Which schools/lineages in Buddhism give importance to the cultivation of Jhanas before entering Vipassana, and which schools focus entirely on Vipassana?

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    I have not 50 reputations yet to comment here. Hence answer here. I have personal experience in Goenka's 10 day retreats. Their first 3 days practice samatha - anapanasathi and the next 6 days use for vipassana and the final day is for Metta - loving kindness.
    – Shrawaka
    Jul 21, 2015 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


This is not an exhaustive or scholarly answer, but:

Lineages or traditions don't necessarily predict how this is taught. I believe Ajahn Brahmavamso, who teaches that it's very important to master jhanas first, comes from the Thai Forest Tradition, but not all Thai Forest teachers emphasize that as strongly. Pa Auk Sayadaw in Burma is also a proponent of jhana mastery before vipassana.

On the other side of things, the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage in Burma emphasizes vipassana from the outset.

All traditions would agree (I think) that a certain degree of samatha is a prerequisite for attaining vipassana knowledges. The difference is in how one teaches the practice, and how strictly one defines 'jhana'. There is always a dynamic interplay between samatha and vipassana, so jhana factors can emerge in formal vipassana practices, and insight wisdom can develop during formal samatha practices.

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    Ajahn Brahm tends to discount talk of Vipassana as a method and his position as I understand it is that vipassana was not a technique taught by the Buddha, that vipassana (insight) is inseperable from jhana, and that the practices that have come to be under the heading 'vipassana' are dangerous insofar as one may be deluded into thinking they have insight (which is not possible outside of a clear, calm mind). theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=3466 dhammatalks.net/Books9/Ajahn_Brahm_Samatha_Meditation.htm media.bswa.org/sutta_study/Brahmavamso_2013_06_30.mp3
    – Adamokkha
    Apr 11, 2015 at 15:13
  • Thanks! Not directly related, but just in case you know the answer,
    – Parag
    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:30
  • Sorry, the previous comment got submitted because I pressed newline:-) Thanks for your answer. I had one more question, not directly related, but just in case you know the answer, do the 10 day Vipassana retreats discuss Jhanas, or do they focus entirely on Vipassana (Insight)?
    – Parag
    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:51
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    If you're thinking about the Goenka-tradition 10-day retreats, I believe they focus entirely on vipassana. (Take my answer with a grain of salt- I have no personal experience of them- but I think when you see a '10-day vipassana retreat', it's often the Goenka organization).
    – rob_mtl
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:09

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