Path of Insight

Most Buddhist schools teach that enlightenment develops gradually as a result of dedicated insight meditation (vipassana) practice, and that students will go through definite stages which will happen in a set order. Each school has its own “map” of these stages, and the map is known variously as the Path of Insight, the Stages of Insight, the Progress of Insight, and so forth. The schools believe that, no matter who you are, the path will unfold in the same predictable stages each time. If you subscribe to a particular school, then, in my experience, you will find that you will indeed go through their stages in the order they say. It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy in that respect. This can be useful or a hindrance, depending on how well you get on with that particular school’s method and map.

Such maps are found in other spiritual traditions as well, such as Kabbalah, Sufism and some Christian meditation practices.

The map from the Theravada school of Buddhism is outlined below. I often use this particular map in my writings and am usually referring to it whenever I mention “Path”, “Stages” etc.

1. Mind and Body
2. Cause and Effect
3. The Three Characteristics
4. The Arising and Passing Away
5. Dissolution
6. Fear
7. Misery
8. Disgust
9. Desire for Deliverance
10. Re-observation
11. Equanimity
12. Conformity
13. Change of Lineage
14. Path
15. Fruition
16. Review

Daniel Ingram’s view on the Theravadan map can be found at the following link: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Progress+of+Insight

This is the same text as in his book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (MCTB for short).

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Synonyms:

ñana, ñanas, Progress of Insight, stages of insight