Modes of Practice
Basically there are these two modes of practice: practice that is painful and practice that is pleasant, both of which lead to cessation of suffering, to direct knowledge and destruction of taints. Practice that is painful is declared to be inferior and practice that is pleasant is declared to be superior.
What is practice that is painful?
“Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the unattractiveness of the body, perceiving the repulsiveness of food, perceiving non-delight in the entire world, contemplating impermanence in all conditioned phenomena; and he has the perception of death well established internally.”
And what is practice that is pleasant? “Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by thought and examination. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal placidity and unification of mind and consists of rapture and pleasure born of concentration, without thought and examination. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences pleasure with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, neither painkil nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.”
(Source of excerpts: The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha – Bhikkhu Bodhi)