Thursday, March 05, 2009

samatha and vipassana

What is certain, however, is that the Pali suttas never explicitly admit the existence of arahants who altogether dispense with the jhanas. It might also be important to note that the Sarvastivadins did not adopt the term sukkhavipassaka or any other term that quite matches it. While this may be just a matter of circumstance, simply because the term sukkhavipassaka arose in an exegetical camp geographically far removed from their own centers of activity, another more fundamental reason may also be involved. It is possible that the Sarvastivadins did not speak of a “dry-insight arahant” because they never introduced the scission between samatha and vipassana as sharply as the Theravadin commentarial tradition did but saw the path of any paññavimutta arahant to involve an interplay of these two meditative factors. To qualify as a “full paññavimutta” arahant, as one who is utterly bereft of jhana, this practitioner must end the development of samatha at a level called samantakadhyana, “threshold meditation”, corresponding to access concentration (upacarasamadhi) of the Theravada commentaries. But, it seems, they never conceived the idea of a meditator “who makes [bare] insight the vehicle” (vipassanayanika, suddhavipassanayanika), the distinctly Theravadin notion of the meditator who eventually reaches final fruition as a dry-insight arahant.

Bikkhu Bodhi. "The Susima-sutta and the Wisdom-Liberated Arahant", in: The Journal of the Pali Text Society, Vol. XXIX (2007), pp. 50–74


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