Episode 213 :: Erik Braun :: The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw

| November 9, 2014 | 3 Comments


Erik Braun

Professor Erik Braun joins us to speak about The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw.

Insight meditation is arguably one of the most common practices in contemporary Buddhism. But, where did this modern version come from, what are the roots of what we see in the West?

Erik Braun joined the University of Oklahoma’s Religious Studies Program faculty in January, 2008. He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in the same year, specializing in Buddhist Studies with a focus on Burmese Buddhism. His first book-length project is The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw, part of the “Buddhism and Modernity” series of the University of Chicago Press. His next project explores how current global flows of people and ideas have changed Buddhist communities throughout the world and have played an important part in reformulations of notions about secularity and modernity. At University of Oklahoma, Erik teaches introductory courses on Buddhism and Hinduism, a course on meditation traditions in Buddhism, the course introducing students to the study of religion, and the course for advanced Religious Studies students in methodologies and the major theoretical developments in the field.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Oklahoma Cooler.


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Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of this podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. You can visit his website to hear more of his music, get the full discography, and view his upcoming tour dates.

Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

Comments (3)

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  1. Mark Knickelbine says:

    Now I have more reading to do! As Erik points out, what we think of as Buddhist meditation in the West was created in Burma in the late 19th Century, and was in some ways a response to British imperialism. It’s interesting to learn that the appeal to lay practitioners was there at its beginning, too. An important corrective to the notion that Theravada represents an unbroken lineage that goes back to the Buddha, and that modern innovation is some kind of perversion of the dharma.

  2. Jennifer Hawkins Jennifer Hawkins says:

    I had a hard time concentrating on this, but I certainly learned a lot about the history of how meditation / Buddhism came to the West.

    I wonder what this man thinks of recent turns in Burmese Buddhism (i.e. the extremists)

  3. U Thukha says:

    Erik claims that Ledi Sayadaw made up the his version of vipasanna, but if you read this it puts his claims to bed
    And maybe you could post my responce this time

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