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Vipassanā (V). The Heretical Lineages

As we have seen, Vipassanā is not a «technique» of «meditation», but a heretical movement incardinated in the Burmese nationalist revival, in which different masters, considered holy by their followers, each establish their own technique differentiated from the others, that survives them.

Actually, Vipassanā is the negation of Buddhism is its essence. This movement vulgarizes the enlightenment so that anyone can achieve what the Buddha accomplished just by attending several retreats. They deny both the necessity of the existence of a Buddha, and the way of merit, and even of meditation itself, replacing it with any of its various «techniques».And, what’s more, you do not even have to be a Buddhist, it’s enlightenment for everyone who goes through the box.

This is not new, simony has already been practiced in the West. In this case, the place of the bull is occupied by certificates of attendance at retreats in one or more of the different sects of this movement.

This heresy shifted from repression to tolerance and finally to global success and expansion in the 1950s, when money accompanied by the innocence of Westerners entered Burma looking for primitive meditation techniques.

Being the Westerners as they are, the product is sold as something pure come from the Buddha himself that increases and improves and makes easy what has never been, because Asians are «inferior» beings who do not understand the wonders that they themselves they have To do this, Westerners demand texts and more texts, and they are given, previously manipulated. They mix the legend with the abstruse to answer the absurdity with which they find themselves to introduce them into a swamp where the reason sinks little by little and in which the exit, they say, is getting deeper and deeper.


The most famous translators of Theravada texts belong to this heretical movement, as we shall see later. It is especially interesting to analyze how they explain their anti-Buddhism using the same texts that contradict them, ignoring the fundamental suttas. When something needs to be explained, they embark on medieval commentaries on the Abhidhamma, and use the manipulation of the dictionaries to try to pretend they are right. But they are unable to explain anything in a reasonable way.

The Vipassanā movement is to Buddhism what the Jehovah’s Witnesses are to Christianity.

We go with the «lineages». For some reason, the «lineage» is valuable to them when the Buddha himself dismisses it as valid in the Kalama Sutta.

As we saw, a noble is impossible to accept as a teacher one who is not fully enlightened. This is tiptoed by members of the movement making hollow interpretations of this norm. Here we will describe the «lines» of «illumination» of the different flavors that the Vipassanā offers to the spiritual supermarket so fashionable today thanks to the theosophical revival.

A little memory of the story:

The first modern writer of vipassana manuals was a Burmese monk named Medawi (1728-1816), who was influential in reviving Burmese interest in meditation practices. Before Medawi began teaching, the Burmese Sangha held the view that enlightenment was not possible in the present era, which did not prevent vipassana meditation from being practiced especially by the monks of the Sagaing region.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Theravada traditions in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka suffered a revival in response to Western colonialism. They were meeting points in the fight against Western hegemonism, giving voice to traditional values ​​and culture. But Theravada tradition was also reformed, using Pali’s biblical materials to legitimize these reforms. Ironically, the Pali canon became widely accessible due to Western interest in those texts and the publications of the Pali Text Society. The Theosophical Society also played a fundamental role, which sought ancient wisdom in Southeast Asia, and stimulated local interest in its own traditions. The Theosophical Society began a secular Buddhist organization in Sri Lanka, independent of the power of conventional temples and monasteries.

The interest in meditation was awakened by these developments, while the main Buddhist practice in the temples was the recitation of texts, not the practice of meditation. The most influential in this renewed interest was the » new Burmese method » of the Vipassana practice, developed by U Narada and popularized by Mahasi Sayadaw from the 1950s. This method spread through South and Southeast Asia, Europe and America, and has become synonymous with Vipassanā .

The «New Burmese method» was developed by U Narada and popularized by his students Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982) and Nyanaponika Thera (1901-1994). Most of the Western Vipassana teachers (Goldstein, Kornfield, Salzberg) studied with Mahasi Sayadaw and his student Sayadaw U Pandita. Another prominent teacher is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a student of Nyanaponika.

An important feature of the «Mahasi approach» is to dispense with Buddhist meditation. Also reassurance is dispensed with. Instead, the meditator practices vipassana exclusively during intense periods of silent retreat that can last several months with a daily meditation program from 3:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Two key elements in the Mahasi method of developing «mindfulness» they are the careful labeling of immediate experience along with the cultivation of an attitude without prejudice. (???)

Ledi’s lineage begins with Ledi Sayadaw (1846 – 1923) and his student Saya Thet Gyi (1873 -1945). SN Goenka (1924 – 2013) was a well-known teacher in the Ledi lineage who was taught by Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971).According to SN Goenka, vipassanā techniques are essentially non-sectarian in nature and have universal application. It is not necessary to convert to Buddhism to practice these «styles of meditation». The meditation centers that teach vipassanā popularized by SN Goenka now exist in Nepal, India, other parts of Asia, North and South America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

In the tradition of SN Goenka, the practice of vipassanā focuses on the deep interconnection between the mind and the body, which can be experienced directly by the disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body and continually interconnect and condition the life of the mind. The practice is usually taught in 10 day retreats, in which 3 days are granted to increase the consistency and precision of the attention, and the rest of the time to vipassanā in the form of «body sweep», a practice in which The meditator moves through the body in sections, or as a whole, paying attention to the various sensations that arise without reacting to them. This exercise has become what is probably the most widely taught form of «meditation» around the world. «

Ruth Denison (1922 – 2015) was another U Ba Khin teacher.

The method of Pa Auk Sayadaw is closely based on the Visuddhimagga, the classical Theravadin meditation manual written by Buddhaghosa, which the same author refers to as useless for attaining enlightenment. Pa Auk tries to develop the four jhānas, using the kasinas of the «four elements» (earth, water, fire and wind) by using the sensations of hardness, heaviness, heat and movement. Western masters who handle this method include Shaila Catherine, Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen.

Mogok Sayadaw taught the importance of awareness of noticing the «emergence» and «withdrawal» of all experience as the way to get an idea of ​​impermanence. Mogok Sayadaw emphasized the importance of correct understanding and that a meditator should learn the theory of Dependent Origination (Paticca-samuppada) when practicing vipassana. The Vipassana Method of Mogok focuses on the meditation of the Sensations (Vedana nupassana) and the meditation on the mental states (Citta nupassana).

Anagarika Munindra studied with SN Goenka and Mahasi Sayadaw, and combined both lineages. Dipa Ma was a student of his.

Ajahn Tong was a Thai teacher who studied for a short time under Mahasi Sayadaw before returning to found his own Vipassana lineage in Chom Tong in Thailand.

As we see, they sting here and there and establish lineages based on ad hoc mounted techniques.

Nobody who is not a perfect ignoramus of the Dhamma can not give any kind of seriousness to this shed.

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