Mahasi Sayadaw

Practical Insight Meditation: Basic and Progressive Stages

Practical Insight Meditation: Basic and Progressive Stages

The practice of vipassana or insight meditation was described by the Buddha as the direct way, for the overcoming of all sorrow and grief and for realizing Nibbana, the state of perfect liberation from suffering.

The essence of this practice consists in the four foundations of mindfulness: mindful contemplation of the body, feelings, state of mind, and mind objects.

Combining extensive knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures with profound personal experience, the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw has ordered the various aspects of vipassana into a clear, simple and direct system that has spread widely in both the East and the West.

In the present work he explains in lucid language the key steps in the practice of vipassana. The first part of his work provides instructions in the basic exercises to be undertaken by a newcomer to the meditation. The second part sketches the progressive stages of insight that unfold as the practice advances toward its goal. 

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About Mahasi Sayadaw

Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhana, born on 29-07-1904 and deceased on 14-08-1982, was a Burmese Theravāda Buddhist monk and meditation master who had a significant impact on the teaching of vipassanā (insight) meditation, both in the West and in Asia.

In his style of practice, derived from the New Burmese Method of U Nārada, living according to Buddhist morality is a prerequisite for the practice of meditation. The meditation itself invokes Satipaṭṭhāna, the foundation of mindfulness. In developing this, the vipassanā meditation practitioner focuses on the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen during breathing, while being alert and attentive to other sensations or thoughts.

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.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276