Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923) is considered the founder of the vipassanā movement as it is known today. This movement began to merge only after the British conquest of the Burmese kingdom in 1885. Ledi Sayadaw wrote numerous vernacular manuals on Abhidhamma and vipassanā beginning in the 1890s, and using the printing press, published widely to promote literacy in Buddhist doctrine and propagate among the people in general what he believed to be the correct practice of vipassanā based on the norms of the scriptures.
His purpose in this work was not only to facilitate the spiritual progress of the Buddhist faithful, but to fortify the Burmese culture against what he considered of the corrupt influences of the new foreign regime and to defend Buddhism against the polemic of the Christian missionaries.
In outline and content, Ledi Sayadaw’s manuals are similar to those written one hundred and fifty years earlier by the monk Medawi. But unlike his predecessor of the Konbaung era, Ledi Sayadaw, he advocated the usefulness and necessity of vipassanā practice for everyone, including those who expected a future liberation as disciples of Metteyya Buddha. In his Bodhipakkhiya-dīpanī written in 1905, Ledi Sayadaw stated that while the traditional path of merit could give rise to an auspicious rebirth at the time of Metteyya, it could not by itself generate the perfections (pāramītas) necessary to achieve the liberation through the teaching of Metteyya.According to Ledi, only by making merits together with the practice of vipassanā undertaken in this life, could that opportunity be given.
Even while Ledi Sayadaw’s interpretation of vipassanā and his efforts to popularize his practice were innovative in many ways, he remained largely traditional in his acceptance of most Buddhist customs and popular Buddhist beliefs. Of particular importance here was Ledi Sayadaw’s defense of the Burmese notion that the corpses of the deceased arahants remain immune to decomposition even though this idea is not attested in authorized Pāli sources.
Uttamapurisa-dīpanī , a treatise on the attributes of the ariyas written in 1900, stated,
… before attaining Buddhahood the aggregates of the Blessed One were contaminated with the corruption of the kilesa and the filth of the kamma. After attaining buddhahood, there was no such corruption or filth … [It is for this reason that] the bodies of buddhas and arahants neither decay nor emit a bad smell, but remain fresh as they were when alive … Their mental aggregates are completely purified and so genetically the physical bodies that are pure … [Therefore] they do not listen to the heretical doctrine (micchā-vāda) which states that only the mind is illuminated. That only the mind is the Buddha and the body is not the Buddha.
No wonder, given the devotion of the Burmese Sangha to the Scholastic Buddhists, the lack of authority in the texts on this point was the reason why some learned monks rejected Ledi Sayadaw’s argument. In the Yahanda Pyathana, a treatise on contemporary arahantado, the scholar Thadammodaya Sayadaw harshly criticized the belief that the bodies of the arahants do not decompose, noting that in the scriptures the Buddha himself declared that his own body was a mass of corruption even while I was alive. How then could the bodies of dead arahants not rot?
In a footnote, the text editor comments that the preservation of corpses today is achieved through embalming, a practice that irreverently does just that.
Here Ledi could have been answered by a heterodox group of iconoclasts mockingly called ‘paramats’ who supposedly advocated the worship of the Buddha’s enlightened mind, excluding everything else.
One of the possible inspirations for Ledi Sayadaw’s own views may have been those of Alaung daw Kathapa cave-sanctuary located northwest of Monywa. According to local cave legend it contains the incorruptible corpse of the Buddha’s disciple, Mahākassapa, who will revive at the time of Metteyya and automatically incinerate Buddha’s hand in the future. This curious legend is not certified in the Pali sources and has its origin in the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition of northern India (Kassapa devotionals).
Despite occasional criticism of this type, the opinion of Ledi Sayadaw has prevailed and today represents the majority view of the vipassanā movement and the religious spirit of the Burmese establishment. From the time of Ledi Sayadaw, vipassanā organizations each promote their own meditation techniques. These techniques are typically based on interpretations of the Satipatthāna Sutta and the cultivation of mindfulness (Sāti).
The interpretations of this sutta are rather «free», so that, although all are called equal, they resemble each other only in that they are different from what the sutta relates.
The reason why the Vipassana conglomerate refers to this sutta is exclusively by this paragraph:
Collection of Long Speeches
DN 22. Mahāsatipatthāna Sutta
«This is a way of going, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of grief and lamentation, for the extinction of pain and sadness, to reach the right path, for the direct realization of Nibbāna»
This sutta is headed by the Blessed One’s affirmation that the instructions contained in the discourse are the door to reach the goal, Nibbāna.
Taking this speech as a flag, although as we will see, the interpretations are delirious, by associating their «techniques» to this sutta what they indirectly do is to affirm that they lead to final liberation.
Here there are several jumps to the emptiness. The first is that correct meditation is a necessary condition to achieve realization, but it is only one. The need for a fully enlightened teacher is another, and some more.
The second is that we do not even talk about correct meditation.«Interpreting» the sutta freely without knowing its meaning leads to the development of multiple techniques. Logically, the correct meditation has a technique, the correct technique, not multiple. Incorrect meditation, on the other hand, does have many techniques to develop it, really all except the correct technique. In this way, only by using pure logic does the vipassana movement deny itself.
But there is more. Much more.
For example, the very name of the sutta has nothing to do with mindfulness. The vipassana instructors affirm that » Sāti » in » attention » and that » Satipatthana » is » mindfulness «, which denotes a total ignorance of the language.
Before the appearance of this movement, in the dictionaries, » Sāti » has always meant » memory «, and » upatthana » means » at the service of «, so the title of the sutta is really » At the service of memory «. What the sutta really describes: a varied set of practices whose mission is to change both the brain chemistry and the conceptual sphere, and which the bhikkhus of the time should remember so as not to forget any of its parts.
Later, with the emergence of the tolerance of the establishment to this movement, spurious definitions were introduced in the dictionaries to fit their ideas into the language, without base in the texts.
Most vipassanā methods involve some kind of practice of what they call mindfulness exclusively, while avoiding the practice of meditation itself ( samadhi ) and the attainment of jhānas .
These people introduce a hodgepodge of practices that they call «mindfulness» while avoiding meditation ( samadhi ).
The next thing is to call his practices «meditation», then to affirm that meditation ( samadhi ) does not work and that his «meditations», any of them, are those that lead to Nibbāna.
Obviously his approach can not be supported by any part. If we go to the texts, the only meditation that the Buddha practices and instructs his monks is the jhānas. But not once or twice. The word jhāna appears in no less than 662 texts, that is, the practice of jhānas, far from being something futile, represents mere practice.
But there is no surprising thing. In a display of supine ignorance they do not understand that the first of the practices described in the Satipatthana Sutta, attention to the breath, is precisely the correct technique that leads to the jhānas.
But there is more, of course.
The Sutta lists a series of exercises, apart from the jhānas technique, which are summarized as follows:
1. Concentration Section in Breathing
They are the instructions for the attainment of jhānas, fundamental for any subsequent exercise.
2.Section of the Postures
Walking clueless is a terrible form of ignorance because it conditions us to decisions of unknown consequences. We have already seen that the goal of ethics (the end of suffering) culminates in the eradication of ignorance. Do not do anything out of ignorance, that is, if something is done after having caused a decrease in the level of entropy in the system by gathering information about it enough to be fully aware of the conditions that will be put in place .
This in a constant reprogramming exercise throughout the day, we will be fully aware of the four positions we adopt. We will always be in a position.This is why this exercise has a permanent object and practice is always possible.
3.Section on the Perception of the Situation
This in a constant reprogramming exercise throughout the day, we will be fully aware of the perception of our situation in space. We will always be adopting a spatial situation. This is why this exercise has a permanent object and practice is always possible.
4. Section on the Application of the Mind to Repulsiveness .
It is an exercise in understanding the nature of namā. It serves to understand that a concept (the body) can be constituted by a myriad of concepts (its organs).
5. Section on the Application of the Mind to the Elements.
Also related to namā, it serves to understand that the same concept is constituted by qualias (the elements).
6. The Nine Cemeteries .
This exercise that seems to contemplate impermanence is not. It is an exercise to discriminate the role of «creative» actor of namā, that is, of the observer, in a very interesting approach about the non-existence of objective reality. And clearly from the concept of no-self or anatta. Our body has no more intrinsic existence than that which we ourselves give in a conventional way.
7. Contemplating the Emotions .
To eradicate suffering is a prerequisite to recognize the nature of the emotions that come from the senses, and from there, to study their mechanisms to reprogram their disappearance.
This exercise is the basis of Buddhist ethics: do nothing moved by attachment, do nothing moved by aversion and do nothing moved by ignorance. Or, put another way, it is the heart of the Noble Eightfold Path.
8. Contemplation of the Mind .
Recognizing what a mind is like helps us to recognize what our mind is like. If a mind is healthy, or it is not. Recognizing the states that go through the mind helps us to deal with it, both those of others and our own. A mind is never the same, the mind has different modes of functioning. And his behavior will not be the same.
As you can see, here there is nothing like counting while breathing, nor to locate sensations in pieces of skin, if nothing similar. It is further proof that they take the sutta only in the second paragraph and only to appropriate its purpose.
This is the proof that vipassana is nothing more than a hoax or scam aimed at uneducated people with the capacity to believe anything.