This often begins by utilizing an external object as the focus of meditation. The Kasinas (or devices) described in the Vissuddhimagga are excellent examples of the use of visual objects or image representations as vehicles for the development of sustained and directed concentration.
The Vissuddhimagga lists ten such objects as Kasinas: 1) earth 2) water 3) fire 4) air 5) blue 6) yellow 7) red 8) white 9) light 10) enclosed space.To begin to understand why the ''devices'' outlined above are especially conducive to spiritual growth it is helpful to keep in mind some of the major directions or divisions of training which are encompassed by the Vissuddhimagga. Three of the most prominent areas of training are: 1) Purity (Sila) 2) Meditative Concentration (Samadhi) and 3) Insight (Punna).
These three areas are necessarily intertwined and the development of any one, at some point, leads to the others. One advantage of utilizing the Kasinas or devices is that they facilitate growth in two of these areas of training. First of all they are being used directly as objects of Meditative Concentration. In addition the Kasinas offer exceptional possibilities of growth in terms of Insight.
These qualities may also be found in selected art forms such as Henri van Bentum's Organiverse Portfolio (see above post by the artist.). Meditation and sustained concentration on these objects and images can lead to enhanced growth and insight. The Kasinas are ''elemental'' in the material world.
Sustained concentration will almost certainly bring this fact before the mind. The self-evident fact is that these elements are essential in a material sense and this will be recognized by the meditator.
These elements remain while the multifaceted forms of material existence form and dissolve, take shape and disappear. In short by focussing on the essential we are brought face to face with ''impermanence.'' This leads to insight not only in terms of the material world, but metaphorically to the situation of the meditator.
Brian W. Johnson