Are there differences between a person who progresses through insight while looking for the different stages and someone who progresses through insight ignorant of the stages? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
- Aware of stage - If you develop craving to move to the next stage this will make excessive Effort and Striving, which isn't balanced by Focus and Concentration, which will lead to Restlessness and Worry.
- Unaware of stage - You might not know what is happening. Also you may not know what to do next.
So best is to balance both. Occasionally look into the stage you are, but not frequently. Perhaps once a month review would be OK.
NB: any stage of Insight Meditation happens naturally. You cannot force it. Trying to force if you will not reach the insight you are trying to achieve.
Anupada Sutta where Buddha explained the enlightening process of ven. Sariputta. Ven Saripitta had the insight DURING meditation. It is very detail. basically, Ven Sariputta (was a very detail oriented person) looked into each state of meditation and observed what features came to be and ended with each state of meditation on all levels, and with the last two, cessation and neither perception nor non-perception, one no longer has enough consciousness to pay attention to detail so he had to move in and out of these two states to see the truth. Ven, saw raise and fall and three marks of existence and achieve full liberation.