No activity is more important in monastic life than meditation. It is through meditation that a monk achieves serenity, through meditation that he achieves insight and wisdom, and through meditation that he may attain his ultimate goal - enlightenment and nirvana.
Meditation and the teaching of meditation practice look back to a centuries-old tradition in Luang Prabang, where specific meditation techniques have been developed. Vipassana in particular (a meditation technique cultivating awareness and insight) was practiced in some monastic centers that formed around a learned monk. The renaissance of Buddhism in Laos in recent years has made it possible for the monks of Luang Prabang to boldly reintroduce the systematic teaching of, and practice of, Vipassana.
Hans Georg Berger's photographs below of Vipassana meditation moments are drawn from his extensive work in Luang Prabang, more of which may be seen in the Meditation Exhibition at Vat Suvannakhili in Luang Prabang.
Our selection of image from Hans Georg Berger's inconic series of photographs taken during an early Vipassana Meditation Retreat at the now Buddhist Academy site at Vat Pha Pha-O begins with this telling image of monks and novices in walking meditation through an empty rice field. Archive No. 3772_01
During the Meditation Retreat a large group of monks and novices engage in walking meditation, in complete silence, along a path through the forest. Archive No. 3809-11
Their Walking Meditation excercise almost complete the same large group of monks and novices returns through the forest path. Archive No.3802-11
During the Mediation Retreat a group of Nuns ("Mae Kao" or White Mothers) move into the forest to begin their meditation in silence and isolation Archive No. 3774-15
The depth of concentration, introspection and withdrawal from worldly concerns is vividly captured in this image of a Nun in solitary Meditation. Archive No. 3812-14
The Abbot leads a procession of Walking Meditation, performed in a style unique to Luang Prabang Theravada Buddhism.
One gets a clear sense of the hundreds of participants in these Walking Meditation sessions.
With Arts School buildings forming a background the Walking Meditation session begins.
While some novices participate in the Walking Meditation, others sit and Meditate on the grounds of the Arts School.
One can see the degree of concentration and focus being brought to the Meditations.
A classic Vipassana Meditation pose.