Manual of Insight - Table of Contents

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.



744 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9781614292777

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9781614292913

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Foreword by Joseph Goldstein

Foreword by Daniel Goleman

Managing Editor’s Preface


1. Purification of Conduct

The Purification of Conduct for Monks

Observing the Monastic Precepts • Pursuing a Pure Livelihood • Wisely Using Requisites • Carefully Restraining the Senses • Practicing Restraint Prior to the Practice of Meditation • Restraint that Comes from Meditation • Restraint as a Prerequisite for Meditation 

The Purification of Conduct for the Laity

Comparisons to Monastic Morality • The Five Spiritual Obstacles • The Enlightenment of Immoral Laypeople • How Different Types of People Are Suited to Different Trainings 

Purifying Conduct with Meditation

Morality by Means of Abandonment • Morality by Means of Abstinence • Morality by Means of Mental Volition • Morality by Means of Restraint • Morality by Means of Nontransgression • Morality as Remote and Immediate Conditions for Concentration and Knowledges • The Power of Meditation to Purify Morality for Monastics • Nota Bene: The Practice of Morality Is Essential 

2. Purification of Mind

Mental Purification

Three Types of Mental Purification • Two Vehicles for Going to Enlightenment • Methods for Taking the Two Vehicles to Enlightenment • Insight with Momentary Concentration • Methods for Developing Insight 

Mental Purification for Those Who Take the Vehicle of Insight to Enlightenment

Liberations and Hindrances • Helpful Contemplations to Dispel Hindrances • Obstacles to Concentration and the Methods to Overcome Them • States of One-Pointedness 

3. Absolute and Conventional Realities

What Is Reality?

Ultimate Reality • Conceptual Illusions • Hearsay and Such • Description vs. Experience • The Correct Definition of Ultimate Reality • Transience 

The Two Meanings of Activity

The Meaning that Ordinary People Know • The Meaning that Insight Meditators Know 

Two Kinds of Insight

Appropriate Objects for Meditation • The Present Moment • Inferential Insight: Knowledge by Comprehension 

Lessons to Learn from Those Who Take the Vehicle of Tranquility to Enlightenment

Observation of the In- and Out-Breath • To What Extent Must Insight Be Purified? • Venerable Sāriputta’s Method • Venerable Moggallāna’s Method • A Note of Caution 

4. The Development of Mindfulness

Checking Meditation against the Pāḷi Texts Five Kinds of Phenomena 

Contemplation of the Body

The Case of Seeing • The Case of Hearing • The Case of Smell • The Case of Taste • The Case of Touch • Mindfulness of Breathing • The Four Primary Material Elements • How to Observe Thought • How to Note General Activities • Clear Comprehension • Accurate Awareness

Contemplation of Feeling

Pleasant Feeling • Unpleasant Feeling • Neither- Unpleasant-nor-Pleasant Feeling • Worldly Pleasure • Unworldly Pleasure • Worldly Displeasure • Unworldly Displeasure • Worldly Neither Displeasure nor Pleasure • Unworldly Neither Displeasure nor Pleasure • Realizing Feelings

Contemplation of Mind

Mental States • Realizing Mind

Contemplation of Mental Objects

The Five Hindrances • Wise Attention • Unwise Attention • The Five Aggregates • The Six Senses • The Ten Fetters • The Seven Factors of Enlightenment • Balancing Spiritual Faculties • The Seven Types of Suffering • The Four Noble Truths

Mindfulness of the Four Noble Truths

Truths in the Round of Existence and Truths Beyond It • How Suffering Is Realized • How the Origin of Suffering Is Realized • How Cessation and Path Are Realized • Cultivating Mundane Understanding • Cultivating Supramundane Understanding • How to Develop the Noble Eightfold Path • The Moment of Path Knowledge • Other Objects of Meditation

The Benefits of Mindfulness

The Only Way • The Buddha’s Acknowledgment • Suitable Contemplations

5. Practical Instructions Preparations for Practice

The Basic Practice

The Primary Object • Distracting Thoughts • Physical Discomfort • Odd Experiences • Getting a Drink • Going to Bed • Getting Up • Eating a Meal • Increasing the Number of Objects • General Objects • Mental States • Diligence


Mind and Body • Cause and Effect • Effects of Concentration • Seeing the Three Characteristics • Distractions from the Path • Disappearance • Disillusionment • Looking for Relief • Equanimity

The Experience of Nibbāna

Entering Fruition • Clarifying the Insight Knowledges • Practicing for Higher Paths and Fruitions • A Note on Parāmī

A Word of Advice

6. Stages of Insight Knowledge

Insight Knowledge that Discerns Mental and Physical Phenomena: Purification of View

Awareness of Phenomena • Discerning Mental and Physical Phenomena • Seeing Things as They Really Are

Insight Knowledge that Discerns Conditionality: Purification by Overcoming Doubt

The First Way of Seeing Conditionality • The Second Way of Seeing Conditionality • The Third and Fourth Ways of Seeing Conditionality • The Fifth Way of Seeing Conditionality • The Lesser Stream Enterer

Insight Knowledge by Comprehension

Comprehension of Impermanence • Comprehension of Suffering • Comprehension of Not-Self • Contemplation of Mental Phenomena • Other Types of Contemplation • Strengthening the Mental Faculties • Seven Ways to Contemplate Physical Phenomena • Seven Ways to Contemplate the Mind • Practical Advice

Insight Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away

Eliminating Attachment • Continuity of Processes vs. Momentary Phenomena • The Characteristics of Arising and Passing Away • Observing True Arising and Passing Away • The Ten Corruptions of Insight • Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What Is Path and Not Path • Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way

Insight Knowledge of Dissolution

Insight and Counter-Insight • Inferential Knowledge • Mature Knowledge

The Three Aspects of Disillusionment: Insight Knowledges Fear, of Danger, and of Disenchantment

Insight Knowledge of Fear • Insight Knowledge of Danger • Insight Knowledge of Disenchantment

Insight Knowledge that Desires Deliverance

Insight Knowledge of Reobservation

The Ten Aspects of Insight into Impermanence • The Twenty- Five Aspects of Insight into Unsatisfactoriness • The Five Aspects of Insight into Not-Self • Mature Reobservation

Insight Knowledge of Equanimity toward Phenomena

How Phenomena Are Observed from Two Aspects • How Phenomena Are Observed from Four Aspects • How Phenomena Are Observed from Six Aspects • How Phenomena Are Observed from Eight Aspects • How Phenomena Are Observed from Ten Aspects • How Phenomena Are Observed from Twelve Aspects • The Three Stages of Equanimity • Peak Insight Knowledge of Equanimity toward Phenomena

Knowledge that Leads to Emergence

Adaptation • Knowledge of Change-of-Lineage • Path Knowledge and Fruition Knowledge • A Word of Caution

Reviewing Knowledge

Five Subjects to Consider • Abandonment of Defilements • Confirming Stream Entry • The Great Reviewing Knowledges (Mahāpaccavekkhaṇāñāṇa)

Attainment of Fruition

Three Types of Insight • The Benefit of Attaining Fruition • Entering the Attainment of Fruition • The Experience of the Attainment of Fruition • Emerging from the Attainment of Fruition • Unstable Attainment • Varying Degrees of Mastery


Definitions of Nibbāna • Two Types of Nibbāna • Experiencing Nibbāna

7. The Eighteen Great Insight Knowledges

The Seven Main Contemplations

Contemplation of Impermanence • Contemplation of Unsatisfactoriness • Contemplation of Not-Self • Contemplation of Disenchantment • Contemplation of Dispassion • Contemplation of Cessation • Contemplation of Relinquishment

The Remaining Contemplations

Contemplation of Destruction • Contemplation of Fall • Contemplation of Change • Contemplation of the Signless • Contemplation of the Desireless • Contemplation of Emptiness • Insight into Phenomena that Is Higher Wisdom • Knowledge and Vision of Things as They Really Are • Contemplation of Danger • Contemplation Reflection • Contemplation of Turning Away

Mahāsi Sayadaw’s Closing Words

List of Abbreviations

Notes Pāḷi-English Glossary

English-Pāḷi Glossary


Index About Vipassanā Mettā Foundation

Tables on the Removable Insert

Appendix 1: The Progress of Insight

Appendix 2: Mental Factors Present in Each Consciousness

Appendix 2a: Mental Factors Present in Each Consciousness (Continued)

Appendix 3: Stream of Consciousness

Appendix 4: Uprooting Defilements

Appendix 5: Materiality

Appendix 6: Planes of Existence

Appendix 7: Mental Process Functions