Visuddhimagga IV-23

Tattha yena atītabhavepi sāsane vā isipabbajjāya vā pabbajitvā pathavīkasiṇe catukkapañcakajjhānāni nibbattitapubbāni, evarūpassa puññavato upanissayasampannassa akatāya pathaviyā kasitaṭṭhāne vā khalamaṇḍale vā nimittaṃ uppajjati, mallakattherassa viya.

(自然之地)若人于过去世曾于佛教中或于出家的仙人处而出家,曾于地遍中生起四种与五种禅,像这样具有宿世福因的人,则于自然之地 ── 如耕地打谷场等处而得现起于相。犹如曼罗迦长老一样。

Ñ(IV,23): Herein, when in a previous becoming a man has gone forth into homelessness in the Dispensation or [outside it] with the Rishis' going forth and has already produced the jhāna tetrad or pentad on the earth kasiṇa, and so has such merit and the support [of past practice of jhāna] as well, then the sign arises in him on earth that is not made up, that is to say, on a ploughed area or on a threshing floor, as in the Elder Mallaka's case.

Han: Translation is alright. But I wish to mention one point.

In para 22 and also in this para, Mahāsī Sayādaw used "uggaha-nimitta" whenever "the sign" is mentioned as in "nimittaṃ uppajjati" (the sign arises). There are three kinds of nimitta.

1 Parikmamma-nimitta or preparatory image

The meditator looks at the earth-circle attentively, saying mentally or inaudibly: “pathavī, pathavī” or “earth, earth”. Now, from this time onwards, the earth-circle that he is looking at is called ‘parikamma-nimitta’.

2 Uggaha-nimitta or acquired image

After meditating for some time, perhaps weeks or months, he will be able to close his eyes and visualise the object. This means that he could see the earth-circle vividly in his mind as he has seen it with open eyes even though his eyes are closed, although the image at this stage may still be unsteady and unclear. This visualised object or acquired image is called ‘uggaha-nimitta’.

3 Paṭibhaaga-nimitta or counter image

As the meditation proceeds, at the point when the concentration reaches upacāra-samādhi, the acquired image suddenly changes into a bright, clear and steady image. It is similar to the original object, but it is many times brighter and clearer than the acquired image. It is entirely free from faults such as unevenness, graininess, etc., that may be present in the original object. It is immovable as if it remains fixed in the eye.

Tassa kirāyasmato kasitaṭṭhānaṃ olokentassa taṃṭhānappamāṇameva nimittaṃ udapādi.


Ñ: It seems that while that venerable one was looking at a ploughed area the sign arose in him the size of that area.

So taṃ vaḍḍhetvā pañcakajjhānāni nibbattetvā jhānapadaṭṭhānaṃ vipassanaṃ paṭṭhapetvā arahattaṃ pāpuṇi.


Ñ: He extended it and attained the jhāna pentad. Then by establishing insight with the jhāna as the basis for it, he reached Arahantship.

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Acknowledgment: Thanks to Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) and Venerable Nyanatusita for allowing me to use the English translation of the Visuddhimagga (The Path Of Purification) by Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa, translated from the Pāḷi by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, as part of a combined Chinese English translation.

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