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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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The Birth of Insight

The Birth of Insight

Chapter:
(p.122) Five The Birth of Insight
Source:
The Birth of Insight
Author(s):

Erik Braun

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226000947.003.0006

This chapter examines works on meditation by Ledi Sayadaw to show his vision of meditative practice, grounded in features described in earlier chapters. Ledi popularizes practice for all people, whatever their station in life. He uses basic Abhidhamma study as the basis for meditation, stressing fundamental doctrinal categories, particularly the four elements of earth, fire, water, and wind. This approach simplifies practice, because such learning is sufficient for “dry insight meditation” (sukhavipassanā) that requires no prior “calming meditation” (samatha). Meditation becomes a practice that one can do in the midst of lay life. Abhidhamma emerges in the analysis as the factor that explains the birth of mass insight practice in Burma as nowhere else. In Ledi’s vision, the pursuit of awakening is part of modern lay life, and this fact reflects a Buddhist modernity that sees no conflict between religion and the modern world.

Keywords:   popularization, meditation, Abhidhamma, Simplification, four elements, dry insight meditation, calming meditation, mass insight practice, Buddhist modernity

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