Mahasi Sayadaw

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Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhana
မဟာစည်ဆရာတော် ဦးသောဘန
Mahasi Sayadaw.jpg
The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw
Title Sayadaw
Personal
Born
Maung Thwin

(1904-07-29)29 July 1904
Died14 August 1982(1982-08-14) (aged 78)
Religion Buddhism
NationalityBurmese
School Theravada
LineageMahasi
EducationDhammācariya (1941)
Occupation Buddhist monk
Senior posting
Based inMahasi Monastery, Yangon, Myanmar
Predecessor U Nārada
Successor U Pandita, Dipa Ma
Website www.mahasi.org.mm

Mahāsī Sayādaw U Sobhana (Burmese : မဟာစည်ဆရာတော် ဦးသောဘန, pronounced  [məhàsì sʰəjàdɔ̀ ʔú θɔ́bəna̰] ; 29 July 1904 – 14 August 1982) was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and meditation master who had a significant impact on the teaching of vipassanā (insight) meditation in the West and throughout Asia.

Contents

In his style of practice, derived from the so-called New Burmese Method of U Nārada, the meditator lives according to Buddhist morality as a prerequisite for meditation practice. Meditation itself entails the practice of satipaṭṭhāna , the four foundations of mindfulness, anchoring the attention on the sensations of the rising and falling of the abdomen during breathing, observing carefully any other sensations or thoughts. This is coupled to reflection on the Buddhist teachings on causality, gaining insight into anicca , dukkha , and anattā .

Mahāsī Sayādaw was a questioner and final editor at the Sixth Buddhist Council on May 17, 1954.

Biography

Mahāsi Sayādaw was born in 1904 in Seikkhun village in Upper Burma. He became a novice at age twelve, and was ordained at the age of twenty with the name Sobhana. Over the course of decades of study, he passed the rigorous series of government examinations in the Theravāda Buddhist texts, gaining the newly introduced Dhammācariya (dhamma teacher) degree in 1941.

In 1931, U Sobhana took leave from teaching scriptural studies in Moulmein, South Burma, and went to nearby Thaton to practice intensive Vipassana meditation under Mingun Jetawun Sayādaw (also rendered Mingun Jetavana Sayādaw), also known as U Nārada. This teacher had practiced in the remote Sagaing Hills of Upper Burma, under the guidance of Aletawya Sayādaw, a student of the forest meditation master Thelon Sayādaw.[ citation needed ] U Sobhāna first taught Vipassana meditation in his home village in 1938, at a monastery named for its massive drum 'Mahāsi'. He became known in the region as Mahāsi Sayādaw. In 1947, the Prime Minister of Burma, U Nu, invited Mahāsi Sayādaw to be resident teacher at a newly established meditation center in Yangon, which came to be called the Mahāsi Sāsana Yeiktha.

Mahāsi Sayādaw was a questioner and final editor at the Sixth Buddhist Council on May 17, 1954. He helped establish meditation centers all over Burma as well as in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, and by 1972 the centers under his guidance had trained more than 700,000 meditators. In 1979, he travelled to the West, holding retreats at newly founded centers such as the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, U.S. In addition, meditators came from all over the world to practice at his center in Yangon. When the Mahāsi Sayādaw died on 14 August 1982 following a massive stroke, thousands of devotees braved the torrential monsoon rains to pay their last respects.

Practice

Mahāsi's method is based on the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, which describes how one focuses attention on the breath, noticing how one breathes in and out. Practice begins with the preparatory stage, the practice of sīla , morality, giving up worldly thoughts and desires. [1] [2] [note 1] The practitioner then engages in satipatthana by mindfulness of breathing. One pays attention to any arising mental or physical phenomenon, engaging in vitaka, noting or naming physical and mental phenomena ("breathing, breathing"), without engaging the phenomenon with further conceptual thinking. [3] [4] By noticing the arising of physical and mental phenomena, the meditator becomes aware how sense impressions arise from the contact between the senses and physical and mental phenomena, [3] as described in the five skandhas and paṭiccasamuppāda . This noticing is accompanied by reflections on causation and other Buddhist teachings, leading to insight into anicca, dukkha, and anattā. [5] When the three characteristics have been comprehended, reflection subdues, and the process of noticing accelerates, noting phenomena in general, without necessarily naming them. [6]

Notable students

Publications

Mahāsi Sayādaw published nearly seventy volumes of Buddhist literature in Burmese, many of these transcribed from talks. He completed a Burmese translation of the Visuddhimagga , ("The Path of Purification") a lengthy treatise on Buddhist practice by the 5th century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar Buddhaghosa. He also wrote a volume entitled Manual of Vipassana Meditation. His English works include:

Notes

  1. Jeff Wilson notes that morality is a quintessential element of Buddhist practice, and is also emphasized by the first generation of post-war western teachers. Yet, in the contemporary mindfulness movement, morality as an element of practice has been mostly discarded, 'mystifying' the origins of mindfulness. [1]

Related Research Articles

Vipassanā (Pāli) or vipaśyanā (Sanskrit) literally, "special-seeing", "special (Vi), seeing (Passanā)", is a Buddhist term that is often translated as "insight". The Pali Canon describes it as one of two qualities of mind which is developed (bhāvanā) in Buddhist meditation, the other being samatha. It is often defined as a form of meditation that seeks "insight into the true nature of reality", defined as anicca "impermanence", dukkha "suffering, unsatisfactoriness", anattā "non-self", the three marks of existence in the Theravada tradition, and as śūnyatā "emptiness" and Buddha-nature in the Mahayana traditions.

Satipatthana

Satipaṭṭhāna is the establishment or arousing of mindfulness, as part of the Buddhist practices leading to detachment and liberation.

Sayadaw U Pandita was one of the foremost masters of Vipassanā. He trained in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Myanmar. A successor to the late Mahāsi Sayādaw, he has taught many of the Western teachers and students of the Mahāsi style of Vipassanā meditation. He was the abbot of Paṇḍitārāma Meditation Center in Yangon, Myanmar.

Ledi Sayadaw Burmese philosopher

Ledi Sayadaw U Ñaṇadhaja was an influential Theravada Buddhist monk. He was recognized from a young age as being developed in both the theory (Abhidharma) and practice of Buddhism and so was revered as being scholarly. He wrote many books on Dhamma in Burmese and these were accessible even to a serious lay person, hence he was responsible for spreading Dhamma to all levels of society and reviving the traditional practice of vipassana meditation, making it more available for renunciates and lay people alike.

Buddhist meditation meditation practice

Buddhist meditation is the practice of meditation in Buddhism. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna/dhyāna.

The Visuddhimagga, is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in the 5th Century in Sri Lanka. It is a manual condensing and systematizing the 5th century understanding and interpretation of the Buddhist path as maintained by the elders of the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

The Vipassanā movement, also called the Insight Meditation Movement and American vipassana movement, refers to a branch of modern Burmese Theravāda Buddhism which gained widespread popularity since the 1950s, and to its western derivatives which were popularised since the 1970s, helping give rise to the mindfulness movement.

Dipa Ma Bangladeshi meditation teacher

Dipa Ma was an Indian meditation teacher of Theravada Buddhism and was of Barua descent. She was a prominent Buddhist master in Asia and also taught in the United States where she influenced the American branch of the Vipassana movement.

Jack Kornfield American writer

Jack Kornfield is a bestselling American author and teacher in the vipassana movement in American Theravada Buddhism. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, first as a student of the Thai forest master Ajahn Chah and Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. He has taught meditation worldwide since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist Mindfulness practice to the West. In 1975, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, and subsequently in 1987, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Kornfield has worked as a peacemaker and activist, organized teacher trainings, and led international gatherings of Buddhist teachers including the Dalai Lama.

Sati (Buddhism) Buddhist concept of mindfulness or awareness

Sati is mindfulness or awareness, a spiritual or psychological faculty (indriya) that forms an essential part of Buddhist practice. It is the first factor of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. "Correct" or "right" mindfulness is the seventh element of the Noble Eightfold Path.

A sayadaw is a Burmese Buddhist title used to reference the senior monk or abbot of a monastery. Some distinguished sayadaws would often be referred to as a sayadawgyi (ဆရာတော်ကြီး, as a sign of reverence. The terms "sayadaw" and "sayadawgyi" originally corresponded to the senior monks who taught the former Burmese kings. These sayadaws may be influential teachers of Buddhism and also important meditation practitioners. They usually are abbots of monasteries or monastery networks with many resident monks and a lay following.

Webu Sayadaw Burmese buddhist monk

Webu Sayadaw was a Theravada Buddhist monk, and vipassanā master, best known for giving all importance to diligent practice, rather than scholastic achievement.

Joseph Goldstein is one of the first American vipassana teachers, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) with Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg, contemporary author of numerous popular books on Buddhism, resident guiding teacher at IMS, and leader of retreats worldwide on insight (vipassana) and lovingkindness (metta) meditation.

The Venerable Chanmyay Sayadaw U Janakābhivaṃsa, is a Theravada Buddhist monk from Myanmar.

Kalapa or rupa-kalapa is a term in Theravada Buddhist phenomenology for the smallest units of physical matter, said to be about 1/46,656th the size of a particle of dust from a wheel of chariot. Kalapas are not mentioned in the earliest Buddhists texts, such as the Tripitaka, but only in the Abhidhammattha-sangaha, an Abhidhamma commentary dated to the 11th or 12th century, and as such not part of common Theravada doctrine.

U Vimala Burmese Buddhist monk

U Vimala was a renowned bhikkhu and vipassanā meditation master of Theravada Buddhism.

U Nārada, also Mingun Jetawun Sayādaw or Mingun Jetavana Sayādaw, was a Burmese monk in the Theravada tradition credited with being one of the key figures in the revival of Vipassana meditation.

Sayadaw U Tejaniya Burmese Buddhhist monk

Sayadaw U Tejaniya is a Theravadan Buddhist monk of Chinese descent and the meditation teacher at the Shwe Oo Min Dhamma Sukha Forest Center in Yangon, Myanmar whose teachings have attracted a global audience.

Sunlun Sayadaw, was a renowned Burmese Sayadaw and vipassanā meditation master of Theravada Buddhism. He was named for Sunlun village, which is near Myingyan, middle Burma.

References

  1. 1 2 Wilson 2014, p. 54-55.
  2. Mahāsi Sayādaw, Manual of Insight, Chapter 5
  3. 1 2 Mahasi Sayadaw, Practical Vipassana Instructions
  4. Bhante Bodhidhamma, Vipassana as taught by The Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma
  5. PVI, p.22-27
  6. PVI, p.28
  7. "Our Teacher -". vipassanadhura.com. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
  8. "About". Jack Kornfield. Archived from the original on 2013-12-22. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  9. "Sayadaw U Silananda". Theravada Buddhist Society of America. Retrieved 27 April 2012.

Sources