tiltbillings wrote:In other words, what was utterly dismissed was the traditional metta practices as we see in the suttas and the Visuddhimagga that talks about deliberately cultivating metta.
Absolutely not. We believe that there have been many great meditators that used jhana as a basis for insight. Deliberate meditation is not the problem at all, wrong concentration is. Jhana is a very high kusala. Obtaining it, and even attaining access concentration is extremely rare as the Visuddhimagga distinctly points out. Many times people take attachment as wholesome when trying to develop samatha and only develop wrong concentration because of it, this is of no help at all. People can also take attachment for metta, or other unwholesome mental factors as wholesome and so on. If the right wholesome cetasikas aren't present, there is no eight-fold-path present at a given time. Just because one is sitting attempting to focus on an object does not mean one is cultivating Right Concentration at all. As the texts make clear, no one at this time has the ability to master jhana (even the first jhana) to use it as a basis for insight, therefore thinking they are developing Right Concentration when they attempt samatha is rather wrong. It's just clinging, it's not detachment. It takes a very developed kind of panna to develop samatha. For example, if you enjoy watching TV, you cannot develop samatha bhavana to the level of jhana because you do not see the drawback in sense-desires enough (likewise a commentary states that monks who use money are incapable of attaining jhana). Only when you are truly detached and not forcing it can you develop samatha.