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 images 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 images 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 senior Monk, Satthu Nyai One Keo Sitthivong, leads a group of young Novices in a sitting Vipassana Meditation excercise during the Retreat. Archive No. 2976-04
During the Retreat, young Novices practice the highly detailed and specific actions to assume the correct physical positions in order to archive a state of being "without mindfullness" while engaging in Vipassana Meditaion. Archive No. 2449-17
A Monk coaches Novies during the Retreat. The excercises require intense concentration and are physically and mentally demanding. Archive No. 2468-12
A Novice archieves the perfect posture and the depth of his concentration and detachment from the mundane is clear in his facial expression. Suspended above him are traditional mosquito nets used during extended Meditaion sessions. Archive No. 3775-01