Wat Phra Dhammakaya

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Wat Phra Dhammakaya
วัดพระธรรมกาย
Dhammakaya cetiya night.jpg
The Dhammakaya Cetiya
Monastery information
Order Theravada
Established 1970
People
Founder(s)

Luang Por Dhammajayo

Chandra Khonnokyoong
Abbot

Luang Por Dhammajayo (honorary)

Phravidesbhavanajarn (official caretaker abbot)

Luang Por Dattajivo (deputy abbot and de facto caretaker)[1]
Important associated figures Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro
Site
Location Pathum Thani, Thailand
Website en.dhammakaya.net

Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Thai: วัดพระธรรมกาย) is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Khlong Luang District, in the peri-urban Pathum Thani Province north of Bangkok, Thailand. It was founded in 1970 by the maechi (nun) Chandra Khonnokyoong and Luang Por Dhammajayo and is the most well-known and the fastest growing temple of the Dhammakaya Movement. This movement, also known as the Dhammakaya meditation tradition (Vijja Dhammakaya), was started by the meditation teacher Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro in the early twentieth century.[2][3][4] The temple is part of the Mahanikaya fraternity, and is legally represented by the Dhammakaya Foundation. The temple emphasizes the revival of traditional Buddhist values, but does so through modern methods and technology, which has led to controversy and government response. Despite these controversies, the temple has continued to play a leading role in Thai Buddhism, and has been described as "the face of modern Thai Buddhism" (Irons).[5] The temple emphasizes personal transformation, expressed through its slogan "World Peace through Inner Peace".

Initially, the temple was founded as a meditation center, after Maechi Chandra and the just ordained monk Luang Por Dhammajayo could no longer accommodate the rising number of participants in their activities at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. The center became an official temple in 1977. The temple grew exponentially during the 1980s, when the temple's programs became widely known among the urban middle class. Wat Phra Dhammakaya expanded its area and the building of a huge stupa (pagoda) was started. During the period of the Asian financial crisis, however, the temple was subject to widespread criticism for its fundraising methods and teachings, as Luang Por Dhammajayo was charged with embezzlement and removed from his office as abbot. In 2006, the charges were withdrawn and he was restored as abbot. The temple grew further and became known for its many projects in education, promotion of ethics, and scholarship. The temple also became more accepted as part of the mainstream Thai Sangha (monastic community). Under the 2014 military junta, the abbot and the temple were put under scrutiny again and Luang Por Dhammajayo was accused of receiving stolen money of a supporter and money-laundering. The temple has been referred to as the only influential organization in Thailand that has yet to be subdued by the ruling junta, which has shut down most opposition since it took power. The judicial processes against the abbot and the temple since the 1990s have led to much debate regarding the procedures and role of the state towards religion, a debate that has intensified during the 2017 lockdown of the temple by the junta.

Wat Phra Dhammakaya emphasizes a culture of making merit through doing good deeds and meditation, as well as an ethical outlook on life. The temple promotes a community of kalyanamittas ('good friends') to accomplish such a culture. In its beginnings, the temple emphasized mostly the teaching of meditation, then later an emphasis on fundraising was promoted. Finally, the temple broadened its activities to include more engagement in society. Although the temple emphasizes traditional Buddhist values, modern methods of propagation are used, such as a satellite television station and a distance-learning university, as well as modern management methods. In its large temple complex, the temple houses several monuments and memorials, and in its construction designs traditional Buddhist concepts are given modern forms, as the temple aims to become a global spiritual center. As of 2017, the number of followers was estimated at three million people worldwide.

History[edit]

Founding years (1963–1978)[edit]

After the meditation teacher Luang Pu Sodh died in 1959, the maechi (nun) Chandra Koonnokyoong transmitted the Dhammakaya tradition to a new generation at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen.[6] Chaiyabun Sutthiphon, a university student at Kasetsart University, started visiting Wat Paknam in 1963, after he came across a magazine about Maechi Chandra.[7][8]

Chaiyabun encouraged his fellow university students to join the activities at Wat Paknam, and the community grew.[8] One of these students was Phadet Phongsawat (who would become vice-abbot Luang Por Dattajivo). Chaiyabun was ordained as a monk in 1969 and received the name Phra Dhammajayo, later teaching Dhammakaya meditation together with Maechi Chandra.[6] Eventually Wat Paknam was unable to accommodate all of the students interested in learning meditation.[9] Thus, on 20 February 1970, Maechi Chandra, Phra Dhammajayo, Phra Dattajivo and their students moved to the 196-rai (313,600 m2 or 77.5-acre) plot of land to found a new meditation center.[10]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya emphasized youth and young adults in its orientation from its outset, focusing largely on recruiting college students, such as through its Dhammadayada program.[11][12][13] Due to the large number of students joining the temple's activities, who in the 1970s tended to be leftist, for a brief period Wat Phra Dhammakaya was accused of supporting the Communist insurgency in Thailand and the student uprisings in the 1970s.[14][15][16]

In this beginning period, Maechi Chandra still had an important role in fundraising and decision-making. During the years to follow, this would gradually become less, as she grew older and withdrew more to the background of the temple's organization.[17]

Exponential growth (1979–1996)[edit]

The temple gained great popularity during the 1980s (during the Asian economic boom).[18][19][20] Wat Phra Dhammakaya emphasized values of prosperity, modernity and personal development, which made it attractive for the middle class,[4] especially during times of quick cultural and social changes.[21][22] During this period the temple made changes to the Dhammadayada program to include short-term ordination.[23] Lifelong ordination was also emphasized for participants, more so than in most other Thai temples.[24][25] In 1986, a parallel training program for women was also started.[23][26][27]

By the mid-1980s, the temple was attracting up to fifty thousand people on major ceremonies.[28] The Dhammadaya ordination program started out with sixty participants in 1979; by 1986, over a thousand participants joined.[29] In 1990, the temple had 260 monks, 214 samaneras (novices that are minors) and 441 full-time employees.[30]

Ordination ceremony for new monks at Wat Phra Dhammakaya

The temple also started to develop a social dimension in its activities, such as promoting blood donations, organizing training programs for both the private and public sector,[31] and promoting Buddhist scholarship such as by producing a CD with searchable texts of the Pali Canon in 1984, in cooperation with the Pali Text Society, Mahidol University and the University of California in Berkeley.[32][33]

In 1986, the Dhammakaya Foundation became a United Nations-accredited non-governmental organization,[34] and started sending delegations to join workshops on youth and peace education. As of 2015, the foundation was in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.[35][36][37] The foundation started to build up many relations with Buddhist organizations outside of Thailand, including Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan and the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong.[38][34]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya started expanding the temple grounds significantly starting in 1984. (See § World Dhammakaya Center, below.)

From 1992 onwards, the temple started to found its first branch centers, in the United States, Japan and Taiwan.[39][40]

First clash with government (1997–2000)[edit]

In the late 1990s, Wat Phra Dhammakaya became known for its modern management and iconography,[41] and became active in using modern media and public relations, to a scale which was until then unknown in Thailand.[42] The temple even received a prize for best marketing strategies from the Business Association of Thailand.[43][44] In 1998, the temple first started to hold large-scale training programs, for laymen (13,824 participants) laywomen (140,000 participants)[13][45] and samaneras (13,842 participants).[46]

In the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis the temple came under heavy criticism following the miracle controversy. The main criticism was that the temple was using fundraising methods that did not fit in with Buddhism and the temple had become too capitalistic. Although many of these methods and teachings were not unique to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the criticism came at a moment when the temple had become very noticeable due to its size, its high-profile supporters, and due to the project of building the Dhammakaya Cetiya at the time, which required a lot of funds.[47][48] All of this at the backdrop of the financial crisis Thailand was facing at the time.[49][48][50]

Under pressure of public outcry and critics, in January 1999 the Sangha Supreme Council started an investigation into the temple, led by Luang Por Ñanavaro, Chief of the Greater Bangkok Region.[51][note 1] One of the accusations Luang Por Ñanavaro investigated, was that Luang Por Dhammajayo had moved land donated to the temple to his own name.[52][53] Wat Phra Dhammakaya denied this, stating that it was the intention of the donors to give the land to the abbot and not the temple, and that it was common and legal for monks to have personal property.[54] Eventually the Sangha Council declared that Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Luang Por Dhammajayo had not broken any serious offenses against monastic discipline (Vinaya) that were cause for defrocking (removal from monkhood) but instead four directives were given for the temple to improve itself: setting up an Abhidhamma school, more focus on vipassana meditation, and strict adherence to the rules of the Vinaya and regulations of the Sangha Council. Despite this, the Religious Affairs Department charged Luang Por Dhammajayo with embezzlement and removed him from his post as abbot. This period of intense media attention had disastrous effects on the temple, but the temple continued to organize projects, ceremonies and other events. In 1999, the temple had thirteen centers outside of Thailand.[55]

In 2000, Maechi Chandra Konnokyoong died. The temple announced it would give people the time to pay their respects for several months, after which Maechi Chandra's remains would be cremated.[56]

Nationwide activities (2001–2006)[edit]

The period of 2001 to 2006 was the period that Thaksin Shinawatra came into power. It was a period of increased democratization and diversification of civil society in Thailand, as the Thai parliament withdrew itself from religious affairs. During this time the temple was no longer at the margins of the religious landscape in Thailand, but started to integrate itself within the Maha Nikaya fraternity.[57][58] It was the period the temple cremated their teacher Maechi Chandra, and it was a period that the temple started to expand its activities to a national scale.

In the 2000s, the temple began to focus more on promoting an ethical lifestyle, using the five and eight precepts as a foundation.[59][60] People were encouraged to quit drinking and smoking through a nationwide campaign. This project led the World Health Organization (WHO) to present a World No Tobacco Day award to Luang Por Dhammajayo on 31 May 2004.[61][62][63] The campaign had a national impact when the temple started organizing protests against the Thai Beverage's public listing in the Stock Exchange of Thailand.[64][65] The company, a producer of alcoholic beverages, finally had to capitulate and decided to list in Singapore instead.[66]

In this period the temple started its own satellite channel called Dhammakaya Media Channel (DMC),[67][68] and a university that supports distance learning.[39] The temple started to use this satellite channel to broadcast live events to branch centers, such as guided meditations.[45]

In 2004, Wat Phra Dhammakaya made headlines when it offered aid to victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster in Thailand, through charity and by organizing inter-faith memorial services for the victims in Phang Nga and Phuket.[47][63] The temple acted as an intermediary in the coordination between the government and NGOs.[69]

Novices meditating
As of 2006, the community living at Wat Phra Dhammakaya numbered more than a thousand monks and samaneras.[42][28]

In 2006, the running lawsuits ended when the Attorney-General withdrew the charges against Luang Por Dhammajayo. He stated that Luang Por Dhammajayo had moved all the land to the name of the temple, that he had corrected his teachings according to the Tipitaka, that continuing the case might create division in society,[note 2] and would not be conducive to public benefit. Luang Por Dhammajayo's position as an abbot was subsequently restored.[71][72]

When PM Thaksin was in power, the temple was often accused of having close ties to him, influencing his policies.[73][74] The temple has denied this, saying that all political parties are welcome in the temple.[75] In fact, some major supporters of the temple were publicly known as members of the Yellow Shirts political pressure group, which was strongly opposed to PM Thaksin.[76][77][78]

As of 2006, the community living at Wat Phra Dhammakaya numbered over a thousand monks and samaneras, and hundreds of laypeople. Apart from that, the temple also had two thousand volunteers for help in ceremonies.[79][80] Though, just like most Thai temples, the temple had no formal sense of membership,[42][28] congregations on Sundays and major religious holidays, such as Kathina or Magha Puja, were estimated at over a hundred thousand people.[4][67][79] Worldwide, the temple's following was estimated at one million practitioners at this time.[81]

Wider public engagement (2007–2013)[edit]

From 2008 onward, the temple extended its youth activities to include a training course in Buddhist practice known as V-star, and a yearly national day of Buddhist activities.[82] In the V-star course, children were encouraged to observe ten daily practices, among which paying respect to their parents, and chanting Buddhist texts before sleeping.[83] Students were also encouraged to lead Kathina ceremonies in local temples.[note 3] As of 2014, five thousand schools joined the program.[85][86]

The temple also started to organize huge alms giving events around the country, including at important sites in Bangkok, such as the shopping center Central World.[87]

During this period Wat Phra Dhammakaya started to invest more resources in its own education and scholarship. In 2009, Wat Phra Dhammakaya had the highest number of Pali (language of the Theravada Buddhist canon) graduates in the central area of Thailand. The temple continuously placed as one of the five highest in the country in Pali studies.[88][89] In 2010, Wat Phra Dhammakaya started the Dhammachai Tipitaka Project, providing facilities and technology for scholars worldwide to work together collecting ancient manuscripts, mostly from Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, to make a critical edition of the Pali Canon, the Theravada Buddhist scriptures. A digital version of the Tipitaka was expected to be completed by 2028, but the first part was published in 2015.[90][91][92]

City pilgrimage organized by Wat Phra Dhammakaya
In 2011, Wat Phra Dhammakaya started to organize pilgrimages passing important places in the life of Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro.[87]

The temple also started to organize huge alms giving events around the country.[87] The alms giving events were held to help bring monks and lay people together, to revive the custom of alms giving, and as a dedication of merit to the victims of the insurgency in the Southern provinces.[83][93][94] The proceeds from the alms giving events were used to support the temples and teachers in the South with aid and supplies.[95][94]

In 2011, in Thailand's worst flooding for more than half-a-century, a great deal of Bangkok and its outskirts were inundated, including Pathum Thani, the area were Wat Phra Dhammakaya is located.[96] Working together with the government, the temple deployed monastic and lay volunteers to bring a halt to the floods in the area, who had to work day and night to build walls using sandbags and pump out the water.[97][98] At the same time, the temple offered shelter to evacuated workers from local factories,[99][100] food, drinking water, transport and sandbags to local villagers, other affected temples and temples that also offered shelter.[101][102]

From 2009 onwards, Wat Phra Dhammakaya expanded its temporary ordination program by making it nationwide. In this program, the participants were trained in thousands of temples spread over Thailand, but ordained simultaneously at Wat Phra Dhammakaya.[103]

As of 2010, Wat Phra Dhammakaya was the fastest growing temple of Thailand.[34][104] As of 2015, the temple had twenty-eight centers in Thailand, and eighty centers outside of Thailand.,[39] in all continents, except for South-America.[105] The ceremonies of the temple were often led by monks from the Supreme Sangha Council or other leading monks,[106][107] and joined by high-ranking people from Thailand and other Buddhist countries.[108] For major festivals, the number of practitioners reached 300,000 people.[34] As of 2017, the number of followers was estimated at 3 million people.[109]

Suppression under junta (2014–2017)[edit]

The temple came under heavy scrutiny again after the 2014 coup d'état. Following the coup the military junta set up the National Reform Council, with the religious committee seeking to make several changes in the Thai Sangha. These changes were led by former senator Paiboon Nititawan, monk and former infantryman Phra Suwit Dhiradhammo (known under the activist name Phra Buddha Issara), and former Wat Phra Dhammakaya monk Mano Laohavanich.[110][111][112] Phra Suwit requested the Department of Special Investigation (DSI),[113] to start an investigation into the assets of the Sangha Council's members. This included Somdet Chuang Varapuñño, Luang Por Dhammajayo's preceptor (the person who ordained him), who had been nominated by the council to become the next Supreme Patriarch per 5 January 2016.[110][114] Phra Suwit objected to this nomination, and successfully held a petition to stop it,[115][116] while Paiboon Nititawan led an unsuccessful bid to reopen the 1999 case of Luang Por Dhammajayo's alleged embezzlement of land.[117][118]

Luang Por Dhammajayo guiding meditation

In 2015 the temple was implicated in the Klongchan Credit Union controversy when 11.37 billion baht was taken out of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) via unauthorized checks, in which a portion totaling more than a billion baht were found to have been given to Wat Phra Dhammakaya via donations. In defense, spokespeople of Wat Phra Dhammakaya explained that Luang Por Dhammajayo was not aware that the donations were illegally obtained.[77][119][120] In a written agreement with the credit union, supporters of the temple had raised the money linked to Wat Phra Dhammakaya to donate to the KCUC to compensate their members.[121]

Despite this, Luang Por Dhammajayo was summoned to acknowledge the charges of ill-gotten gains and conspiring to money-laundering at the offices of the DSI.[119][122][123] The temple requested the DSI to let him acknowledge his charges at the temple due to his deep vein thrombosis, a request the DSI refused.[124][125] When Luang Por Dhammajayo failed to appear at the DSI office to acknowledge his charges authorities launched several failed raids of the temple and started pressing charges on other people related to the temple.[126][127] As of February 2017, the Thai junta has laid over three hundred different charges against the temple and the foundation.[128][129] The standoff has been described as the only major demonstration against the junta since the coup,[109] a rare sight for a ruling junta that has silenced most opposition since seizing power.[130]

The Klongchan controversy led to a 23-day lockdown of the temple in 2017 by the junta using Article 44 of the interim constitution that made headlines worldwide. A debate about the role of the state toward religion intensified during this time as well as criticism of the junta's handling of the case. Many critics questioned the practicality of using so much resources to arrest one person for acknowledging a charge of a non-violent crime.[131][132][133]

In the aftermath of the lockdown of the temple, additional charges were filed against Wat Phra Dhammakaya, this time against the deputy abbot, Luang Por Dattajivo.[134] With the two key people of the temple under investigation the junta pushed for a replacement abbot for the temple. The junta appointed[135] director of the National Office of Buddhism called for an outsider to be appointed the temple's abbot.[136] Former Senator Paiboon stated it was necessary for the junta to take over the temple because it was a "threat to national security".[137][138] In May 2017, a major supporter of the temple was also put under investigation with the junta seizing several plots of land for the investigation.[139][140]

Political Analysis[edit]

The junta's actions toward the temple have been the subject of much debate and speculation among news analysts and in Thailand in general. Since the junta's crackdown of the temple the question has been raised as to why the state is so strongly opposed to the temple, with many doubting the efforts as a mere attempt to "enforce the law".[141][142] It has been pointed out that the problems with Wat Phra Dhammakaya formed a distraction for the more serious issues politicians had to deal with, both in 1999 and during the Klongchan controversy.[143][144]

News analysts have described the actions of the Thai junta towards the temple may have reflected a political need to control who should be selected as the next Supreme Patriarch. The monk who was next in line for the position, Somdet Chuang Varapuñño, had ordained Luang Por Dhammajayo.[145][146] Selecting Somdet Chuang would have meant a Supreme Patriarch from the Maha Nikaya fraternity, rather than the Dhammayuttika fraternity, which historically had been the preferred choice by the Thai government and the monarchy.[147][148] In fact, Somdet Chuang had already been nominated by the Sangha Supreme Council, but the appointment was postponed and eventually withdrawn by the Thai Junta, with another candidate from the Dhammayuttika fraternity appointed instead. The several hundred coinciding lawsuits against Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Somdet Chuang's connection to the temple was, in fact, eventually used as a reason by the junta to withdraw his nomination.[149][150]

In addition, since the period that Thaksin Shinawatra was still in power, Wat Phra Dhammakaya had been associated with Thaksin, and subsequently, his Red Shirt pressure group which opposes the ruling junta.[147][151][note 4] One spokesperson of the temple pointed out that the temple is often seen as a threat during periods of political tension.[153][154][151] Indeed, the temple has often been described as the only influential organization in Thailand that has not been subdued by the ruling junta since the 2014 coup d'état.[155][156] But more material motivations may also be involved. Critics and scholars have speculated that the junta may be trying to seize the temple and confiscate its famed wealth.[157][158] In listing the reasons why the junta is opposed to the temple, anthropologist Jim Taylor also notes that the temple has not donated much to the palace.[158]

Protesters drew comparisons between Somdet Chuang's postponed appointment, and that of Phra Phimontham, a governing monk charged with communist insurgency during the Cold War.[148][159] The latter was jailed and defrocked, but was later determined to have been innocent all along.[159][160] Proponents of Wat Phra Dhammakaya referred to Phra Phimontham's case to explain why Luang Por Dhammajayo did not go to acknowledge the charges in 1999, and again in 2016.[161][162]

Despite its many opponents, Wat Phra Dhammakaya is generally seen by pro-democracy Thai intellectuals as a symbol of religious pluralism that has managed to survive.[163] Political scientist Duncan McCargo has posed the question of why conservative Thai scholars have not considered the freedom of religion argument much in the case of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.[164][165] Several Thai scholars have pointed out the increasing entanglement of state and religion in Thailand, as the temple relies heavily on the Supreme Sangha Council's authority in its activities. Since the Sangha Council is part of the Thai government, critics are afraid the influential temple might take over the state. If state and religion were more separated in Thailand, problems such as with Wat Phra Dhammakaya could be more easily solved by the Sangha itself, without any state interference.[166][167]

Principles, practices and beliefs[edit]

General[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya refers to traditional pro-establishment Buddhist values,[168] but teaches those values using modern, according to some, modernist methods,[169][170] which has been a source of controversy. For these reasons, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has been compared to Taiwanese new religious movements.[171][172] The particular focus on the Dhammakaya meditation method and the active, modern propagation practices of Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Thai: เผยแผ่เชิงรุก) make the temple stand out from mainstream Thai Buddhism, though it is not defiant of it.[173][172] The temple has put in great efforts to remain part of the main Maha Nikaya fraternity and makes it a point to often demonstrate their loyalty, and offer assistance to the Thai royal family and the leading monks of the Thai Sangha.[174][175][176] The combination of the traditional and the modern can also be found in the temple's teachings, in which intellectual Buddhism and Thai folk religion meet.[177]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya attaches great importance to its lineage of teachers, starting from Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro, who then passed on his experience to Maechi Chandra Khonnokyoong, who in her turn passed it on to Luang Por Dhammajayo. In the PR and media of the temple the teachers are much emphasized as an inseparable part of the temple's tradition, from which the temple gains its authenticity.[178]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya attempts to revive the local temple's role as a spiritual community center, but does so within a format that is meant to fit with modern society and customs.[179][180] According to the temple's active propagation philosophy, in the present day and age people will not come to the Buddhist temple anymore, because the temple is no longer the center of community life. The temple therefore must seek out the laypeople in society in an active way, so as to promote virtue both in the temple and at home and school.[181] In this active propagation philosophy, if it would be possible to introduce Buddhism and Vijja Dhammakaya to every person in the world, they would do so.[182] An important part of this active propagation style is the role of the layperson. The temple has been noted for its emphasis on lay participation.[183]

The propagation of the temple has been analyzed from three scholarly approaches. The earliest analyses of the temple were done by Thai (former) monastics and intellectuals, who criticized the temple for the content of its teachings. These scholars described the temple's teachings as "distorted" from "original" Theravada Buddhism, and depicted the temple as using these teachings for profit and power. Religious studies scholar Rachelle Scott and Asian Studies scholar Jesada Buaban point out the modernist perspective in this approach, as it emphasizes a deviation from a rational, idealist and universal Buddhism, that is unaffected by local customs and traditions. The second group of scholars were anthropologists and sociologists, both Thai and non-Thai, who mostly studied the question why the temple had been so effective in its propagation. Most scholars in this group emphasized the popularity of the temple among middle-class Thai from the cities, and the ability of the temple to appeal to middle class attitudes and use modern technology.[note 5] The third group are Thai scholars who believe that Thailand should become a secular state with no state intervention in religion. These scholars downplay the true Buddhism–false Buddhism dichotomy, and believe that Wat Phra Dhammakaya should be given freedom in propagating its views, as long as they do not infringe on human rights.[184][185]

Dhammakaya meditation[edit]

The temple is known for its emphasis on meditation.[15] Central to the temple and the Dhammakaya movement is the idea that Dhammakaya meditation was the method through which the Buddha became enlightened, a method which was forgotten but has been revived by Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro. This method is also called Vijja Dhammakaya.[186][187][188] According to the tradition, the principles of Dhammakaya meditation were discovered by Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro on the full-moon night of September 1916 at Wat ฺBotbon, Bangkuvieng, Nonthaburi.[160] Essential to the meditation method is the center of the body: whatever technique someone might use to meditate, the mind can only attain to a higher level through this center, which Luang Pu Sodh precisely describes. This center is also believed to play a fundamental role in the birth and death of an individual.[189]

As with many forms of Buddhist meditation, Dhammakaya meditation has both samatha and vipassana stages.[190] The process of concentration in Dhammakaya meditation correlates with the description of samatha meditation in the Visuddhimagga, specifically kasina meditation.[191][192][193] Luang Pu Sodh usually explained the process of attainment in the method in terms of inner bodies (Pali: kaya), existing within every human being.[160] These are successively more subtle, and come in pairs.[194][195][196] Dhammakaya meditation at the higher levels is also described to bring forth abhinna, mental powers that can be used for the benefit of society at large.[160][197] Publications from Wat Phra Dhammakaya describe that Dhammakaya meditation was used during the Second World War to prevent Thailand from being bombed,[198][199] and used to extinguish the negative forces in the cosmos (Mara).[200] This final aspect has strongly affected the attitudes of practitioners at the temple, who therefore hold that Dhammakaya meditation is not only important for the individual, but also for the cosmos at large.[201] [202]

It is Dhammakaya meditation what makes the movement stand out from other forms of Theravada Buddhism,[203][14] as the movement believes that all meditation methods lead to the attainment of the Dhammakaya, and this state is the only way to Nirvana.[204] According to the Dhammakaya Movement, the Buddha made the discovery that Nirvana is nothing less than the true Self, the Dhammakaya, a spiritual essence.[4][169] The Movement believes that this essence of the Buddha and Nirvana exist as a literal reality within each individual.[205][206][207] The not-self teaching is considered the method to let go of what is not the self, to attain this true self.[208]

The temple often uses positive terms to describe Nirvana. Apart from the true self, Scott notes that Wat Phra Dhammakaya often describes Nirvana as being the supreme happiness, and argues that this may explain why the practice of Dhammakaya meditation is so popular.[192] In its teachings on how meditation can help improve health and the quality of modern life, the temple can be compared with Goenka.[209] The temple's emphasis on meditation is expressed in several ways. Meditation kits are for sale in stores around the temple, and every gathering that is organized by the temple will feature some time for meditation.[210][211] The temple emphasizes the usefulness of meditating in a group, and public meditations have a powerful effect on the minds of the temple's practitioners.[212][213]

Anatta Controversy[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya is part of the Dhammakaya Movement, which has been highlighted as being part of a larger doctrinal controversy in Thai Buddhism. The Movement teaches that nirvana is the "true self" or dhammakaya. The not-self teaching is considered the method to let go of what is not the self, to attain this true self.[208] This is in contrast to the majority of Thai Theravada Buddhism, which rejects this teaching and insists upon not-self as a universal fact.[214]

The anatta concept has been a subject of intense debate in Thailand, dating as far back as 1939, when the 12th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand published a book arguing that Nirvana was the "true-self".[214] This dispute arose again in the 1990s when monastic scholar monk Luang Por Payutto published a book stating that the Dhammakaya Movement's teaching that "nibbāna is atta", was outside of Theravada Buddhism.[215][216][217][197]

The Dhammakaya Movement responded in different ways to the debate of self and not-self. Wat Phra Dhammakaya's assistant-abbot Luang phi Thanavuddho wrote a book about the topic in response to critics,[218][219] and one Wat Phra Dhammakaya member actually published books under an alias that peddled conspiracy theories about Luang Por Payutto.[220] The abbot of another temple from the Dhammakaya Movement, Luang Por Sermchai of Wat Luang Por Sodh Dhammakayaram, made the argument that it was primarily scholars rather than Buddhist meditation practitioners that hold the view of absolute non-self.[221] However, its been pointed out that followers of the movement themselves tend to not show much interest in the debate and are more concerned about how Dhammakaya meditation improves their mind.[222]

Cleanliness and order[edit]

Cleaning activities during a retreat
Practitioners are encouraged to keep things tidy and clean, through organized cleaning activities.[223]

Luang Por Dhammajayo was heavily influenced by Maechi Chandra Khonnokyoong in his teachings. He turned the Dhammakaya meditation method "into an entire guide of living" (Religious Studies scholar Justin McDaniel), emphasizing cleanliness, orderliness and quiet, as a morality by itself, and as a way to support meditation practice.[224][225][226] In Jim Taylor's words, the temple "eschews disorder".[81] In Wat Phra Dhammakaya, ceremonies are commonly held on Sundays rather than the traditional lunar calendar-based Uposatha days. Free buses drive to the temple. Lay people joining the ceremonies are strongly encouraged to wear white, a traditional custom. No smoking, drinking or flirting is allowed on the temple terrain, nor newspapers, animals or fortune-telling. Traditional, noisy temple fairs are not held. Children attending activities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya are taken care of through Sunday school and crèche while their parents attend the adult meditation sessions in the Great Sapha Dhammakaya Hall. There are activities for children and young people: people of all ages attend activities. Moreover, the temple teaches regularly about traditional Thai manners, explained as the heart of being Thai.[44][227] In short, the temple's appearance is orderly, and can be described as "a contemporary aesthetic" (Scott), which appeals to practitioners, especially the modern Bangkok middle class.[24][228][229] Practitioners are also encouraged to keep things tidy and clean, through organized cleaning activities. A strong work ethic is promoted through these activities, in which the most menial work is seen as the most valuable and fruitful.[223][230] The temple's emphasis on discipline and order is expressed in its huge and detailed ceremonies.[231]

Merit-making, parami's and self-development[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya has a vision of a future ideal society.[232][233] The temple emphasizes that the daily application of Buddhism will lead the practitioner and society to prosperity and happiness in this life and the next, and the temple expects a high commitment to that effect.[234] Through meditation, fundraising activities and volunteer work, the temple emphasizes the making of merit,[63][235] and explains how through the law of kamma merit yields its fruits, in this world and the next.[15][236] The clarity of such explanations are appreciated: in surveys, one major reason for joining the temple's activities is the structure and clarity of the teachings.[228] Leading donors are publicly recognized as examples, and donor groups are credited by certain titles.[237][238] Donors are typically very joyful about their generosity, but critics have described this emphasis on merit-making and its fruits as religious consumerism or capitalism.[221][239][240]

Merit-making or doing good deeds as a way to overcome inner defilements, is further expressed through the concept of parami. Parami is a term mentioned in later canonical and post-canonical Buddhist literature, and is usually translated as 'completeness, perfection, highest state'. Such perfection comes as a result of practicing ten principal virtues, usually by bodhisattas (somebody striving for Buddhahood).[241] According to the temple, Paramis are formed when people do merits consistently, and these merits become 'concentrated' (Thai: กลั่นตัว) through the passage of time. This happens when people dedicate their lives to merit-making. Wat Phra Dhammakaya does not consider paramis solely the domain of Buddhas-to-be however, but as necessary for everyone aiming for the Buddhist goal of release from suffering.[242] There are traditionally ten paramis, that is, giving, morality, renunciation, wisdom, effort, patience, truth, resolute determination, loving-kindness and equanimity.[243] All of these can be practiced through the three practices of giving, morality and mental development, which includes mostly meditation.[244] The practice of giving and merit-making in Wat Phra Dhammakaya's perspective is therefore a practice of self-training and self-sacrifice, in which merit is dependent on intention, not merely the amount donated.[245] The ideal of giving as a form of building character is expressed in the temple's culture with the words Cittam me, meaning 'I am victorious', referring to the overcoming of inner defilements (Pali: kilesa).[246][247]

To explain the importance of self-transformation, Wat Phra Dhammakaya often refers to the Mangala Sutta, a Buddhist sutta (discourse) that emphasizes ethics. The ethics contests the temple has been organizing throughout the country since its early years, are heavily based on this sutta. Also, the temple often refers to traditional narratives from the Tipitaka regarding exemplary donors and the fruits that merit-making yields.[248] The emphasis on individual ethics is also expressed in the temple's view on society: the temple emphasizes strengthening the individual's morality more than changing the system of society,[249][207] and measures the welfare of the state by the virtue of its citizens.[250] Field research also confirms that the temple's practitioners believe the individual's lack of virtue to be the main reason for current economic problems.[251] Indeed, every year Earth Day is celebrated in the temple, on which the motto of the temple "Clean the world, clean the mind" is brought forward, stating that the environment will only improve if we start working on clearing up our own minds.[252]

Criticism of Fundraising[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya has been subject to considerable controversy, changing in nature throughout the temple's history, e.g. in the 1970s being accused of communist sympathies, but in the 1990s being accused of, ironically, capitalism.[253][15] The "pervasiveness and longevity" (Scott) of controversies surrounding Wat Phra Dhammakaya have been subject of speculation by scholars and news analysts. The temple's emphasis on merit-making through donations in particular has been a major focus of criticism in the temple's recent history, especially during the 1990s at the backdrop of the Asian Financial Crisis.[254][48][50]

According to theologist Rory Mackenzie, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has been criticized by the more traditional Thai Sangha and public for their marketing methods, which are seen as "this worldly", with an emphasis on giving in order to attain wealth in this life and the next.[255] The temple has sometimes been described as a prosperity movement, because the temple teaches how giving leads to wealth, and the temple is not critical of pursuing both. Indeed, Wat Phra Dhammakaya's practitioners believe that pursuing wealth does not necessarily lead to attachment and may even help develop meditation attainment, provided wealth is used for generosity.[208][256]

Some of the criticism is echoed in the studies of anthropologist Apinya Fuengfusakul, in which she compares the merit-making at Wat Phra Dhammakaya with the marketing of a product, pointing out how the temple makes merit-making very convenient and pleasant. However, the temple does not see this as compromising the sacred element of Buddhism, but rather as amplifying it.[257] The temple teaches that a temple must be 'suitable' (Pali: sappaya) for spiritual practice, a term also referred to in Wat Paknam.[258][259]

The height of the criticism of the temple's fundraising occurred in the late 1990s, during the onset of 1997 Asian Financial crisis.[260] Ravee Phawilai of Chulalongkorn University went as far as accusing the temple of “commercializing Buddhism to seek money and power”.[261] Although many of the temple's methods and teachings were not unique to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the criticism came at a moment when the temple was very noticeable due to its size, and the major fundraising the temple was doing at the time.[262][48][50] Scholars have pointed out that the timing of the temple's fundraising may have been a cause of the criticism, as the persistent fundraising was done during the Asian economic crisis.[263][219] While criticism of the temple's fundraising eventually died down following this period, some criticism persisted.[264][265]

Some scholars believe that the criticisms reflect a general criticism of Thai Buddhism as a whole, which started against the backdrop of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, as the commercializing of Buddhism became the most controversial religious problem in Thailand.[266][267][268] Religious Studies scholar Rachelle Scott concludes that criticism of Wat Phra Dhammakaya can mostly be categorized as criticism on a religious organization that uses material rewards to persuade someone to believe something, and the tendency of critics to regard a religious organization's propagation as an attack on the beliefs of the community.[269][270] It has been pointed out that many people might be afraid that, given the temple's size and popularity, the temple would exert too much influence in the Sangha, or take over the Sangha.[228][271][272]

Scott has shown that criticism against Wat Phra Dhammakaya, its fundraising practices and teachings on merit-making, partly reflect historical changes in Thai society with regard to wealth and merit-making.[273] The relation between giving and wealth is ubiquitous in vernacular Pāli literature, and many stories of exemplary donors exist, such as the stories of the bankers Anāthapiṇḍika and Jōtika. The association of wealth with merits done has deeply affected many Buddhist countries.[274][275][276] At the turn of the twentieth century, however, perspectives of merit-making had changed in traditional Buddhist societies, as merit-making became associated with capitalism and consumerism, which had been rising in South and Southeast Asia.[277][278] Modern Thai Buddhism became associated with the traditional village life and a sole rejection of material wealth, as partly reflected in King Bhumibol's sufficiency economy philosophy.[279] Also, in some Buddhist countries, such as Thailand, there is a tendency among teachers and practitioners to dismiss and even revile merit-making in favor of other Buddhist teachings about detachment and attaining Nirvana, for which Buddhist Studies scholar Lance Cousins has coined the term ultimatism.[280][281][282]

Spiritual friendship[edit]

Participants in the temple's activities report that the temple feels like a family.[228] According to Taylor, the temple's success may be partly explained by the flexible social structure of the temple, allowing for openness to newcomers. The temple organizes its followers into groups with certain interests.[42] The temple's lifestyle promotes good family values and emphasizes a network of like-minded friends to facilitate spiritual development.[283][284] Wat Phra Dhammakaya encourages people to persuade others to make merit, because such persuasion is in itself considered a merit.[285] In activities of the temple, even on retreats, ample opportunity is therefore given for socializing and spiritual friendship.[286] In teachings of the temple, practitioners are encouraged to set up kalyanamitta homes ('homes of good spiritual friends') to meditate together with friends and family, and practitioners are trained to take on leading roles. Wat Phra Dhammakaya makes it a point that homes, temples and schools should unite in creating responsible members of society, and organizes programs to that effect.[287][288][289] Communities of kalyanamittas also have an exemplary effect, according to the temple. One of the reasons why the temple emphasizes huge gatherings during ceremonies, as stated in the temple's literature, is that such gatherings will effect that "people of the world will stop, think and ask themselves why so many people have gathered in one place to meditate.(...) and they will strive to find the answer for themselves.".[290][291]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya very much emphasizes respect for one's seniors and people in higher rank. This holds for lay people towards monks, but also amongst lay people. Qualities such as being easy to advise, being humble, being soft-spoken and so on, are encouraged and promoted through the temple's activities and teachings. Such qualities are also connected to accomplishment in meditation practice. Fuengfusakul speculates that the culture of respect of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has its roots in the seniority system of Kasetsart University, from which the first generation of the temple's monks were mostly graduated. Kasetsart was one of the first universities where the Buddhist student society was revived and promoted by the temple, and Buddhist societies at many other universities followed the model of the Kasetsart Buddhist society. Indeed, one of the main activities at the Buddhist societies led by the temple is the revival of the custom of Wai Khru, a ceremony for students to express gratitude and respect to their teacher.[292] Alma mater traditions aside, Litalien speculates that Wat Phra Dhammakaya's emphasis on respect for hierarchy and seniority comes from the conviction that position and status are gained by merit-making and karma.[227]

Thi Sut Haeng Tham[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya's teachings on merit-making, morality and meditation are not only considered to bring about individual happiness and world peace, but also serve a higher aim. The temple teaches that the ultimate purpose of one's life is to develop paramis on the path of the bodhisattas. The temple's practitioners aim for Buddhahood, but call this aim Thi Sut Haeng Tham (Thai: ที่สุดแห่งธรรม), literally 'the utmost of Dhamma'. This goal is described as helping to bring all living beings to Nirvana, which requires an utmost effort. In this context parami is also defined as a habit to put one's life on the line to develop goodness.[293]

The miraculous[edit]

Although Wat Phra Dhammakaya does not involve itself in traditional magical rituals, fortune telling and giving lottery numbers,[8][15][294] it doesn't oppose everything that is miraculous.[295][296] In the biographies of Luang Pu Sodh and Maechi Chandra, the temple often relates of miraculous events relating to the meditation prowess of these two masters, thereby establishing the value of the lineage. Mackenzie points out that not everyone who comes to the temple is interested in the miraculous, but it is nevertheless a part of the temple's appeal: "Some members especially appreciate the logic and relevance of the Dhamma talks, others draw much from the effect the cetiya and other buildings have on them, others place a special value on meeting their friends and clearly many have a very strong focus on meditation. I have also met members who look to experience the miraculous at the temple..." On a similar note, practitioners believe that meditation not only calms the mind, but also has a miraculous effect on the outside world, especially the meditations every first Sunday of the month. (See § Other activities) Fuengfusakul points out, however, that the temple tends to downplay the gap between the miraculous and the rational or scientific, and draws on science to explain the miraculous or psychic.[15][297][298]

The foundation[edit]

Logo of the Dhammakaya Foundation

Organization structure[edit]

Wat Phra Dhammakaya is legally presented by the Dhammakaya Foundation,[299] described as the modern equivalent of the traditional 'temple committee' (Thai: กรรมการวัด).[300] Founded in 1970 under the name Prasit Foundation, the foundation was in 1985 renamed the Dhammakaya Foundation.[2][301] Later, a second foundation was founded to finance the worldwide activities of the temple, the Khun Yai Ajan Maharatana Khonnokyoong Foundation.[302]

The Dhammakaya foundation has a complex organization structure, and is more formalized than traditional Thai temples.[289] It is managed like a modern organization.[303] Despite its modern methods, the temple adheres highly to a traditional hierarchy, and Luang Por Dhammajayo as a leader.[289][304][305] He is both the abbot of the temple as the president of the foundation, assisted by deputy-abbot and vice-president Luang Por Dattajivo. Thus, the foundation is intrinsically connected to the temple. There are several departments in the foundation that are run by assistant-abbots, who report to the abbot and deputy-abbot: a human resource center, a support center that helps with facilitating ceremonies, a department for maintenance, fundraising, education and propagation divisions. The responsibility for lay people is further subdivided in sixty-two groups.[12][306][307] The personnel of the temple consists of monastics, full-time employees, workers and volunteers. Full-time employees will sometimes ordain after a while, but their ordination is different than that of males who ordain without having been an employee. Former employees usually take a vow for lifelong ordination in a special ceremony, and often have high coordinating positions as monks.[30][308]

Among lay personnel, the full-time employees are expected to follow the eight precepts, behave orderly and spent their lives in the temple, without a paid job or residence outside the temple. Just like in the Dhammadayada training programs, full-time employees are trained thoroughly, including a probation period before being employed. They are not paid a full-fledged salary, but receive some money, as well as some welfare services. Full-time employees have an important role in the temple's active approach of spreading Buddhism: they complement monastics who have more limitations because of the Vinaya. They are also meant to be role models for the public at large.[309][310] Wat Phra Dhammakaya is known for its relatively high-educated monastics and full-time lay personnel. A high percentage possesses a bachelor's degree.[311][42][309]

In the 1980s, Wat Phra Dhammakaya was very centrally organized, which led to problems within the organization. From the early 1990s onward, the temple began to invite professional management and law consultants to develop its organisation processes, and decision-making was distributed downwards to supervisory committees.[312]

Objectives[edit]

On its website, the foundation lists seven goals:

  • To teach Dhammakaya meditation;
  • To promote and support Buddhist studies;
  • To promote and support Dhamma education for both monastics and lay people;
  • To provide support for the people living in the temple;
  • To build and maintain the World Dhammakaya Center;
  • To build and maintain the temple;
  • To build and maintain an academic institute that offers all levels of education, from pre-school to university, in which Dhamma education is provided together with the normal curriculum.[68][313]
Road with trees in the temple
The general appearance of the temple is clean and orderly. The temple has many well-maintained gardens and greenery.

Another list of five objectives underlying the work of the foundation is sometimes also mentioned:

  • To provide facilities for the teaching of meditation and the study of the culture that underlies world peace;
  • To create virtue in society by instilling morality, with special emphasis on the younger generation;
  • To promote the recognition and praise of those of exceptional virtue in society;
  • To produce materials in print and other media to promote peace, social harmony, virtue and morality;
  • To provide humanitarian services.[34]

The objectives of the foundation are expressed through the slogan "World Peace through Inner Peace" in English,[314] although in Thai language the motto "We are born to build up our parami's" is also used.[311][207][315] Another motto is "Dhammakaya is the goal of life". The last two mottos are often combined in one sentence, in which the fulfillment of paramis is the path, and the attainment of the Dhammakaya at the highest level is the aim. This attainment is equated with Nirvana.[316]

Layout of building complex[edit]

Head of a Buddha image, as designed by sculptors from Wat Phra Dhammakaya
The temple's Buddha images are made following the traditional 32 Signs of a Great Man.[42]

The general appearance of the temple is clean and orderly. The temple has many well-maintained gardens and greenery.[317] Unusual in a Buddhist temple building in Thailand, buildings are functionalist with minimal ornamentation,[294][317] which makes them look futuristically modern and global. But they are based on older tradition.[11][45][318]

The temple's area is divided into three parts: the 'Buddha residence area' (Thai: เขตพุทธาวาส), including the Ubosot, and residence areas for monks; the 'Dhamma residence area' (Thai: เขตธรรมาวาส), including the areas for teaching and ceremonies that involve laypeople; and finally, the 'Sangha residence area' (Thai: เขตสังฆาวาส), including the areas for monastic ceremonies. Although many Thai temples divide their area in this fashion, Wat Phra Dhammakaya stands out in that it uses most of the space of the temple's grounds for the Dhamma residence area, providing enough room for the large masses of people that come to the temple's activities, and for the international community.[319]

Older areas[edit]

In the older areas the following buildings are important:

  • The Ubosot: Designed based on Wat Benchamabophit, the building was awarded an honourable mention by the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA) in 1998.[320][321] The Buddha image in the ubosot is modern rather than classic Thai. Nevertheless, the temple's Buddha images are made following the traditional thirty-two characteristics of a Great Man, mentioned in the Pali Canon, and the temple believes they are more authentic than many other types of Buddha images.[42][322][323]
  • Purohita: an important office building.[324]
  • Dhammakaya English Learning Center: a center for the study of English for usage in propagating Buddhism, with experienced foreign teachers.[325]

The Dhammakaya Open University and the kutis (residences) for monks are also located in the older sections.[326]

The World Dhammakaya Center[edit]

Since 1984, the number of people joining the ceremonies of the temple exceeded its capacity and prompted the decision to expand the site and the building of the World Dhammakaya Centre, an area of two thousand rai (3.2 km2). Buildings are designed using principles from meditation practice, and, according to the temple, are built to last a thousand years.[327] In the area there are a number of important buildings:[328][329]

The Memorial Hall of Phramongkolthepmuni
  • The Great Sapha Dhammakaya Hall: This hangar-like construction built in 1997 is a multi-functional two-storey building, used for meditation, Buddhist lectures and ceremonies, youth training courses and monastic conferences. The upper level has been designed to accommodate 150,000 people. The lower level is used primarily for parking but can be used as seating capacity for an additional 150,000 people, if necessary.[45][330]
  • The Dhammakaya Cetiya: The Dhammakaya Cetiya is described by the temple as a symbol of world peace through inner peace. The design is based on the architectural style of different ancient stupas, among which the stupas of Sanchi, Borobodur, Anuradhapura, Shwedagon and the stupas of the Pagan Kingdom. The Cetiya has the shape of a hemispherical dome, thirty-two meter high and hundred and eight meters in diameter. The hemispherical dome represents the Buddha, the surrounding inner terraces the Dhamma, and the granite outer terraces the Sangha. The exterior holds 300,000 Buddha images, placed on the dome and the terraces.[331][332] Each of the images has the name of the donor engraved in it, which is an old tradition. Inside the Cetiya are Tipitaka texts, another 700,000 Buddha images and a large central Buddha of 4.5 m made from sterling silver. The central Buddha image symbolizes the possibility of liberation through meditation. The outer terraces of the Cetiya can seat ten thousand monks, whereas the open area around the Cetiya can accommodate 600,000 people. The area has become a meeting-place for Buddhists all over the world, who join the yearly ceremonies.[45][333][334] It was officially opened in 2000.[335]
  • The Grand Meditation Amphitheatre: The Grand Meditation Amphitheatre is the name of a two-storey cloister built to accommodate monks, samaneras and people from around the world to meditate and pray. The Amphitheatre has been built around the Cetiya.[336]
  • The Memorial Hall of Phramongkolthepmuni: This circular domed building was built in 2002 in honor of Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro. It houses an exhibition and a golden statue of Luang Pu Sodh. The building is open to visitors and pilgrims.[337]
  • The Dining Hall of Khun Yay Archaraya Chandra Khonnokyoong: The Dining Hall of Khun Yay can seat up to six thousand monks. Every day, lay people come to offer food and refreshments to over 1,200 monks and samaneras who reside at the temple.[338]
  • The Memorial Hall of Khun Yai Achan Chandra Khonnokyoong: This hexagonal pyramid-shaped chapel was built in 2002. This two-storey structure is made of gold-tinted plate glass. The lower floor is a museum with an exhibition, telling the biography of Maechi Chandra Khonnokyoong. The upper floor houses a golden image of Maechi Chandra.[339][340]
  • The Pariyattithum School: This is a school in which Buddhism and Pali is taught to laypeople and monastics, at different levels. The school was founded in 1985.[341]
  • The Sixtieth Year Building: This is a building that is planned to be used for Dhammakaya meditation at an advanced level.[342]
  • A street running up to the office buildings at Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
    The hundredth year Khun Yai Ajan Maharatana Upasika Chan Khonnokyoong Office: As of 2016, this building was in development. It is meant to be a central office building for management, but will also have training activities in it.[343] The building has been equipped with a closed circuit water cooling system and is made of self-compacting concrete.[344] Currently, the Dhammakaya Foundation is located here.[345]

Besides these, in the World Dhammakaya Center there are also more office buildings, a medical center, kutis for the samaneras, a computer center and a broadcast center for the satellite television channel and radio channel.[326] The construction layout of the World Dhammakaya Center has been compared with that of Wat Mahadhatu, in that the layout reflects the cosmological order and the idea of the nation.[346]

It is the intention of Wat Phra Dhammakaya to develop the World Dhammakaya Center into a meeting-place and pilgrimage place for Buddhists from all over the world, just as Vatican City is for Christians and Mecca is for Muslims.[314][347]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Then known by the title "Phraprommolee".
  2. ^ In 2006, there were rising political conflicts.[70]
  3. ^ There had been a problem with temples not being able to organize Kathina ceremonies due to lack of supporters or funds.[84]
  4. ^ During the period of PM Thaksin, the increased liberalization of Buddhism had benefited mostly the Maha Nikaya fraternity and Wat Phra Dhammakaya.[152]
  5. ^ Buaban does point out that middle class has often not been clearly defined by this group of scholars.[184]

Citations[edit]

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  3. ^ Swearer 2010, p. 114.
  4. ^ a b c d Scott 2009, p. 52.
  5. ^ Irons 2008, p. 155.
  6. ^ a b Heikkilä-Horn 1996, p. 94.
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  13. ^ a b Mackenzie 2007, p. 44.
  14. ^ a b Taylor 1989.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 14°04′23.37″N 100°38′47.01″E / 14.0731583°N 100.6463917°E / 14.0731583; 100.6463917