Who is Luangphor Viriyang? Who is the teacher of the course?
The course was created by Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo, who first taught it in Thailand and then in North America. Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo is the abbot of one of Thailand’s largest monasteries – Wat Dhammamongkol. He is a meditation master who has been a Buddhist monk of the forest tradition for over 80 years. He is regarded as one of the most important meditation teachers in Thailand. He launched this program in Edmonton in 1999 and it has since been offered at six sites in Canada and three in the United States. The course you will take is facilitated by students who have completed this course and have also taken additional training from Luangphor himself.
Why should I meditate? What are the benefits?
The benefits of meditation vary according to the individual, but in general, most meditators feel an enhanced sense of peace and happiness, better sleep, stronger concentration, improved mental, physical and emotional well-being, etc. (For more information, see the Why Meditate? section of the site).
What kind of meditation do you teach? Do you teach Vipassana or Insight meditation?
The Meditation Course focuses on Samatha meditation. Samatha is a Pali word that translates into English as calm abiding, which nicely describes both the technique and state of mind in this form of meditation. In terms of meditation technique, through focusing our attention in specific ways, we learn to stay present in the moment without engaging in whatever distractions our environment or mind may create for us. This is what is meant by abiding – we are present, but not engaged in the world around us or in us.
Over time, this practice creates calmness or tranquility in the mind. Samatha is the foundation of any good meditation practice, including Vipassana (insight meditation). We will discuss the theory and practice of Vipassana, but we do not conduct Vipassana in our daily practice, as it takes some time to create a firm foundation of Samatha which is necessary for Vipassana practice.
Do you have to be Buddhist to take the course? Will you be teaching about Buddhism?
The course is open to people of all faiths or of no faith. Though the theory and practice are rooted in Buddhist tradition, we will focus on meditation and not on religion. We will not be teaching Buddhism or religion of any kind.
What is the cost of the course? Why is there no charge for the course?
A small charge will be levied for the textbooks in order to cover the cost of printing them. That is the only fee for the course. All of the teachers are volunteers, who have previously completed the course, which enables us to offer the course without a tuition fee.
How long is the course? What is the time commitment I have to make?
The course runs for 6 months from August to mid February depending upon the location. There will be two breaks during the course – one in October and one during New year celebration. The class meets during weekends, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 am. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. However, some locations might offer short meditation courses; we encourage the potential students to contact us directly. We will study the theory of meditation using the textbooks written by Luangphor Virayang as the focus of the class, but there will also be time for questions and discussion. The guided practice will consist of 30 minutes of walking meditation and 30 minutes of sitting meditation twice per day. If you are planning to attend for personal development, there is no attendance requirements. In order to get certified, you are required to complete 200 hours. Some missed days are permitted and some hours may be made up through homework. Your course facilitators will explain this more carefully during the first few weeks of the course.
Why do I have to come to both theory and practice?
It is necessary to lay down solid habits in order to build the foundation for meditation. A structured 6-month program assists students and meditation practitioners in forming the habits necessary to develop a solid meditation practice. The theory of meditation is important and very helpful because it provides a context in which to deepen understanding your personal experience of meditation.
I’ve never meditated before/I’ve done a lot of meditation before –is this course right for me?
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced meditator, this course will provide you with information and skills to help you establish a solid practice. For the beginner, it provides step by step instructions on how to meditate that will help you establish a practice. For the experienced meditator, we ask that you put aside your current practice so as to try a different way of practicing, which should provide you with additional skills, tactics, and theories to enhance your practice.
Is the meditation course taught in English?
The courses are currently taught in Thai. However, the course in English will be offered free of charge in near future. As Luangphor Viriyang believes world peace can be achieved if sufficient number of people in the world consistently participate in the practice of meditation.