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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:36 pm

Meditation En Masse: How Colonialism Sparked the Global Vipassana Movement,by Erik Braun

Alternative link: www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documents/Medi ... 0Braun.pdf

An informative article on the history and development of Burmese Vipassanā. Braun presents the beginning of the meditation revival in Theravāda as a symbiosis of monastic and lay endeavor through movements to safeguard the Sāsana from colonial hegemony.

Also related to this topic see: Strong Roots: Liberation Teachings of Mindfulness in North America, by Jake H. Davis
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:26 pm

Many thanks for this. A really interesting and informative little article.
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:57 pm

its interesting how the most well known insight techniques practiced in the west deviate or evolve if you will from the Canonical teachings.
these practices are being adapted and merged with cognitive behavioral therapy, life-coachiing,even with angel-healing in some new world schools(!).

were the Buddha here today what practice would he describe for my over-stimulated mind?
i shall never know, but i dont think they should be stripped from their Dhammic context void of precepts and underlying philosophy.
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby culaavuso » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:10 pm

kitztack wrote:were the Buddha here today what practice would he describe for my over-stimulated mind?


SN 46.53
SN 46.53: Aggi Sutta wrote:"In the same way, monks, on any occasion when the mind is restless, that is the wrong time to develop analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, persistence as a factor for awakening, rapture as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is hard to still with those mental qualities.

"Now, on occasions when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities.
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:15 pm

thank you once again cuulavuso for another invaluable passage. :namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby pilgrim » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:09 am

kitztack wrote:its interesting how the most well known insight techniques practiced in the west deviate or evolve if you will from the Canonical teachings.
these practices are being adapted and merged with cognitive behavioral therapy, life-coachiing,even with angel-healing in some new world schools(!).

were the Buddha here today what practice would he describe for my over-stimulated mind?
i shall never know, but i dont think they should be stripped from their Dhammic context void of precepts and underlying philosophy.

This may qualify as the corruption of the Dhamma.
Ani sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:04 pm

here is another article on the beginnningS of the different Vipassana traditions in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka

Theravada reinvents meditation
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby EndlessStream » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:52 pm


This urgency certainly would explain all of the different 'made-up' or 'manufactured' Burmese systems of vipassana (which do not exist in the scriptures). In the same way the Japanese urgently built factories to militarise & industrialise to avoid colonisation, the Burmese built vipassana factories or assembly lines, like Model-T or VW Bettle vipassana.
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:19 pm

EndlessStream wrote:

This urgency certainly would explain all of the different 'made-up' or 'manufactured' Burmese systems of vipassana (which do not exist in the scriptures). In the same way the Japanese urgently built factories to militarise & industrialise to avoid colonisation, the Burmese built vipassana factories or assembly lines, like Model-T or VW Bettle vipassana.
The Model-T and the VW Beetle were quite efficient vehicles that got one to where they needed to go. You might want to read Jake Davis' above linked book. These practice are not "made up" out of nothing. They are solidly grounded in the Buddha's teachings.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby SarathW » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:53 pm

Thanks
Very informative.
:)
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:21 am

kitztack wrote:here is another article on the beginnningS of the different Vipassana traditions in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka

Theravada reinvents meditation


I have visited Chapman's blog on occasion, in part because his motivations puzzle me some. Is he trying to inform a 'truth' about these traditions, less the traditional hagiographical claims? Or is it just elegant bashing? Such as his claim that the Burmese Vipassanā traditions were purely ad hoc.

The hubris of this and statements like the folowing on the page you linked is an example: (underlined emphasis mine)

    I’m also not trying to prove that modern vipassana is “inauthentic.” Coming from Tibetan Buddhism, this rapid innovation, based on practical experiments, is slightly shocking for me. But as a scientist and engineer, it’s also inspiring. I am happy to regard all of it as terma—the Tibetan term for a valid new religious revelation.

Who cares about how recent or rapid the development of modern Vipassanā was? What to mention of how recent is Tibetan to Theravāda. After all, Burmese Vipassanā has Satipaṭṭhāna as its foundation and has been vetted by practitioners of contemplative samādhi practices sustained from earlier periods in Buddhist history to the Burmese Vipassanā milieu viz. Chán and Zen, which confirm that the results are identical as far as calm and insight practices go.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:32 am

I was similarly puzzled, and I would query any statements about the "most important" teachers. These articles tend to be very Western-Centric. It happens that U Ba Khin/Goenka, Mahasi Sayadaw/U Pandita, and some of the Thai Ajahns, such as Ajahn Chah, are well known in the West. These are well-respected teachers in Asia, but their fame in the West relative to other Asian teachers is a result of having a good organisation (in the Goenka case) or some enthusiastic Western students.

It's also interesting that we can find claims from some that the Burmese teachers, such as Mahasi Sayadaw, just made it all up, and didn't pay much attention to the Theravada tradition. Yet we have claims from others that they are too traditional and pay too much attention to the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga...

:anjali:
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:26 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
kitztack wrote:here is another article on the beginnningS of the different Vipassana traditions in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka

Theravada reinvents meditation


I have visited Chapman's blog on occasion, in part because his motivations puzzle me some. Is he trying to inform a 'truth' about these traditions, less the traditional hagiographical claims? Or is it just elegant bashing? Such as his claim that the Burmese Vipassanā traditions were purely ad hoc.

The hubris of this and statements like the folowing on the page you linked is an example: (underlined emphasis mine)

    I’m also not trying to prove that modern vipassana is “inauthentic.” Coming from Tibetan Buddhism, this rapid innovation, based on practical experiments, is slightly shocking for me. But as a scientist and engineer, it’s also inspiring. I am happy to regard all of it as terma—the Tibetan term for a valid new religious revelation.

Who cares about how recent or rapid the development of modern Vipassanā was? What to mention of how recent is Tibetan to Theravāda. After all, Burmese Vipassanā has Satipaṭṭhāna as its foundation and has been vetted by practitioners of contemplative samādhi practices sustained from earlier periods in Buddhist history to the Burmese Vipassanā milieu viz. Chán and Zen, which confirm that the results are identical as far as calm and insight practices go.


i will admit that i did not give too much attention to the article before posting the link, just finding it interesting as general overview of different traditions after reading Venerable Analayo's Dynamics of Theravada Insight Meditation which also only goes back as far as Ledi Sayadaw.
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:30 pm

mikenz66 wrote: ... It's also interesting that we can find claims from some that the Burmese teachers, such as Mahasi Sayadaw, just made it all up, and didn't pay much attention to the Theravada tradition. Yet we have claims from others that they are too traditional and pay too much attention to the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga...


I confess that I have played the devil’s advocate in some of this, pushing back at what I have perceived as broad sweeping claims from Vipassanā teachers that their tradition “is the Buddha’s teaching”. When U Pandita asked me if I thought this method (Mahasi) was such, I made an attempt at a gracious reply “yes sir, in so much as we find it in the suttas”.

But in all the debate in these fora, if I have not expressed it, or expressed it well enough, is my appreciation for what the Burmese Vipassanā traditions have given us. And for what these teachings have confirmed in my own practice, having come from a long background in Zen.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:42 pm

kitztack wrote: ...i will admit that i did not give too much attention to the article before posting the link, just finding it interesting as general overview of different traditions after reading Venerable Analayo's Dynamics of Theravada Insight Meditation which also only goes back as far as Ledi Sayadaw.


I don't have time at present to rummage around for them, but somewhere in Chapman's blog are mentioned a couple of thesis written on the history of Burmese Vipassanā, or the rise of meditation culture in Theravāda. I found a .pdf of one of them months ago, and the other as I recall was in a library in a Uni. somewhere. But even these docs seemed to point no earlier than the early 1800's for the beginning of this cultural development.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:27 pm

History records the names of neither these teachers nor their students. But there is proof that the technique was preserved in its pristine purity: About 125 years ago, an extremely intelligent and hard-working young bhikkhu, Ledi Sayadaw, had become proficient in the study of pariyatti. He went on to learn the technique of Vipassana still being taught in the caves of the Sagaing Hills; and after mastering the technique, he began to teach it to others. His vihara (monastery) in Ledi village near the town of Monywa. There he meditated most of the time and taught the other bhikkhus. At other times he travelled throughout Myanmar. Because of his mastery of pariyatti, he was able to write many books on Dhamma in both Pali and Burmese languages. Thus he strengthened pariyatti, and at the same time he kept alive the pure tradition of patipatti by teaching the technique of Vipassana to a few people.


http://www.globalpagoda.org/myanmar-mai ... ine-purity

Venerable Analayo wrote:
. U Ba Khin (1899-1971) learned vipassanā meditation from U
Thet (1873-1945), whose teaching activities took place with the support of
the famous Burmese scholar monk Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923).2
Beyond
that, no further information seems to be available from Burma. In spite of
this paucity of records from Burma, however, there is evidence that this
meditation practice reaches far back into the history of Indian Buddhism.
It is this evidence for “the ancient roots of the U Ba Khin vipassanā
meditation” that the present article intends to explore..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... “experience the whole body” while breathing in and
breathing out,3
the Dhyānasamādhi Sūtra instructs that awareness should
be developed in the following way:
念諸息遍身, 亦念息出入, 悉觀身中諸出息入息, 覺知遍至身中乃
至足指遍諸毛孔, 如水入沙, 息出覺知從足至髮遍諸毛孔亦, 如水
入沙.
Mindfulness [during] all breaths pervades the body, [while] being as
well mindful of the out- and in-breaths.4
Completely contemplating the
inside of the body [during] all out-breaths and in-breaths, awareness
pervades and reaches inside the body up to the toes and the fingers
and pervades every pore [on the surface of the body], just like water
entering sand, aware from the feet to the hair [while] breathing out
[and in], pervading every pore as well, just like water entering sand.5
The Dhyānasamādhi Sūtra’s presentation of the implications of the
injunction to “experience the whole body” is closely similar to the position
taken in the U Ba Khin tradition, a position that differs from the traditional
explanation given by the commentator Buddhaghosa


Ancient Roots of U Ba Khin Vipassana Meditation
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Anagarika » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:37 pm

kitztack wrote:its interesting how the most well known insight techniques practiced in the west deviate or evolve if you will from the Canonical teachings. these practices are being adapted and merged with cognitive behavioral therapy, life-coaching,even with angel-healing in some new world schools(!). were the Buddha here today what practice would he describe for my over-stimulated mind?
i shall never know, but i dont think they should be stripped from their Dhammic context void of precepts and underlying philosophy.


I feel this is a good point you're making, and a hot topic among the "western mindfulness" community (whatever that may be). As Dr. Ron Purser has argued, mindfulness may be taught to army snipers to make them more efficient killers. The argument becomes that mindfulness taught without its wisdom and ethical foundations (ie Right Mindfulness) is a corruption of what the Buddha taught, and a perversion of what mindfulness practice was intended to be. Unfortunately, the west is grabbing on to mindfulness in a similar way that it grabbed on to yoga some years ago, and is turning it into an instant feel good productivity tool, stripped of its ethical context.

As for the issue of whether colonialism spurred the foundations of the Burmese Vipassana movement, these articles are very interesting. I take a very stodgy approach, that being that foundational in the Eightfold Path is the idea of sutta jhanas' samma samadhi : Right Concentration. I'm riding the single gear bicycle vs. the VW Beetle just because it's the way travel was taught in the 'old school.' I'm a boxers vs. briefs kinda guy. :) Is the western Vipassana (or dry insight) practice good or better? I'm not sure, but feel that it's very good that the Burmese monks taught an important sutta based practice that was open and attractive to the laity, and that may have preserved meditation (and Buddhism itself) when it was in danger of being eradicated by Xtian missionaries in Burma and other Buddhist countries. Any traditional, authoritative vehicle that helps people gain insight and places them on the path to release is valuable.
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Babadhari » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:06 pm

were it not for attending a Vipassana course in the SN Goenka tradition some years ago, i and many others might have no direct meeting with the Dhamma of the Buddha in this lifetime, Taking precepts for ten days and experiencing the positive impact to be had on one's life was invaluable.
I see almost every day how mindfulness techniques help friends and family members suffering from anxiety and cravings of different sorts. Hopefully by experiencing the positive effects mindfulness they will develop an interest in the origin of these techniques and discover the Dhamma for themselves.
had the Buddhhas profound teachings been lost through the course of time who knows how much more corrupted and violent might this planet be now
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Anagarika » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:08 pm

kitztack wrote:were it not for attending a Vipassana course in the SN Goenka tradition some years ago, i and many others might have no direct meeting with the Dhamma of the Buddha in this lifetime, Taking precepts for ten days and experiencing the positive impact to be had on one's life was invaluable. I see almost every day how mindfulness techniques help friends and family members suffering from anxiety and cravings of different sorts. Hopefully by experiencing the positive effects mindfulness they will develop an interest in the origin of these techniques and discover the Dhamma for themselves. had the Buddhhas profound teachings been lost through the course of time who knows how much more corrupted and violent might this planet be now

:goodpost:
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Re: Colonialism as foundation for the Vipassana Movement

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:18 am

kitztack wrote:were it not for attending a Vipassana course in the SN Goenka tradition some years ago, i and many others might have no direct meeting with the Dhamma of the Buddha in this lifetime, Taking precepts for ten days and experiencing the positive impact to be had on one's life was invaluable.
I see almost every day how mindfulness techniques help friends and family members suffering from anxiety and cravings of different sorts. Hopefully by experiencing the positive effects mindfulness they will develop an interest in the origin of these techniques and discover the Dhamma for themselves.
had the Buddhhas profound teachings been lost through the course of time who knows how much more corrupted and violent might this planet be now

:goodpost:

A lot more of :jedi: and less of :heart:
Peace,
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