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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 This Very Life”: Lay Study of the Abhidhamma

“In This Very Life”: Lay Study of the Abhidhamma

(p.102) Four “In This Very Life”: Lay Study of the Abhidhamma
The Birth of Insight

Erik Braun

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines Ledi Sayadaw’s Paramattha sa? khip‘, a Burmese-language poem published in 1904 that condenses the seven canonical books of the Abhidhamma into 690 easy-to-learn verses. Through this best-selling work, Ledi popularized lay study of the Abhidhamma, making it a resource for collective action. The poem brought lay people into the culturally prestigious world of Abhidhamma study and even Pali scholarship. It provided them, too, with the conceptual vocabulary and modes of analysis to engage in Abhidhammic forms of meditation. The chapter also examines the social organizations Ledi founded at this time to promote the study of the Paramattha sa? khip‘. The chapter shows that as he worked to encourage doctrinal study more broadly, Ledi positioned the study of the Paramattha sa? khip‘ in a group setting as a particularly powerful means to spiritual, and even social, development.

Keywords:   Abhidhamma study, lay study, poem, Paramattha sa? khip‘, Meditation, Pali, social organizations, social development

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