Friday, 7 July 2017

The Death of Ledi Sayadaw

Ledi Sayadaw spent the last two years of his life at Zingyan monastery in Pyinmana. U Sarana explains that the Burmese term Zingyan (စႀကၤံ) is derived from the Pāḷi word cankamana, which means “walking up and down.” The Buddha’s doctor, Jīvaka Komārabhacca, recommended walking as a way to maintain health, and the Buddha acknowledged the value of this advice by suggesting that monks use special paths for walking meditation (from the Mahāvagga, the third book of Vinaya Piṭaka). In Burmese, the term “zingyan” often refers to a place where walking meditation is practiced, so it may indicate Ledi's dhamma practice at that time. By then, however, he had gone completely blind, the result of so many years of reading and writing in poorly lit places.

In 1923, the day before a full moon, a strong earthquake rocked the region, and the monastery trembled. Ledi lay on his bed and explained to his students that this was in fact a request from the devas that he teach them the Abhidhamma in the Celestial Realms, suggesting that the human realm had already benefited adequately from his years of guidance. After a second earthquake occurred the following day, Ledi instructed his top disciples to recite the Mahāpaṭṭhāna (Pañhāvāra Pāli) from the Abhidhamma, since it was now his time to depart the human realm entirely. The moment the recitation finished, at 2:30 p.m., Ledi passed away. He was 76 years old. Apparently his death was partly due to accidental poisoning from a laxative herb by a visiting Thai monk, who fled in terror when he realized what had happened.

The photograph shows an American meditator standing before the central Buddha image at Ledi Sayadaw's forest monastery in Monywa. 

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