Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comparing International Meditation Centres in Chiang Mai

http://wanderingdhamma.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/comparing-international-meditation-centers-wat-chom-tong-wat-rampoeng-and-wat-prathat-doi-suthep/

A pretty good, unbiased description of all three Int'l meditation centres in Chiang Mai under Ajaan Tong... having taught at all three, I'd say it's pretty accurate, though I would question some of the background information like "the technique of Wat Rampoeng is the same as Ajahn Tong had established it before he left. He changed this technique slightly when he moved to Wat Chom Tong." That is most likely not true, no matter what they say at Wat Rampoeng... the reason the two techniques are slightly different is not because of place, but because of teachers... the style at Wat Rampoeng is the style of a student of Ajaan Tong (Luang Po Banyat) who was much more strict about such things as hours of practice per day, etc. When Ajaan Tong left, the other monks (including Ajaan Suphan) learned from Luang Po Banyat and his students, and so never really got to learn how to teach meditation exactly the way Ajaan Tong teaches it.

The situation is further complicated when one realizes that the head Int'l teacher at Chom Tong is that same Luang Po Banyat's chief student, not a student of Ajaan Tong directly. The reason his teaching and that of his students differs from Wat Rampoeng style at all is because he has changed his style to correspond with Ajaan Tong's do a small degree. If one were to practice with both the Int'l department and Ajaan Tong himself, one would see a rather significant difference in teaching techniques, and there is an even greater difference between Ajaan Tong's technique and Ajaan Suphan's, though in the end it is probably difficult for new meditators to notice as they are still finding their feet anyway, so to speak. And it's not like many Int'l meditators will have the opportunity to practice with Ajaan Tong directly anyway, though any one of the monks in Chom Tong could teach a very similar method with a translator, if the "Int'l Dep't" would give up their stranglehold on foreign meditators.

The reason Doi Suthep and Wat Rampoeng are almost identical in their technique is because the teacher at Doi Suthep (Ajaan Buddhasak) is a direct student of Ajaan Suphan of Wat Rampoeng. (The English talk every day was instituted by our group before I left Doi Suthep)