Wednesday, December 2, 2020

AN 7.67: The Buddha, Pa Auk Sayadaw, and Ajahn Brahm walk in to a Jhāna juice smoothie bar... 🍛🧘‍♀️ 💨🔥⚪🙊🙈🙉🧟‍♀️

The Buddha, Pa Auk Sayadaw, and Ajahn Brahm walk in to a Jhāna juice smoothie bar...

Before we begin that tale, first a little background information.

They sit down to talk about the proper way to attain the fire of  first jhana, expanding on the simile of AN 7.67

seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, rañño paccantime nagare bahuṃ tiṇakaṭṭhodakaṃ sannicitaṃ hoti abbhantarānaṃ ratiyā aparitassāya phāsuvihārāya bāhirānaṃ paṭighātāya. evamevaṃ kho, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako
“Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of grass, timber & water for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones, (does the standard first jhana formula...)

In contrast, fourth jhana is compared to the fortress inhabitants stocked with ghee, butter, much higher order level of energy, time, resources to develop, compared to drinking water and fire wood of first jhana, and third jhana is compared to among other things, beans, which will be referenced as the subject of this article.

♦ “seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, rañño paccantime nagare bahuṃ tilamuggamāsāparaṇṇaṃ sannicitaṃ hoti abbhantarānaṃ ratiyā aparitassāya phāsuvihārāya bāhirānaṃ paṭighātāya. evamevaṃ kho, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako
“Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of sesame, green gram, & other beans for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones,


Important implication from AN 7.67 jhana similes:

comparing the firewood of first jhana, to the ghee and butter of 4th jhana, the implication is clear.

grass to feed horses, firewood to keep you warm, these are basic necessities of survival correlated with first jhana.

First jhana in the suttas is much easier than you think, much easier than Vism. makes it out to be. Especially see the suttas of that linked article showing how easily newly ordained bhikkhus, 500 laypeople, and even 2 million lay people attained first jhana. In stark contrast to Vism.'s claim that only 1 in a million earnest meditators can attain first jhana. 

The fortress inhabitants of AN 7.67 are newly ordained bhikkhus and even lay people. As easily as they can obtain firewood, grass to feed horses, that's how easily the Buddha expects them to be able to attain first jhana. He specifically designed it that way. In contrast, the grains and beans of 3rd jhana require land, massive amounts of water, years of time, service animals and the feedstock for them, to produce.

Fourth jhana's ghee, not only requires 3rd jhana's product to feed the animals to produce butter, ghee, but also skilled labor, etc, more time, energy, expertise to produce than 3rd jhana's beans, etc.

So clearly there is a gradual training from first to fourth jhana, and fourth takes much more time and skill to refine to produce, than first. In contrast, Pa Auk and Ajahn Brahm, almost no one can do first jhana (compared to the numbers of people who attempted in earnest and failed), but those who can do their version of "first jhana", within a short time of a week or two, they can attain fourth jhana. Does that sound gradual to you? Does there seem to be meaningful differentiation between first and fourth jhana?

So according to the Buddha's first jhana simile of AN 7.67, with first jhana being firewood, drinking water, grass for the horses, these are basic necessities of survival. If you don't have that, you can't survive in the fortress for more than a week or two. He designed first jhana to be attainable by all, newly ordained novices, and lay people supporters working in the fortress.

If Vism. and Ajahn Brahm's version of  "first jhana" is true, "only 1 in a million can find water, firewood, grass", then all the inhabitants of the fortress are going to quickly die. Or they're going to disrobe and leave their training system of "jhana" in frustration.

Now we return to our main story, understanding it's an expansion on the firewood of first jhana simile of AN 7.67.

The Buddha, Pa Auk Sayadaw, and Ajahn Brahm walk in to a Jhāna juice smoothie bar...

The Buddha spoke first: 

"The firewood of first jhana, its purpose is to warm the body (kāya and rūpa, both in context referring to the anatomical physical body of meditator), so they can not only be warm, comfortable and happy, but healthy enough to meditate in a way that subtle energy channels open up, expand, and the power of discernment in their mental faculties increase exponentially, and they can penetrate into the nature of reality and realize nirvana.

"To light the firewood of first jhana and keep it burning (first jhana attained with competency), one uses vitakka and vicara, thinking about relevant Dharma instructions, and evaluating those same Dharma instructions with discernment again and again drawing deeper meaning out of Dharma, to arouse and vigorously (viriya) maintain the rapture of piti to keep the fire of first jhana burning a long time. 

"the gas fluid lighter and fire kindling I have provided represents vitakka and vicara."

Ajahn Brahm spoke next:

"Blessed one, that can not be. For in the suttas, you say the breath body is a body among bodies. Therefore, first jhana has nothing to do with the physical body of the meditator. One has to detach the mind from the body, and use the nimitta of the breath body as a way into the fire of first jhana.

"Vitakka and vicara can not mean thinking and pondering, for those are coarse activities that even novice monks and lay people can do. Does the vinaya not say that first jhana is an uttari manussa dhamma, a superhuman attainment? Any ordinary human can think, but only trained meditators can cease discursive thinking. Therefore vitakka must mean placing the mind on the breath nimitta, and vicara must mean keeping it connected to the nimitta."

"The proper way to light the firewood of first jhana, is not with a fluid lighter and fire kindling, as the Blessed one claims, because any ordinary person can learn to do that easily. 

"The correct definition of vitakka and vicara in this simile, is that one eats a pot full of beans, emits methane, and using a book of matches, one then lights the methane on fire on top of the fire wood, without kindling, and  emits methane as  many times as needed before the fire wood can sustain itself. That is vitakka and vicara jhana wobble I talk about. When the match flame ignites the puff of methane, the center of that explosion is the brightest part of the nimitta, and one enters first jhana from there, switching from the perception of methane fire nimitta, to the bliss of the  release of methane relieving strong pressure in the body. The bliss of being free of bean exhaust is the one pointedness of jhana.

Pa Auk interjects angrily:

"No Ajahn Brahm. You are teaching a dark jhana! The one true perception of first jhana is the visual nimitta of the bright methane explosion kasina, not the bliss of methane exhaust release. There are 7 javana impulsions following the methane explosion that one then enters appana methane samadhi.  The problem with you is you don't recognize the authority of Abhidhamma. The Buddha taught Abhidhamma to his mom in the deva realm and Sariputta and anything it says supersedes what the Buddha said in this jhana juice bar and the suttas. 

(The Buddha looks on incredulously)

Pa Auk continues:

"Ajahn Brahm you are correct that vitakka and vicara is not thinking and pondering, and kāya and rūpa are not the meditator's physical body, for as the Blessed one said, the methane breath body is a body among bodies, and that is the true uggaha nimitta, and the visual counterpart image of that methane explosion, not the offensive smell, nor the explosive sound of releasing methane, is the true patibagha nimitta of first jhana.

But pari mukha here means, around the entrance, and the entrance is the orifice in which the methane is emitted from the body. It's very very important that the meditator's spatial focus must be exactly at this methane emission spot, and the firewood lined up at the same spot. It has to be pointy enough to be considered one pointed concentration. 

And you are weak for giving your followers a pot full of cooked beans.

We give our meditators a bag of dried beans. (Note dry beans are hard to cook before you have fire! But eating dry beans can still produce methane, it just takes longer and causes more pain)

(Also notice the beans in AN 7.67 are the product of 3rd jhana! So Ajahn Brahm and Pa Auk sayadaw is requiring the skill level of 3rd and 4th jhana as the prerequisite to certify a proper "first jhana" in their system! In suttas such as AN 6.29, the perception of light is correlated with the stage between 3rd and 4th jhana)

Ajahn Brahm responds:

"Well Sayadaw, I seem to be able to light my methane emissions from up to two feet away from the parimukha emission spot, anywhere there is enough concentration of methane. So much for your pari mukha theory."

The Buddha turns to Ananda says, "I've had it with these two. You deal with them." The Buddha gets up and leaves the Jhana juice smoothie bar.

Ah, the bliss of One pointed appana methane samadhi

Related articles


🛇👻 The four Jhānas are not formless samādhi attainments

Not formless means you have physical body 🗸🏃‍♀️ awareness, you can feel leg pain, you can hear sounds. In 3rd and 4th jhāna, the sense of the body may subjectively be experienced as increasingly subtle, fading out. But if you can no longer hear sounds, can not kinaesthetically locate where your hands, feet, head are, have no sense of direction of up and down, then you've crossed over into formless samādhi, and you are no longer in the four jhānas.
• rūpa is not a-rūpa, 4 jhānas operate in rūpa: You think that would be obvious, but it's not a well understood point, thanks to late Theravada propaganda redefining 4 jhānas as formless (see VRJ🐍 and Jabrama🤡-jhana).

Discussion threads commenting on this blog article

Suttavāda6 points·21 hours ago

🍛🧘‍♀️ 💨🔥⚪🙊🙈🙉🧟‍♀️

1 point·10 hours ago·edited 10 hours ago

The author seems to be overly critical of both Buddha's buddies. We are all friends here Pa Auk Sayadaw and Achan Brahm both need a bit of an adjustment, but this is scathing and not al all friendly.

Funny, yes in a western Buddhism's competitive way, but this is not the way of the Buddha Dhamma.

Frank responds:

If anything, I made every effort to be gentle and grounded in just the facts.

Underneath the satire there is definitely critical analysis of the differences between Early Buddhist suttas, Abhdhamma, etc.,  

but "scathing", and "competitive buddhism", is just a creation of your perceptions. 

What you really should be asking is this: does Ajahn Brahm and Pa Auk follow this sutta?

AN 4.180 four great references

“Katame, bhikkhave, cattāro mahāpadesā?
“monks, what are the four great references?
Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu evaṃ vadeyya:
Take a monk who says:
‘sammukhā metaṃ, āvuso, bhagavato sutaṃ sammukhā paṭiggahitaṃ—
‘Reverend, I have heard and learned this in the presence of the Buddha:
ayaṃ dhammo, ayaṃ vinayo, idaṃ satthusāsanan’ti.
this is the teaching, this is the training, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’
Tassa, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno bhāsitaṃ neva abhinanditabbaṃ nappaṭikkositabbaṃ.
You should neither approve nor dismiss that monk’s statement.
Anabhinanditvā appaṭikkositvā tāni padabyañjanāni sādhukaṃ uggahetvā sutte otāretabbāni, vinaye sandassetabbāni.
Instead, you should carefully memorize those words and phrases, then check if they’re included in the discourses and found in the texts on monastic training.
Tāni ce sutte otāriyamānāni vinaye sandassiyamānāni na ceva sutte otaranti na vinaye sandissanti, niṭṭhamettha gantabbaṃ:
If they’re not included in the discourses and found in the texts on monastic training, you should draw the conclusion:
‘addhā idaṃ na ceva tassa bhagavato vacanaṃ arahato sammāsambuddhassa;
‘Clearly this is not the word of the Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha.
imassa ca bhikkhuno duggahitan’ti.
It has been incorrectly memorized by that monk.’
Iti hetaṃ, bhikkhave, chaḍḍeyyātha.
And so you should reject it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

jhana constipation and jhana heat fighting latent body illnesses

Unpleasant piti effects

Post by Inedible » 

There was a book I read which said that not all piti experiences have to be pleasant. From time to time when I start trying to meditate again and I increase my daily seated practice time it can happen that I will start to get cold running through my body. If it were hot I would blame Kundalini, but it is very cold. It is also very unpleasant and quickly leads to drowsiness. Because I tend to think that piti should feel good I have tended to believe that I'm just not getting piti. There is definitely no sukkha in it. Has anyone here had to deal with unpleasant piti symptoms?

Re: Unpleasant piti effects

Post by frank k » 

I really wouldn't call that pīti.
In the EBT suttas, the Buddha goes out of his way to emphasize the mental aspect of piti, and the physical aspect of sukha in the jhanas.
So for simplicity, piti is like the emotional thrill, and the endorphins and pleasure chemicals of the brain are sukha.

Not getting sukha in meditation is caused by energy channels not being opened up enough. I call this condition 'jhana constipation'.
All kind of strange sensations and physical problems happen to most people (can take many years) before one gets a proper jhana with pleasure and no pain. ... ndex.html

It's completey normal that if one is meditating correctly, the body will use the force and heat from jhana to melt energy blockages and clear up old latent illnesses in the body.

Don't make the mistake some people do thinking meditation causes illness or causes your body to be cold, and cease meditating as a result.

I'm not a medical professional, so I'm not advising you either way on how to meditate, whether to meditate, whether to coordinate with proper medical supervision, etc. I'll just say if I were in your position, I find that western medicine over 95% of the time is pretty worthless for the kind of latent body illnesses that meditation problems are working on, the best help would be highly skilled meditators who are also traditional chinese medicine doctors. Unfortunately that's hard to find. If it was me, I'd just throw on as many blankets as necessary and meditate as much as possible, but seek medical help if something is scaring you. Again, all disclaimers apply, I'm not giving you any advice, just saying what I would try if I was in your situation. Don't sue me.

Please let us know your progress, and what you did to fix it.

Reading your OP again,
the part about getting sleepy tells me it's probably like I said above, the body is using heat and sleep to fight off latent illnesses. Very normal, and happens to everyone whether they meditate or not, IMO.
Body getting super cold doesn't necesarily mean it's not kudnalini, it probably just means you don't have enough of it. A powerful person their meditation would flare up with heat and sweat out body illnesses quickly, and then go back to normal. A weak person would use the same kundalini to fight illness, but they have less heat to work with and would feel very cold. Very normal. IMO.

If you're vegan, you'll have a lot less heat than a lacto ovo veg or an omnivore.
If you're not celibate, that's also a big body heat killer.
So if you want to progress in meditation and overcame latent body illnesses, celibacy is your best bet.

SN 1.1: What's the answer to the riddle of not standing still nor struggling he crossed the flood?


Re: Sutta Interpretation

Post by frank k » 

I don't agree with the "go with the flow, or slow and steady wins the race" answers offered. ... -sex.html

What does the commentary for that sutta say?
In B. Bodhi's translation, the footnotes would summarize the most interesting parts of the cmy.

My take on SN 1.1:
First of all, it's a paradox meant to stun the listener.
It's designed to be something that sounds impossible with no solution.
But the solution, like with everything else important in EBT suttas,
always comes down to "I only teach dukkha and its cessation."
And what is that way to cessation of dukkha? the middle path (noble eightfold path) that avoids the extremes of useless austerities and indulgence in sensual pleasures.
So the part where one stands still in the flood and sinks, must be giving in to sensual desires and sinking to death and rebirth again and again.
Doing painful and spiritually useless austerities is the struggling against the flood and getting swept away.
Doing jhana, or the noble eightfold path, one is making an effort which is neither standing still nor struggling. With that right effort they will cross the flood.

Monday, November 30, 2020

"one in a million" able to do Vism. Redefinition of Jhana is even tougher than it sounds.


B. Subhuti, an American monk in Pa Auk system following Vism. claims success rate of people able to accomplish VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) is actually high, producing hundreds, maybe over a thousand people who can do "jhana". 

Ven. Dhammando points out a huge statistical problem, based on Vism text:

Re: Ajahn Brahmavamso's Dark Jhana

Post by Dhammanando » 

bksubhuti wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:53 am1 in 1000 as stated in the vsm is probably "run of the mill population selected at random"
This is just a baseless conjecture and not the Theravada view. The text of the Visuddhimagga offers no support for it, while Dhammapāla's Visuddhimagga-ṭīkā actually contradicts it, for it limits the scope of the term "beginner" (ādikammika) to yogāvacaras who are "regularly/habitually engaged in mental development" (bhāvanaṃ anuyuñjanto). Clearly this doesn't mean, "Any Tom, Dick or Harry."
bksubhuti wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:53 amThere are probably over 1000 that have learned 8 jhanas* and more.
Which according to the Visuddhimagga would require the sayadaw to have a following that outnumbered the present population of the world. Unless you mean that 999 out of those 1000 are devas.

And and earlier post of his:

Re: Ajahn Brahmavamso's Dark Jhana

Post by Dhammanando » 

bksubhuti wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 4:45 pmI asked Ajahn Brahm "How many Theravada Monks has he trained start to finish to be successful up to 4th Jhana with repeatability. He said, "Not many, I have not counted."
Bhante, if a teacher is teaching authentic Visuddhimagga jhāna, isn't a reply like Ajahn Brahmavamso's exactly the sort of reply we should expect to hear from him?

In asking this, what I have in mind is Path of Purification XII 8:
Ādikammikassa hi kasiṇaparikammampi bhāro, satesu sahassesu vā ekova sakkoti. Katakasiṇaparikammassa nimittuppādanaṃ bhāro, satesu sahassesu vā ekova sakkoti. Uppanne nimitte taṃ vaḍḍhetvā appanādhigamo bhāro, satesu sahassesu vā ekova sakkoti. Adhigatappanassa cuddasahākārehi cittaparidamanaṃ bhāro, satesu sahassesu vā ekova sakkoti.

“Now, the kasiṇa preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it.”
If we go with the more optimistic figure (one in a hundred), then it means that one in a million can become a Visuddhimagga-style jhānalābhī. If we go with the more pessimistic figure, then it will be one in a thousand million. And so for Ajahn Brahmavamso to produce, say, ten jhānalābhīs, he would need to have at least ten million meditating disciples according to the optimistic figure, or a thousand million meditating disciples according to the pessimistic figure.

Though I've been told that Ajahn Brahmavamso has even more followers on Facebook than the Dalai Lama, I'm pretty sure that they don't number in the tens of millions. Certainly not the thousands of millions. And so the fact that he replies: "Not many," would not serve to cast any doubt at all on whether his teaching was an efficacious one by Visuddhimagga criteria. For even when Visuddhimagga standards are maintained to the last dot and comma, at best only one meditator in a million can expect to enjoy success.

I'd like to end this post by asking you, bhante, have you ever put to Pa-Auk Sayadaw the question that you put to Ajahn Brahmavamso? If you have, what was the sayadaw's answer?

Re: Ajahn Brahmavamso's Dark Jhana

Post by bksubhuti » 

There are probably over 1000 that have learned 8 jhanas* and more.There are multiple generations of teachers. (that is mentioned in the post)
... if "so little for A. Brahm to count" .. I wonder who is he teaching past lives to? Probably a little less than those who get jhana from him.

1 in 1000 as stated in the vsm is probably "run of the mill population selected at random"
Parami is a big factor and since there are billions in the world, that demographics might still be true.
We would hope that a successful person who is interested in vinaya/meditation monkhood and ordains in a foreign country* and interested in abhidhamma and pa-auk would have more parami than someone who has a headspace app on their phone. And we would hope that the person who has headspace on his new iPhone 12 Pro has more parami than someone who is struggling to survive and eat.
Past lives is off topic, but listed in Pa-Auk Saydawgyi's book "Knowing and Seeing" and his meditation manuals.
I might guess about 65% who were "successful" have done that too in pa-auk world.

I wrote much more on the numbers but deleted it.
I think the numbers are probably much higher than I am saying, but I want to be on the low side.

* This includes Asians from Asian countries ordaining in foreign countries
* Quality may vary even though jhana is jhana.
If you ask..
Parajika 4 Mula explains ven Mahamoggalana's jhana and hearing elephants bathing in the river
commentary says it was 4th jhana during the first 2 weeks. He was slower than average but it was worth it.
I explain this in detail in my book "Lessons in Abhidhamma" on my website.
Never the less, I have friends who have pure jhana and are not afraid to say this. That is a big deal to say when you mark it with "pure".
Two say 3 pure continuous hours is easy, but not much more.. even though they can sit much longer.. one sat for 48hr (the same one in my monk sits 24 hr jhana post). Pure or not, concentration was high enough not to stand up, eat, poop or pee for 48hrs. So "pure" jhana is a pretty high standard to claim.

Vism. followers wrongly claiming you can hear sounds in the 4 jhanas, citing parajika 4 Moggallana


Re: Ajahn Brahmavamso's Dark Jhana

Post by frank k » 

bksubhuti wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:53 am...
If you ask..
Parajika 4 Mula explains ven Mahamoggalana's jhana and hearing elephants bathing in the river
commentary says it was 4th jhana during the first 2 weeks. He was slower than average but it was worth it.
Moggallana was not in 4th jhana, parajika 4 says, imperturbable (anenja) samādhi.
Which usually means the arupa attainments, or the imperturbable version of 4th jhana that can exercise supernormal powers.
You can rule out 4th jhana then, since if someone were exercising supernormal powers, such as moggallana visiting deva realms and conversing with his physical body, it would be expected he could sense his own body and hear sounds.

So parajika 4's 'anenia samadhi' must be referring to arupa formless attainments, and moggallana's being impure because he could quickly switch between rupa and arupa and hear sounds.

detailed article on the subject of hearing in 4 jhanas:

Sunday, November 29, 2020

KN Mil 3.3.13-14: KN: Milinda-pañha vitakka and vicara supports correct EBT definition of "directed-thought and evaluation"

The original meaning of "appana" (applying, fixing upon), is the "directed" part of vitakka's "directed-thought". It's "fixing" the mind upon a kusala skillful Dharma thought, instead of the evil akusala thoughts that it tends to gravitate towards.

So when early Abhidharma talks about "appana" as part of vitakka's definition, and "appana samadhi" such as vimutti-magga, appana samadhi means one is fixed in kusala perceptions and/or thoughts, as opposed to being constantly drawn towards akusala thoughts in the province of 5 hindrances.

In Vism., appana samadhi gets redefined as the mind going into a predetermined time of frozen stupor, and one only has a single perception that does not change until one emerges from that frozen stupor. 

Here in KN Mil, you can see vitakka retains the original correct meaning of directing ones thoughts towards kusala thoughts, as opposed to akusala thoughts. Very similar to MN 20's first simile of the carpenter.

At least it works that way when vitakka is  translated correctly. If you plug in the wrong vitakka translation/interpretation from Vism., the simile is vague and general enough you could interpret it to support Vism's corrupted meaning of vitakka.

Analysis of 3.14

Now Vicara is even more interesting. It gives two similes.

1. The first simile is 'threshing'. The meaning of thresh, is to to use a flail to beat plants and separate the seed/grain from the plant. In other words, the directed thought of vitakka is like the plant, and vicara's 'evaluation' is drawing out the nutritious meaning/seed from the plant. Very much in agreement with KN Pe definitions of V&V. Vitakka fixes upon a line of kusala thinking, vicara's evaluation draws deeper meaning out of vitakka's directed thought. 

2. The second simile is of 'vicara' being the sound that results from vitakka's beating of the bronze vessel. Again, this is to show the close connection between vitakka and vicara. vicara is not a separate unrelated train of thought, it's something we're trying to extract a deeper meaning connected to the original vitakka directed-thought. 

So both of these 2 similes for vicara, especially the first one, strongly support correct EBT translation and interpretation of V&V.

Do they also support the corrupted Vism. interpretation of V&V?
Not in my opinion. In vism., you're staring at a kasina, vitakka is you 'placing your mind' on the kasina perception, and vicara is 'keeping the mind connected' to the kasina perception. These 2nd similes for vicara in KN Mil 3.3.14 matches up superficially. The reverberating sound follows the beating of the vessel.  But the sound reverberating is an EFFECT of the beating, not an independent event. With the mental activity of vitakka and vicara, as we see in the 3 way samadhi of suttas such as AN 8.63, you have samadhi without vitakka but WITH vicara. So in this simile, you have have the copper vessel making reverberating sounds without being beaten. That makes no sense. Unless you say a single leftover vitakka (single beating of vessel) leaves enough 'vicara' reverberating sound. Let's say that's true. Two problems with this. One, how long do you think the reverberation from one mighty strike of the vessel can last? One minute tops? So your vism. first jhana can only last one minute long? Second problem, a vism. first 'jhana' session would have many vitakka and vicaras. So again, it makes no sense for this simile where you have the vicara sound reverberations entirely dependent upon there being a vitakka. You would not be able to have a vism. first jhana in the 5 fold scheme with multiple vicaras arising and passing. You could only have a single vicara that lasted one minute tops, and that's it.

"vessel gathering shape": Also notice this part would make no sense with Vism. interpretation. As you beat the copper vessel (with vitakka), and as it forms a shape of the desired end product, a tool, sculpture, or whatever, the evolution of the shape is another reference to vicara's 'evaluation' drawing more meaning out of vitakka's directed thought. If this were a proper vism. simile, you would be mindlessly beating a circular copper bowl with the shape and color of an earth kasina, and the color wouldn't change and the shape wouldn't change, and you'd be pounding it repeatedly like someone in a frozen stupor.  

Remember the basic meaning of the pali word vi-cara. Cara is the same word using for traveling, walking, exploring. Vitakka fixes upon a kusala topic of thinking, vi-cara explores/evaluates. Perversely, Vism. redefines 'explore' to mean the antithetical opposite,  you stay absolutely still and don't move and don't think, just stare at a kasina in a frozen stupor. 

For the first simile of the threshing, the vism. interpretation makes no sense. What is the seed being separated? And how is the threshing of vicara different than what vitakka's "placing the mind on the kasina repeatedly"?