Samatha, vipassana and samadhi

I recently heard @Brahmali explain that samatha and vipassana are mental states, rather than meditation types.

What is the relationship between these states and samadhi?

My current understanding is that samatha is equivalent to upacarasamadhi, and thus lower, but on the same depth spectrum as jhana.

Does vipassana fall on the same spectrum, and if so where?

If not, then how does it contrast with samadhi?

Vipassana is a process resulting in insight. It involves the causal progression sila>samadhi>panna.

For a description of the causal progression see AN 11.2. This is the energy foundation underlying the practical exercises in the Anapanasati sutta, where in the final stage of practice the fourth tetrad is applied to the other three in reflection on impermanence. There are two stages, establishment and development (SN 47.40).
The main thing to understand is that sila is the basis.

Ajahn Brahmali wrote a nice booklet on the topic:

Screenshot from 2022-01-18 11-21-35

You can download a pdf from here (scroll down a bit).


This contribution too, is very worthwhile, I think.

Thank you for the contribution.
“A Honed and Heavy Axe”

The text is basically accurate, but equating tranquillity with ‘energy’ is incorrect. Tranquillity is a component of the passive group in the seven factors of awakening, which is composed of three active and three passive, with mindfulness as the governing factor. Understanding the relationship between calm and insight demands an understanding of the difference between the two groups, and importantly the sutta states this dynamic approach is what differentiates Buddhism from other religions. Going beyond the noble eightfold path and penetrating the actual energies involved requires this knowledge. This sutta also links calm with the element ‘water,’ and insight with ‘fire’ indicating the underlying elemental influence in the suttas:

“Now, monks, on any occasion when the mind is sluggish, that is the wrong time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The sluggish mind is hard to raise up by those mental qualities. Just as if a man, wanting to make a small fire blaze up, were to place wet grass in it, wet cow dung, & wet sticks; were to give it a spray of water and smother it with dust. Is it possible that he would make the small fire blaze up?”

“No, lord.”—SN 46.53
Four elements

Thanks. This book covers the same material as the talk I linked, but it’s useful for reference.

It seems to me that samatha and vipassana are definitely (distinct) scales [1, 2].

Is there also a distinction between samatha and samadhi? I thought samadhi was a “stillness” scale, and as “calm” seems synonymous with “stillness” I’m not sure if they are the same or different.

[1] “The degree of calm increases, stage by stage […] So calm is a relative thing.” (p.5)
[2] “If you imagine clear seeing as a sliding scale that starts at utter confusion and ends with full clarity of mind, then you are always at some point on that scale.” (p.7)

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