Peter Cowham  

Ajahn Chah

About our Practice
Our approach to practice follows the tradition established by Luang Por Chah, the famous Lao/Thai meditation master. He urged his disciples to develop an holistic approach to the practice of Dhamma with equal attention to moral behaviour, to regular meditation, to the promotion of wise patterns of thought and to be ever mindful of our moods.

Peter passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 24 July 2015,  twenty two months after being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).  Peter was such an optimist and handled such a difficult disease with great strength of mind.  Peter revered his teacher Ajahn Chah and said the time spent with him was the best thing he had done in his life. He used the opportunity to practice and prepare for a peaceful death. He always said that he couldn't have got a more Buddhist illness, constantly having to let go.  May he have a good rebirth and the Dhamma be a part of his life again.

No further retreats will be held at Four Winds Garden Retreat near Cairns, North Queensland. 

This website was developed by Peter and reflects his thorough understanding of Theravada Buddhism.  I hope you will take this opportunity to enjoy his efforts.


  • By clicking onto each page you will find an overview of Buddhist history, philosophy and practice. Each page contains information relating to our practice philosophy. 
  • You will find news items of interest and discussions of topical subjects.Information is added regularly on a varied range of topics. 
  • For members we have a locked area which contains more in depth information and links to articles of interest. 
  • A glossary of terms is also available for ready clarification of foreign words and usage. We hope you find our site of benefit.
  • Please take time to scroll through the pages of this website.

THE VINYANA GROUP proposes a contemporary interpretation of Dhamma and approach to practice whilst maintaining relevance to the Theravada tradition. 

Buddhism has a long and vibrant history of varied thought yet it remains consistent to the teachings of Siddhartha Gotama. Over the centuries many schools with differing approaches to Buddhist practice have developed and unfortunately many have also disappeared from history.

The recent  transfer of Buddhism to the West will inevitably result in new ways of interpreting and practising Dhamma. The Vinyana Group supports and advocates this as a regenerative force in contemporary Buddhism.




This is possiibly the oldest image of Siddhartha Gotama in existence. It depicts the Buddha at the age of 41 and is preserved in the British Museum. The sketch was made by a young bhikkhu while the Buddha was giving a talk.

The implications of this image (assuming it is a genuine depiction) will be discussed in our section on  The Buddha.

Go to our On Practice tab for information on:

  • The Attitude for Practice - a compilation of anecdotes by Loom Por Chah.
  • 12 ways to deal with anger and resentment from Buddhaghosa's Vissudhimagga.
  • The 13 dhutanga practices.

Go to our Recollections of Loom Por tab for information on:

  • An update on his biography
  • A new article on the State Funeral of Luang Por in 1992
  • a new article on "The politics of being Luang Por"

Go to our Topics tab for essays on selected topics:

  • A Buddhist Way to Die

Go to our new tab under development, Historical Timeline, for: 

  • A chronology of significant dates in Buddhist history.

Go to our About Us tab to find out what we are about.

Go to our The Dhamma tab for information on:

  •  The key tenets of the Buddha's Teaching in clear language.

Go to our Current Affairs tab for articles on :

  • A life of suffering - Keisha Weippeart's story.
  • Wat Pah Pong - celebration of the life of Luang Por Chah
  • Wat Pah Nanachat - Early history of Nanachaht, the Thai monastery for Farang.
  • Wat Sisaket - History of famous temple in Vientiane
  • Wat Ogart Sayaram - Temple destroyed by US bombs
  • Wat Xieng Torng - Temple of the Golden City
  • Mes Anyak - Buddhist site to be mined for copper.
Go to our The Buddha tab for information on:
  • Biography of the Buddha
  • The first sketch of Siddhartha Gotama contrasted by traditional depictions:
  • The 32 marks
  • The 80 notable qualities 
Go to our The Sangha tab for information on:
  • The First and Second Councils,
  • Schisms in the Sangha.
  • Devadatta's First Schism.
  • The Great Schism and the key players.
  • The division of the Sangha into schools.
  • Why is Buddhism prone to schism?

EVENTS IN 2012 / 2013 - 

  • MEDITATION SESSIONS - Introduction to Theravada Buddhism information sessions held at 55 Ban Xieng Torng, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Travellers from Australia, England, United States, Argentina, Italy and Russia experienced their first contact with the Dhamma.
  • CLOTHES FOR KIDS DANA PROJECT Distribution of 40 kilograms of clothing to children in Muang Ngoi Gow and Sop Jaam villages located on the Nam Ou River in Northern Lao in June 2012, Our second distribution of 40 kg of childrens clothes was completed in February 2013. We clothes were distributed to the school aged children at  Sop Gorng village on the Nam Ou River. Thanks to all those who have contributed.
  • MEDICAL KITS FOR CLINICS DANA PROJECT - Donation of a blood pressure kit and assorted medical supplies to the village clinic at Muang Ngoi Gow in Northern Lao. The clinic at Muang Ngoi has opened a four room hospital built by The Bamboo Schools group based in Germany. This facility will provide place for patients to be treated instead of being sent to the Norng Keo hospital.
  • DISTRIBUTION OF BOOKLET "The Tathagata - Buddhist Guide to a Decent Way of Living" - We have been distributing the booklet at market stalls in Sydney and Cairns area.
  • VISIT TO WAT BUDDHA DHAMMA - We travelled to Wiseman's Ferry, near Sydney, to pay our respects at WBD, the first Forest Monastery established in Australia (in 1978) by Pra Khanti Palo, Sister Aya Khemma and the community of lay supporters. Six bhikkhus and one samenari (female novice)  spent the Rains Retreat at the Wat which is located in Dharug National Park.
  • 2013 JOURNEY TO LAOS - Reports on our recent journey to Buddhist locations in Thailand and Laos (listed below) can be read on the new current affairs page on this site. We will provide regular updates of places and events of interest to Buddhists and those planning a such a trip.
  • VISIT TO PAH PONG - Ubon Ratchatani, Thailand.
  • VISIT TO WAT PAH NANACHAHT - International Forest Monastery, Ubon, Thailand. Jan 17, 2013
  • VISIT TO WAT SISAKET - Vientiane, Lao PDR, 26 Jan, 2013
  • WAT OGART SAYARAHM - Muang Ngoi, Lao PDR. Feb, Apr. 2013
  • WAT XIENG TORNG Luang Pra Bang, Lao PDR. March 2013
  • VISIT TO WAT PAH CITTA BHAVANA - Saka of Wat Pah Pong located near Dorn Muang Airport, Bangkok. 17th Apr., 
  • BODY, MIND AND SOUL EXPO - At Tanks Cultural Centre, Cairns on 30th June 2013. As the body is getting past worry and since there is no soul, you will find us in the "mind" section.

We are based in two locations, one near Luang Prabang, Lao PDR and the other near Cairns in North Queensland, Australia.

AUSTRALIA - Office and Retreat Centre - 1076 Bramston Beach Road, Bramston Beach. Queensland Australia. Phone: 07 4067 4184

LAOS - Retreat Centre (Under development) - Four Winds Garden Retreat, Xayaburi Road, Ban Paksi, Luang Prabang. Lao PDR.

LATEST WEBSITE UPDATE - 2/11/2015 -  Updates: Peter's passing.