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Other titles in the Buddhism and Modernity series:
Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka (Buddhism and Modernity)by Anne M. Blackburn
Synopses & Reviews
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 Buddhaand#8217;s most important gift to humanity. In the first book to examine how this practice came to play such a dominantand#8212;and relatively recentand#8212;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 Lediand#8217;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 accessibleand#8212;in part to protect Buddhism in Burma after the British takeover in 1885. Braun also addresses the question of what really constitutes the and#8220;modernand#8221; 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 Buddhismand#8217;s most important figures, The Birth of Insight provides an original account of the development of mass meditation.
Anagarika Dharmapala is one of the most galvanizing figures in Sri Lankaand#8217;s recent turbulent history. He is widely regarded as the nationalist hero who saved the Sinhala people from cultural collapse and whose and#147;protestantand#8221; reformation of Buddhism drove monks toward increased political involvement and ethnic confrontation. Yet as tied to Sri Lankan nationalism as Dharmapala is in popular memory, he spent the vast majority of his life abroad, engaging other concerns. In Rescued from the Nation, Steven Kemper reevaluates this important figure in the light of an unprecedented number of his writings, ones that paint a picture not of a nationalist zealot but of a spiritual seeker earnest in his pursuit of salvation. and#160;
Drawing on huge stores of source materialsand#151;nearly one hundred diaries and notebooksand#151;Kemper reconfigures Dharmapala as a world-renouncer first and a political activist second. Following Dharmapala on his travels between East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and the United States, he traces his lifelong project of creating a unified Buddhist world, recovering the place of the Buddhaand#8217;s Enlightenment, and imitating the Buddhaand#8217;s life course. The result is a needed corrective to Dharmapalaand#8217;s embattled legacy, one that resituates Sri Lankaand#8217;s political awakening within the religious one that was Dharmapalaand#8217;s life project.and#160;
Modernizing and colonizing forces brought nineteenth-century Sri Lankan Buddhists both challenges and opportunities. How did Buddhists deal with social and economic change; new forms of political, religious, and educational discourse; and Christianity?and#160; And how did Sri Lankan Buddhists, collaborating with other Asian Buddhists, respond to colonial rule? To answer these questions, Anne M. Blackburn focuses on the life of leading monk and educator Hikkaduve Sumangala (1827andndash;1911) to examine more broadly Buddhist life under foreign rule.
In Locations of Buddhism, Blackburn reveals that during Sri Lankaandrsquo;s crucial decades of deepening colonial control and modernization, there was a surprising stability in the central religious activities of Hikkaduve and the Buddhists among whom he worked. At the same time, they developed new institutions and forms of association, drawing on pre-colonial intellectual heritage as well as colonial-period technologies and discourse. Advocating a new way of studying the impact of colonialism on colonized societies, Blackburn is particularly attuned here to human experience, paying attention to the habits of thought and modes of affiliation that characterized individuals and smaller scale groups. Locations of Buddhism is a wholly original contribution to the study of Sri Lanka and the history of Buddhism more generally.
About the Author
Anne M. Blackburn is associate professor of South Asian and Buddhist studies at Cornell University and the author of Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture.
Table of Contents
A Note on Translations, Sources, Dating, and Language
1. Hikkaduve Sumangala at Adamand#8217;s Peak
2. Hikkaduve Sumangala at Vidyodaya Pirivena
3. Learning and Difference
4. Engaging the Adventurers
5. Sasana and Empire
6. Horizons Not Washed Away
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Biography » Religious