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Digha Nikaya (DN) 28.10 Sampasiidaniya Sutta: Serene Faith

Hi, came across an interesting sentence.

'Also unsurpassed in the Blessed Lord's way of teaching Dhamma in regard to the modes of progress, which are four:
  1. painful progress with slow comprehension
  2. painful progress with quick comprehension
  3. pleasant progress with slow comprehension
  4. pleasant progress with quick comprehension.

In the case of painful progress with slow comprehension, progress is considered poor on account of both painfulness and slowness.

In the case of painful progress with quick comprehension, progress is considered poor on account of painfulness.

In the case of pleasant progress with slow comprehension, progress is considered poor on account of slowness.

In the case of pleasant progress with quick comprehension, progress is considered excellent on account of both pleasantness and quick comprehension.

This is the unsurpassed teaching in regard to the modes of progress

~Digha Nikaya 28.10 Sampasiidaniya Sutta: Serene Faith tranlated by Ven Bhikku Bodhi

Ven Bhante Sujato explanation

IMO it mean, if meditation experience is pleasant comfortable with clear comprehension of dependent origination and 4 noble truths is considered excellent.
Please share your understanding, so that it can give deeper understanding.

Added later:
I doesn’t mean he do encounter unpleasant feelings/vedanas (not emotional feelings)

Greetings @five_aggregates
I’ve always taken it to be much broader.

Firstly comprehension, acceptance and full penetration of the 4 Noble Truths is the result of many things, not just sati and samadhi. It is a gradual process, and is dependent on the starting point of individuals, their accumulated kamma, current faculties of mind, as well as all aspects of the Noble 8 fold path.

In my personal opinion, while it is true that fast and joyful is perhaps the ‘nicest’ way to progress, one can hardly ‘choose’ it. Any of the 4 ways is great as far as I am concerned, for it is by no means assured that everyone will get to the later, or final stages of the Path in this life. If slow and painful is all that is available - then bring it on and I will embrace it gratefully.

It also brings to mind another sutta, which talks about 4 kinds of horses/people. AN4.113

113. The Goad

“Mendicants, these four fine thoroughbreds are found in the world. What four?

One fine thoroughbred is moved to act when it sees the shadow of the goad, thinking: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Some fine thoroughbreds are like that. This is the first fine thoroughbred found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred isn’t moved to act when it sees the shadow of the goad, but only when its hairs are struck, thinking: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Some fine thoroughbreds are like that. This is the second fine thoroughbred found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred isn’t moved to act when it sees the shadow of the goad, nor when its hairs are struck, but only when its hide is struck, thinking: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Some fine thoroughbreds are like that. This is the third fine thoroughbred found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred isn’t moved to act when it sees the shadow of the goad, nor when its hairs are struck, nor when its hide is struck, but only when its bone is struck, thinking: ‘What task will the horse trainer have me do today? How should I respond?’ Some fine thoroughbreds are like that. This is the fourth fine thoroughbred found in the world.

These are the four fine thoroughbreds found in the world.

In the same way, these four fine thoroughbred people are found in the world. What four?

One fine thoroughbred person hears about the suffering or death of a woman or man in such and such village or town. They’re moved to act by this, and strive effectively. Applying themselves, they directly realize the ultimate truth, and see it with penetrating wisdom. This person is like the fine thoroughbred that’s shaken when it sees the shadow of the goad. Some fine thoroughbred people are like that. This is the first fine thoroughbred person found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred person doesn’t hear about the suffering or death of a woman or man in such and such village or town, but they see it themselves. They’re moved to act by this, and strive effectively. Applying themselves, they directly realize the ultimate truth, and see it with penetrating wisdom. This person is like the fine thoroughbred that’s moved to act when its hairs are struck. Some fine thoroughbred people are like that. This is the second fine thoroughbred person found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred person doesn’t hear about the suffering or death of a woman or man in such and such village or town, nor do they see it themselves, but it happens to their own relative or family member. They’re moved to act by this, and strive effectively. Applying themselves, they directly realize the ultimate truth, and see it with penetrating wisdom. This person is like the fine thoroughbred that’s moved to act when its skin is struck. Some fine thoroughbred people are like that. This is the third fine thoroughbred person found in the world.

Furthermore, one fine thoroughbred person doesn’t hear about the suffering or death of a woman or man in such and such village or town, nor do they see it themselves, nor does it happen to their own relative or family member, but they themselves are afflicted with physical pain—sharp, severe, acute, unpleasant, disagreeable, and life-threatening. They’re moved to act by this, and strive effectively. Applying themselves, they directly realize the ultimate truth, and see it with penetrating wisdom. This person is like the fine thoroughbred that’s moved to act when its bone is struck. Some fine thoroughbred people are like that. This is the fourth fine thoroughbred person found in the world.

These are the four fine thoroughbred people found in the world.”

With metta

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Indeed, indeed. There is a lot of kamma coming into play.

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The usual way of looking at progress is by means of the four noble persons and the gradual elimination of the ten fetters. Stream-entry (the first noble person) involves the elimination of three fetters, personality-view, attachment to rites and rituals, and doubt, plus the attenuation of anger and desire. A practitioner can evaluate what headway has been made on this work. It is not necessary to understand dependent origination to achieve stream entry, but it is to understand impermanence, as it is the means of dismantling personality view.

“Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?” — “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” — “Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?” — “Painful, venerable Sir.” — “Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this is I, this is my self’”? — “No, venerable sir.”—SN 22.59

The four modes of practice are explained in detail in AN 4.162, see also 163:

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Painful and pleasant practice, fast and slow insight, are further defined in An 4.162 and An 4.163.

I am sorry I can’t post quotes here because I am just on a mobile phone right now. So you have to look them up yourself.

There’s also An 4.167 and 168 where Sariputta and Mahamogallana tell each other which one of these paths they followed in the practice.

As already said by Viveka, the most important word in this context is progress!

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Thanks @sabbamitta your references are usually useful.

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