Important Principles on the Realization of Nibbāna

Important Principles on the Realization of Nibbāna

The following questions are often debated among Buddhist scholars and practitioners:

  • Can someone who only practises insight meditation (vipassanā) attain arahantship, without practising tranquillity meditation (samatha)?
  • Is it necessary to attain jhāna before attaining Nibbāna?
  • To achieve the six kinds of ‘higher psychic attainments’ (abhiññā), is it sufficient to have attained the fourth jhāna or must one have also attained the formless jhānas (i.e., the eight samāpatti)?
  • To attain the knowledge of the destruction of the taints (āsavakkhaya-ñāṇa) and realize Nibbāna, must one have previously attained the reminiscence of past lives (pubbenivāsānussati-ñāṇa) and the knowledge of the decease and rebirth of beings (cutūpapāta-ñāṇa)?
  • While in jhāna can one practise insight and contemplate conditioned phenomena or must one first emerge from jhāna?
  • Is it possible to develop samatha further and achieve concentrative attainments (jhāna-samāpatti) after attaining path and fruit (magga-phala)?

Some of these questions involve key aspects of realizing Nibbāna, some are only tangentially related, and some have already been discussed at length, especially the question on whether a person can attain Nibbāna by solely practising insight meditation. This section will focus on those questions which are directly related to realization, drawing upon evidence from the scriptures.

General Aspects of Realization

I declare, O monks, that the destruction of the taints occurs in dependence on the first jhāna, or the second jhāna, or the third jhāna, or the fourth jhāna; in dependence on the base of the infinity of space, or the base of the infinity of consciousness, or the base of nothingness, or the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, (or in dependence on the cessation of perception and feeling).1

This sutta and three other suttas2 describe the way to use each stage of concentrative attainment for reflection and to gain insight into the true nature of conditioned phenomena. The above sutta continues:

When it is said, ‘I declare, O monks, that the destruction of the taints occurs in dependence on the first jhāna,’ for what reason is this said? Here … a monk enters and dwells in the first jhāna…. Whatever states are included there comprised by form, feeling, perception, volitional formations or consciousness: he views those states as impermanent, as subject to pressure … as empty, as non-self.3 Having viewed them thus, his mind then turns away from those states and focuses upon the deathless element: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime: that is … Nibbāna.’ If he sustains [the first jhāna],4 he attains the destruction of the taints; but if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of delight in the Dhamma, then … he is due to be spontaneously reborn (in the celestial realm Suddhāvāsa) and there attain final Nibbāna, without ever returning from that world.5

From here the sutta describes a similar process of cultivating insight to reach the destruction of the taints for each of the concentrative levels all the way up to the sphere of nothingness.6

The Mahāmāluṅkya Sutta has less detail but describes the contemplation of the three characteristics in reference to the five aggregates, in each of the jhānas up to the sphere of nothingness, resulting in the destruction of the taints. The Aṭṭhakanāgara and Dasama suttas have a slight variation:

A monk enters and abides in the first jhāna…. He considers this and understands it thus: ‘This first jhāna is conditioned and volitionally produced. But whatever is conditioned and volitionally produced is impermanent, subject to cessation.’ Sustaining that [first jhāna], he attains the destruction of the taints.

These four suttas contain essentially the same information; they differ only in minor details. They describe the development of insight in jhāna, from the first jhāna to the sphere of nothingness, ending in the destruction of the taints. The Jhāna Sutta, however, adds a summary:

Thus, monks, there is penetration to final knowledge (aññā-paṭivedha) as far as meditative attainments accompanied by perception (saññā-samāpatti) reach.7

This means that in jhāna, from the sphere of nothingness and below, there is perception (along with other accompanying aggregates), which can be applied for contemplation and supports insight for the realization of the destruction of the taints. In the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatana), perception is too refined and cannot be applied for contemplation. This holds even more true in the extinction of perception and feeling (saññāvedayita-nirodha). Therefore these two attainments are not ‘attainments accompanied by perception’ (saññā-samāpatti).

If this is so, how is it possible to attain the destruction of the taints while in the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and in the extinction of perception and feeling? The answer is that one must first exit these highest levels of concentrative attainment and then apply wisdom to contemplate conditioned phenomena and reach the destruction of the taints. The Anupada Sutta contains a passage concerning the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception:

Again, monks, by completely surmounting the base of nothingness, Sāriputta entered upon and abided in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. He emerged mindful from that attainment. Having done so, he contemplated the past states, which had ceased and changed, thus: ‘So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they vanish.’8

Similar explanations are given in reference to the extinction of perception and feeling (saññāvedayita-nirodha): having emerged from this attainment, a person contemplates the fine-material qualities of this state, contemplates the qualities in the preceding state of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, or contemplates all conditioned phenomena, to understand the truth and reach the destruction of the taints.9

In a similar fashion, one can contemplate conditioned phenomena or the mental constituents of jhāna after emerging from each of the jhānas, from the sphere of nothingness down to the first jhāna.10 The passages above are provided, however, to prove that it is also possible to develop insight while abiding in these states of jhāna, without first emerging from them. Only with the two highest concentrative attainments—of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and the extinction of perception and feeling—must one first exit in order to develop insight.11

The commentaries refer to one who practises in this way as ‘one who uses tranquillity as a vehicle’ (samatha-yānika): such a practitioner practises tranquillity until reaching jhāna, at which point he or she develops insight. This is the first way of practice in a group of four, which is mentioned in the scriptures:

  • The practice of insight preceded by tranquillity (samatha-pubbaṅgama-vipassanā-bhāvanā).
  • The practice of tranquillity preceded by insight (vipassanā-pubbaṅgama-samatha-bhāvanā).
  • The practice of tranquillity and insight in association (yuganaddha-samatha-vipassanā-bhāvanā).
  • The way of practice when the mind is distorted or misled by an excitement or agitation in regard to the Dhamma (dhammuddhacca-viggahita-mānasa). Here one has the misapprehension that the intermediate results of one’s practice constitute path, fruit, and Nibbāna.12

These four ways of practice are a summary of the four pathways (magga) described by Venerable Ānanda:

Friends, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhunī has declared the attainment of arahantship in my presence has done so by these four paths or by a certain one among them. What four?

Here, friends, a monk develops insight preceded by tranquillity. While he develops insight preceded by tranquillity, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.

Again, friends, a monk develops tranquillity preceded by insight. While he develops tranquillity preceded by insight, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops and cultivates that path … and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.

Again, friends, a monk develops tranquillity and insight in tandem. While he thus develops tranquillity and insight in tandem, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops and cultivates that path … and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.

Or again, friends, a monk’s mind is seized by agitation caused by higher states of mind. But there comes a time when his mind becomes internally steady, composed, unified, and concentrated. Then the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops and cultivates that path … and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.13

Insight preceded by tranquillity: the Paṭisambhidāmagga defines this thus: initially, the mind is one-pointed, steady and concentrated.14 This concentration can arise from any of these causes: the power of renunciation (nekkhamma); the power of a freedom from ill-will (abyāpāda); the perception of light (āloka-saññā), which combats drowsiness; an absence of restlessness (avikkhepa); reflection on aspects of Dhamma (dhamma-vavatthāna), which dispels doubt; knowledge (ñāṇa); joy (pāmojja);15 the first jhāna; the second jhāna; the third jhāna; the fourth jhāna; the sphere of infinity of space (ākāsānañcāyatana); the sphere of infinity of consciousness (viññāṇañcāyatana); the sphere of nothingness; the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; the ten kasiṇa meditations; meditation on the ten reflections (anussati); meditation on the ten stages of decay (asubha); and meditation on the thirty-two aspects of mindfulness of breathing.16 Concentration is followed by wisdom, which discerns all the attributes of the different stages of concentration as impermanent, subject to pressure (dukkha),17 and nonself.

The commentaries present a simpler explanation for this first way of practice: a person first develops concentration (either access concentration or attainment concentration). He then reflects on that level of concentration, along with accompanying mental factors, as impermanent, etc., until there is noble path-attainment (ariya-magga).18

Tranquillity preceded by insight: the Paṭisambhidāmagga explains:19 initially, a person uses insight to see things as impermanent, subject to pressure, and nonself. Then, he ‘lets go’ of all the qualities manifest during insight meditation, and this ‘letting go’ becomes the new object of meditation. The mind then becomes one-pointed and concentrated.

The commentaries elaborate: a person has not yet generated tranquillity, but he or she discerns the universal characteristics (impermanence, etc.) in the five aggregates of clinging (upādāna-khandha). When insight (vipassanā) is complete, ‘letting go’ of all factors of insight becomes the object of meditation and the mind becomes one-pointed and concentrated. This leads to path attainment.20

The commentaries say that whichever of these two ways of practice a person follows (tranquillity preceded by insight or insight preceded by tranquillity), tranquillity and insight must always arise side by side at the moment of noble path attainment.21 This is so because samatha and vipassanā are essentially equivalent to the eight factors of the Noble Path: vipassanā equals right view (sammā-diṭṭhi) and right intention (sammā-saṅkappa), and samatha comprises all the remaining six factors. These eight factors arise naturally together at the moment of attaining the ‘noble realm’ (ariya-bhūmi).22

Tranquillity and insight in tandem: the Paṭisambhidāmagga explains:23 a person develops tranquillity and insight in tandem, in sixteen ways. One of these ways is that the practice of samatha and the practice of vipassanā lead to an identical object of meditation (ārammaṇa). For example, when one abandons restlessness (uddhacca), the mind becomes concentrated and ‘cessation’ (nirodha) becomes the object of awareness. (At the same time), by abandoning ignorance, insight arises and ‘cessation’ becomes the object of awareness. In this way, tranquillity and insight work together on an equal basis.

Some commentarial passages claim that although there is cooperation between tranquillity and insight, this does not mean that samatha and vipassanā arise simultaneously, since it is not possible to contemplate conditioned phenomena while the mind is one-pointed in jhāna.24 These passages state that these two ways of meditation act as a pair in so far that insight follows on from a person’s level of concentrative attainment, and equally the next level of concentrative attainment relies on one’s previous level of insight. A person enters first jhāna, exits first jhāna, contemplates the conditioned nature of first jhāna, enters second jhāna, exits second jhāna, contemplates the conditioned nature of second jhāna, enters third jhāna, etc., until he exits from and contemplates the conditioned nature of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.25 An important example of this explanation is the account of Venerable Sāriputta, who developed tranquillity and insight in tandem, from the first jhāna to the attainment of path and fruit (of arahantship).26

The way of practice when the mind is misled by higher states of mind: the Paṭisambhidāmagga explains:27 when a person reflects on the three characteristics in reference to the five aggregates, the following mind states may arise: radiance (obhāsa), knowledge (ñāṇa), bliss (pīti), serenity (passaddhi), joy (sukha), determination (adhimokkha), balanced effort (paggāha), careful attention (upaṭṭhāna), equanimity (upekkhā), and devotion (nikanti). The practitioner here believes that the radiance, for example, is a higher state of mind: he believes he has attained path, fruit, or Nibbāna. Thinking in this way causes restlessness and these ten states of mind are not seen as they really are, as impermanent, subject to pressure, and not-self. Wise discernment of these ten mind states causing the mind to waver leads to a settled, clear and concentrated mind. With this wisdom, one is not carried away by these mind states. The heart is pure and still and one’s meditation will neither be misguided nor impaired. The path can subsequently arise.

The commentaries refer to these higher states of mind as the ten ‘impurities of insight’ (vipassanūpakkilesa),28 which arise in people whose insight practice is still weak (taruṇa-vipassanā). Because these qualities are excellent and have not been experienced before, practitioners are likely to believe they have attained path and fruit. This misunderstanding leads them to deviate from the way of insight; they abandon their meditation practice while delighting in these states of mind. The correct way of practice is to recognize the true nature of these mental states when they arise: that they are impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen (paṭicca-samuppanna), and subject to decline. They do not belong to us; they are not who we are (‘I am not this; this is not mine’). By not being overly excited by these mental states, attachment to them wanes. A person is then able to practise correctly until reaching path and fruit.29

According to the commentaries, there are two principal ways of practice: insight preceded by tranquillity and tranquillity preceded by insight. The remaining two ways of practice are simply extensions of these former two. The third way of practise, of tranquillity and insight in tandem, is a subdivision of the first way of practice. The fourth way of practice is applied in special circumstances, when specific problems arise by practising the first three ways. It is a strategy for solving these problems arising in practice.

These two principal ways of practice are probably the origin of the two meditation techniques enumerated in the commentaries: the ‘vehicle of tranquillity’ (samatha-yāna) of the samatha-yānika (‘one who uses tranquillity as a vehicle’) and the ‘vehicle of insight’ (vipassanā-yāna) of the vipassanā-yānika (‘one who uses insight as a vehicle’). The samatha-yānika practises tranquillity first and insight later. Generally speaking, this tranquillity can simply be ‘access concentration’ (upacāra-samādhi) or it can refer to ‘attainment concentration’ (appanā-samādhi) of the jhānas.30 The commentaries prefer the more restricted meaning, for someone who has attained the jhānas.31 They claim that the way of practice described by the Buddha, quoted at the beginning of this section (i.e., that the destruction of the taints occurs in dependence on the first jhāna, etc.), belongs to the samatha-yānika.

A vipassanā-yānika is also called a suddha-vipassanā-yānika—‘one who practises pure insight as a vehicle.’ This refers to those who develop insight without having previously developed concentration. When they have correctly contemplated the true nature of things, the mind becomes peaceful and concentration arises automatically. At first, the concentration may be ‘temporary’ (khaṇika-samādhi), which is the lowest level of concentration required for subsequent insight practice, as confirmed by this passage:

Without temporary concentration, insight cannot function.32

Someone who begins with temporary concentration and then practises insight is also classified as a vipassanā-yānika, because most everyone experiences temporary concentration when the mind is settled in an activity or due to a conducive environment. As concentration becomes naturally stronger through insight practice, it may develop into ‘access concentration’ (upacāra-samādhi): concentration on the verge of jhāna.33 Finally, at the moment of realizing path and fruit, concentration is well-established as ‘attainment concentration,’34 and one reaches at least the first jhāna.35 This accords with the principle mentioned earlier, that a person realizing the ‘noble realm’ must be accomplished in both tranquillity and insight.

When those who use tranquillity as a vehicle attain arahantship, they are divided into two kinds: those liberated by wisdom (paññā-vimutta) and those liberated both ways (ubhatobhāga-vimutta). The former are those who have attained jhāna not higher than the fourth jhāna. The latter are those who have attained a formless jhāna or higher, up to the extinction of perception and feeling. Those who use insight as a vehicle and who attain arahantship are all classified as paññā-vimutta, and the commentaries assign a special name for them: sukkha-vipassaka (‘dry insight practitioners’).36 The commentaries divide the arahants into ten kinds, listed from the highest to the lowest:37

A. Those Liberated Both Ways (bhatobhāga-vimutta):38

1. Liberated in both ways and accomplished in the extinction of perception and feeling.

2. Liberated in both ways and accomplished in the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

3. Liberated in both ways and accomplished in the sphere of nothingness.

4. Liberated in both ways and accomplished in the sphere of infinite consciousness.

5. Liberated in both ways and accomplished in the sphere of infinite space.

B. Those Liberated by Wisdom (paññā-vimutta):

6. Liberated through wisdom and accomplished in the fourth jhāna.

7. Liberated through wisdom and accomplished in the third jhāna.

8. Liberated through wisdom and accomplished in the second jhāna.

9. Liberated through wisdom and accomplished in the first jhāna.

10. Liberated through wisdom as a ‘dry insight practitioner.’

The first nine kinds of arahants use tranquillity as a vehicle; their concentrative accomplishments occur before practising insight. The tenth kind of arahant uses insight as a vehicle.


1 Jhāna Sutta at A. IV. 422-3; the passage in parentheses is not found in the Siam Raṭṭha edition in Thai, but is found in other editions, for example the Burmese edition.

2 Mahāmāluṅkya Sutta (M. I. 432-37), Aṭṭhakanāgara Sutta (M. I. 349-53), and Dasama Sutta (A. V. 343-4); the latter two suttas are identical but with different names and origins.

3 For the formless jhānas the word ‘form’ is removed since in these jhānas there is no contemplation of form; there is only contemplation of the four nāma-khandha: vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa.

4 ‘If he sustains (the first jhāna)’ is translated from the Pali: so tattha ṭhito. AA. IV. 196 explains this as: ‘If he sustains the first jhāna (or each of the successive jhānas), he develops strong insight and realizes arahantship.’ Another definition is: ‘He sustains insight with the three characteristics (tilakkhaṇa) as the objects of meditation’ (MA. III. 188). MA. III. 14 and AA. V. 85 explain this as: ‘He sustains samatha and vipassanā.’

5 I.e., he or she is a non-returner (anāgāmī).

6 Thus including the four fine-material jhānas and the first three immaterial jhānas.

7 A. IV. 426.

8 M. III. 28; compare this with the description of contemplating conditioned phenomena while in the sphere of nothingness (and while in lower jhānas), in which there is no mention of exiting the absorption. E.g., in the above sutta it says: Again, bhikkhus, by completely surmounting the base of infinite consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing,’ Sāriputta entered upon and abided in the base of nothingness. And the states in the base of nothingness—the perception of the base of nothingness and the unification of mind; the contact, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness; the zeal, determination, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and attention—these states were known to him one by one as they occurred; known to him those states arose, known they were present, known they disappeared. He understood thus: ‘So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they vanish.’ The Cūḷaniddesa, a secondary text, explains the contemplation of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in a similar way to the Majjhima-Nikāya above: He entered upon and abided in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Having emerged from that attainment, he regarded, examined, reflected on, and investigated the mind and the mental constituents arising in that attainment as impermanent … subject to pressure … not-self … not free (Nd. II. 23). An examination of the original text (Sn. 205-6), however, reveals that the phrase ‘base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’ here is an error. It should read ‘sphere of nothingness,’ as confirmed by the commentaries (NdA. 30; SnA. II. 593). The secondary and later texts ordinarily describe the contemplation of conditioned phenomena and the development of insight after emerging from concentrative attainments, irrespective of how high or low these attainments are.

9 See: MA. IV. 91. For more information, see Appendix 2.

10 ‘Emerging from the jhānas’ here corresponds with the commentarial explanation of exiting the states of mind empowered by that specific attainment, i.e., one does not use jhāna as a foundation.

11 On whether one can develop insight in the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, see: Appendix 3.

12 The commentaries classify dhammuddhacca as ‘impurities of insight’ (vipassanūpakkilesa): AA. III. 143; Vism. 634. The term viggahita is here translated as ‘excited and agitated’ in line with VismṬ.: Maggāmaggañāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Vipassanupakkilesakathāvaṇṇanā.

13 A. II. 157-8; Ps. II. 92; referred to at VismṬ.: Maggāmaggañāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Vipassanupakkilesakathāvaṇṇanā.

14 Ps. II. 93-6; cf.: Ps. I. 95, 175-6.

15 The Paṭisambhidāmagga describes how these seven qualities, from renunciation to joy, are involved in the arising of access concentration (upacāra-samādhi) for pure insight practitioners (sukkha-vipassaka): PsA. I. 310; cf. PsA. I. 68, 103.

16 It would be enough to simply mention the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, since this is the highest jhāna. This long list is presented to show the distinction between states of mind that are attained (from the first jhāna to the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception) and ways of practice to reach these attainments (cf. PsA. I. 312).

17 [For more on the three universal characteristics (tilakkhaṇa), see: ‘The Three Signs’; translated by Robin Moore ©2007. There is no single English word that encompasses the full meaning of the Pali term dukkha. According to the primary Thai translation of this term (gahn tuke beep kan—การถูกบีบคั้น) by the author, itself based on the chief commentarial explanations, in the context of the three characteristics I use the English translation ‘subject to pressure.’ The more common English translation ‘unsatisfactory’ is also valid.]

18 See: MA. I. 108; NdA. II. 313.

19 Ps. II. 96.

20 See: MA. I. 108; NdA. II. 313; AA. III. 143; ItA. I. 54. A. II. 92-4 mentions those who have tranquillity but no insight and those who have insight but no tranquillity. These attainments are called ceto-samatha and adhipaññā-dhamma-vipassanā, respectively. AA. III. 116 explains these as attainment concentration (appanā-samādhi) and insight contemplating conditioned phenomena. This passage from the Aṅguttara Nikāya reveals that gaining insight does not inevitably give rise to tranquillity, or as the commentaries say: although one gains insight, one may not reach the desired level of concentration, i.e., jhāna. One is encouraged in this case to make more effort practising samatha. This passage also reveals the encouragement to practise tranquillity and insight as a pair, in order to eliminate the taints at a later stage. Cf.: A. V. 99; A. IV. 360-1; the identical passage occurs at: Pug. 7-8, 61-2. The Abhidhamma gives a lofty definition of these terms, explaining ceto-samatha as the fine-material and immaterial attainments, and adhipaññā-dhamma-vipassanā as path and fruit (PañcA. 244). From this explanation, one who attains tranquillity but not insight is an unenlightened person who has attained the eight jhānas, while someone who attains insight but not tranquillity is a noble disciple who is a pure-insight practitioner. Someone who has attained neither is an ordinary, unawakened person.

21 MA. I. 108; Vism. 682. PsA. I. 281 states that tranquillity and insight are mutually supportive both at the time of aspiring to the Noble Path and at the moment of attaining the path. AA. II. 184 states that tranquillity and insight act as a pair at path attainment and at fruition attainment. Cf.: Ps. I. 70; PsA. I. 287; UdA. 397; ItA. II. 29.

22 Samatha, vipassanā and the factors of the Path, see: PsA. I. 195; VbhA. 120; VismṬ.: Indriyasaccaniddesavaṇṇanā, Ekavidhādivinicchayakathāvaṇṇanā. The eight factors of the Path arising simultaneously at the moment of ‘path-knowledge’ (magga-ñāṇa), see: PsA. I. 195; VbhA. 120; Vism. 680; MA. II. 363. In fact, the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment (bodhipakkhiya-dhammā) arise simultaneously in the mind at the moment of ‘path-knowledge.’ Note that this interpretation of the factors of the path or of enlightenment arising simultaneously comes from the Abhidhamma, which states that the thirty-seven factors are mental constituents (cetasika) arising in a single mind moment. The number of path factors or enlightenment factors present at the moment of ‘path-knowledge’ can also be reduced, depending on the kind of knowledge accompanying that particular stage of the path (see: PsA. I. 193; DhsA. 228; Vism. 666-7; DA. III. 804; CompṬ.: Cittaparicchedavaṇṇanā, Vitthāragaṇanavaṇṇanā).

23 Ps. II. 97-100.

24 [For more on this subject see Appendix 2.]

25 AA. III. 143.

26 MA. IV. 90; in reference to: M. III. 25-9.

27 Ps. II. 101-2.

28 The ten ‘impurities of insight’: 1. obhāsa: a beautiful radiance previously unknown; 2. ñāṇa: a penetrating knowledge; a feeling that one can contemplate everything without obstruction; 3. pīti: bliss; thorough contentment; 4. passaddhi: serenity; the mind and body feel exceedingly tranquil, light, agile and bright; an absence of agitation, heaviness and discomfort; 5. sukha: an exceptional, refined happiness pervades the body and mind; 6. adhimokkha: a tremendous faith that accompanies insight and fills the mind with joy; 7. paggāha: balanced effort; a state of being neither too strict nor to lax; 8. upaṭṭhāna: clear, well-established mindfulness; an ability to recollect with dexterity and fluency; 9. upekkhā: equanimity in relation to all conditioned phenomena; 10. nikanti: a profound and peaceful satisfaction, which creates an attachment to insight; this is a subtle form of craving (taṇhā), which the practitioner is unable to discern. See: Vism. 633-7; VismṬ.: Maggāmaggañāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Vipassanupakkilesakathāvaṇṇanā.

29 For more detail, see: Vism. 633-8; AA. III. 143; NdA. 106; VinṬ.: Tatiyapārājikaṃ, Ānāpānassatisamādhikathāvaṇṇanā; VismṬ.: Maggāmaggañāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Vipassanupakkilesakathāvaṇṇanā; see also the second part of the Paṭisambhidāmagga Aṭṭhakathā, on the section including the yuganaddha-gathā (Burmese or Roman alphabet editions—Thai edition has not yet been published).

30 E.g.: VismṬ.: Diṭṭhivisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Nāmarūpapariggahakathāvaṇṇanā.

31 E.g.: Vism. 588.

32 VismṬ.: Paṭhamo Bhāgo, Nidānādi-kathā-vaṇṇanā; cf.: VinA. II. 433; Vism. 289; VismṬ.: Anussatikammaṭṭhānaniddesavaṇṇanā, Ānāpānassatikathāvaṇṇanā.

33 VismṬ. (Paṭipadāñāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesavaṇṇanā, Saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa-kathā-vaṇṇanā) describes those suddha-vipassanā-yānika without jhāna, which means they achieve temporary or access concentration. Samatha-yānika and vipassanā-yānika can be matched with the appanā-kammaṭṭhāna and upacāra-kammaṭṭhāna in the cultivation of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna): DA. III. 754 = MA. I. 239 = VibA. 215 correspond with DA. III. 805 = MA. I. 301. See also: AA. III. 230; ItA. I. 169; SnA. II. 504; Vism. 371, 587; VismṬ.: Diṭṭhivisuddhi-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Nāmarūpapariggaha-kathā-vaṇṇanā; VismṬ.: Paṭipadāñāṇadassanavisuddhi-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa-kathā-vaṇṇanā. As evidence that it is possible to practise insight without having first attained jhāna, see the Buddha’s definition of the faculty of concentration (samādhindriya): S. V. 200 (cf. S. V. 198-9).

34 This group of three kinds of concentration (khaṇika, upacāra and appanā) comes from the sub-commentaries (found as a complete set at: NdA. I. 129; PsA. I. 183; DhsA. 117; Vism. 144). Occasionally, they appear as a pair (upacāra and appanā): Vism. 85, 126, 371. Sometimes they are referred to as upacāra-jhāna and appanā-jhāna (e.g.: SnA. II. 504; DhsA. 278; VismṬ.: Kammaṭṭhānaggahaṇa-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Samādhicatukka-vaṇṇanā; VismṬ.: Pathavīkasiṇa-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Bhāvanāvidhāna-vaṇṇanā; VismṬ.: Paññābhāvanānisaṁsa-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Nirodhasamāpatti-kathā-vaṇṇanā). Although the word appanā appears in the Pali Canon, it is only used as a synonym for vitakka and sammā-saṅkappa (Dhs. 10, 12, 63; Vbh. 86, 237, 257). For a further analysis of these kinds of samādhi see the section on right concentration in chapter 16 of Buddhadhamma.

35 PsA. I. 194; DhsA. 213, 228, 230; Vism. 666-7, 699-700. The commentaries claim this attainment of jhāna remains for one mind moment. Thereafter, an enlightened person can regularly enter phala-samāpatti (in that particular jhāna) at will, and enjoy ‘noble, transcendent bliss’ (ariyalokuttara-sukha), abiding at ease in the present (Vism. 700-701). The moment of realizing path and fruit: see Appendix 4.

36 The terms samatha-yānika, vipassanā-yānika, suddha-vipassanā-yānika and sukkha-vipassaka (those whose realization is ‘arid’ because they do not attain jhāna before developing insight) all come from the commentaries. Samatha-yānika, vipassanā-yānika and suddha-vipassanā-yānika together at: DA. III. 754; MA. I. 239; NdA. 102; [VbhA. 280]; Vism. 587-9; VismṬ.: Diṭṭhivisuddhi-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Nāmarūpapariggaha-kathā-vaṇṇanā; samatha-yānika and sukkha-vipassaka at AA. III. 142; KhA. 178, 183; SnA. I. 277, [2/448]; NdA. II. 313; samatha-yānika on its own at: VismṬ.: Paṭhamo Bhāgo, Nidānādi-kathā-vaṇṇanā; sukkha-vipassaka on its own at: DA. III. 1032; PsA. I. 194; DhsA. 228; Vism. 666; VismṬ.: Paṭipadāñāṇadassanavisuddhi-niddesa-vaṇṇanā, Saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa-kathā-vaṇṇanā; CompṬ.: Cittapariccheda-vaṇṇanā, Vitthāragaṇana-vaṇṇanā; CompṬ.: Manodvāravīthi, Appanājavanavāra-vaṇṇanā; CompṬ.: Vīthimuttapariccheda-vaṇṇanā, Kammacatukka-vaṇṇanā.

37 DA. II. 512; DA. III. 889; MA. III. 188; PañcA. 190.

38 See the earlier section on the seven noble beings. The first of these ubhatobhāga-vimutta listed here, who have attained the extinction of perception and feeling, only reach this highest concentrative attainment as non-returners. This is unlike the other attainments, which are achievable at any stage of practice. The other eight attainments are exclusively the fruit of samatha, while the extinction of perception and feeling is the fruit of samatha and vipassanā in association. In particular, the extinction of perception and feeling requires an optimum strength and purity of concentration, with no trace of sensual desire (kāma-chanda) remaining in the mind. Kāma-chanda is synonymous with kāma-rāga (sensual lust), a ‘fetter’ (saṁyojana) which only non-returners and arahants have abandoned. Therefore, only non-returners and arahants who have previously attained the eight jhānas can enter the extinction of perception and feeling (e.g.: Vism. 702-5; PsA. I. 314).