Things are going to get a bit less new-user-friendly around here, I think. If you get really lost, ask a question or do a search. It’s all here somewhere.
When you’re dealing with the interlocking nature of prajna, sila, and samatha, the question arises; which one first? Which is preeminent? Of course, the answer is situational, and not really linear, in any event.
True, it’s pretty cut and dried that you need a baseline level of conduct to achieve a baseline level of concentration which is needed to achieve any kind of stable insight. But beyond that rudimentary level, it gets complex quickly.
To get stable changes in behavior or conduct usually requires some kind of insight into one’s situation to really make definitive change. To hold those changes requires concentration. It’s hard to make real life changes when you have the mind strength of a crack baby raised on kraft dinner, and the psychic hotline is your idea of ‘insight’.
Likewise, although jhana practice isn’t exactly an investigation-intensive enterprise, you do from time to time have to make certain observations that will fine tune your understanding of the object that forms your concentrative focus. It’s quite possible to take a very dry perception based approach to jhana, but I don’t recommend it, as it’s very abrasive. Feeling your way is best, generally, but even so, you do need to occasionally peek your head out to survey the terrain.
So really the whole process feeds backwards, forwards and sideways. The best bet is to work on the one that complains the most, or gets in the way the most. When in doubt, do some mindful investigation and if you immediately start crying, or your nervous system feels like uninsulated wiring sizzling in the rain, you might need to do some emotional housecleaning or chill in the second jhana for a bit.
For my part I’m dealing with lot of relationship stuff right now. There’s all this deeply rooted rubbish relating to self worth, loneliness, love and being loved etc. It’s very tempting to look for a solution to all this, particularly an external one, but 9 times out 10 when it comes to emotional stuff, looking for a solution is exactly the wrong thing to do. There isn’t one. There never will be one. Looking for solutions to emotional problems is how you perpetuate the mindset that creates emotional problems. It’s pretty much exactly like a gambling addict: you keep wanting to double down at the table, in hopes that it will all come up even in the end, but it never really does. There is no break even, there is no winning these games. They were never meant to be won. When you figure that out, and why it’s true, you’ve got some real insight going.
Emotional stuff all flows out of species of attachment. You can dress it up in any number of ways, but the end truth is that you have these emotions because you are attached to the phenomena they relate to. Anything you do in relation to that can only reaffirm the attachment. It’s like one of those monkey traps. The only way out is to let go of the thing and pull out your hand. Full Stop.