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The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Buddhism and Modernity)


The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Buddhism and Modernity) Cover


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Publisher Comments:

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 Buddhas 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 Ledis 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 Buddhisms most important figures, The Birth of Insight provides an original account of the development of mass meditation.

About the Author

 Erik Braun is assistant professor in the Religious Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration
Introduction: Ledi Sayadaw and the Gifts of the Buddha

1. The Best of Times and the Worst: Ledi Sayadaw's Formative Period

2. The Great War of the Commentaries: Ledi Sayadaw's Abhidhamma Controversy
3. “In the Hands of All the People”: Ledi Empowers the Laity
4. “In This Very Life”: Lay Study of the Abhidhamma
5. The Birth of Insight

Conclusion: The Death of Ledi and the Life of Insight



Product Details

Braun, Erik
University of Chicago Press
Religion-Eastern - General
General Religion
Edition Description:
Buddhism and Modernity
Publication Date:
6 halftones
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Meditations
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » Theravada
Religion » Eastern Religions » General

The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Buddhism and Modernity) New Hardcover
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Product details 280 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226000800 Reviews:
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