How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

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How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby Sati1 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:08 pm

Hello,

I am a bit conflicted about the importance of the 16 Stages of Insight (ñanas; as in Purification of View, Purification by Overcoming Doubt, etc), since some teachers don't seem to mention them at all (Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Ayya Khema?), whereas others place great emphasis on them (Sayadaw U Jotika, Ven. Ñanaranda, Vissuddhimagga, etc). Some of the stages seem very dramatic, and I doubt that they really apply to everyone (eg. noticing the "10 imperfections of insight" in Purification of Path and Non-Path or experiencing fear as one of the stages). I also have a hard time believing that the order of insights will really always be the same for everyone. My questions thus are: 1) does that sequence of insights always hold true on the path to stream-entry, and 2) is it beneficial to try to adhere to that sequence or should one just practice insight (eg. as per Satipatthana method) and then just take insights as they come?

Many thanks,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:55 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 16 stages of insight are not mentioned in the 4 main Nikayas. I think they are a commentarial construct that are based on the canon, but not explicitly detailed within it.
Peace,
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Re: How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:29 pm

As far as I know, the details of the Stages of Insight system is developed in the Commentaries. (There may be some mention in the Abhidhamma, there certainly is in the Abhidhamma commentaries). In the suttas we have:

MN 24, http://suttacentral.net/search?query=mn+24 Relay Chariots, from where the basic shape of the stages seems to be taken from:
"In the same way, my friend, purity in terms of virtue is simply for the sake of purity in terms of mind. Purity in terms of mind is simply for the sake of purity in terms of view. Purity in terms of view is simply for the sake of purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity. Purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of what is & is not the path is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision of the way is simply for the sake of purity in terms of knowledge & vision. Purity in terms of knowledge & vision is simply for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging. And it's for the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


SN 12.23, Discourse on Supporting Conditions viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11701&p=177846&hilit=progress+of+insight#p177838 has the sequence:
    faith
    gladness
    rapture
    tranquillity
    happiness
    concentration
    the knowledge and vision of things as they really are
    revulsion
    dispassion
    liberation
    the knowledge of destruction
which the Commentary maps onto the Progress of Insight (see the link for a long discussion of the sutta).

Note that this is the Classical Theravada section. Discussion of the usefulness/validity or otherwise of this system really belongs in another area of the Forum, such as the Meditation area. From the Classical point of view, we could say that this classification system was developed from the experience of awakened practitioners. In the Visuddhimagga there are many passages about how one practitioner experiences such-and-such in so-and-so a way, and anther in a different way...

:anjali:
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Re: How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby Denisa » Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:19 am

Sati1 wrote:How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?


Bhikkhu Analayo's "The Dynamics of Theravada Insight Meditation" and "The Seven Stages of Purification in Comparative Perspective" might be related to your question.
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Re: How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:24 am

:goodpost:

10 knowledge (Nana)

(1) comprehension (impermanence, unsatisfatoriness, notself)

impermanence
(2) rise and fall
(3) dissolution

unsatisfactoriness
(4) fear
(5) disadvantage
(6) disenchantment
(7) wish for deliverance

not-self
(8) reflection
(9) equanimity
(10) conformity

See also seven stages of purification.
http://www.nissarana.lk/wwwww/publicati ... nglist.php
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Re: How general are the 16 Stages of Insight?

Postby Sati1 » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:12 pm

Hello,

Thank you very much for your answers and for the articles. This is very helpful. If three of the leading meditation teachers (Mahasi Sayadaw, Pa Auk Sayadaw and SN Goenka) mention them in their instructions, then I would be inclined to consider them relatively general. I still find it surprising that Buddha would not have outlined them in any more detail than he did in MN 24.

:anjali:
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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