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
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
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