Here's a relevant quotation:
"The suddhivipassanayanika yogi, the subject under discussion, is the lowest of several types of yogis, and he needs not develop jhana particularly to dispel the hindrances before the contemplation of the four foundations of mindfullness. He dispels them while contemplating on the four foundations of mindfullness. He has to do so because he is not possessed of special powers. He is like a person, who, having no boat to cross by, has to swim across the river."http://www.mahasi.org.mm/discourse/E24/E24ch03.htm
It seems that nobody is against jhana.
I have two questions:
How does one discern between momentary, access, absorption, and neighbourhood concentration? According to Leigh Brasington
How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
I thought this to be a clear definition: the object of concentration is stable in the mind, one can observe it and analyse it (with thoughts and concepts) and think about something else, too, without loosing track of it.
Absorption concentration means, I think, that one is merged with the object. One gets the impression "I am the object". Say, one concentrates on the tactile impression of the nostrils then absorption concentration is reached when one feels "I am the nostrils" - there is a shift of perspective, a shift INTO the object and away from our "normal" view (which localises us somewhere in the head and our personality). So I expect that when one reaches absorption concentration with, say, the "The Base of Infinite Space" (5th jhana) one has the impression "I am Infinite Space". One IS that "Infinite Space" rather than one's body and personality but one knows that this is so and that normally one is body and personality. It was mentioned that during this state of absorption concentration one cannot practice insight but I don't understand why this should not be possible. Just like during access concentration there is an awareness present that can be used to observe and analyse. In fact it is more easy to analyse because letting go of controlling the object is even more easy than during access concentration and the awareness is more lucid. So I would say that vipassana practice during a jhana should be more easy than afterwards. One just has to pay more attention to the awareness itself than to the object of the absorption.
Then there is neighbourhood concentration. The name itself suggests that it is that concentration on an object before absorption happens. For example
Leigh Brasington wrote:It has been mistaken for achieving oneness with all consciousness. It can be entered from the fifth Jhana by realizing that in order to "gaze" at an infinite spaciousness, you must have an infinite consciousness, and then shifting your attention to that consciousness.
So before the absorption into another object happens one is already aware of the object and it is stable and there is concentration linked on it. This is a slightly different state than absorption concentration: while during absorption one has the impression "I am Infinite Space", during neighbourhood concentration one has the impression "There is infinite space". It is also different from access concentration because there are no wispy thoughts and the like any more. I think vipassana should be also possible during neighborhood concentration.
And finally, momentary concentration. If I understand Mahasi Sayadaw's definition correctly the only difference is regarding the stability of an object. While during access concentration there is always the same object the object changes from moment to moment during momentary concentration. The point is that here, too, the lucid awareness arises in tandem with the object (any object that arises) so vipassana is possible, too.
Please correct me if these definitions are incorrect.
My second question is regarding the difference of classification of different kinds of yogis. I think I understand first jhana then vipassana: one enters jhana and then uses the awareness that is present during it (the very same lucid awareness that enables one to switch to another jhana) to observe and analyze (which slightly changes the experience). But I don't understand why it shouldn't be possible to ALSO practice dry insight as in the Mahasi Method during both sittings and every day issues? Isn't it possible to practice both ways and so be kinda both kinds of yogis?