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Manual of Insight

Product no.: 978-1614292777
The most comprehensive manual of the practice of insight meditation (vipassana), written by one of its foremost twentieth-century proponents, is translated into English for the first time.

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Publisher's Synopsis
Manual of Insight is the magnum opus of Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the originators of the Vipassana movement that has swept through the Buddhist world over the last century. The manual presents a comprehensive overview of the practice of insight meditation, including the foundational aspects of ethical self-discipline, understanding the philosophical framework for the practice, and developing basic concentration and mindfulness.

It culminates with an in-depth exploration of the various types of insight and spiritual fruits that the practice yields. Wisdom Publications has published the Manual of Insight bound with a beautiful hard cover, which is gold-embossed and monastic robe-colored, befitting such an important work.

Translated by the Vipassanā Mettā Foundation Translation Committee

  • Project Advisor—Sayadaw U Paṇḍita (Paṇḍitārāma Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha, Yangon, Myanmar)
  • Editor—Steve Armstrong


  • Hla Myint
  • Ariya Baumann
Abhidhamma and Pāḷi Research Consultants
  • Sayadaw U Janaka (Chanmyay Yeiktha, Yangon, Myanmar)
  • Sayadaw U Indaka (Chanmyay Myaing Meditation Center, Yangon, Myanmar)
  • Sayadaw U Sāgara (Chanmyay Myaing Study Monastery, Hmawbi, Myanmar)
  • Hla Myint (Myanmar and USA)
  • Akincano (Marc Weber) (Germany)
  • Pāḷi Quote Citations, Glossaries—Ven. Vīranāṇī
  • Abhidhamma Charts—Steve Armstrong
  • Ven. Vīranāṇī
  • Steve Armstrong
  • Ariya Baumann 
  • Deborah Ratner Helzer 
  • Kamala Masters 

Funding provided by Vipassanā Mettā Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to freely distribute copies to Buddhist monastics, libraries, and meditation centers, and to support opportunities to practice the method outlined in the book.

"Having ordained under Mahasi Sayadaw, I know him as one of the most influential Theravada Buddhist teachers of the 20th century. If your temperament is toward strong samadhi and precise noticing, this book will be an invaluable resource in progressing through the Stages of Insight."      ~Rodney Smith

"The teachings of Mahasi Sayadaw formed the essential context in which I learned, practiced and studied meditation. That context is beautifully expressed in this book. I believe, as a Western laywoman who has been able to access the liberating teachings of the Buddha in a direct and pure form, I owe an inexpressible debt to Mahasi Sayadaw’s scholarship, understanding, and courage of transmission. It is a great gift to have this translation available."       ~Sharon Salzberg

"A lifetime of learning a 2,500-year-old teaching—disseminated for the layman and monk alike at this darkest hour of the darkest Age—should not be treated lightly. In contrast to the Tibetan and Zen teachings which claim to be Buddhist, yet stem directly from a preeminent nihilist, Nagarjuna, these Theravada teachings are the actual methods and instructions of Lord Buddha that have led countless thousands to attain arahantship.

Sayadaw's legacy to us is nothing less than a complete teaching that can take one to the highest level of spiritual attainment possible. In particular, his presentation of Practical Instructions is a peerless blueprint of Vipassana meditation, the very same instructions given by Gautama Buddha and preserved wholly extant in the Pali Canon. It is the original path to Enlightenment, mindfulness meditation, that has been jealously guarded by the custodians of Truth, the Elder School (Theravada).

However, analogous to the hierophantic teachings of the Western Buddha that have experienced corruption by the Roman Catholic Church—the Theravada, too, are based upon a white lie: the full Enlightenment of the Arahant. The same 'cover story' perpetuated by a helicopter Mother Church that teaches the merciful or dreadful dogma of Afterlife as permanent residence in either the Kingdom of Heaven or Hell.

The Arahant and the Saint are in the same boat, sailing towards Enlightenment as children of the Most High. Both, however, must wait for Maitreya to finish what He began in Jerusalem—the metamorphic 1,000-year training that will finally accomplish the 'impossible dream' of immortality... Buddhahood."       ~Mandala Books

The Five Impediments

1) The Impediment of Kamma
  1. Matricide (mātughāta)
  2. Patricide (pitughāta)
  3. Murdering an Arahant (Arahattaghāta)
  4. Shedding the blood of a Buddha (lohituppāda)
  5. Causing a schism in the Order (Saṅghabheda)
As these five actions will definitely cause the perpetrator to go down to hell in the next existence they are known as actions with definite results (anantariya-kamma), i.e. that cannot be prevented. These five embrace both an impediment to heaven (saggantarāyo) and an impediment to the path (maggantarāyo), i.e. they are an obstacle to reaching the celestial realms and to attaining the path. To rape a bhikkhuṇī who is accomplished with morality, is known as the defiling of a nun (bhikkhuṇīdūsana-kamma). This will also amount to creating an obstruction to the path. All six immoral actions are obstructions caused by kamma (kammāntarāya).

2) The Impediment of Defilements

There are three heretical views (niyata-micchā-diṭṭhi):

  1. The wrong view of non-action (akiriya-diṭṭhi), which holds the firm view that there is no such thing as evil and virtue, and even if any act is done, it does not amount to doing good or evil, and neither good nor evil results can be derived from them
  2. Annihilationism (natthika-diṭṭhi), which holds a firm view that when a living being dies, its existence terminates with death, and death is the annihilation of existence, and there is no such thing as beneficial or bad results from good or evil acts
  3. No-cause (ahetuka-diṭṭhi) is a firm view that there are no good or evil actions, no law of cause and effect, and both happiness and misery occur without any cause

These three kinds of heretical views, if not discarded, will definitely cause one to land in hell after death, and are accordingly known as fixed wrong views (niyata-micchā-diṭṭhi), i.e. having a definite result. These cause an obstruction to heaven and the path, and are called impediments caused by defilements (kilesāntarāya).

Of these three kinds of heretical views, cause is rejected by the first view, the second rejects the effect. The third rejects both the cause and the effect. However, rejection of cause also amounts to rejecting the effect; and if the effect is rejected, it is tantamount to rejection of the cause. Hence, all three of these heretical views can be summarised as the assumption that there is no wholesome (kusala) or unwholesome (akusala) action (kamma), and that these actions produce neither good nor bad effects (vipāka).

3) The Impediment of Results

Rebirth with rootless (ahetuka) conditions that occurs as an animal, and a person conceived with only two wholesome root conditions (dvihetuka) are called an impediment caused by results (vipākantarāya). It is merely an impediment to the path; it cannot possibly be an impediment to heaven. One who is reborn lacking the third wholesome rebirth condition of wisdom (amoha) cannot hope to attain the path and its fruition. However, due to wholesome kamma, he or she can be reborn as a human being or a deity.  

4) The Impediment of Insulting a Noble One

Defaming or insulting a Noble One, either knowingly or unknowingly, to defame his or her morality, is known as the impediment of insulting a Noble One (ariyūpavādantarāya). This offence will cause both an impediment to heaven and to the path. However, the impediment can be removed by asking for forgiveness and paying due respects to the person concerned.

5) The Impediment of Transgression

In the case of a monk, if any of seven grades of Vinaya offences are knowingly committed, it is called transgressing the Buddha’s instructions (āṇāvītikkamantarāyo). This also amounts to an impediment to heaven and to attaining the path. However, if the offence has been cured by way of confession and absolution in accordance with the Vinaya rules, he will be free from the offence.

The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-82), U Sobhana Mahathera, was one of the most eminent meditation masters of modern times and a leader in the contemporary resurgence of Vipassana meditation. He quickly distinguished himself after ordination as a scholar and teacher of the Buddhist scriptures. Placing himself under the guidance of Venerable U Narada Sayadaw and undertaking intensive training in Vipassana meditation, he mastered the technique and went on to popularize vipassana as a systematic practice beneficial for monks and laity alike.

Editor Armstrong, Steve
Author Sayadaw, Mahasi
Translator Vipassanā Mettā Foundation Translation Committee
Book Type Hardcover
Page Count 744 pp.
Publisher Wisdom Publications 2016
Browse these categories as well: Southern Buddhism, Theravada Suttas, Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation, Noteworthy Releases 2016

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