout.

Now, how does one engage in the concentration on the Water Pervasion if they have not yet attained it? For the practitioner cultivating meditative observation, by what means can they facilitate the attainment of the concentration on the Water Pervasion? The answer is to rely on entering the Water Concentration as described earlier. Make the mind compliant, tame its inclinations, gradually soften and harmonize it. Once it is directed to a single object, contemplate this water, gradually expanding the contemplation to the east, south, west, and north, thinking that they are all water. Gradually expand the contemplation further, thinking that in all directions - east, south, west, and north - it is all water. However, the mind becomes scattered and flows through various characteristics, unable to focus on a single object and contemplate this object as water. The mind continues to be scattered and flowing through various characteristics, unable to focus on a single object and contemplate this object as water. Since it is all water, one has not yet attained the concentration on the Water Pervasion [repeated for the other Kasiṇas]

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Since the three paint primary colours are red, yellow, blue, it’s more likely this refers to that colour.

Primary colors are defined differently.

• Additive Primary colors: Red , Green , Blue (RGB)
• Subtractive Primary colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (CMYK)
- Traditional Primary color: Red, Yellow, Blue (a subset of CMYK)

Ajahn Sona was speaking about this in his series about kasinas etc. that blue and green was “same colour” or same word was applying to them at this time in some places. Don’t remember exactly. I think it had something to do with “colour of the sea” which sometimes appears blue and sometimes green, and there was one word for it all, which can be translated as either blue or green.

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Primary colours cannot be mixed, you have to have them. The primary colours which obey the subtractive law are the pigment colours, red , yellow, blue. These are probably used in the case of kasinas, being made with paint. In this system green is a secondary colour which can be mixed. When these three primaries are physically mixed, black results.

The primary colours subject to the additive law are red, green, blue, made by lights. This law only applies to pure light mixtures when one light is laid over another, seen in electronic applications like screens. It is also present in nature when different lights like sunlight and shadows overlay. When these three primaries are overlaid, white results.

In Sri Lanka there are murals of the Buddha surrounded by a halo which are usually red, yellow, blue. If green were introduced it would produce a ‘foliage’ effect not appropriate to the dynamic theme of awakening.

For this same reason there is no green in the Buddhist flag.

There is a passage in the Sarvastivada commentary on the eight liberations that uses the four colors, and it’s pretty clear they meant green as well as blue. They use the example of “green/blue” tree stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. What’s interesting about it is that green flowers are not very common, but blue leaves aren’t either. So, it stands to reason that the word is being used for both green and blue from that passage.

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