I quote the Thanissaro translation of AN11.1:
“Thus in this way, Ananda, skillful virtues (sīlā) have freedom from remorse as their purpose, freedom from remorse as their reward. Freedom from remorse (avippaṭisāro) has joy as its purpose, joy as its reward. Joy (pāmojjaṃ) has rapture as its purpose, rapture as its reward. Rapture (pīti) has serenity as its purpose, serenity as its reward. Serenity (passaddhi) has pleasure as its purpose, pleasure as its reward. Pleasure (sukhaṃ) has concentration as its purpose, concentration as its reward. Concentration (samādhi) has knowledge & vision of things as they actually are as its purpose, knowledge & vision of things as they actually are as its reward. Knowledge & vision of things as they actually are (yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṃ) has disenchantment as its purpose, disenchantment as its reward. Disenchantment (nibbidā) has dispassion as its purpose, dispassion as its reward. Dispassion (virāgo) has knowledge & vision of release as its purpose, knowledge & vision of release (vimuttiñāṇadassana) as its reward.
According to the Yuganaddha Sutta (AN4.170) spoken by Ananda, insight can be developed before concentration, or concentration can be developed before insight, or both can be developed in tandem.
However, in the AN11.1-3 suttas spoken by the Buddha, the chain of causes starts with virtues (sila), and passes through rapture (piti), pleasure (sukham), concentration (samadhi), then goes to "knowledge and vision of things as they actually are" (yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṃ).
To my understanding, "knowledge and vision of things as they actually are" is the goal of vipassana (insight), right?
So, I take it that AN 11.1-3 implies the following sequence:
- Every person (monk or lay person) should start with the cultivation of virtues (sila) - the starting point for virtue according to other suttas is the five precepts
- Virtues (sila) eventually leads one to rapture (sila), pleasure (sukham) and concentration (samadhi), which is the goal of samatha (tranquility) meditation.
- Samatha (tranquility) meditation then leads on to vipassana (insight) meditation
- Vipassana (insight) meditation results in the "knowledge and vision of things as they actually are"
So, is my interpretation correct that the correct sequential order of practice is first sila, followed by samatha, followed by vipassana?
On the other hand, MN 149 does say:
Thus for him, having thus developed the noble eightfold path, the four frames of reference go to the culmination of their development. The four right exertions... the four bases of power... the five faculties... the five strengths... the seven factors for Awakening go to the culmination of their development. [And] for him these two qualities occur in tandem: tranquility & insight.
So, which is the right interpretation?
- The one in AN 4.170 stating that insight before tranquility or tranquility before insight or tranquility in tandem with insight, are all good.
- The one in MN 149 stating that tranquility and insight happens in tandem
- The one in AN 11.1-3 stating clearly that virtues should come before tranquility, and tranquility should come before insight?