abhibháyatana: the 8 'stages of mastery', are powers to be obtained by means of the kasina-exercises (s.kasina). In the Com. to M. 77, where áyatana is explained by 'means' (kárana) it is said: "The abhibháyatana through their counteracting may master (suppress) the adverse states, and by means of higher knowledge they may master the objects of mind." They are means for transcending the sensuous sphere.
The stereotype text often met with in the Suttas (e.g. D. 11, 33; M. 77; A. VIII, 65; X, 29) is as follows:
(1) "Perceiving (blue..., red..., yellow..., white) forms on one's own body, one sees forms externally small ones, beautiful or ugly; and in mastering these one understands: 'I know, I understand.' This is the first stage of mastery.
(5) "Not perceiving forms on one's own body, one sees forms externally, blue forms, forms of blue color, blue appearance, blue lustre, and mastering these one understands: 'I know, I understand. This is the fifth stage of mastery."
As preparatory kasina-object for the 1st and 2nd exercise one should choose on one's own body a small or a large spot, beautiful or ugly, and thereon one should concentrate one's full undivided attention, so that this object after a while reappears as mental reflex or image (nimitta, q.v.) and, as it were, as something external.
Such an exercise, though appearing quite mechanical, if properly carried out will bring about a high degree of mental concentration and entrance into the 4 absorptions (jhána, q.v.). In the 3rd and 4th exercises the monk by an external kasina-object gains the mental reflexes and absorptions. As objects of the remaining exercises, perfectly clear and radiant colors should be chosen, flowers, cloth, etc.
By means of the blue-kasina one succeeds in causing blue forms to appear, in producing darkness, in reaching the stage of mastery with regard to beautiful and ugly colours, in reaching 'deliverance through the beautiful', etc." (cf. vimokkha II, 3).