The path of the dry-insight worker — sukkhavipassaka

his thread will document some of the basis and evidence for the path of the sukkhavipassaka, as detailed in the Pali Canon and Commentaries.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Tzungkuen Wen, whose phd thesis collected many useful references.

We sometimes read, or hear, that Jhana, that extraordinary, superhuman state of absorption is needed to attain Nibbana…

Let us look at

  1. With Assaji, from the Khandhasamyutta nikaya
    “Sir, I’m not all right, I’m not getting by. My pain is terrible and growing, not fading, its growing is evident, not its fading.”

“I hope you don’t have any remorse or regret?”

“Indeed, sir, I have no little remorse and regret.”

“I hope you have no reason to blame yourself when it comes to ethical conduct?”

“No sir, I have no reason to blame myself when it comes to ethical conduct.”

“In that case, Assaji, why do you have remorse and regret?”

“Sir, before my time of illness I meditated having completely stilled the physical process. But now I can’t get immersion. Since I can’t get immersion, I think: ‘May I not decline!’”

“Assaji, there are ascetics and brahmins for whom samādhi is the essence, equating immersion with the ascetic life. They think: ‘May we not decline!’

What do you think, Assaji? Is form permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, sir.” … “Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?” … “So you should truly see … Seeing this … They understand: ‘… there is no return to any state of existence.’
If they feel a pleasant feeling, they understand that it’s impermanent, that they’re not attached to it, and that they don’t relish it. If they feel a painful feeling, they understand that it’s impermanent, that they’re not attached to it, and that they don’t relish it. If they feel a neutral feeling, they understand that it’s impermanent, that they’re not attached to it, and that they don’t relish it. If they feel a pleasant feeling, they feel it detached. If they feel a painful feeling, they feel it detached. If they feel a neutral feeling, they feel it detached. Feeling the end of the body approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of the body approaching.’ Feeling the end of life approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of life approaching.’ They understand: ‘When my body breaks up and my life is over, everything that’s felt, being no longer relished, will become cool right here.’

Suppose an oil lamp depended on oil and a wick to burn. As the oil and the wick are used up, it would be extinguished due to lack of fuel. In the same way, feeling the end of the body approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of the body approaching.’ Feeling the end of life approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of life approaching.’ They understand: ‘When my body breaks up and my life is over, everything that’s felt, being no longer relished, will become cool right here.’”
Note the section: “Assaji, there are ascetics and brahmins for whom samādhi is the essence, equating immersion with the ascetic life. They think:
“Ye te, assaji, samaṇabrāhmaṇā samādhisārakā samādhisāmaññā tesaṃ taṃ samādhiṃ appaṭilabhataṃ evaṃ hoti:

So the Buddha clearly indicates that it is not Samadhi that is the essence. He then gives a discourse about the khandhas and at the end Asaaji, despite having lost his ability to reside in jhana, attains arahat.

Here are some notes from BhikkhuBodhi’s translation

Spk: He kept tranquillizing in-and-out breathing when
he dwelt in the fourth jhba, where breathing ceases (36:ll;
IV 217,s-9). Because he had fallen away from all the meditative
absorptions that he had previously attained, he
thought, “Let me not fall away from the Teaching.”
174 Spk: Samlidhidra& samddhisrimariiili ti samddhim yeva slrrafi
ca sdmafifiafi ca mafiiianti. “In my Teaching that is not the
essence; the essence is insight, path, and fruit.”
175 Spk says that at the end of the Buddha’s exposition of the
three characteristics, Assaji attained arahantship. Spk
explains that the Buddha introduces the following passage
to show the arahant’s constant abiding. See too 12:51,
where the same text is coupled with a different simile. The
present version is also at 36:7, 36:8, and 548.e

From Dhammapala’s commentary on the Theragāthā.

And, those who, after having abided just in momentary concentration, establish insight and
attain the highest path are named sukkhavipassaka because from the beginning and through
the middle [of their practice], their insight has been dry due to the absence of any connection
with the jhāna factors born from concentration in vipassanā.
Ye pana khaṇikasamādhi-matte ṭhatvā vipassanaṃ paṭṭhapetvā adhigata-agga-maggā, te ādito
antarantarā ca samādhi-jena jhān’aṅgena vipassanâbbhantara-paṭisandhānānaṃ abhāvā sukkhā vipassanā etesan ti
sukkhavipassakā nāma.Th-a III 208,38–209,3

of course there must be momentary concentration

[Visuddhimagga, Chapter I paragraph 6]

  1. In some instances this path of purification is taught by insight alone, [3] according
    as it is said:
    “Formations are all impermanent:
    When he sees thus with understanding
    And turns away from what is ill,
    That is the path to purity” (Dhp 277).
    [3] “The words ‘insight alone’ are meant to exclude not virtue, etc., but serenity (i.e.
    jhána), which is the opposite number in the pair, serenity and insight. This is for
    emphasis. But the word ‘alone’ actually excludes only that concentration with distinction
    [of jhána]; for concentration is classed as both access and absorption (see IV.32). Taking this stanza as the teaching for one whose vehicle is insight does not imply that there is no concentration; for no insight comes about without momentary concentration. And again, insight should be understood as the three contemplations of impermanence,
    pain, and not-self; not contemplation of impermanence alone” (Vism-mhþ 9–10)

According to the Sārasaṅgaha, ( a compendium book of Theravādin
doctrines, written by Siddhattha Thera -13th –14th centuries, see Tzungkuen Wen p 150.)

The purification of the mind, for a serenity-vehicle practitioner, is the eight attainments
together with access concentration. But, for a practitioner with the insight-vehicle, it is just
the access concentration, or when access concentration is absent, it is momentary
Sārasaṅgaha 107,38-40: Cittavisuddhi nāma samathayānikassa sa-upacārā aṭṭhasamāpattiyo, vipassanāyānikassa
pana kevalam upacārasamādhi vā tasmim asati khaṇikasamādhi vā.

thus possibly 2 types of Sukkhavipassaka- those who attain access, and those who merely have khanika samadhi.
However it could be that the passage is referring to different stages of the path of insight?

We know that for the sukkhavipassaka, at the time of attaining nibbana , the flash of path moment is classified as Jhana – because although momentary the concentration factor is intense for those moments.
the Atthasalini – The expositor PTS (translator : maung tin).
P58. Triplets in the Matika


he Discourse on LOKUTTARA (transcendental).

“He cultivates the Jhana means that he evolves, produces the ecstatic jhana of one momenatry flash of consciousness. because it goes forth from the world, from the round of rebirths, this is jhana called going out…This is not like that which is known as ‘leading to accumulation’ which heaps up and increases rebirths by the moral(kusala) consciousness of the three planes[includes kusala such as giving as well as all levels of “mundane” jhana]

So it could be the passage where concentration is ‘access’ is referring to the moments of vipassana nana – where again concentration is naturally deeper , albeit momentary, than in normal daily life or during preliminary satipatthana. See here:

Momentary one-pointedness of mind is the concentration lasting only for a moment. This
concentration, when occurring uninterruptedly on its object in a single mode and is not
overcome by its opponent, fixes the mind immovably, as if in absorption
Vism-mhṭ I 342: Khaṇikacittekaggatāti khaṇamattaṭṭhitiko samādhi. So pi hi ārammaṇe nirantaraṃ ekākārena
pavattamāno paṭipakkhena anabhibhūto appito viya cittaṃ niccalaṃ ṭhapeti.

It should be noted that khanikasamadhi mentioned in the texts must arise in conjunction with right view.

In the Visuddhimagga,

“In some instances this path of purification is taught exactly by insight alone”
The tika explains:
The term “exactly by insight alone” rejects serenity by the emphasis [of “eva”] because
serenity, not morality etc., is the counterpart of insight. By the word “only” (matta) which
conveys the sense of distinction, it rejects distinctive concentration, which consists of access
and absorption. Being an instruction for an insight-vehicle practitioner it does not reject
simple concentration, for no insight comes about without momentary concentration
ism-mhṭ I 11CS: Vipassanāmattavasenevāti avadhāraṇena samathaṃ nivatteti. So hi tassā paṭiyogī, na sīlādi.
Matta-saddena ca visesanivatti-atthena savisesaṃ samādhiṃ nivatteti. So upacārappanābhedo vipassanāyānikassa
desanāti katvā na samādhimattaṃ. Na hi khaṇikasamādhiṃ vinā vipassanā sambhavati.

What satipatthana is suitable for the dry insight worker?

And for a serenity-vehicle practitioner who is slow-witted, the first satipaṭṭhāna is the path
to purification because the sign is obtainable with little trouble; and for the quick-witted the
second satipaṭṭhāna is the path to purification because of his not becoming steadied on a
coarse object.
Also for an insight-vehicle practitioner who is slow-witted, the third
satipaṭṭhāna, which is not greatly divided up as to the object, is the path to purification; and
for the quick-witted the fourth satipaṭṭhāna, which is greatly divided up as to the object, is
the path to purification.
Ps Papañcasūdanī (MN-a) I 239,19-24: Samathayānikassa ca mandassa akicchena adhigantabbanimittaṃ paṭhamaṃ satipaṭṭhānaṃ
visuddhimaggo, tikkhassa oḷārikârammaṇe asaṇṭhahanato dutiyaṃ. Vipassanāyānikassa pi mandassa
nâtippabhedagatârammaṇaṃ tatiyaṃ, tikkhassa atippabhedagatârammaṇaṃ catutthaṃ. (= Sv III 754,13-18; Vibh-a
215,13-18) Cf. Ñāṇamoli, 1987, p. 271–272.

However the sub-commentary says:

But, the mind of insight-vehicle practitioner rejoices in subtle phenomena, therefore,
contemplation of mind and contemplation of the dhammas are respectively said to be the
path to purification of insight-vehicle practitioner who is slow-witted and who is
Ps-pṭ Papañcasūdanī-purāṇaṭīkā (= Dutiyā Līnatthapakāsinī) I 339CS: Vipassanāyānikassa p

ana sukhume citte dhammesu ca cittaṃ pakkhandatīti
cittadhammānupassanānaṃ mandatikkhapaññā- vipassanāyānikānaṃ visuddhimaggatā vuttā.
It should be noted that the subcommentary of the Manorathapūraṇī suggests:

The dry-insight practitioner, as a rule, adheres to meditation through the analysis of the four
elements. Therefore, the commentator mentions “the bhikkhu who practises the meditation
of elements as a dry-insight practitioner”

Mp-ṭ Manorathapūraṇī-ṭīkā II 37 CS: Sukkhavipassako yebhuyyena catudhātuvavatthānamukhena kammaṭṭhānā- bhinivesī hotī ’ti āha
sukkhavipassakassa dhātukammaṭṭhānikabhikkhunoti.

an interesting passage here:

Cullaniddesaṭṭhakathā about the methods that lead to the enlightenment of
(paccekabodhisatto) as dry-insight practitioner
Here, I am going to show the way to describe in brief the insight of the Individual Buddha.
An Individual-Buddha-To-Be who intends to comprehend matter and mentality, having
entered and emerged from any jhāna of the eight attainments, form-sphere or formless,
determines the jhānic factors such as “initial application” and its associated phenomena such
as “contact” in terms of their characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause,
and defines that all these are mentality in the sense that they bend towards the object. After
that, searching for its condition he understands that it arises depending on the “heart-base”.
Further, having seen the [four] essentials that are condition of the [heart-]base and the
derived matter, he finds out that all these are matter because they are molested. Again, he
defines matter and mentality in brief: “mentality is of the characteristic of bending; matter is
of the characteristic of being molested”. This is said of one with the serenity vehicle. Further,
a dry-insight practitioner defines the [four] essentials and derived matters by means of the
“analysis of the four elements” and understands that all these are matter because they are
molested. After that, non-material phenomena, which arise depending on the eye and so on,
present themselves to one who defines the matter in this way. After that, having taken all
these non-material phenomena together under the characteristic of bending, he understands
this to be mentality. He defines in two ways: “This is matter, this is mentality.” Having
defined thus, he sees “Except for matter and mentality, there exists no other being, person,
god or brahma.

Nidd2-a Cullaniddesaṭṭhakathā (= Saddhammapajjotikā) 102,6-26: Tattha nāmarūpapariggahaṃ kātukāmo pacceka-bodhisatto rūpārūpa-aṭṭha-samāpattīsu yaṃ kiñci
jhānaṃ samāpajjitvā vuṭṭhāya vitakkādīni jhānaṅgāni ca taṃ-sampayutte ca phassādayo dhamme lakkhaṇa-rasa-paccupaṭṭhāna-padaṭṭhānavasena paricchinditvā sabbam p’etaṃ ārammaṇābhimukhaṃ namanato
namanatthena nāman ti vavatthāpeti: tato tassa paccayaṃ pariyesanto: ‘hadayavatthuṃ nissāya vattatī’ ti passati.
Puna vatthussa paccayabhūtāni ca upādārūpāni ca passitvā idaṃ sabbaṃ ‘ruppanato rūpan’ ti pariggaṇhāti. Puna
tadubhayaṃ ‘namanalakkhaṇaṃ nāmaṃ, ruppanalakkhaṇaṃ rūpan’ ti evaṃ saṅkhepato nāmarūpaṃ vavatthapeti.
Samathayānikavasen’ etaṃ vuttaṃ. Vipassanāyāniko pana catudhātuvavatthānamukkhena bhūtupādāya-rūpāni
paricchinditvā ‘sabbam p’ etaṃ ruppanato rūpan’ ti passati. Tato evaṃ paricchinnarūpassa cakkhādīni nissāya
pavattamānā arūpadhammā āpātham āgacchanti; tato sabbe pi te arūpadhamme namanalakkhaṇena ekato katvā ‘idaṃ
nāma’ ti passati, so ‘idaṃ nāmaṃ, idaṃ rūpan’ti dvedhā vavatthapeti; evaṃ vavatthapetvā ‘nāmarūpato uddhaṃ añño
satto vā puggalo vā devo vā brahmā vā natthī’ ti passati.

Does this indicate that the ‘dry-insight practitioner’ has the 4 elements as his preliminary object or is it showing that first the matter is defined and later mentality?

While it is pretty much universally accepted that sotapanna’s and sakadagami can be dry-insight workers, some recent scholars have cast doubt on Anagami and arahat – based on the fact that Anagami are said to be complete in concentration.
(see Wen p.181).
This can be explained as below.

Anguttara nikaya 4:136 and 4:137 list 4 types

  1. complete in neither sīla nor samādhi nor paññā;
  2. complete in sīla, but not in the remaining two trainings;
  3. complete in the first two trainings,
    but not in paññā;
  4. complete in all the three trainings.

Manorathapūraṇī has it that

  1. the first [kind of person] is a worldly person;
    2.the second is a dry insight
    practitioner who is either a stream-enter or a once-returner;
    3.the third is a non-returner. Since
    he obtains jhāna which lasts a moment and serves as the cause of
    rebirth [into the fine material sphere], he, even as a dry insight practitioner, is also complete
    with concentration.
  2. The fourth is an arahant. Since he has abandoned all the adversaries to
    virtue etc., he is indeed perfect in every aspect.

Mp III 132,13-22: Chaṭṭhe paṭhamo lokiyamahājano; dutiyo sukkhavipassako sotâpanno ca sakadāgāmī ca; tatiyo
anāgāmī, so hi yasmā taṃ khaṇikam pi uppattinibbattakaṃ jhānaṃ paṭilabhati yeva, tasmā sukkhavipassako pi
samādhismiṃ paripūrakārī yeva; catuttho khīṇâsavo yeva, so hi sabbesaṃ sīlâdi-paccanīkānaṃ pahīnattā sabbattha
paripūrakārī nāma. Sattame pi chaṭṭhe vuttanayen’ eva puggalaparicchedo veditabbo.

here is the well known sutta about Susima – who was a sukkhavipassaka arahat , which doesn’t need to be repeated here.
Another is
Cakkhupala Thera 1.95:
Adapted from the Archaic Translation by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids.
Commentary (Atthakatha) By Acariya Dhammapala
Note: ‘C’ in Pali text is pronounced as ‘ch’ as in ‘China’.

95. Cakkhupāla
He was reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī, as the son of a landed proprietor named Mahā-Suvaññā, and received the name of Pāla.[1] He was also called Pāla major, because his younger brother was called Pāla minor. And the parents bound the sons in domestic bonds. But the Lord(Buddha) came to the Jeta Grove, and there Pāla major heard him, and leaving his brother to manage the property entered the Monk’s order. After five years as novice initiate, he went with sixty bhikkhus(monks) to perfect his studies. And they chose a woodland spot near a border village, where the villagers were lay-followers, and he, living in a leaf-hut, practised the duties of a recluse monk.

He was attacked by ophthalmia, and a doctor prescribed for him. But he did not follow the advice, and the disease grew worse. ‘Better,’ he thought, ‘is the allaying of the moral torments (kilesā) than that of eye-disease.’ Thus he neglected the latter and worked at his insight, so that eyes and torments perished at the same time. And he became a ‘dry-visioned’ arahant(enlightened).

Now the village patrons asked the bhikkhus(monks) what had become of the Thera, and, hearing of his blindness, they [89] ministered to his wants full of guilt. Then those bhikkhus(monks) having also won arahantship(enlightenment), they proposed that they should return to Sāvatthito salute the Master; but the Thera said: ‘I am weak and blind, and the journey is not without risk. I should hinder you. Do you go first and salute for me the Lord(Buddha) and the great Theras, and tell Pāla minor of my state that he may send a servant to me.’ At length they consented to go, after taking leave of their patrons and providing him with a lodging. And they carried out his words, and Pāla minor sent his nephew Pālika. And the bhikkhus(monks) initiated Pālika into monkhood, because the road was not safe for a solitary layman. He went and announced himself to the Thera, and set out with him. Midway, near a village in the forest, a woodcutter’s wife was singing. And the novice was charmed by the sound, and, telling his uncle to wait, went and enjoyed with her. The Thera thought: ‘Now I heard a woman singing, and my novice stays long. Is he not evilly employed?’ The youth returned, saying: ‘Let us go, sir.’ And the Thera said: ‘What! have you been vile?’ The novice at length confessed, and the Thera said: ‘One so evil shall hold no staff for me. Get you hence!’ ‘But the way is perilous, and you are blind. How will you go?’ ‘Fool! even if I lie down and die, yet will I get on, but not with such as you.’ Then he uttered this verse:

[95] Andhohaɱ hatanettosmi kantāraddhānapakkanto,||
Sayamāno’pi gacchissaɱ na sahāyena pāpenā’ ti.|| ||

[95] All blind am I and perished are mine eyes
And through the jungle’s wilderness I move about.
Even then I’ll go, and were it lying down,
But not with child of evil as my mate.

Then the other, conscious of his evil action, weeping with outstretched arms, plunged into the forest. But the efficacy of the Thera’s virtue made Sakka’s(King of gods, also called Indra) throne hot, and the god, in the shape of a man journeying to Sāvatthi, took his staff and brought him that evening to Sāvatthi to the Jeta Grove. And Pāla minor ministered to him all his days.

[1] The full name means Eye-guardian, the father’s Great-golden. The story is given in somewhat ampler detail and slightly varied diction in the Dhammapada Commentary on the opening verses of that anthology. Pronounced Chakkhu-.

[2] See Compendium, p. 75.

1.10-5 [95] Commentary on the stanza of Cakkhupālatthera
The stanza starting with Andho’haṃ hatanetto’smi constitutues that of the thera Cakkhupāla. What is the origin? He also, having done devoted deeds of service toward former Buddhas, doing meritorious deeds in this and that existence, was reborn in a family home, at the time of the Blessed One Suddhattha. On having attained the age of intelligence, when the Blessed One had entered parinibbāna, he reverentially offered (pūjesi) to the shrine, after having collected the (asure) flower of flax (umā) when the shrine festival (maha) was being held. On account of that act of merit, he was reborn in the divine world, and having done meritorious deeds, now and then, he wandered about his rounds of repeated rebirths, and was reborn as the son of an estate owner (kuṭumbika) named Mahāsuvanna, in Sāvatthi, when this Buddha arose. They gave him the name Pāla. At the time when he could run about his mother gained another son. His mother and father made his name as Cūḷapāla and they called (vohariṃsu) the other (itaraṃ) as Mahāpāla. Later on, when they had come of age (their parants) bound them down with the tie of household life (gharavandhana). On that occasion the Master resided at the Jetavana (monastery) in Sāvatthi. There, Mahāpāla went to the monastery in the company of the devotees who were on their way to Jetavana, listened to the truth (dhamma) in the presence of the Master, aptly gained pious faith, shifted the responsibility (bhāra) of his estate (kuṭumba) over to his younger (kaniṭṭha) brother even, himself became a monk, gained the full ordination of the Order (upasampadā) lived for five years in the presence of his teachers and preceptors (upajjhā), and when he had spent the lent, he went through the ceremony of candid apology (pavāretvā), collected his mental exercise (kammaṭṭhāna), obrained to the extent of sixty associate bhikkhus(monks), was in search of a residential place congenial to (anukūla) the development of deep meditation (bhāvanā), together with them and living in a leaf-hut (pannassālā) in the forest region, which the devotees dwelling in the village had caused to be built and offered, depending on (nissāya) a certain border-village (paccantagāma), and performed the duties of a monk (samanadhamma). To him, there had arisen an eye-ailment. A physician prepared (sampādetvā) and offered it to him. He did not comform (paṭipajji) to the prescription (vidhāna) as told (vutta) by the physician (vejja). On that account his disease became worse (vaḍḍhi). He became increasingly indifferent (ajjhupekkhitvā) ot his eye-illness saying to himself: “To me, better is (varaṃ) but the mastery (vūpasamana) of the disease of depravity than the allayment of the ailment of my eyes and came to be intent on (yuttapayutto) but the development of spiritual insight (vipassanā). When he was indulging in (ussukkāpenta) in the development of deep meditation (bhāvanā), his eyes as well as his depravity vecame destroyed (bhijjiṃsu) simultaneously (apubbaṃ acarimaṃ). He became an Arahant of ‘dry-visioned’ class (sukkhavipassaka). Hence, has it been said in the Apadāna.–

“When the world-revered, the worthy

recipient of sacred sacrifice, the

Blessed One Suddhattha entered

nibbāna, there was held a great


When the festival was being celebrated,

for the great sage Siddhattha, I collected

the (azure) flowers of flax (umā) and

specially offered (abhiropayiṃ) them to

the shrine.

Ninetyfour aeons (kappa) ago, from now,

it was that I specially offered the flowers;

I do not remember any evil existence; this

is the fruitful result of the reverential

offering made to the shrine.

In the ninth aeon (kappa) previous to

this (ito), there arose eithtyfive

sovereigns, very strong world-kings,

with the name of Somadeva.

My depravity had been burnt; …

Buddha’s instruction had been carried


During the three
months of the rainy season, Ven. Cakkhupāla decided to use only three postures: walking,
standing, and sitting postures. After one month his eyes begin to
The commentary of the Dhammapada describes the moment of
his attainment of arahantship in the following words:
At the end of the middle watch, his eyes and his defilements were broken simultaneously.
After having become a dry-insight arahant, he entered and sat down in the chamber.
Dhp-a I 12,16-18: Athassa majjhimayāme atikkante apubbaṃ acarimam akkhīni c’eva kilesā ca pabhijjiṃsu. So
sukkhavipassako arahā hutvā gabbhaṃ pavisitvā nisīdi.

commentary to the Theragathā,

“For me, the cessation of the defilement disease is better than the cessation of the eye
disease,” [thinking thus,] he devoted himself to insight meditation, neglecting his eye
disease. When he indulged in mental development, his eyes and defilements were broken
simultaneously. He became a dry-insight arahant.
Th-a I 207,9-13: So ‘akkhi-roga-vūpasamanato kilesa-roga-vūpasamanameva mayhaṃ varan’ ti akkhi-rogaṃ
ajjhūpekkhitvā vipassanāyaṃ yeva yutta-ppayutto ahosi. Tassa bhāvanaṃ ussukkāpentassa apubbaṃ acarimaṃ akkhīni
c’ eva kilesā ca bhijjiṃsu. So sukkha-vipassako arahā ahosi.

The Netti-pakarana (587):

Tattha Bhagava tikkhindriyassa samatham upadassati, majjhindriyassa Bhagava samathavipassanam upadissati, mudindriyassa Bhagava vipassanam upadassati. Herein the Blessed one teaches samatha to one of keen faculties; The blessed one teaches samatha and insight to one of medium faculties and the blessed one teaches insight [alone] to one of blunt facultie


Again in the Netti (746)it says that the Buddha teaches insight [alone] to one who is guidable (neyya) and teaches in detail to neyya. At this time (acording to the texts) there are only padaparama and neyya. Padaparama cannot attain in this life, although they can in future lives… We – so the Theravada commentaries say- are either padaparama or neyya .

Only the very wise ones with great accumulations could master jhana and use it as the base for insight: these tyoes no longer exist. Just consider the rather hilarious ideas we read about of people who think they have attained jhana( let alone mastery) .

Nina van gorkom translated part of a commentary:
the commentary to Aane~njasappaaya sutta (MN 106) it is said:
Uparipannasa-Atthakatha 4.67

Samaapatti.m taava pada.t.thaana.m katvaa vipassana.m va.d.dhetvaa

When he has made the attainment of jhana the proximate cause of
insight and increased vipassana,

arahatta.m ga.nhanto bhikkhu naava.m vaa u.lumpaadiini vaa nissaaya

and he attains arahatship, the bhikkhu who is as it were depending
on a boat or a raft

mahogha.m taritvaa paara.m gacchanto viya na kilamati.

crosses the great flood and reaches the other side, is not tired.

The above is the path of the great ones of the past who attained
arahatship using mundane jhana as basis. These are the highest type
of arahant. Below is the path of the Sukkhavipassaka- the very
lowest type of arahant.

i]Sukkhavipassako pana paki.n.nakasa’nkhaare sammasitvaa arahatta.m

But the person with dry insight who has thoroughly known the
particular conditioned dhamma and attains arahatship,

baahubalena sota.m chinditvaa paara.m gacchanto viya kilamati.

after he has as it were cut the stream with much force and reaches
the other side, is tired.

Bhikkhu Bodhi gives some other notes from the commentary of this
sutta (M.106):

In the sutta Ananda asks the Buddha, “a bhikkhu is practising
thus: ‘If it were not it would be mine; it will not be and it will
not be mine. What exists, what has come to be, that I am
abandonding. Thus he attains equanimity. Venerable sir , does such a
one attain Nibbana?.”……The note by bodhi (1021)from Majjima
attahakatha, “Anandas question is intended to elicit from the Buddha
an account of the practice of the dry-insight meditator
(sukkhavipassaka) who attains arahatship without depending on a
jhanic attainment.”

Sutta “This is deathless, namely the liberation of mind through not
clinging” note 1023 Majjhima atthakatha says that the arahstship of
the dry- insight meditator (sukkhavipassaka) is intended.””

we need to remember that the distinction between mundane and lokuttara jhana.
Even the sukkavipassaka ( dry insight worker) has , for a moment) the lokuttara jhana.

. There is always some degree of concentration.
In the Atthasalini -I use The expositor PTS (translator : maung tin).
P58. Triplets in the Matika
“‘leading to accumulation’ are those states which go about severally arranging births and deaths in a round of of destiny like a bricklayer who arranges bricks, layer by layer in a wall.”

“…leading to accumulation are those causes which by being accomplished go to, or lead a man, in whom they arise, to that round of rebirth

It then defines these causes as “moral or immoral states”. i.e akusala AND kusala. It notes that the way leading to dispersion is the Ariyan path (eightfactored path). There is then several chapters (total of 140 pages) that gives much details about the various types of kusala (wholesome consciousness). The last two chapters in this section explain all the different types of “MUNDANE” Jhanas.

The start of the next chapter is interesting: this is where it discusses the eight-fold path. The Discourse on LOKUTTARA (transcendental).

He cultivates the Jhana means that he evolves, produces the ecstatic jhana of one momentary flash of consciousness. because it goes forth from the world, from the round of rebirths, this is jhana called going out…This is not like that which is known as ‘leading to accumulation’ which heaps up and increases rebirths by the moral(kusala) consciousness of the three planes
[includes kusala such as giving as well as all levels of “mundane” jhana]”

more on why mastery of jhana is not required for developing the path.
In the Commentary to the Susima sutta by Buddhaghosa it says
Saratthappakasini (Atthakatha) :

Why is this said? For the purpose
of showing the arising of
knowledge thus even without concentration.
This is meant: “Susima, the path and fruit are not the issue of
concentration (samadhinissanda), nor the advantage brought about by
concentration (samadhi-anisamsa), nor the outcome of concentration
(samadhinipphatti). They are the issue of insight (vipassana), the
advantage brought about by insight, the outcome of insight.Therefore, whether you understand or not, first comes knowledge of
the stability of the Dhamma, afterwards knowledge of Nibbana.
Spk-pt (tika): ‘Even without concentration’ (vina pi samadhim): even
previously established (concentration) that has acquired the
characteristic of serenity (samatha-lakkhanappattam); this is said
referring to one who takes the vehicle of insight


  • In his commentary, Buddhaghosa eventually increases the life of the sāsana to 5,000 years. During the first 1,000 years, he says, there will be arahants with the four analytical knowledges. The next 1,000 years there will be “bare insight” arahants. The next 1,000 years there will be anāgāmin (non-returners). The next 1,000 years there will be sakadāgāmin (once returners) and the next 1,000 years there will be sotāpanna (stream enterers). Adding these figures together, we find that the paṭivedha (realization or penetration of the Dhamma) will last for 5,000 years.

And the Puggala-Pannatti:

  1. What sort of person is quick in acquiring (Ugghàtitannu)?
    The person who comprehends the doctrine at the time of its pronouncement is said to be quick in acquiring.
  2. What sort of person learns by exposition (Vipancitannu)?
    The person to whom comprehension of the doctrine comes when the meaning of what is briefly uttered is analysed in detail.
  3. What sort of person is one who may be led (Neyya)?
    The person to whom comprehension of the doctrine comes by recitation, questioning, and earnest attention and by serving, cultivating and waiting upon lovely friends is one who may be led.
  4. What sort of person is one with whom the word is the chief thing (Padaparama)?
    The person to whom comprehension of doctrine would not come in this life, however much he may hear and say and bear in mind or recite, is said to be one with whom the word is the chief thing.