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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 Death of Ledi and the Life of Insight

The Death of Ledi and the Life of Insight

(p.150) Conclusion The Death of Ledi and the Life of Insight
The Birth of Insight

Erik Braun

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers the impact of Ledi Sayadaw’s vision of modern Buddhism. His life reveals continuities between the pre-colonial and colonial periods, in terms of the valuation of the Abhidhamma, doctrinal learning, and the protection of Buddhism. Modern Buddhism did not start from scratch during colonialism, yet it was not simply the result of the past; it developed in a path-dependent process from the pre-colonial period, which made possible Ledi’s improvisations in the colonial moment that formed modern insight practice. The chapter surveys meditation teachers after Ledi in order to demonstrate his influence. It ends with a consideration of Ledi’s impact beyond Burma in the United States. However much contemporary movements diverge from Ledi’s vision, the genealogy traced here shows that such modern forms of Buddhism and meditative practice still depend on the past, even as people’s improvisations create radically new forms.

Keywords:   modern Buddhism, path dependence, continuity, colonialism, improvisation, insight practice, United States

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