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The Birth of Insight or Saving Buddhism?

Anyone read Saving Buddhism: The Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma by Alicia Turner OR The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw by Erik Braun? If so, thoughts? 

As a meditator operating to some degree within the Burmese vipassana tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw, do these texts provide interesting context to the practice for

RE: The Birth of Insight or Saving Buddhism?
11/23/20 3:25 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan, why not read both then let us all know? ;-) Haha. I tried to read the Erik Braun one, but didn't finish it. Written by an academic, every page is heavy with names and dates and information, and so there's only so many hundreds of such pages one can get through. Still, an important book if you have the time and drive.

Some other recommendations:

Give the Visuddhimagga a try. It's a 5th century CE text from Sri Lanka that was a compilation of all the meditation-related commentaries up to that point. That's around a 1,000 years of wisdom collected by leading lights in the field. As you might guess, it is heavy-going, but think of it as an encyclopaedia - you just look up the topic you want to know more about, rather than read it from cover to cover. It's also one of the central texts of the whole Mahasi method thing in Myanmar. The teachers quote from it, especially in the Sayadaw U Pandita tradition. Once you've immersed yourself in it for a while, you'll realise it's one of the most important books a meditator can have. 

Second, see if you can get a copy of the biography of Mahasi Sayadaw. Some day if you get a chance, you can train at the Mahasi Centre in Yangon where they have a bookshop packed with English translations of loads of books about him and by him. Also a great resource to understand him and his intentions better. The best of them is the biography. It details his life, as well as how he gathered together the threads of scholasticism and practice techniques to come up with the method that bears his name. 

All the best!

RE: The Birth of Insight or Saving Buddhism?
11/23/20 7:29 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Actually, I'd gone ahead and ordered the Erik Braun one. Funnily, I'd stumbled on it looking for a biography of Mahasi Sayadaw, but hadn't been able to find one, yet you have stated there is a good one out there. Any change you can let me know the author, title, or a provide a link? Thanks!

You know, about the Visuddhimagga , I used to own a copy but sold it when I'd moved, needing to reduce my book collection by about 2/3. I'd never read it, in part because I'd felt quite satisfied reading Daniel's book, and more modern stuff. Now that I'm practicing again, I'm finding the opposite to be somewhat true. Obviously I'm being guided primarily by MCToB, but this time I'm reading Mahasi Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Pandita, and I'm more drawn/interested drawn towards the Burmese teachings, and the material that inspired them, including the Visuddhimagga. 

This time around I'm trying to not get to twisted with trying to integrate too many techniques (noting, scanning, mahamudra, etc.) so I'm sticking with Burmese noting and what inspired them. I'm gonna be a one-technique freak until I get first path. 

RE: The Birth of Insight or Saving Buddhism?
11/23/20 8:01 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Visuddhimagga free PDF at

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