There are some very influential meditation masters of the 20th century such as Mahasi Sayadaw and S.N. Goenka who have many people today who follow their methods. Is it possible to summarize the methods particular to modern meditation masters (type of meditation, etc.) and provide links to their teachings? This might be helpful to those new to meditation or those looking to expand their understanding of the many styles of meditation available today.

This is a community wiki and a work in progress. Please consider adding your knowledge to this post. Thank you!

  • What is the purpose of turning it into a wiki?
    – ruben2020
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:36
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    @ruben2020, I'm thinking we'll get a more complete answer to this question by allowing people to submit info on the teacher they are most familiar with instead of expecting everyone to know about any/all influential teachers. Also, it would seem to be useful information for the site as particular teachers are referenced in many questions/answers.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:42
  • 2
    Would it be better to have one answer per teacher. Then people could edit the answer and fill in the detail and we could edit the question and put in a set of links to each answer I.e. each teacher. I've seen this done on other community wiki questions and it seems effective. Just a thought Commented May 20, 2015 at 16:55
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    I'm not sure how he fits but IMO Jon Kabat-Zinn deserve mention.
    – Brian
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 2:12
  • It should be turned into wiki, the answers are messy.
    – eudoxos
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 7:36

7 Answers 7

  • Ledi Sayadaw -Vipassana movement pioneer. Extremely influential in spreading Vipassana Meditation among lay people. Considers the whole Tripitaka when formulating the meditation instructions of which many have their roots in the Abidhamma.
    • Mohnyin Sayadaw
    • Saya Thetgyi
    • U Ba Khin - Lay student of Saya Thetgyi (student of Ledi Sayadaw) but highly influenced by Webu Sayadaw
      • Mother Sayama Gyi
      • S.N.Goenka -lay teacher that has many meditation centers worldwide that offer 10 day retreats on a Dana basis.,
      • Ruth Denison -Elder lay teacher and former student of U Ba Khin
  • Webu Sayadaw -believed to be an Arahat
  • Mogok Sayadaw
  • Pa Auk Sayadaw - Most orthodox in following the Visuddhi Magga and commentaries. Course starts with Anapana or the 4 elements. If starting from Anapana the course covers all 40 meditation objects and covering all the Jhana. (A course may take upto 3 1/2 years to complete at the monastery.)
    • Nauyane Ariadhamma
  • Thai Forrest Traditions
    • Ven. Mun
    • Ven. Cha student of Ven.Mun
      • Achan Bram -big help in the resurrection of the theravadin bhukkhuini order.
      • Ven. Sujato -Dhamma Scholar. Began practice in the Mahasi tradition but is now a critic of the Mahasi appoach
      • Achan Munido
    • Ven. Maha Boowa student of Ven. Mun
    • Achan Lee
      • Thanisaro Bikkhu
  • Sun Lun Sayadaw
  • Mahasi Sayadaw
    • U Pandita -Former student if Mahasi Sayadaw
    • U Silananda -Former Student of Mahasi Sayadaw
    • Chanmyay Sayadaw (U Janaka) -Former Student of Mahasi Sayadaw
    • Oo Min Sayadaw - Taught cittanupassana rooted in Mahasi Style meditation
    • Sayadaw U Tejaniya -student of Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw
    • Sunlun Sayadaw -Vipassana movement pioneer
    • Mingun Sayadaw -Vipassana movement pioneer
    • Mogok Sayadaw -Vipassana movement pioneer
    • Jack Kornfield
    • Bhante Yuttadhammo -Teaches Mahasi method online and offline
    • The Arahat Daniel M. Ingram -Teaches a radically western approach. Studied many traditions and recommends the Mahasi approach above all
  • Buddhadasa Bikkhu
  • Banthe Vimalasiri former student of Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw but devised his own technique after considering that technique to be flawed
  • Maybe we can move this information to individual answers as below? :)
    – Robin111
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Robin111 It could be moved into the question, as a table of contents with a link to each answer, for example like this.
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:59
  • Why Mogok and Sunlun are under Mahasi Sayadaw section?
    – robermann
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 11:54
  • @robermann Did you mean that Mahasi Sayadaw should go under them or that these pioneers of the vipassana movement are relative to other Burmese masters?
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 14:38
  • Mogok and Sunlun were in some way influenced by Ledi's teachings, so perhaps they should go under "Ledi Sayadaw".
    – robermann
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 8:08

Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw is a 20th century burmese meditation master. His teachings on Vipassana Meditation, also called Insight Meditation is derived from the so called "New Burmese Method". The following quote is from the wiki:

"The vipassanā Movement, also called the Insight Meditation Movement, refers to a number of branches of modern Theravāda Buddhism which stress insight into the three marks of existence as the main means to attain awakening and become a stream-enterer. It finds its origins in modernist influences on the traditions of Burma, Laos, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and the innovations and popularizations by Theravāda teachers as Mahasi Sayadaw."

The vipassana meditation technique taught by Mahasi Sayadaw is characterized by the meditator anchoring his attention on the rising and falling sensations of the abdomen, making that the primary point of observation.

The reason for this is that the rising and falling of the abdomen is always present making that a suitable place for observing the transient and impermanent nature of phenomena. The breath rises and falls all the time. In the same way all phenomena both physical and mental rise and fall incessantly. Having an anchor serves as a way for the mind to not get lost.

In beginning of meditation practice the mind is like a little child always running out to the objects and getting lost. Having an anchor means that the meditator can always come back to the abdomen if things get too intense meaning if e.g. feelings or thoughts get too intense when observing them.

The meditator then carefully observes the five aggregates, i.e. form, feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. One does not interact with the objects of meditation. One simply observes them. One does not have to do anything. One only has to be a witness.

The second part of the technique which is specific to the Mahasi Sayadaw method is "noting". Noting can also be understood as "naming or labelling" of the object that are currently being observed. It can also mean to "remind" oneself of the current object being observed so that the mind will not stray or follow after the object, identifying with it and getting lost.

When one notes an object its important that the mind is sent out to the object. When observing the rising of the abdomen, the meditator simply notes "rising, rising" while attention is pointed at the abdomen and not the mental word in the mind. When the abdomen is falling one simply notes "falling, falling" again while keeping attention on the abdomen at all time. This ensures that the meditator sees the object for what it is - an arisen phenomena - so that the mind will stay in place and not follow after the object. The meditator is only interested in observing the bare phenomena - ultimate reality only. If one hears a sound one notes "hearing, hearing" and thereby ensuring that one observes only the ultimate reality of the object, i.e. the phenomena of sound. If one sees e.g. a tree one notes "seeing, seeing" thereby keeping the attention on the ultimate reality of the object which in this case is the phenomena of visible light.

Similarly when thoughts arise one notes "thinking, thinking". If anger arises one notes "angry, angry" or "anger, anger". One does not need to make long complicated words or sentences. A simple word is enough. If pain arises in the body due to e.g. long meditation sessions one notes "pain, pain". If heat arises in the body one notes "heat, heat" or "warm, warm". One can note the phenomena a couple of times and then return to the rising and falling of the abdomen.

So to sum up the technique. The meditator sits in a comfortable position and anchors the attention on the rising and falling sensations of the abdomen noting "rising, rising" or "falling, falling". When other phenomena arises e.g. thoughts, feelings, sounds, sights, volitions etc. then one notes accordingly to the arisen phenomena. If there is e.g. both a loud sound arising and a strong itchy feeling on the nose then one chooses the object that is most dominant and notes that. In the beginning of practice the meditator can limit the observation to only e.g. the form aggregate. With practice the meditator can note more and more phenomena.

The reason for observing and noting the aggregates of clinging is so that the meditator can develop insight into how reality functions, i.e. the 3 signs of existence; annica, dukkha and anatta. By observing and noting phenomena the meditator comes to see that phenomena are impermanent. They arise and cease without any control. One sees that phenomena are uncontrollable and ungovernable. Then ones sees that phenomena are unsatisfactory and oppressing. When that is truly realized one comes to realize anatta, i.e. that phenomena have no inner core, no self. Realizing the signs of existence ultimately leads to realizing Nibbana.

For more information and books on the Mahasi Sayadaw Method the following books are available for free:

These are questions and answers that will explain the process of meditation. These explanations will assist, guide and inspire the meditators starting in their meditation practises. It is extracted from the "Fundamentals of Vipassana Meditation" by Mahasi Sayadaw.

An extensive guideline through the practice of Vipassana meditation and explanation of the Satipatthana medthod, including how Nibbana is realized through this method of practice.

This book includes an explanation of the difference of Samatha and Vipassana meditation, how Vipassana is practiced, the theory behind the practice, and how the practice achieves the goal of Nibbana and fulfills the Eightfold Noble Path.

This is a brief look to the Vipassana meditation along with a few exercises to begin with.

Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw explains the two kinds of meditations taught by the Buddha as well as a brief teaching on how to practice the two methods.

This book explains the Satipatthana Vipassana meditation method that's taught by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta. It explains extensively the instructions given by the Buddha in the Satipatthana sutta, the practice, and the theory behind it.

This is a collection of discourses given by the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw on the subjects of purity and insight.

This is yet another discourse to extensively discuss the Satipatthana meditation method prescribed by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta.

Current well known meditation teachers who teach this style of meditation include:

Ven. Yuttadhammo who teaches in person and online via youtube.

For more information about Ven. Yuttadhammo the following sources are available:

In here one can find a categorized selection of Youtube-videos made by Ven. Yuttadhammo. There are a total of 757 videos within a wide range of topics such as "Daily Life, Enlightenment, Mental Problems, Buddhist Theory, Karma, Morality, Monasticism etc.". Most notably is the meditation category which holds 209 videos.

Here one can find a wide range of different videos. Most notably is the series of "Ask A Monk, Monk Radio, The Dhammapada". There is also teachings for kids which takes place in Second Life.

Here one can find audio talks by Ven. Yuttadhammo. They are sorted by year and ranges from 2006-2015.

"Live Sessions of Monk Radio.

Our Monk Radio program is an interactive broadcast allowing the audience to ask questions and receive answers about meditation, Buddhism, and the monastic life.

To watch the broadcast, you can visit this page, which will show the video shortly before we start. To participate, you can ask questions below or on Google Moderator."

Here one can follow Ven. Yuttadhammo's blog. One can see his blog posts, schedule and more.

Here one can find text materials by Ven. Yuttadhammo. Currently there are 2 books available for download in PDF, Ebook and Kindle and comes in a wide variety of languages.

Book 1: How To Meditate: A Beginner's Guide to Peace

"This book is meant to serve as an introductory discourse on how to meditate for those with little or no experience in the practice of meditation, as well as those who are experienced in other types of meditation but interested in learning a new meditation technique."

Book 2: Lessons In Practical Buddhism

"This book is based on a sample of audio and video teachings originally given via YouTube and as part of various local meditation courses."

"My hope in putting together this book is that more people may benefit from the teachings of the Buddha on a practical level; it seems to me proper that if one wishes to live in peace and happiness, it behoves one to work to spread peace and happiness in the world in which one lives. May all beings be happy."

Book 3: How To Meditate II

"This is where the sequel to my booklet on how to meditate will live. Below is a table of contents that will become an active list of links as chapters are added and finished."

Currently there are 2 chapters available which are "Benefits of Meditation" and "Nature of Reality".

Here one can follow the life and teachings of Ven. Yuttadhammo.

Recommended videos in random order:

  • Is anyone able to add in a summary of this style of meditation? Hoping for something that will give beginners a brief overview.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:36
  • 1
    Yes I will make one tomorrow, Saturday.
    – user2424
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 21:13
  • You are most welcome @Robin. May i ask if you could read it through and say if anything should be changed in it?
    – user2424
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 20:13
  • 2
    @Lanka, thank you for the wealth of information! Wonderful. :)
    – Robin111
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 20:09
  • No problem. This gives a better overview for newcomers.
    – user2424
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 11:31

S.N. Goenka is a 20th century meditation master who developed a technique of meditation characterized by:

Meditation in this style is taught through these centers

  • Is anyone able to add in a summary of this style of meditation? Hoping for something that will give beginners a brief overview.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:36

Jack Kornfield. Student of Ajahn Chah. Co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society.

Author of many books including After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and a Path with Heart

  • Jack was also a student of Mahasi Sayadaw.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 2:19
  • Is anyone able to add in a summary of this style of meditation? Hoping for something that will give beginners a brief overview.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:36

Chögyam Trungpa taught Tibetan Buddhism, in Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.

Author of many books including Cutting through Spiritual Materialism.

  • Is anyone able to add in a summary of this style of meditation? Hoping for something that will give beginners a brief overview.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:37

Two other co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society besides Jack Kornfield (who is mentioned above), are Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. They were taught by S.N. Goenka, Anagarika Munindra and Dipa Ma, among other teachers. They still teach meditation today, especially vipassana.

Jon Kabat-Zinn's video on Mindfulness which he taught at Google is quite popular on YouTube. He was taught by Thich Nhat Hahn. His teaching of mindfulness meditation is with special focus on stress reduction and healing. His profile according to Wikipedia:

Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with those of science. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, called Mindfulness-based stress reduction, is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.


Ajahn Tong Sirimangalo (who is the teacher of @yuttadhammo, mentioned in other answers) was a student of (among others) Mahasi Saydaw and developed a course structure using Mahasi-style noting and walking/sitting meditation (2-4 weeks foundational course, 10-day retreats). He was an abbot of several temples in Thailand (Wat Ram Poeng, then moving to Chom Tong).

The international section of his monastery in Chom Tong, Thailand, headed by Thanat Chindaporn, coordinates a number of teachers and retreat centers around the world: Germany (http://vipassana-dhammacari.com), Israel (http://metta.org.il), Czech Republic (http://tisarana.cz), IIRC Mexico, plus a number of occasional retreat events elsewhere (Brazil, France, ...).

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