A few bits and pieces to read - for your delectation:Necessity of jhanas: panna-vimutto and sukkhavipassako
Thread begins with:
"There is a somewhat controversial question on whether jhanas are
necessary for the attainment of Arahantship.
One of the issues is the interpretation of "pa~n~naavimutto" or "one
released through wisdom". Please tell your opinion on the passage
below."http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pali/message/3512The Jhānas and the Lay Disciple According to the Pāli Suttas - Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
"The famous Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta declares, in its conclusion, that all those who earnestly dedicate themselves to uninterrupted practice of the four establishments of mindfulness are bound to reap one of two fruits: either arahantship in this very life or, if any residue of clinging remains, the stage of non-returning. While several exercises within the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta are certainly capable of inducing the jhānas, the system as a whole seems oriented towards direct insight rather than towards the jhānas. Thus this opens the question whether the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta might not be propounding a way of practice that leads all the way to non-returning, even to arahantship, without requiring attainment of the jhānas. "http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha267.htmInterview with Nina van Gorkom
When you write about the development of vipassana, you don’t speak about concentration methods or sitting practice.
Vipassana, insight, is actually panna (wisdom) which has been developed to clearly understand realities as they are, as non-self. It is not some special practice, it is not sitting or breathing. If one wishes to induce calm by sitting one still wants to get something. There is subtle clinging which can pass unnoticed. The aim of vipassana is to have less ignorance of realities, including our defilements, even subtle ones. Therefore it can and should be developed in daily life; any object can be an object for mindfulness and understanding.
But can’t sitting quietly be an assistance for mindfulness to arise?
Even mindfulness is anatta, non-self, it cannot be induced just by concentrating or trying to be calm or by sitting quietly. The conditions for mindfulness to arise are listening to the Buddha’s teaching, discussing, considering and pondering over realities. And it develops by studying realities as they appear in our daily lives. Some people find it difficult to accept that one cannot force sati to arise, and they wonder whether this means idleness. The Buddha taught us to develop all good qualities, such as generosity and metta, along with right understanding. It is understanding, actually, that should be emphasized.
Nevertheless, the Buddha taught concentration practices such as anapanasati--breathing mindfulness. Doesn’t that suggest that they are important?
We read about this in the scriptures because in the Buddha’s time there were people who were able to concentrate on the breath. This is a very subtle rupa, which is produced by citta. It is most difficult to be aware of breath, before one knows it one takes for breath what is something else, air produced by other factors, not breath. The commentary to the Kindred sayings V, The lamp, states that only Maha-Purisas, the great disciples can practice it in the right way. Thus, the Buddha did not teach that everyone should practice it. To those who were gifted, who had the accumulations to do so, he taught it. He explained that there is no self who is breathing, and that breath is only rupa.
How should we practice vipassana?
The situation is not: that a teacher tells you first what to do, that you "practise" together, that you do this, then that, at a certain time, in a special place. There is no rule, there is no special technique. In fact, we don’t use the words practising vipassana, but rather: developing understanding of realities little by little, and that, quite naturally, in daily life. We should see the advantage of understanding different realities, different momentary conditions, to realize that there is no "me" who is developing but that wisdom gradually develops. That this development can only happen if the right conditions are present. It can’t occur because of wanting or forcing or pretending to ourselves that "we" are making progress. However, understanding will gradually grow if there are the right conditions. It is anatta, not controllable by any self. http://www.abhidhamma.org/interview%20with%20nina.html