Ben wrote: David N. Snyder wrote:
I believe you may be analyzing it the other way around. Bhikkhu Bodhi states:
Recently, however, several articulate teachers of meditation have argued down the validity of the dry insight approach, insisting that the jhānas are necessary for the successful development of insight at every stage. Their arguments usually begin by making a distinction between the standpoints of the Pāli Canon and the Commentaries. On this basis, they maintain that from the perspective of the Canon jhāna is needed to attain even stream-entry. The Nikāyas themselves do not address this problem in clear and unambiguous terms, and it is difficult to derive from them any direct pronouncement on its resolution.
Jhanas may be necessary for successful development of insight, but one need not be at such a high level just because jhana has occurred. Alara Kalama was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the third formless realm. Udaka Ramaputta was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the fourth formless realm.
And let's not forget Bahiya who was a master of the eight jhanas before he encountered the Buddha.
Citation please Ben?
The Buddha said that he who practices the jhanas is in the vicinity of nibbana (paraphrasing), so I think its unlikely that jhana was being practiced before the Buddha rediscovered the path. This is supported by the suttic reference to Nigantha Nataputta being oblivious to the existence of jhana, and also by the Budda recollecting the rose apple tree rather than his time with Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta.
The one person that I know who can attain to all 8 jhanas has told me that he can't see how the arupas can be attained to without going through the first four jhanas.
I think Ajahn Brahm is correct with his comments in this area. I think many who propose that jhana was commonplace do so mainly because they have a vested interest (i.e proposing a separate insight path), or because they themselves struggle to attain these states and so downplay the importance of jhana.
The clue is in the descriptions of Nibbana. The samatha-ing
of all kamma formations. Its all about samatha
The path is a progressive letting go towards cessation. The intermediary stages are the jhanas.