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Post by dudette » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:14 pm

I have this one question, what is vipassana movement and why it started?
By my understanding vipassana movement was started by theravada tradition in 20th century.
Additionally, the organizations which give these ten day courses, try to make vipassana a secular meditation, why?
I mean Anapanasati and mantra meditations seem to be the most "secular" since they are used in other religions as well, so then why to teach vipassana with buddhist theory as it was secular? (according to scholars, buddhism is a religion, and saying things such as "buddhism is secular because ..." really misses the point of what is a religion on academic level).
Additionally, how popular is vipassana in theravada tradition? I mean according to what I have read vipassana was "revived" which would mean that vipassana was not really practiced in theravada for a long time. For example, goenka says that vipassana was forgotten because of conspiracy (sects, religions, religious teachers, buddhists rituals) how much of it is actually true?

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Re: Vipassana

Post by paul » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:00 pm

" the organizations which give these ten day courses, try to make vipassana a secular meditation, why?"

Goenka was an Indian businessman who when taught by a Burmese (the vipassana revival took place in Burma), saw an opportunity to present the essence of Theravada (vipassana) to westerners in a compressed format (Vipassana) which appealed to working professionals who had limited time to practice. His business model was accurate, and it worked as anticipated. Its drawback is in its conception; being compressed it consequently has limitations.
The western vipassana movement (including Goenka’s Vipassana) is criticized for taking the essence of Theravada out of the context of the noble eightfold path, and focusing exessively on the three marks of existence. The grab towards vipassana was caused by the common tendency at the beginning to seek to get to the heart of the matter, but insight must be balanced with tranquility, and an unbalanced focus on insight causes the mind to go crazy. Consequently there has been a correction towards samatha meditation by teachers such as Pa Auk (a Burmese monk), Brahm and Thanissaro, the latter arguing that the emphasis needs to be returned to the four noble truths. This is the current direction of the progression of western Theravada.
Last edited by paul on Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Vipassana

Post by pilgrim » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:16 am

This book gives a historical account of the modern development of Vipassana.
The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Buddhism and Modernity)
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"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 meditation."

However it would be a mistake to think that meditation by laypeople is a totally modern innovation. The suttas indicate that laypeople in the Buddha's time also go on periods of retreat.

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