Mendicants, there are four ways of practice. What four?
Painful practice with slow insight,
painful practice with swift insight,
pleasant practice with slow insight, and
pleasant practice with swift insight
And what’s the painful practice with slow insight? It’s when a mendicant meditates observing the ugliness of the body, perceives the repulsiveness of food, perceives dissatisfaction with the whole world, observes the impermanence of all conditions, and has well established the perception of their own death
And what’s the pleasant practice with swift insight? It’s when a mendicant … enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption
But if we take Mahamoggallana sutta,
“Reverend Sāriputta … “
. I relied on the painful practice with swift insight to free my mind from defilements by not grasping.”
“Reverend Moggallāna … . I relied on the pleasant practice with swift insight to free my mind from defilements by not grasping.”
This is called the first absorption.’
And so … I was entering and remaining in the first absorption. While I was in that meditation, perceptions accompanied by sensual pleasures beset me due to loss of focus.
Similarly Ven.Sariputta also describes how he enters the jhanas and reach enlightenment.Anupadasutta
If both Venerables reached enlightenment through absorption meditation, how could one be painful while other is pleasant? Or is it that Ven. Moggallana meditates on asuba/impermanence/ugliness etc. ?
If there is no such evidence, I think it is because of liking/disliking of these Venerables and not based on the type of meditation.
Because in Mahagosinga sutta, Ven. Moggallana says that he delights in mendicants who like dharma discussion while Ven. Sariputta says he delights in mendicants that master their minds and can abide whatever jhana they want.
Therefor I think Ven. Moggallana likes dharma discussion and dislikes absorption meditation. Thus the path was painful and swift for him.
Similarly Ven.Sariputta likes controlling mind and likes absorption meditation. Thus the path was pleasant and swift for him.
In conclusion, I think if the path is easier to walk and similar to the personality of the person, it will be pleasant and if against their personality it will be painful.