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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
The nonexistence of the four elements shows the nonexistence of the derived material phenomena (upadarupa), and the nonexistence of the mental phenomena that arise in the sense desire and fine- material existences based on physical phenomena. There are no sense objects connected with the immaterial existence. “Neither this world nor another world” refers to the nonexistence of any phenomena concerning these worlds. Therefore, at the moment of path and fruition that takes nibbana as its object, one knows no objects concerning this or another world. “Neither sun nor moon” means that because there are no material phenomena, there is no dark- ness. Thus no light is needed to dispel darkness. Thus it is shown that the sun, moon, other planets, and stars do not exist. “There is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, and no uprising” means that while one can come and go to another realm from the human or the celestial realm, one cannot come to nibbana, and from nibbana one cannot go somewhere else. Unlike the human and celestial realms, there are no persons or beings in nibbana. “Nothing new arises in nibbana” means that it can only be known and taken as an object by path, fruition, and reviewing knowledges. “It has no support” means that because it is not a material phenomenon, it is not located anywhere and it is not based on any other phenomena. Even though it is a mental phenomenon, it is not a result or an effect. This means that it is not based on any conditions. “Just this is the end of suffering” means that there is no occurrence in nibbana. Nibbana is the opposite of the constantly arising process of mental and physical phenomena. Although it is a mental phenomenon, it does not have the characteristic of being aware of an object as consciousness and the mental factors do. Because it is the object of path IN THE EARLY 1900s, the English occupation of Burma threatened to undermine the faith and practice of Bur- mese Buddhists. Monastic elders instituted a comprehen- sive offering of scholastic studies of buddhadhamma that resulted in an informed laity with devout faith. Mahasi Sayadaw capitalized on that base of Buddhist knowledge when he opened the Mahasi Meditation Center in Ran- goon in 1949. There, he offered a semi-secluded physical retreat environment where people could practice in silence and away from any other worldly obligations and respon- sibilities. The daily schedule alternated mindful sitting and walking for up to twenty hours per day with simple, progressive, and pragmatic instruction. Faithful laymen and women could acquire the momentum of mindfulness sufficient for the development of liberating insight. This style of teaching and practice informs the foundation of the modern-day Insight Meditation Society. In his Manual of Insight, written over seven months during the height of the near-daily Japanese bombing of nearby Shwebo, Burma, in 1945, Mahasi Sayadaw artic- ulates with clarity and precision the path of mindfulness practice for liberating insight—from a basic empirical knowledge of body and mind to the necessary momen- tary concentration sufficient for the development of insight knowledge (vipassana). He details the experiences and challenges based upon his studies and personal expe- rience, and the experiences of the hundreds of thousands of students who flocked to his meditation center for guid- ance. The practice of insight for the progressive develop- ment of liberating wisdom culminates in the realization of the first and subsequent stages of enlightenment, the unconditioned: nibbana. STeVeN armSTrONg is the managing editor of Wisdom’s new translation of Manual of Insight. he trained as a monk in Burma for five years, where he practiced under Sayadaw u Pandita, one of mahasi Sayadaw’s successors. mahasi sayadaw’s manual of insight by steven armstrong spring 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 35