agama parallel sutra comparison

(excerpt from email with Dr. W.Chu)
the Chinese sister sutra of MN77 (MA207) contains no mention of the kasinas, only the practice of the so-called 8 liberations. This is one of the reasons that some scholars think the inclusion of the kasinas was a late insertion. In the Chinese commentary 
Za-ahan bao ji lun, the kasinas are defined as preparatory practice to theformless attainments, rather than to jhanas. This makes a lot of sense, as I also mentioned in the past, the formless attainments are not about deeper concentration, but merely subtler perceptions that are arrived at by extricating the mind from previous states of relative disturbance. According to the commentary, the meditator is advised to train his perception by expanding it on an impression: starting with the impurities, then the purities (which are the equivalent of the kasinas--flawless primary colors used to instill a sense of beauty and to counter the feeling of disgust induced by the impurities), then the different perceptions of emptiness (kong--in this case, the formless attainments).