The most comprehensive manual of the practice of insight meditation (vipassana), written by one of its foremost 20th century proponents, is translated into English for the first time. Manual of Insight is the magnum opus of Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the originators of the “vipassana movement” that has swept through the Buddhist world over the last hundred years. The manual presents a comprehensive overview of the practice of insight meditation, including the foundational aspects of ethical self-discipline, understanding the philosophical framework for the practice, and developing basic concentration and mindfulness. It culminates with an in-depth exploration of the various types of insight and spiritual fruits that the practice yields. Authored by the master who brought insight meditation to the West and whose students include Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg, Manual of Insight is a veritable Bible for any practitioner of vipassana.
manual of insight
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Knowing that reliable information on the practice of insight meditation was much needed by practitioners in the West, the renowned Burmese master Ledi Sayadaw wrote the The Manual of Insight. He covers many topics, such as the distortions of perceptions, the Noble Truths, the higher knowledges, Nibbana, and others, fully expounded and furnished with brief descriptions, some of which are drawn from the Pali texts, while others are the product of Ledi Sayadaw's own teachings. The second manual, The Noble Eightfold Path and Its Factors Explained, was written by the Ven. Ledi Sayadaw in Burmese and later translated into English by U Saw Tun Teik. It contains all the path-factors clearly explained by the venerable author who, as a senior member of the Sangha (Order) in Burma, was both deeply learned and well-practiced in meditation.
Insight meditation, which claims to offer practitioners a chance to escape all suffering by perceiving the true nature of reality, is one of the most popular forms of meditation today. The Theravada Buddhist cultures of South and Southeast Asia often see it as the Buddha’s most important gift to humanity. In the first book to examine how this practice came to play such a dominant—and relatively recent—role in Buddhism, Erik Braun takes readers to Burma, revealing that Burmese Buddhists in the colonial period were pioneers in making insight meditation indispensable to modern Buddhism. Braun focuses on the Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw, a pivotal architect of modern insight meditation, and explores Ledi’s popularization of the study of crucial Buddhist philosophical texts in the early twentieth century. By promoting the study of such abstruse texts, Braun shows, Ledi was able to standardize and simplify meditation methods and make them widely accessible—in part to protect Buddhism in Burma after the British takeover in 1885. Braun also addresses the question of what really constitutes the “modern” in colonial and postcolonial forms of Buddhism, arguing that the emergence of this type of meditation was caused by precolonial factors in Burmese culture as well as the disruptive forces of the colonial era. Offering a readable narrative of the life and legacy of one of modern Buddhism’s most important figures, The Birth of Insight provides an original account of the development of mass meditation.
This manual, by an experienced Buddhist, has been written so that it will be easily accessible also to the reader who knows nothing about meditation, but also contains knowledge and experience that can be gained only through practice.