i was just reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Atthakanagara Sutta (The Man From Atthakanagara) which talk about the eleven doors to the deathless... namely the four jhanas, the four brahma-viharas and the first three immaterial jhanas. Each of these doors provide an opportunity for insight meditation.
There is a bit of standard text repeated for each one, I'll read it for the first jhana and you can extrapolate from there... (Ananda speaks...)
Here, householder, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He considers this and understands it thus: 'This first jhana is conditioned and volitionally produced' (abhisankhatam abhisancetayitam - apologies for lack of diacritics). But whatever is conditioned and volitionally produced is impermanent, subject to cessation.' If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints.
From Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html, here's the comparable section...
"There is the case, householder, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He reflects on this and discerns, 'This first jhana is fabricated & intended. Now whatever is fabricated & intended is inconstant & subject to cessation.' Staying right there, he reaches the ending of the mental fermentations.
So, my questions are as follows...
1. How can one "consider this and understands it thus" or "reflects on this and discerns" in the higher jhanas where discursive thought has stopped? It seems as this would require some discursive thought unless it was done retrospectively.
2. Those 'considerations' and 'reflections' on face value seem a little different to any vipassana instruction I've received. Is there any conflict or compatibility to be noted between 'considerations' and 'reflections' and equanimous observation of bare phenomena.
3. Assuming that brahma-viharas in their context here constitute jhana-level (please correct me if I'm wrong), the mention of insight without jhana seems conspicuous in its absence. Is this sutta common in recommending at least first-jhana prior to insight meditation in order to attain the deathless?