Vipassana (II). The Heresy

Before entering the subject, it is necessary to make clear the basic ideas about the “Buddhist apocalypse”, that is, the arrival of the expected Metteyya (Maitreya in Sanskrit) thanks to which, Enlightenment can be achieved.

  1. According to the “Burmese prophecies”, the new Buddha would come 5,000 years after the Gotama Buddha.
  2. Half of 5,000 years are 2,500, coinciding (according to legendary calculations) with the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Rangoon in 1954-56.
  3. No Buddha can come if the Dhamma of the previous Buddha (Sāsana) is not completely corrupt and lost.
  4. Meditation is not part of the orthodox bhikkhu’s life and there is no rule that forces him to meditate, in fact, it is something alien to the Patimokkha.
  5. What the Patimokkha does say is that it is a very serious fault (Parajika) with automatic loss of the condition of bhikkhu to announce that some degree of enlightenment has been achieved.The reason is that, as the merit is proportional to the receiver, if there is an ariya (noble) in one place they will only give food to him and the other bhikkhus would die of starvation.
  6. Nothing that is not in the texts is acceptable to all Buddhists.
  7. The traditional Theravada way, opened by the same Buddhaghosa, is that of merit, so that one does not stay in hell when Metteyya appears and thus lose his teachings.
  8. One way to get to know Metteyya, come when he arrives, is not to die.
  9. According to the Burmese folklore, an arahant, or a saint, leaves an incorrupt body, so the main objective was to save embalming.

We enter the back room of History, in a very, very remote country:

At the beginning of the 18th century, a Revival was lived in Upper Burma where reformist monks installed the belief that even in the present decadent epoch it is possible to achieve the liberation of Saṃsāra in a single life.

When Burma regained its independence from Britain in 1948, the vipassanā meditation movement “insight” had become an allied institution and integrated into the Theravadin orthodox establishment, even when it generated charismatic cults dedicated to the veneration of its supposed live living arahants.

The popularization of vipassanā was one of the most important transformations in Burmese Buddhism in the modern era. However, in addition to the vipassanā, the same period witnessed the rise of an alternative soteriology, one whose methods and orientation fall largely outside the parameters of the contemporary Theravada orthodox.

Known in Burmese as the weikza-lam or “Path of the Esoteric” this tradition does not aim at the completion of the samsaric life fused in nibbāna as arahant, but its indefinite prolongation through the attainment of virtual immortality as a weikza- do or “Buddhist assistant”.

By operating on the periphery of Burmese orthodoxy, weikza-lam has sometimes been subject to criticism, especially by devotees of the other movement, vipassanā. Despite this, modern Burmese arahantado and weikza-do share many qualities as ideal types, including their ability to do wonders , and after their disappearance, to leave behind bodies that are immune to decay .

We will compare the arahant and the weikza-do as ideals of human perfection in contemporary Burmese Buddhism and we will discuss the contested religious claims of the traditions to be represented.

In the nineteenth century, the term vipassanā and its corollaries samathaand bhavana were translated into English in a variety of ways by British officials, Christian missionaries and Orientalists. The term ‘insight’became the equivalent preferred translation for vipassanā among the English Burmese intelligentsia at the beginning of the twentieth century.See, for example, Shwe Zan Aung and Rhys Davids.

Before the 18th century in Burma, as elsewhere in the Theravāda world, it was generally believed that it was not possible to attain enlightenment and therefore nibbāna through vipassanā or any other means during the present time, since such a thing is not It is in the Texts.

The reason for this is that the 5,000-year-old Buddha Sāsana was too long for anyone to reach. What remained for the faithful was the path of making average merits from which they could hope to be reborn in the presence of the future Buddha, Metteyya, many millions of years from now. At that time, as disciples of Metteyya, enlightenment and liberation would be easy.

The oldest known record of someone who challenged this assumption is that of a monk from the hills of Sagaing in Upper Burma called Waya-zawta whose movement flourished during the reign of Maha-damma-yaza-dipati (1733-1752). Waya-zawta promised his followers the attainment of sotāpanna through the anāgāmī state if they continue under his teachings

Unfortunately for his disciples, after his death his movement was repressed by the Burmese crown as heretical. A century later, the erudite monk Monywe Sayadaw (1767-1835) noted something ironically in his royal chronicle, Mahayazawin-gyaw , and that, although the Sāsana or Buddha’s religion is in decline and will one day disappear from the world it is an idea Pan-Buddhist, the notion that will specifically last 5,000 years is particular to Theravāda and is attested for the first time in the fifth-century commentaries of Buddhaghosa and in the Mahāvaṃsa.

Since at least the eleventh century, inscriptions in Pagan and elsewhere in Burma have registered the desire of donors to achieve liberation as disciples of Metteyya or to become bodhisattas at that time.

The release at the time of Metteyya’s appearance has also been the most commonly made wish of learned monks expressed in the colophons of their treatises. See, for example, that in the 1960s, most Buddhists in Sri Lanka clarify that liberation is impossible until the advent of Maitrī (Metteyya).

An important monk named Waya-zawta , who lived in the village of Wat-chek, used to preach to the followers of his doctrine that he had become Sotāpanna. Many monks and lay people became his disciples and soon expanded into all the towns and villages of Upper and Lower Burma, declaring, ‘I have become a sotāpanna, I have become a sakadāgāmī! 

After the death of Waya-zawta, the monks who continued to preach their doctrines were investigated. When these monks admitted their teachings, the king expelled them and ordered them to throw elephant and horse dung [in the royal stables]. Nothing more is known about the movement of Waya-zawta or his doctrines, but one can speculate on why he gained so much popularity and why this in turn aroused the king’s hostility.

During the first half of the 18th century, the then Burmese Nyaung dynasty (1597-1752) was in a precipitous decline. Historically, the conditions of uncertainty and discomfort have often led to the emergence of thinkers from different cultures who reassess their traditions in search of truths and benefits that are more relevant to a world in crisis. The promise of immediate Ariya achievement, the Buddha’s greatest happiness, must have seemed especially attractive in the midst of the war and anarchy of the time. It is possible that the king’s support for the repression of the Waya-zawta movement was carried out for purely doctrinal reasons, but it may also have been motivated by political considerations, if, for example, it was ideologically perceived as a kind of offense against them. de facto majesty.

That the king, as a layman, is always inferior in religious status to the monks is taken for granted in the Theravāda scheme of things and is not a problem. As a consequence of their high status, strictly speaking monks were not subjects of the king. On the contrary, any layman not otherwise dedicated to a monastery or pagoda was considered the property of the king, his kyun, a term meaning ” subject “, ” servant ” or ” slave ” according to the context.

If a secular individual claimed to be an ariya he would automatically be above any ordinary unenlightened person, and therefore of the king, who would be religiously ‘inferior’, both he and all his lay subjects. This would be perceived as a political threat, especially at a time when the Burmese monarchy was weakened and pressured on all sides.

Thus, shortly after the movement of Waya-zawta was suppressed.

During a civil war that saw the destruction of the Nyaung-yan dynasty, a young learned monk named Medawi (1728-1816) began writing Vipassanāmanuals in the vernacular. Based on the Abhidhamma texts, his Vipassanābooks are the oldest “how to do it” books in Burma. The first Medawi manual was completed in 1754, only two years after the founding of the new Burmese dynasty, the Konbaung (1752-1885). Other works followed with rapid success.

In the introduction to his Nama-rupa-nibbinda Shu-bwe completed in 1756, Medawi criticizes what he sees as the defeatist attitude of his contemporaries regarding the usefulness of practical meditation and the possibility of liberation today. As part of his argument, he significantly redefines what it means to him that Buddha’s religion will be extinguished.To give up what must be abandoned and practice what should be practiced according to the instructions [of the Buddha], [these two things together] is what is called completing the ‘religion of practice’ (paṭipatti Sāsana). And it is only by completing the religion of practice that the ‘religion of fulfillment’ (paṭivedha Sāsana) is completed,

Unlike Mahāyāna, where bodhisattvas define themselves as enlightened human beings, in the Theravada they are said to remain unenlightened until they attain Buddhahood at the end of their existence which is [nothing less than] the path and the fruit of liberation. .

[This is the case], if someone ever believes, ‘I can not practice yet as much as is necessary to reach the path and the fruit of the entrance of the stream! and [on the basis of this belief] only abandons what should be abandoned … and being satisfied with the moral purity thus obtained, does not participate in any additional practice, then for that person it can be said that the religion of practice has become extinct .

We see in this passage that for Medawi the decline and the disappearance – the Buddha’s religion is no longer an eschatological consequence of the search for some cosmic return, but occurs at the level of the individual, each time someone, for complacency or lack of Trust, choose not to strive for enlightenment.

Medawi can be defined as a Gnostic heretic of Theravada. At this point it links with the theosophical principles that take Gnosticism as its own, hence its compatibility with the principles that became popular in the nineteenth century revival.

The core of Medawi’s meditation manual is a discourse on three brands of existence: anicca , dukkha and anatta , according to the five aggregates.Following the standard scheme for treatises of that period, he quotes Pāli passages from authoritative sources, gives a word-for-word exegesis of these and concludes each section with a summary in Burmese prose.

The following is a text in which this principle could be established. Here Sariputta explains to Mahakotthita what a virtuous monk is concerned with. Note that it does not specify how it arrives at the Ariya states, but what it occupies, or should be occupied, once achieved.

Collection of thematically grouped discourses

Silava Sutta

22.122. Discourse on the virtuoso

On one occasion, Venerable Sariputta and Venerable Mahakotthita were living in Baranasi in the Deer Park in Isipatana. Then, at dusk the Venerable Mahakotthita emerged from seclusion, approached the Venerable Sariputta, exchanged cordial greetings with him and said: “Friend Sariputta, what should a virtuous monk deal with carefully?”

“Friend Kotthita, the virtuous monk should carefully deal with the five clusters of attachment such as impermanence, dissatisfaction, illness, tumor, dart, misery, affliction, strange thing, disintegration, emptiness and not-self. And what are these five? The accumulation of the attachment of the form, the accumulation of the attachment of the sensation, the accumulation of the attachment of the perception, the accumulation of the attachment of the mental formations and the accumulation of the attachment of the conscience. The virtuous monk should carefully deal with these five clusters of attachment as impermanence … and not-me.When the virtuous monk, friend, carefully deals with these five clusters of attachment, he may realize the fruit of the input-in-the-current. “

“But, friend Sariputta, what should a monk who is the-what-enters-in-the-current carefully care about?”

“Friend Kotthita, the monk who is the-who-goes-in-the-current should carefully deal with the five clusters of attachment as impermanence … and not-me. When the monk who is the one-who-enters-the-stream, friend, takes care of these five clusters of attachment, it is possible that he will realize the fruit of the one-time-return. “

“But, friend Sariputta, what should a monk who is the one-time person return to carefully?”

“Friend Kotthita, the monk who is the one-time-returner should carefully deal with the five clusters of attachment as impermanence … and not-me.When the monk who is the one-time-returner, friend, takes care of these five clusters of attachment, it is possible that he realizes the fruit of the one who does not return. “

“But, friend Sariputta, what should a monk who is the one-who-does-not-return carefully care about?”

“Friend Kotthita, the monk who is the one who does not return should carefully deal with the five clusters of attachment as impermanence … and not-me. When the monk who is the one who does not return, friend, takes care of these five clusters of attachment, it is possible that he realizes the fruit of the arahantado. “

“But, friend Sariputta, what should a monk who is an Arahant care for?”

“Friend Kotthita, the monk who is an Arahant should carefully deal with the five clusters of attachment as impermanence, dissatisfaction, disease, tumor, dart, misery, affliction, strange thing, disintegration, emptiness and not-self. For the Arahant, friend, there is nothing more to do or repetitions that have not been done. However, when these things are developed and cultivated they lead to a pleasant abode here and now, and to conscious attention and clear understanding. “

Medawi retakes the scheme of virtue versus ethics. If you look like an ariya, it’s because you’re an ariya.

However, the rules of Enlightenment are specifically told in these two suttas of Anguttara Nikaya:

Collection of speeches grouped numerically

268-277. First sub-chapter

“This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that the person consummated in the vision, consider any conditional phenomenon as permanent; There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, for a mundane person to consider some conditional phenomenon as permanent; behold, there is such a possibility.

“This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that the person consummated in the vision, consider any conditional phenomenon as pleasurable; There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, for a worldly person to consider some phenomenon conditional as pleasurable;behold, there is such a possibility.

“This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that the person consummated in the vision, consider any conditional phenomenon as being; There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, for a mundane person to consider some conditional phenomenon as being;behold, there is such a possibility.

[271-276] {271-276} “This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that the person consummated in the vision, deprive his mother of life … (272) … deprive his father of life … (273) … deprive himself to an arahant of life … (274) … with hatred in mind, spilling the blood of the Tathagata … (275) … creating a schism in the Sangha … (276) … recognizing someone else [apart from the Buddha] as a teacher; There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, for a worldly person to recognize someone else [apart from the Buddha] as a teacher; behold, there is such a possibility.

“This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that two arahants who are perfectly enlightened buddhas, arise simultaneously in the world system;There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, that an arahant who is a perfectly enlightened Buddha emerges in the world system;behold, there is such a possibility. “

Collection of speeches grouped numerically

278-286. Second sub-chapter

“This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that two universal kings who set the wheel in motion will simultaneously emerge in the world system;There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, that a universal king who sets the wheel in motion arises in the world system; behold, there is such a possibility.

[279-283] {279-283} “This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, for a woman to be an arahanta, a Buddha perfectly enlightened … (280) … for a woman to be the universal queen who sets the wheel in motion … (281 ) … that a woman occupies the position of the Sakka … (282) … that a woman occupies the position of the Mara … (283) … that a woman occupies the position of the Brahma; There is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, for a man to occupy the position of Brahma; behold, there is such a possibility.

[284-286] {284-286} “This is impossible and inconceivable, monks, that something desired, desired and agreeable is produced from a bad body behavior … (285) … that something desired, desired and enjoyable occurs to starting from verbal misconduct … (286) … that something desired, desired and pleasant is produced from mental misconduct; … there is no such possibility. But this is possible, monks, that something unwanted, unwanted and unpleasant is produced from bad body behavior … verbal misbehavior … mental misconduct …; behold, there is such a possibility. “

On the other hand, in the texts it is clearly specified that the means to attain enlightenment necessarily involves the practice of jhānas:

Collection of Medium Length Discourses

MN 64. Mahamalunkya Sutta

Great speech to Malunkyaputta

So I heard: There was the Blessed One living in the park of Anathapindika in the forest of Jeta, in Savatthi. There he addressed the bhikkhus saying: “Bhikkhus.” – “Yes, venerable,” they replied. The Blessed One said thus:

“Bhikkhus, do you remember how I taught the five lower shackles?”

To which the venerable Malunkyaputta replied:

“Venerable sir, I remember the five lower shackles as you have taught them.”

“And in what way does Malunkyaputta remember the five lower shackles as I have taught them?”

“Venerable sir, I remember the concept of identity as an inferior shackle taught by the Blessed One. I remember the doubt as an inferior shackle taught by the Blessed One. I remember the adherence to norms and practices as an inferior shackle taught by the Blessed One. I remember sensory desire as an inferior shackle taught by the Blessed One. I remember the grudge as an inferior shackle taught by the Blessed One. “

“Malunkyaputta, who do you remember that I taught these five lower shackles in this way? Could not the followers of other sects refute this with the simile of the baby? Because a newborn lying down does not even have the notion ‘identity’, so how could the concept of identity appear in it? And even then the tendency to the concept of identity resides in him. A newborn lying down does not even have the notion ‘teachings’, so how could the doubt about the teachings appear in it? And even then the tendency to doubt resides in him. A newborn lying down does not even have the notion ‘norms’, so how could the attachment to norms and practices appear in it? And even then the tendency to stick to rules and practices resides in him. A newborn lying down does not even have the notion ‘sensory pleasures’, so how could sensory desire appear in it? And even then the tendency to sensory desire resides in him. A newborn lying down does not even have the notion ‘beings’, so how could the grudge towards beings appear in him? And even then the tendency to resent resides in him. Would not the followers of other sects with the simile of the baby refute this? “

Then the venerable Ananda said: “It is time, Blessed One, it is the moment, Sublime, that the Blessed One should teach the five lower shackles. The monks, having listened to the Blessed One, will remember it. “

“Then listen, Ananda, and listen carefully to what I’m going to say.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” replied Venerable Ananda.

The Blessed One said thus:

“Behold, Ananda, an ordinary person, without instruction, without consideration for the nobles, incompetent and undisciplined in his Dhamma, who has no regard for real men and who is incompetent and undisciplined in his Dhamma, lives with an obsessed mind and enslaved by the concept of identity, and does not understand what is the escape of the concept of emerged identity; and when this vision has become habitual and has not been eradicated, it is an inferior shackle. He lives with a mind obsessed and enslaved by doubt … by adherence to rules and practices … by sensual desire … by resentment, and does not understand what is the escape of the resentment that has arisen; and when this grudge has become habitual and has not been eradicated, it is an inferior shackle “.

“A noble disciple, well educated, considerate to the nobles, competent and disciplined in his Dhamma, considered to be true men, competent and disciplined in his Dhamma, does not live with a mind obsessed and enslaved by the concept of identity; He understands the escape of the emerging concept of identity and this concept of identity, together with the underlying tendency towards it, are abandoned by him. He does not live with a mind obsessed and enslaved by doubt … by adherence to rules and practices … by sensual desire … by resentment, and does not understand what is the escape of the resentment that has arisen; he understands what is the escape of the resentment that has arisen and this resentment, along with the underlying tendency toward him, are abandoned by him. “

“There is a path, Ananda, a path to leave the five lower shackles; It is not possible for anyone who does not follow this path, this path, to know or see or abandon the five lower shackles. Just as it is not possible to cut the heartwood of a large tree without first cutting its bark and its sapwood, it is not possible for anyone who does not follow this path, this path, to know or see or abandon the five lower shackles “.

“There is a path, Ananda, a path to leave the five lower shackles; It is possible for someone to follow this path, this path, to know or see or abandon the five lower shackles. As it is possible to cut the heartwood of a large tree by cutting its bark and sapwood beforehand, it is possible for someone to follow this path, this path, to know or see or abandon the five lower shackles “.

“Suppose, Ananda, that the river Ganges was full of water to the brim so that the crows could drink from it and that a weak man would come thinking: ‘I will cross the current by swimming with my arms and I will reach safety on the other side of this river Ganges’, but this man would not be able to reach safely to the other shore. So also, when the Dhamma is taught to someone to cease personality, if his mind does not enter the Dhamma and acquires confidence, firmness and determination, then we can consider this man as the weak man.

“Suppose, Ananda, that the Ganges River was full of water to the brim so that the crows could drink from it and that a strong man would come thinking: ‘I will cross the current by swimming with my arms and I will reach the other side of the river safely. this river Ganges’, and this man would be able to get safely to the other shore. So also, when the Dhamma is taught to someone to cease personality, if his mind enters the Dhamma and acquires confidence, firmness and determination, then we can consider this man as the strong man.

“And which, Ananda, is the path, the path to the abandonment of the five lower shackles? Behold, separated from the acquired, leaving the unhealthy states, with the complete tranquilization of the corporal inertia, separated from the sensory pleasures, separated from the unhealthy states, a bhikkhu enters and resides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought applied and sustained, with rapture and pleasure born of separation.

“Whatever there is in material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness, he sees these states as impermanent, as suffering, a disease, a tumor, a hook, a calamity, a pain, as separate, disintegrating, empty, as not me. He moves his mind away from these states and directs it towards the immortal element in this way: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime: the pacification of all formations, the renunciation of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion , the cessation, Nibbana. ‘ If he is persistent in this, he will achieve the destruction of the impurities. But if he does not achieve the destruction of the impurities by his desire for the Dhamma and his delight in the Dhamma, then, with the destruction of the five lower shackles, he becomes someone who will appear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there he will attain the final Nibbana. , never coming back from that world. This is the path to the abandonment of the five lower shackles.

“And again, by calming the applied thought and the sustained thought, the bhikkhu enters and resides in the second jhana … Again, when the rapture also dissipates, the bhikkhu … enters and resides in the third jhana … Again, when leaving pleasure and pain … the bhikkhu enters and resides in the fourth jhana, in which there is neither pain nor pleasure and has pure attention thanks to equanimity.

“Whatever there is in a material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness, he sees these states as impermanent … as not me. He moves his mind away from these states and directs it towards the immortal element … This is the way to the abandonment of the five lower shackles.

“Once again, by fully retracing the perception of the form, by disappearing the perception of the sensory impulses, not paying attention to the perceptions of diversity, conscious of ‘space is infinite’, the bhikkhu enters and resides at the base of space infinite”.

“Whatever there is in a material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness, he sees these states as impermanent … as not me. He moves his mind away from these states and directs it towards the immortal element … This is the way to the abandonment of the five lower shackles. “

“Once again, by going all the way back to the base of infinite space, conscious to ‘consciousness is infinite’, the bhikkhu enters and resides at the base of the infinite consciousness.

“Whatever there is in a material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness, he sees these states as impermanent … as not me. He moves his mind away from these states and directs it towards the immortal element … This is the way to the abandonment of the five lower shackles.

“Once again, by going back completely to the base of the infinite consciousness, conscious to ‘there is nothing’, the bhikkhu enters and resides at the base of nothingness.

“Whatever there is in material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness, he sees these states as impermanent, as suffering, a disease, a tumor, a hook, a calamity, a pain, as separate, disintegrating, empty, as not me. He moves his mind away from these states and directs it towards the immortal element in this way: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime: the pacification of all formations, the renunciation of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion , the cessation, Nibbana. ‘ If he is persistent in this, he will achieve the destruction of the impurities. But if he does not achieve the destruction of the impurities by his desire for the Dhamma and his delight in the Dhamma, then, with the destruction of the five lower shackles, he becomes someone who will appear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there he will attain the final Nibbana. , never coming back from that world. This is the path to the abandonment of the five lower shackles. “

“Venerable sir, if this is the path, the way to leave the five lower shackles, then how is it that some bhikkhus achieve liberation of the mind and some achieve liberation through wisdom?”

“The difference here, Ananda, is in your faculties, I say.”

This is what the Blessed One said. Venerable Ananda was satisfied and delighted in the words of the Blessed One.

Medawi wrote more than thirty meditation manuals during his career and does not seem to have ever been harassed by the Konbaung court. In fact, during the reign of Bodaw-hpaya (1782-1819), one of the most active and innovatively religious dynasty, he was granted a royal title and monastic endowment for his work on Vipassanā . Perhaps, due to the influence of Medawi’s meditation work the monastic chronicles of the Konbaung era written from the perspective of the ecclesiastical council of Thudamma, backed by royalty, begin to reflect a gradual change in opinion regarding the possibility of the illumination in the present age and, therefore, in the tolerance towards the heresy.

In the Sāsanasuddhidīpaka written in 1784, for example, there is no discussion about the practice of vipassana or the Ariya state per se how playing a role in Burmese monastic history. Rather, the strategy of the text is to affirm the legitimacy of the Thudamma hierarchy by documenting its lineage through valid lines of ordination and arguing its correct interpretation of the monastic discipline.

On the contrary, when we look at the Vaṃsadīpanī , a chronicle of Thudamma composed a decade later (c.1797), the Arahants are made to play an important role in the foundation of the Saṅgha lineages of Burma.However, all of them are holy Buddhists of the past, none flourished after the 14th century.

Returning to the Thathana-linkara Sadan written in 1831, we find that the focus has shifted to the present with a statement that recalls Medawi’s position that it is incorrect to assume that enlightenment is not possible today. The text contains accounts of more recent saints that are listed in the previous chronicles and sees the theory of the decline of 5,000 years of Sāsana as given in the commentaries. He argues that the religion of the Buddha remains strong and that the era of arahantado achievement will last long in the Burmese Kingdom.

Finally, in the Sāsanavaṃsappadīpaka , written in 1861, it is stated quite naturally that persons possessed by extraordinary meditative attainments flourish in the present age, and if someone chooses to undertake the practice of Vipassanā , it is surely possible for that person to attain the arahantado in one life

It seems that, to some extent, the Theravadin establishment leaned in the direction of recognizing the possibility of the existence of contemporary nobles.

The Sāsanasuddhidīpaka is the first of several chronicles Thudamma (P. Sudhammā) written in the Konbaung period. He recognizes the role of the Arahants in the convocation of the first three Buddhist councils in ancient India, but does not mention arahantado beyond that.

Commenting on that text in 1796, the then thathana-baing (patriarch of the order), Maungdaung Sayadaw, emphatically stated that the existence of Ariyas is insignificant for the perpetuation of the Sangha lineage. The last arahant named in the Vaṃsadīpanī is Deibbasek who dies in 1337.

There was a proliferation of reformist factions within the Sangha in the mid-nineteenth century, many of whom promoted the practice of Vipassanā to one degree or another as part of their reforms. The most radical of these factions was led by a monk known as Hngettwin Sayadaw , the ‘Abbot of the caves of birds’, named for his monastery in the hills of Sagaing. Earlier when he was the Queen’s royal tutor in Mandalay he rejected the cult of Buddha images, claiming that the usual food offerings attracted rats.

Hngettwin Sayadaw, a strict disciplinarian, not only required that his monks be punctual in his observance of Vinaya, but also in the practice of Vipassanā in a daily meditation, perhaps a first in the monastic history of Theravada. He even demanded that his lay supporters do the same.

Over time the disciples of Hngettwin Sayadaw united in an autonomous monastic fraternity that continues to flourish today. Indicative of their original commitment to Vipassanā , the official title of the Hngettwin fraternity in Pāli is Catubhummika Mahā Satipatthāna Nikāya.

Hngettwin Sayadaw was not the only reformer who established himself in Sagaing. In the middle of the century during the reign of Mindon (1853-1878), the hills of Sagaing were populated with meditation caverns and dotted with forest monasteries.

King Mindon himself enthusiastically promoted interest in Vipassanā at the royal court. Particularly significant were the works of Mindon’s royal minister, U Po Laing (1830-1883) who was notable for his avid interest in Western science and efforts to reconcile this new perspective with the Abhidhamma. This interest was inherited by his protégé, the learned monk, U Nyana, who later became famous as Ledi Sayadaw, possibly the most significant promoter of Vipassanā in the modern period.

While the Vinaya places many obligations on the monk, one thing does not require that he practice meditation. That has always been optional.

Responder

Por favor, inicia sesión con uno de estos métodos para publicar tu comentario:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s