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Perhaps many people were trying to figure out how to do vipassana in the late 1800s. Only four succeeded. They all started from descriptions in the Pali scriptures. The most detailed are in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Visuddhimagga, and the Anapanasati Sutta.

In the mid-1800s, these texts were revered because supposedly they showed the way to nirvana. However, the way they were practiced was for groups of monks to ritually chant the text in unison. This is like a bunch of people who don’t know what a computer is reading the manual out loud, hoping the machine will spring to life, without realizing you need to plug it in.

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