1st English Translation: “Manual Of Insight”

The first English translation available to Westerners of the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw’s two-volume Manual of Insight might sound at first like something of interest mostly to scholars—or to Buddhist Geeks. Originally completed in seven months by the vipassana master in 1945 even as Japanese bombers dropped their fiery payloads on the nearby Burmese city of Shwebo, the approximately 700-page tome is a rare example of the legendary Sayadaw’s personal research into the Pali suttas, commentaries and sub-commentaries. It is also a straightforward meditation manual with a detailed exposition of the Progress of Insight, the specific stages of the path of awakening as meticulously observed within the Burmese Theravada tradition. It is this latter aspect of the text—its potential ability to help struggling yogis progress and to give Western meditation teachers additional tools to do a better job—that has Steve Armstrong so committed to seeing it available in the West.

snip …

Western dharma students have long been accustomed to Buddhist books and talks that amount to an admixture of inspirational poetry, psychological analysis, riffs on current events, and freestyle borrowing from any number of spiritual traditions. In 1990, when Armstrong returned to the West still in robes from his studies with U Pandita—who teaches the Mahasi method in the traditional and intense style that is characteristic of Burma—he was struck by the contrast. “I could not offer the teachings in as orthodox a way as they do in Burma because the Western scene was so modified, with a lot of psychological understandings and influences from other spiritual traditions like Krishnamurti and other non-dual teachings, as well as the Tibetan influence,” he recalls. “There was a kind of potpourri, as U Pandita would call it.”

While this integrative approach certainly offers benefits, it also carries rarely discussed risks—such as the possibility of losing touch with the practical knowledge and specific instructions that give traditional lineages their effectiveness and power, Armstrong says.

The rest of the article is even more potentially inflammatory and interesting

Full Article

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