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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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“In the Hands of All the People”: Ledi Empowers the Laity

“In the Hands of All the People”: Ledi Empowers the Laity

(p.77) Three “In the Hands of All the People”: Ledi Empowers the Laity
The Birth of Insight

Erik Braun

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores Ledi Sayadaw’s efforts after 1900 to popularize study and practice among the laity. He exploited print culture, producing many vernacular writings, he went on wide-ranging preaching tours, and he founded numerous social organizations during his extensive travels— all to teach doctrine and moral behavior. Ledi’s program helped to empower lay people to collective action by arguing for Buddhism as the most scientific and superior of world religions. The chapter examines a speech by Ledi, in which he argues that lay people have the responsibility to protect and promote Buddhism. In this role, Ledi saw mastery of the Abhidhamma as the most powerful means that the laity could deploy, once again underlining the importance of philosophy and study to Burmese Buddhism. Rather than laicization or monasticization, Ledi’s multipronged effort supported a leveling between monk and layperson and an intensification of lay life that reconstructed Burmese Buddhism.

Keywords:   print culture, vernacular writing, social organization, preaching, scientific religion, world religion, Abhidhamma, laicization, monasticization, lay life

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