manjusri wrote:According to the Nyingma teacher whose teaching I attended recently, the nine and the five stages of shamatha are found, as he says, in the "source texts of the Buddha's canon." He adds, "The 9 stages are specifically in the shamatha instructions for the Shravaka." Can anyone corroborate this, given my lack of knowledge of the Shravakayana?
It would be interesting to know specifically what this teacher was referring to. I'm not sure whether any of us are familiar enough with the Pali canon to be able to say confidently that one or the other of these is not described somewhere in it, but I somewhat suspect not, since usually it's said that the meditation instructions in the Pali canon are reasonably terse and just a few suttas are considered our main source in the canon for meditation "instructions", and none of the familiar suttas that we know describe it in these terms.
In some Mahayana schools there is this organization of teachings by yana, and my impression is that "calm" meditation is counted as part of one of the lower yanas. This leaves open the possibility that the teacher had in mind some instructions for hearers that is in the Mahayana canon, but I don't know. I read an explanation of the yanas by Tsong Kha Pa which described the lower yanas as being practice "shared" with those motivated by a desire either just to have a better life in this life or later lives, or for personal liberation. This isn't the same as Theravada; in Theravada we have a teaching about practicing either just for others, just for yourself, or for both yourself and others, which is best. The conceptual framework is just not the same, overall, but of course this is a very well-worn topic. Presumably someone practicing for their own liberation would practice samatha, so it makes some logical sense to describe that as a practice "shared" with people who practice just for themselves, but it's not a categorization that we use in that way.
Rupert Gethin in The Foundations of Buddhism says that Upatissa and Buddhaghosa have a scheme of 5 stages of joy (piti): slight joy, momentary joy, descending joy, transporting joy, suffusing joy, while Asanga and Vasubandhu have the 9 stages of calm, without mentioning any prior sources for either one. For the latter he has a footnote referring to the Sravakabhumi ("Levels of Hearers") and some other texts with titles unfamiliar to me. He seems happy to identify both schemes as culminating in "access" concentration. I can't see where Buddhaghosa mentions this scheme of 5 types of joy. The Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa seems to describe the stages leading up to the first jhana mainly in terms of the three kinds of nimitta ("sign").