Are there any EBTs that describe using “the power of the sun” in meditation or Buddhist practice? When I stayed at a Theravada monastery, the topic of sun meditation came up briefly, but nothing much was said about it. When I lived in Spain, it was also mentioned in a totally different secular setting, but in the context of some vaguely Hindu practice. Is there a text that forbids it?
I think the Visuddhimagga refers to a bright light kasina method for developing concentration.
If you’re working with the sense bases you could notice the warmth of the sun on your skin. You could also contemplate the sun as external fire element.
In the Upanishads the sun is used as a metaphor or symbol for Brahman, but I don’t know if there is anything equivalent in the Buddhist EBT.
Sunlight is used as a simile for careful attention here:
If you want to have a browse, here are the results for a search in Sutta Central for “sun”:
In the longer section on ethics, near the end of that section, in the gradual training of a monastic, worshipping the sun is considered a form of wrong livelihood. The sun is not ever used as a meditation object in the EBTs afaik.
“Whereas some recluses and brahmins, while living on the food offered by the faithful, earn their living by a wrong means of livelihood, by such debased arts as:
- arranging auspicious dates for marriages, both those in which the bride is brought home and those in which she is sent out
- arranging auspicious dates for betrothals and divorces
- arranging auspicious dates for the accumulation or expenditure of money
- reciting charms to make people lucky or unlucky
- rejuvenating the foetuses of abortive women
- reciting spells to bind a man’s tongue, to paralyze his jaws, to make him lose control over his hands, or to bring on deafness
- obtaining oracular answers to questions by means of a mirror, a girl, or a god
- worshipping the sun
- worshipping Mahābrahmā
- bringing forth flames from the mouth
- invoking the goddess of luck— - DN 2
Good catch… but does this explicitly refer to the sun?
Maybe a bit off topic, but I found a protection paritta ( Buddhist practice of reciting certain verses and scriptures in order to ward off misfortune or danger) that involves the sun, and more specifically a solar eclipse: SN 2.10 The Sun : SuttaCentral
A few paritta involve the asking directly for the aid of the Buddha. Examples of this type of paritta verse can be seen in the Suriya Sutta (SN 2.10) of the Samyutta Nikaya. In this scripture, Surya protect himself from the attack of the eclipse deity Rahu by reciting short verses praising the Buddha and pleading for his protection:
In these cases, the Buddha is shown as specifically hearing and responding to the paritta; he enjoins Rahu to release the captive deities rather than have his “head split into seven pieces”.
@dhammadaro, you mentioned the Hindu practice. Perhaps the Gayatri Mantra, actually one of my favorite non-Buddhist early morning chants, on a sunny day. https://youtu.be/Zv5wE6V29k0
Om Bhur bhuvah svahah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo Devasya dheemahi
Dheeyo yonah prachodayaat.
“Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifying Sun, May he enlighten our understandings.”
I found it interesting, thanks.
Interesting, does the Mantra mention the sun?
According to Douglas Brooks, PhD, a professor of religion at the University of Rochester and a teacher in the Rajanaka yoga tradition, the Gayatri is the most sacred phrase uttered in the Vedas.
“It doesn’t get more ancient, more sacred, than this,” says Brooks. “It’s an ecstatic poetic moment.”
The mantra is a hymn to Savitur, the sun god. According to Brooks, the sun in the mantra represents both the physical sun and the Divine in all things.
“The Vedic mind doesn’t separate the physical presence of the sun from its spiritual or symbolic meaning,” he says.
There is a verse for sharing merit that is chanted daily in many monasteries. English version:
Reflections on Sharing Blessings
Now let us chant the verses of sharing and aspiration.
Through the goodness that arises from my practice, May my spiritual teachers and guides of great virtue, My mother, my father and my relatives, The sun and the moon, …
I have always wondered why the sun and moon are in there, and what the origin is.
This verse is a late Thai addition. Mid 19th century?
I believe the verses were composed by either Rama III, Rama IV or Prince Vajirañāṇavarorasa. Whoever it was, he didn’t supply any translation for them. In modern Thai chanting books where there are accompanying translations, some have taken Sūriyo and Candimā to be the solar and lunar devas of these names (as in SN 2.9 and SN 2.10), while others have taken them to be the King and Queen of Thailand.
In sutta, savitri is mentioned SuttaCentral, i faintly remember in one sutta Buddha claim he is brahmana by demonstrating knowledge of gayatri mantra.
Have a look at page 223 of the Visuddhimagga for details of the light kasina.
PathofPurification2011.pdf (2.7 MB)
Reminds me a bit of DN31
I cannot recall anything to do with the sun and meditating.
Could you be a little more specific? Do you mean that this passage is similar to DN31?
[T HE L IGHT KASINA ]
21. Of the light kasióa it is said: “One who is learning the light kasióa
apprehends the sign in light in a hole in a wall, or in a keyhole, or in a window
opening.” So firstly, when someone has merit, having had previous practice, the
sign arises in him when he sees the circle thrown on a wall or a floor by sunlight
or moonlight entering through a hole in a wall, etc., or when he sees a circle
thrown on the ground by sunlight or moonlight coming through a gap in the
branches of a dense-leaved tree or through a gap in a hut made of closely packed
22. Anyone else should use that same kind of circle of luminosity just described,
developing it as “luminosity, luminosity” or “light, light.” If he cannot do so, he
can light a lamp inside a pot, close the pot’s mouth, make a hole in it and place
it with the hole facing a wall. The lamplight coming out of the hole throws a
circle on the wall. He should develop that  as “light, light.” This lasts
longer than the other kinds.
23. Here the learning sign is like the circle thrown on the wall or the ground. The
counterpart sign is like a compact bright cluster of lights. The rest is as before.
[Visuddhimagga Chapter V]
No. I mean that, when asked about an esoteric, Brahmin ritual, the Buddha didn’t refute it directly but recast it in terms of the development of sila. Very interesting.