hermitwin wrote:I did not say that Mahasi rejects samadhi.
But, I have been there, you are certainly not encouraged to dwell in samadhi.
Ultimately, which tradition is better?
That is up to the individual.
What is the best way to explain to a newbie the difference?
Sorry, perhaps I misunderstood. I took from your posts that were arguing that the Mahasi teachers did not teach samadhi and vipassana together. Clearly this is not the case, since it is clearly stated by Mahasi Sayadaw and others that samadhi is essntial (as in the quote I gave above). However, as you say, the Mahasi teachers (and the other teachers that you mention) do point out that samadhi is not the ultimate goal of the practice.
Chanmayay Sayadaw (a student of Mahasi Sayadaw) certainly does not dismiss jhana. Here he speaks of the practicality of various approaches for different circumstances:
So Vipassana meditation is of two types: The first, Vipassana meditation, insight meditation is preceded by Samatha meditation. The second is the pure Vipassana meditation or insight meditation not preceded by Samatha meditation. The first type of Vipassana meditation or Insight Meditation is practised by those who have ample time to devote to their meditation. They have to spend maybe three or four months on Samatha meditation. And when they are satisfied with their attainment of jhana concentration they proceed with Vipassana meditation.
Pure Vipassana meditation is practised by those who haven't enough time to devote to their meditation like yourselves, because you do not have three or four months or six months or a year for your meditation. So you can spend about ten days on your meditation. For such meditators pure Vipassana meditation is suitable. That's why we have to conduct a ten days Vipassana meditation retreat. Actually ten days meditation is not enough. The period is too short a time for a meditator to succeed in any noticeable experience in his meditation. But there are some who have some experience in Vipassana meditation who when their meditation experience becomes major can attain the higher stages of insight knowledge of the body-mind processes of their true nature. Although you can spend just ten days on your meditation, if you strive to attain the deep concentration with a strenuous effort without much interval or break in the course of your meditation for the whole day, then you are able to have some new experience of meditation. So the point is to practise intensively and strenuously as much as you can.