Wat Phra Dhammakaya
98 replies to this topic
Posted 2006-12-20 19:06:19
I'm sorry to rant, but I'm at my wit's end with what Dhammakaya is doing to Buddhism in Thailand. I beg you that if you are now, or considering partaking in this cult, to stop and give yourself a good slap in the face. Dhammakaya is essentially Scientology, but it's actually managed to disguise itself as part and parcel of a legitimate religious tradition. Apparently, even the leading candidate to become the next Sangharaja is in their back pocket.
I've taken steps today to piss a lot of people off in a formal letter I've written on this subject , and might find myself alienated from some of my peers, but I just can' t stand the Buddhadhamma becoming a sales pitch. Arch-capitalist furor has already razed most of what is pure in this world, and while orthodox Buddhism in Thailand is no exception to this, I just can't see the blatant disrespect of the Dhammakaya CEOs and nutcases totally destroy the Dhamma in this land.
Posted 2007-07-21 10:26:08
There's a sect of Buddhism called Dhammakaya. Not sure if the spelling is right. Can anyone tell me more about it?
I believe it is for wealthy Thai followers.
Posted 2007-07-21 11:07:57
There is a sect of Buddhism just for wealthy Thais? Why would you want to join that?
Posted 2007-07-21 13:55:28
I don't, but seems many do.
Posted 2007-07-24 20:56:14
In my experience Neer, the Dammakaya are a well dodgy bunch (to be said with a real Scottish accent!) They have odd beliefs and use a strange form of meditation using a visualised cristal ballwhich is taken inside the body. Lots of land deals and other scams associated with them too. And lots of dosh.
Posted 2007-07-24 22:48:54
They have their own tv channel too which I get on cable - always the same monk - quite funny but not really monklike if you know what I mean.
Posted 2007-07-25 22:12:56
Yes they play that TV channel at all their centres in a sort of indoctrinating fashion and when they meditate en mass at the big temple near Bangkok Airport they sit in a Hitleresque way in a triangle all perfect and ordered. I used to run a Buddhist discussion group in Bkk abd nothing good was ever said about them. Several top Thai ministers are members.
Posted 2007-07-27 22:56:36
Dhammakaya, isnt it a whitening cream used in Thai soap operas?
Posted 2007-07-28 19:13:40
Hi Chow, It wasn't actally my terminology, I stole it from one of the members of my Buddhist Group. They likened the way Hitler supporters all raised their hand in 'Hail Hitler' to the way the Dhammakaya followers follow the religion. I agreed with him. Does that sort it out?
Posted 2007-07-28 21:18:27
Good enough I guess, Thanks, Chownah
Posted 2007-07-30 19:00:05
In Tibetan Buddhism the Dharmakaya is the beginingless body of primordial truth. I've heard a lot of Westerners querie if this is analogous with the concept of God.
I'd never heard about the sect until I read this thread to be honest.
Edited by robitusson, 2007-07-30 19:04:52.
Posted 2007-08-01 16:59:37
It has a very similar connotation in Thai Buddhism. The Dhammakaya school believes that the Dhammakaya - acquired through their style of meditation (on a crystal ball) - is the primordial truth (from what I can tell reading their religious literature at least).
Posted 2007-08-02 15:50:03
Some of the nonsense that Dhammakaya used to teach their disciples in the past is unbeliveable.
Disciples were (Perhaps still are) taught Luang Pu Wat Paknam was a truly miracle monk who had supernatural powers. Many of these miracles made newspaper headlines for weeks on end. It was taught that during WWII the allied powers had plans to test out their atomic bomb on Bangkok! It was only through intensive meditation by Dhammkaya monks that Japan was bombed instead!
Not only that, there were headline reports of Dhammakaya nuns floating in the sky the same time as bombed rained down. Quite miraculously none of those bombed fell on Dhammakaya. The source of such reports? Dhammakaya and their followers.
Posted 2008-10-27 23:47:47
Has anyone at TV been to this mega wat located somewhat north of the Don Meung Airport? It appears the sheer size of the entire compound is enormous: about 4 square kilometers. I understand its been somewhat controversial from its lavish hi-tech architectural design.
There had also been some issues over money involving fraud, embezzlement and corruption. However, it seems to continue attracting a large number of people, mostly younger (middle-class and up) urban residents who are financially comfortable, so I’m guessing the money problem has been somewhat resolved. It claims to have over a million members worldwide.
Although the design of the Memorial Hall building is said to incorporate Buddhist symbolism, the flak was that it’s too lavish, gawdy, and unlike the traditional design of wats in Thailand. I’m guessing those opposed to the design are probably those who are older and more conservative with preference to the age old design traditions. Frankly, it seems to resemble a large UFO. However the argument in support is that the style was to bring it more in line with modern architectural design. Interestingly, the golden part of the roof contains around 300,000 golden Buddha images with another 700,000 yet to be installed.
The wat also seems to have a small international outreach program building schools, providing humanity assistance to the poor, and teaching meditation techniques. It also provides financial aid and supplies to schools and temples in Southern Thailand.
Regardless of some of the questionable aspects, the entire compound appears to be an extremely impressive work of modern architecture that‘s completely unlike the styling of any Thai wats. I've been out that direction many times, but have never seen it or even knew about it. I’d be interested in hearing your impressions.
Posted 2008-10-28 05:10:56
I understand it's not exactly conventional, and seems to crop up with scandal from time to time maybe a little too often. But I was referring more to the design style in comparison to traditional wats. On the one hand, overall it's been given a pretty remarkable design, although the UFO-style Memorial Hall looks rather odd. But perhaps not so much more than the Elephant Plaza or the Robot Building in BKK. But I do wonder how others view it. Do they see it as a waste of money (since it cost a fortune to build)? Do they see it as an ugly monstrosity that's completely out of place? Or do they see it as an impressive piece of architecture? Regardless, I'm looking at it more from the general design rather than its practice.
As a side note, as far as wats go, I'm a little more partial to the traditional designs simply because they seem to be more representative of Thailand to me. Is the design of Wat Phra Dhammakaya regarded as controversial? Or is it just the difference in practice and related scandals? Or all?
Cult or not, it does seem to attract a large number of people. What exactly is it that makes it considered to be a cult? I know very little about it apart from what the few things I've read. I had no idea it was there until I saw a photo with a description of a "Strange UFO Building in Thailand".
Posted 2008-10-28 11:23:34
If you do a site search on "dhammakaya" you'll find quite a few topics covering the sect. It's considered (by many) a cult because it is centred on the monk Luang Por Sodh who, it is claimed, re-discovered the Buddha's one true way to nirvana, that had been lost for 2,000 years. The sect has just cast its fourth solid gold statue of LP Sodh. It's regarded by some as heretical because some of its teachings aren't in the Pali Canon.
I'm biased in that I like traditional Asian temple architecture, but I think you have to evaluate the UFO-style temple in terms of efficiency. The sect likes to hold events with tens of thousands of followers all sitting in perfect rows like at a Kim Jong-Il rally, and the architecture is ideal for that. The sect's Buddha images look like a cross between a spaceman and an Oscar statue, which I don't find appealing either. Perhaps the idea is to attract a younger crowd.
Posted 2008-10-28 13:04:15
He didn't create the sect. He died before it was created. It's not clear why the sect thinks his meditation system is the one true way to nirvana.
Posted 2008-10-28 13:09:46
Thank you Camerata. Like you, I'm rather partial to the traditional style of architecture of Thai wats. They are a distinct representation of Thailand that have similar features, and yet each one with their own unique variations. To me, while the modern design style of Wat Phra Dhammakaya is impressive, the design looks more suitable for a business convention center.
I did a short search of it, but primarily looking for photos, which I posted as well as a couple of links. I also discovered a few scandals associated with it, which included spending huge sums money on lavish and expensive personal items, such as jewelry, etc., to which the abbot publicly acknowledged as possible but also considered as unimportant. I would think that alone would cause a great deal of disenchantment among people. But evidently not as a seemingly large number of people continue to attend.
I'm not certain about the UFO-shaped Memorial Hall being designed to efficiently accomodate large numbers of followers. At least not inside, although it looks rather large. Most of the photos I've seen show the followers seated outdoors in a semi-circular arrangement.
I hadn't noticed the Buddha image you mentioned, but after a search, I'm guessing this must be what you're talking about.
Thank you also for the pointer. Perhaps this explains a bit better about the controversial difference from the mainstream.
Having read this view, it appears that the Dhammakaya movement seems to incorporate capitalism into its structure. I can see what you mean with your comparison to "a Kim Jong-Il rally", although I'm not sure about that comparison. Perhaps more like a Sun Myung Moon rally?
I did find a statue of the monk Luang Por Sodh, not a gold one, but life-like color statue. It's well made, but looks a bit of eerie to me.
Edited by AmeriThai, 2008-10-28 13:11:36.