I would be very interested to get everyones feedback in relation to this paper: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359231046_A_Brief_Overview_Comparing_the_Core_Theories_Cultivation_Practices_and_the_Interrelationships_of_Buddhism_Daoism_Brahmanism_and_Yoga
A Brief Overview Comparing the Core Theories, Cultivation Practices and the Interrelationships of Buddhism, Daoism, Brahmanism and Yoga
Fig. 1 ‘The Theravada Path to Enlightenment’ is incorrect in its focus on jhana as the primary means of release. In the diagram jhana should precede mindfulness as the latter, through the functional process of insight or vipassana, results in gradual awakening. Tranquillity is a support for that in its overcoming of the emotional fetters connected with restlessness. The overcoming of ignorance is the indicator of the awakening process:
"These two qualities have a share in clear knowing. Which two? Tranquillity (samatha) & insight (vipassana).
"When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.
"When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.
“Defiled by passion, the mind is not released. Defiled by ignorance, discernment does not develop. Thus from the fading of passion is there awareness-release. From the fading of ignorance is there discernment-release.”—AN 2.30
Actually I would disagree, I think the focus should be on jhana. “Jhana should precede mindfulness as the latter.” This statement seems contradictory. It’s impossible for jhana to precede mindfulness.
I could of course only be speaking of ‘mindfulness’ in the context shown in Fig 1, where the removal of the hindrances and the three unwholesome roots are attributed to jhana. Mindfulness in reality extends before, through, and after jhana as shown in DN 2, where Insight Knowledge follows jhana, and The Ending of Mental Fermentations through insight concludes the path description.
Abandoning the Hindrances
The Four Jhanas
The Ending of Mental Fermentations>
"He discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress… These are mental fermentations… This is the origination of fermentations… This is the cessation of fermentations… This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.’ His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, ‘Released.’
Here the four noble truths figure, which is the abandoning of ignorance through discernment (insight) referred to in AN 2.30. Suttas which describe awakening refer not to the unwholesome roots, but to the effluents.
MN 2 states stream entry can be attained by the following means, with no mention of jhana, but again the four noble truths are central:
“And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of becoming does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to. Through his not attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his attending to ideas fit for attention, unarisen fermentations do not arise in him, and arisen fermentations are abandoned.”
"He attends appropriately, This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.
I didn’t read it like that. It looked very much like the usual descriptions of the graduated training, with the abandoning of hindrances being necessary to attain jhana. As you imply, though, mindfulness (sati) and insight (vipassana) have become conflated in many modern discussions. Arguably, the diagram could have insight knowleges added explicitly below the jhana box, but I think the idea is that they were implied in the bottom centre box.
Shaun, thanks for providing this scholarship. I have just downloaded your paper here on my laptop in Chiang Mai and look forward with anticipation to reading your work as I travel back to the US tomorrow.
I’m looking forward to your analysis of this paper Michael.