Ledi Sayadaw surprizes me

In reading The Requisites of Enlightenment by the Vulnerable Ledi Sayadaw, ( BPS 2007 p.12), I was actually startled to read this following opinion :

“One should pay special attention to the knowledge of the Ultimate Realities (paramattha) which is extremely difficult for one to come across - rather than attempting the accumulation of the seeds of conduct (sīla) and concentration(samādhi).”

Is he actually throwing out the Buddha’s Comprehensive Teaching?

It’s saying don’t stop at morality and meditation, go for wisdom.

Minimum morality is precepts, we can always do more. Keep on doing dana, keep on doing good deeds etc.

Minimum meditation is Jhāna, which in dry insight tradition would be Vipassana Jhāna, One can also do more like formless realms, more than 1st Jhānas etc.

But main focus should be wisdom, cause we dunno when we will die, so don’t waste time once we got the minimum. Go for the endgame.

Disclaimer, I didn’t read the book, I just guess based on this post.


Assuming the translation is accurate here, what’s striking is the way he contrasts either/or. The Buddha didn’t set these things up in competition with each other, but said they all support each other.


I really don’t see “rather than attempting the accumulation of the seeds of conduct (sīla) and concentration(samādhi)” saying “don’t stop at morality and discipline but continue to wisdom”. The feeling tone is debiting one side of the equation in service of the other. But Bhante could be right, this could be an artifact of translation, I guess.

This sounds as an advice but:

  1. What are precisely these “Ultimate Realities”, and
  2. in what Suttas we can learn something about them?

I believe what he is referring to is really just “right view” or pannā, the first of three pillars of the eightfold path.

Most would probably agree that it’s indispensible.

Earth element, water element, pain, pleasure, eye consciousness and so on. All the things the Buddha said were truths, reality. Its based on the Theravādin Abhidhamma and its version of denying any substantial existence. In short there are no permanent substances behind sense experience, such as an Atta or Brahman. Ultimate reality is only sense experience, which is impermanent and momentary (excluding nibbāna).

I think there key here is “accumulation of the seeds”. The sense I get is that one shouldn’t stop at virtue and samādhi. It would be very surprising if Bhante thought one could have wisdom without any of these two, given the Abhidhamma.

Exactly. Thank you, Bhante!

AN 10.2

Each is within the next. That’s development. These are not two separate things, save for the point when samadhi is sufficient for insight. But even then, virtue is basis for the whole thing.

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I should note that on page 88 of Ledi Sayadaw’s “the Requisites of Enlightenment” he discussed the 8th path factor of concentration by dividing it into two approaches of pure Insight only and someone who practices both tranquility and insight. He mentions but does not expand on the absorptions as especially meritorious.

I mention this because recently I read in a post that in his papers after death they found a note written by him that said he had accomplished all the meditative absorptions. I take that with a grain of salt. I think that is perhaps an apologist’s editing of History. But I don’t know and have no way to find out so that’s why I am bringing it up here.

AND: His depiction of the path using both tranquility and insight seems anchored to the concept of momentariness and something called “access concentration”. Are these 2 concepts foreign to the EBTs?

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This book is explained about the way for Enlightenment - awaken (BODHIPAKKHIYA). It contains 37 factors - in summery there are three divisions - Sila, Samadhi and Panna. These Sila, Samadhi and Panna are Eightfolds Noble Paths which are in Four Noble Truths . Ledi Sayadaw warned this - Four Noble Truths can only be found and can only be taught during the precious period of sama-sambuddha’s era. There are threefold classifications of enlightenment : savaka-bodhi (arahant - noble disciple : learn from sama-sambuddha), pacceka-bodhi (Independently Enlightened- can attain enlightenment by himself but cannot teach to others) and sama-sambuddha (Perfect Enlightened - has the ability to attain Enlightenment - understanding Four Noble Truths by himself without any teacher after full filling the ten parami during the countless aeons and also ability to teach to others for liberation - enlightenment. Ledi Sayadaw warned to those who only give important for sila and samadhi without panna will miss the golden precious opportunity to attain paramatta (ultimate truth) . They will be cycling in the 31 planes up and down again and again. There is no guarantee to meet this precious sama-sambuddha’s teaching for enlightenment again. The Sila and Samadhi can be found beyond the sama-sambuddha’s era. But the panna (samma-ditthi and samma-sankappa) can only be found and can only be taught in the Sama-sambuddha’s era. Sayadaw warned us not to miss this precious opportunity of *Sama-sambuddha’s era and learn panna - to achieve Paramattha (Ultimate Truths) as much as we can along with sila and samadhi. Panna cannot be achieved without sila and samadhi (samma-samadhi). These three are interlinked each others. Practicing Vipassana and accumulating the seeds of Sila, Samadhi and Panna - can achieve Paramattha - Ultimate Truth at one stage for sure.

Rather unlikely, I think, given that the sayadaw was also a strong promoter of sīla and samādhi.

In your quoted passage, I think he is giving a reiteration of something that’s an almost boilerplate feature of Burmese Buddhist ovādas: since Buddhas so seldom arise in the world, upon encountering their teaching it behoves us to give especial attention to those things that are unique to it (e.g., right view guidance) rather than to those things (e.g., dāna and sīla) that can be found even in outside dhammas.

It doesn’t mean that one should give no attention to kusala things that happen to be held in common with the doctrines of outsiders.

An expansive translation, then, might go something like this:

One should pay especial attention to the knowledge of the Ultimate Realities (paramattha) which is [the kind of Dhamma that is] extremely difficult for one to come across [due to the rarity of the arising of Buddhas in the world] - rather than [paying especial attention to] the effort to accumulate the seeds of conduct (sīla) and concentration(samādhi).

(Changes indicated in bold)


This makes sense. I just don’t have the background to say “yeah, you filled in the blanks right.”

Importantly, I have no idea of what distinguishes Burmese from Thai and Sri Lanka’s Buddhism or approach to teaching Buddhism. THAT topic is certainly oceanic. [real big]

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