In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we speak with Kamala Masters, guiding teacher for the Insight Meditation Society and member of the translation committee for the new book by Mahasi Sayadaw, Manual of Insight. We hear insightful stories from Kamala about how she initially came to practice Buddhism as a working single mother of three children under the skillful guidance of her teacher Munindra-ji. She shares how he helped her bring her practice into daily life and how she learned not to identify with difficult emotions. She also tells us about what she gained from doing longer retreats with Sayadaw U Pandita and how her brief time as a nun was a happy experience. Further, Kamala also underscores how she integrates love and wisdom when she teaches others, particularly how morality relates to being in community.
Manual of Insight is the magnum opus of Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the originators of the Vipassana movement that has swept through the Buddhist world over the last century. The manual presents a comprehensive overview of the practice of insight meditation, including the foundational aspects of ethical self-discipline, understanding the philosophical framework for the practice, and developing basic concentration and mindfulness. It culminates with an in-depth exploration of the various types of insight and spiritual fruits that the practice yields.
Authored by the master who brought insight meditation to the West and whose students include Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg, Manual of Insight is a veritable Bible for any practitioner of vipassana.
“A truly important work of one of the greatest contemporary masters, with rich detail and profound insight.”—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart
Kamala Masters began practicing meditation in the mid-seventies, attending retreats in the Theravada tradition. In 1977 she met Anagarika Munindra, her first teacher, who taught her the value of being mindful in everyday life. In 1985, she began to practice vipassana and metta meditations intensively with Sayadaw U Pandita, with whom she temporarily ordained as a Buddhist nun in 2001 and 2003. In 2005, she began practicing cittanupassana, contemplation of mind, with Sayadaw U Tejaniya. She integrates this teaching with what she has learned from her other respected teachers.
Since the early nineties, Kamala has been teaching in the United States and abroad, and is a guiding teacher and member of the board of directors at the Insight Meditation Society. In 1995 she co-founded Vipassana Metta Foundation with Steve Armstrong, developing the Maui Dhamma Sanctuary for self-reliant students to practice. She served as an editor on the Vipassana Metta Foundation Translation Committee for Mahasi Sayadaw’s Manual of Insight, published by Wisdom Publications in 2016.