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The Birth of InsightMeditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw$
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Erik Braun

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226000800

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226000947.001.0001

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Ledi Sayadaw and the Gifts of the Buddha

Ledi Sayadaw and the Gifts of the Buddha

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Ledi Sayadaw and the Gifts of the Buddha
Source:
The Birth of Insight
Author(s):

Erik Braun

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226000947.003.0001

To lay the basis for the study of Ledi Sayadaw’s innovations in meditation practice, this chapter first describes meditation’s preeminent place in modern Buddhism and contrasts it to the pre-modern situation, which emphasized generosity and devotion, especially in lay Buddhism. A short exploration of scholarly approaches to meditation in Theravāda Buddhism— critically, the practices of calming (samatha) and concentration (samādhi) versus insight (vipassanā)— and to the history of meditation in Burma precedes an argument that Ledi’s life calls for the exploration of local context and continuities in learning and practice. An awareness of continuity complicates the sources for forms of modern Buddhism by identifying their presence in situations that straddle the pre-colonial/colonial and pre-modern/modern divides. After a consideration of the sources used in the book, in the final sections of the chapter the story of Ledi’s childhood frame an overview of subsequent chapters.

Keywords:   modern Buddhism, lay Buddhism, pre-colonial Buddhism, pre-modern Buddhism, calming meditation, concentration meditation, insight, local Buddhism

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