Synchronicity Magazine | By Marlene Skaley
They call him Luangphor, Venerable Father. Beloved master teacher of meditation, Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo. In just three short years, he’s won the heart of hundreds of devoted followers throughout Canada. When I first met him, I thought he was just an ordinary man, a plain looking old monk in strange yellow robes – something we don’t see everyday in Canada.
For months I attended his classes every evening, hardly able to understand a word. Not only was he talking about difficult concepts, but his English was very poor. I didn’t know why I kept coming back to class. My life was so busy I resented the time it was taking. After five months of struggle and resistance, things began to change. Today I live in gratefulness. After years of meditation courses, spiritual growth seminars, books, teachers, tapes, techniques, I finally found a teacher worth following.
From the jungles of Thailand he brings us stories of near-death experiences with tigers, king cobras and deadly malaria. He practiced meditation for 20 years as a forest monk with Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera. He keeps us laughing with his stories. If he can laugh about a king cobra staring him in the eye, how can we take our problems seriously? We have to lighten up a little.
When people first meet him, they’re struck by his ability to have fun. “I always thought an enlightened person would be too calm to laugh a lot,” says student Maureen. “I’m so relieved that he loves to joke and have fun. I feel so comfortable with him. Maybe enlightenment isn’t what I thought”.
He teaches us about current of mind. “Current of mind like current from electricity. Turn on switch and current comes to light bulb. Light bllluub, you know?”
He looks at us with a mischievous twinkle in his eye after the mispronunciation. The class roars with laughter.
His goal is world peace. Is this possible? When I first heard him speak of it, I laughed. Impossible, I thought. Even after my first trip to Thailand, I was doubtful. Though I’d seen his huge temple, met hundreds of his thousands of followers, seen many of his accomplishments – day care centres, hospital, university – I still had doubts.
Now, years later, I believe. If he says he’s planning this or that (and he’s always planning two, three or half a dozen projects at the same time) my mind usually says, “It seems impossible to me but if Luangphor says he’s going to do it, I’m sure it will be done.” And one after another, I watch his plans unfold.
From a small start of the Meditation Instructor Course in Edmonton, he now offers classes in six locations in Canada. He’s building a meditation retreat centre. He runs the day to day administration of the Willpower Institute and his temples. He establishes new day care centres throughout Thailand.
The sound of his laughter fills the room as he talks about his own energy. “Someone ask me, ‘why can you do it? Why can you stand every night two hours to teach? You old man. Why can do?’ I say, Not so old. 83 years. Not so old.’ Actually very old. Must die soon, but not so old. Can do like one who is young. Why? Because I have power of mind.”
Power of mind. This is the key to the teaching. As we meditate and come to one-pointedness, the many emotions and thoughts which cause stress, are reduced to one thought. Our mind becomes calm and clear. We gain mind power. Power of mind helps us deal with emotions, lighten up, take things less seriously, make good decisions, be more effective.
“Hi-tech” mediation he calls it. “When you know right way you have result.” In a few short months, his students report amazing results: better health, less emotional reaction, ability to sleep after years of insomnia, improved relationships, even greater wealth.
He’s taken us to the mountain top spiritually and physically. He was there for us as we struggled with personal issues, as we complained, argued, laughed and cried. He walked ahead, leading the way as if the obstacles were nothing. There was only the goal and moving toward the goal. We learned from his teaching, from the daily meditation, from his example, from just being in his presence.
Slowly but surely Luangphor is changing the world: bringing cultures and religions together, training teachers to help spread his message. “You teach ten. They teach ten and each of them teach ten. Soon, one thousand, one million.” An impossible goal becomes possible; we can even have fun.
Luangphor’s thousands of followers have no doubt that he can achieve his goal – that world peace, can be accomplished – one step at a time.