According to the Pali Sutta
by VENERABLE BHIKKHU BODHI
Size: 5.5” x 8.25”
Pages: 48 pages
In Theravada Buddhist circles during the past few decades a debate has repeatedly erupted over the question whether or not jhāna is necessary to attain the “paths and fruits,” that is, the four graded stages of enlightenment. The debate has been sparked off by the rise to prominence of the various systems of insight meditation that have become popular both in Asia and the West, especially among lay Buddhists.
Those who advocate such systems of meditation contend that the paths and fruits can be attained by developing insight (vipassanā) without a foundation of jhāna. This method is called the vehicle of bare insight (suddhavipassanā), and those who practise in this mode are known as “dry insighters” (sukkha-vipassaka) because their practice of insight has not been “moistened” by prior attainment of the jhānas. Apparently, this system finds support from the Visuddhimagga and the Pāli Commentaries, though it is not given a very prominent place in the commentarial treatment of the path, which usually follows the canonical model in placing the jhānas before the development of insight.
The booklet helped to answer these three specific questions:
- Do the texts indicate that a worldling must attain jhāna before entering upon the "fixed course of rightness" (sammatta-niyāma), the irreversible path to stream-entry?
- Do the texts typically ascribe the jhānas to lay disciples who have attained stream-entry?
- If the texts do not normally attribute the jhānas to the stream-enterer, is there any stage in the maturation of the path where their attainment becomes essential?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi (b. 1944, NYC), born Jeffrey Block, is an American Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York/New Jersey area. He was appointed the second president of the Buddhist Publication Society and has edited and authored several publications grounded in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
In 1944, Block was born in Brooklyn, NY. In 1966, he obtained a B.A. in philosophy from Brooklyn College. In 1972, he obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School.
In 1967, while still a graduate student, Bodhi was ordained as a novice monk in the Vietnamese Mahayana order. In 1972, after graduation, Bodhi traveled to Sri Lanka where, under Ven. Ananda Maitreya, he received novice ordination and, in 1973, he received full ordination in a Theravada order.
In 1984, succeeding co-founder Ven. Nyanaponika Thera, Bodhi was appointed English-language editor of the Buddhist Publication Society (BPS, Sri Lanka) and, in 1988, became its president. In 2002, he retired from the society's editorship while still remaining its president.
In 2000, at the United Nations' first official Vesak celebration, Bodhi gave the keynote address.
In 2002, after retiring as editor of BPS, Bodhi returned to the United States. He currently teaches at Bodhi Monastery (Lafayette, New Jersey) and Chuang Yen Monastery (Carmel, New York) and is the chairman of the Yin Shun Foundation.
ALSO BY VEN. BHKKHU BODHI
ISBN 978-983-3512-55-3 (IJ160/08)
Meditation, Insight, Vipassana