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Sign (Skt. nimitta; Tib. མཚན་མ་, tsenma, Wyl. mtshan ma) could also be translated as 'mark' or 'distinguishing characteristic' and refers to the generic appearance of an object as distinct from its secondary characteristics. In the context of Theravada meditation practice it refers to an image that appears to the mind after developing a certain degree of mental concentration.

It can refer to features of an object that attract the mind's attention, engage with it more deeply, and develop emotional responses to it. Such marks or features are often considered to be ultimately false and deceptive. In a more positive sense it can refer to the focus of meditation practice. The term applies to both external objects and visualized images that are used to deepen meditative concentration and absorption.[1]

Alternative Translations

  • Feature (Dharmachakra Translation Committee)


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.