There are two major categories of Buddhist meditations. Samatha (Samadhi) and Wipassana. Why are there two? and, what could be the best?
As I ‘ve already mentioned before, meditations similar to types in Samatha had had already existed before the time of His holiness Lord Buddha. It is clear from the history, that there had been some meditators who had achieved it’s highest level at that time. One such person was the teacher of king Suddhodana, Asitha Kaladewala ( father of prince Siddhartha:His holiness lord Buddha’s laymen life’s). He was said to had the ability to travel to the heavens by his mere wish, additional to achieving the furthest state of Samatha meditation. A lot of such meditators are heard of having many supernatural abilities by developing mind using meditation knowledge that existed at that time.
But then, Wipassana meditation type had been never known before his holiness lord Buddha himself discovered and taught it to this world. Which unveils the path to Nirvana / final enlightenment. And unlike those meditations, that were kept and shared only among higher casts, His holiness lord Buddha let anyone to learn and practice his holiness’s teachings to enlightenment.
His holiness lord Buddha himself had tried all those knowledge that existed at the time before starting to look for a new method to achieve the liberation from sufferings. So his holiness had also tried various available types of Samatha meditation at the time. And after achieving enlightenment, his holiness had recommended to use Samatha meditation to develop mind, needed for the path. But had given own instructions on how to practice them differently from those ways known where needed. So original teachings of Buddhist Samatha meditation types are known different from those were before that time. However it seems that some of the elder teachers had/have introduce and teach their experiences and beliefs when teaching their students.
So when considering about the second one, deciding the best. The reality is, in general, when we are to meditate as beginners these both types could come in handy. Because one type could help to reduce different unwanted qualities in mind and other some other qualities.
So Samatha which is the very best to achieve qualities like consciousness or calm, and then Wipassana for qualities like insight or prajna, both, could be specified for a particular person based on his personality.
The first to decide, the best for a person, is to know exactly what he or she wants to achieve by meditating. If he is interested in achieving the depth of wisdom of Buddhist teachings, then sticking to Samathya will never take him to his desired destination.So practicing it even after achieving the status of mind he need to move on the path, would only delay his desired journey. Wipassana or insight meditation, on the other hand, would help to achieve any stage of enlightenment, where Samatha will never give any of the stages, despite of how much or how long he may practice it. The status that are available to a samatha meditator are the status of Dhyana/jhana. That would increase his mind to various status and reduce negative qualities of mind, but all in temporarily, but still which would definitely determine his next birth place.
So if a meditator is interested in ending, permanently, his sufferings and rebirth, he should definitely chose Wipassana and should consider Samatha only as some mean to improve his meditation and to distract any unwanted qualities in his mind.