using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 35 in Burmese Buddhism a rare and heroic feat. And Ledi Sayadaw makes the point about his accomplishments even finer by proclaiming that he will be without equal in the future, during the time of the next Buddha, Metteyya (Maitreya in Sanskrit). Perhaps it was because of these accomplish- ments that he felt the time was ripe for another dramatic change in his life, especially since he believed the Buddhist era was nearing its end. It was shortly after writing his poetic proclamation, in 1903, that Ledi Sayadaw stepped onto the national stage. From this point on, he undertook a program of nearly ceaseless travel throughout the country, traveling thousands and thousands of miles, from the far north to the far south and to the borders on the east and west. He reached out to the masses by preaching Buddhism wher- ever he went, writing scores of Buddhist books, poems, and essays, and organizing laypeople into social groups for study and self-improvement. He became tremendously popular. A British official observed, “Wherever he went he was greeted by enraptured throngs. Men and women vied in adoration of the saintly personage, women loos- ing their hair and spreading it as a carpet for his holy feet.” Ledi Sayadaw did not neglect moral issues. He argued in his speeches and in print against drink- ing liquor, taking opium, and eating beef, among other things—vices he felt were encouraged by the British. He is reported to have said, “I am not sure the government will approve of my preach- ing. There will be much loss of revenue; for when I have finished, all liquor and opium shops will be closed for want of custom.” But, above all, when Ledi Sayadaw preached and wrote, he talked about the Abhidhamma. As one Burmese writer put it, he “gave it like falling rain.” Meditation became an important subject, too, but was usually presented in the context of doctrinal teachings, especially the Abhidhamma. To understand how he popularized insight prac- tice, one must first understand how he popular- ized the study of Buddhist philosophy. Prior to this period in Ledi Sayadaw’s career, laypeople almost never learned about the Bud- dha’s teachings on Abhidhamma in any depth; it was considered too difficult for regular folks. If you were a layperson, better to focus on simple matters of morality and giving. But Ledi Say- adaw managed to spread the Abhidhamma far and wide to great acclaim. He wasn’t the only one who worried that Buddhism was nearing its end. Laypeople were anxious as well, and they understood that by learning the Abhidhamma, they too could help preserve the most complex, and therefore most fragile, of the Buddha’s teach- ings, and so preserve Buddhism as a whole. At least for a while. As in his preaching, so in his writing, Ledi Sayadaw broke with the norm, employing unusu- ally simple language and avoiding too much Pali. He warned readers in one book: “Do not think, ‘It does not include any Pali!’ If one wrote with Pali, then I think it would be really difficult to speak sensibly. Lecturing is not the main thing. Just the winning of the eye of wisdom among good people for themselves—this is the goal.” One of his books, Summary of the Ultimates, a comprehensive overview of Abhidhamma thought, was among Burma’s first spiritual best- sellers. He leveraged his success as a writer and speaker toward social organizing, working not only to popularize but also to institutionalize the study and practice he promoted. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Ledi Sayadaw’s activities played a pivotal role in transforming Burmese Buddhism. The laity, both men and women (he explicitly included women in his efforts), had their roles in Bud- dhism revamped to include much more per- sonal responsibility. And the people responded; the kind of study advocated by Ledi Sayadaw caught fire among the laity as a means of protect- ing a Buddhist tradition under threat by British colonialism. Ledi Sayadaw built upon that drive, using it to inform and enable insight meditation. He Some of the 550 stone tablets inscribed with Ledi Sayadaw’s writings, displayed at Ledi Monastery in Monywa ERIKBRAUN