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Wat Phra Dhammakaya Temple, Pathumthani, Thailand
MEANING OF WAT PHRA DHAMMAKAYA
‘Temple of the respected body of the Dhamma.’
Khlong Sam, Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani 12120. Telephone – (02) 516-9003 to 516-9009.
Located 40 km north of Bangkok in neighboring Pathum Thani Province. On Sundays and major Buddhist holidays, the best times to visit, free chartered buses to the temple depart from near the Victory Monument in Bangkok between 7 and 8 am.; the buses won’t likely have English signs, so look for passengers dressed in white clothing. Temple buses depart for the return to the Victory Monument between 3:30 to 5 or 6 pm. By public bus, go to Rangsit (buses include air- conditioned #3, 4, 10, 13, 29, and 39; non-air include #29, 34, 39, 59, and 95). From the market area in Rangsit (one block south of the main bus stop), take a bus #1008 to the temple.
Dhammakaya meditation in the tradition taught at Wat Pak Nam. The system is said to be an efficient way to purify the mind. One begins by bringing the attention to a point in the center of the body. A crystal ball or Buddha image is visualized as a nimitta (mental image); a mantra such as “Samma Araham” or “Buddho” can be used to further reduce mental chatter. As the mind becomes clearer, the wisdom inherent in the mind will manifest itself. It is this wisdom that’s called “Dhammakaya.”
Teachers give instruction in Thai during meditation periods. Some monks can also give instruction in English. A cassette tape sold at the Information Centre has fairly complete instructions in English; literature is available too. Meditators write down their experiences daily for the abbot, who makes comments for progress.
- Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikkhu, abbot (Thai; age 47)
- Ven. Dattajeevo Bhikkhu, vice abbot (Thai; age 50)
The vice abbot speaks some English. Some teaching monks speak good English and one speaks Mandarin Chinese.
The central area has beautifully landscaped parklands of lakes, trees, and grass; the bot, Information Center, and monks’ residences are here. Group meetings take place in large pavilions or in the open air. Vast areas to the west host major gatherings. Total area is 2,500 rai (1,000 acres).
- monks: 130-200
- novices: about 200
- resident laymen: about 90 resident nuns and laywomen: about 160
- visiting laypeople during week: about 150 visiting laypeople on regular Sundays: about 2000 visiting laypeople on first Sun. of the month: about 8000 visiting laypeople on major Buddhist holidays (Magha Puja, Vesaka Puja, and Kathina): about 40,000.
4:30 a.m. begin day; 5-6:30 a.m. morning chanting and meditation session 1; 6:30 a.m. give alms to monks or help clean temple grounds; 7 a.m. breakfast; 9-11 a.m. meditation session 2; 11 a.m. main meal; 1-4 p.m. Dhamma talk and meditation session 3; 4:30 p.m. drinks; 6:30 p.m. evening chanting; 9 p.m. meditation session 4; 9:30 p.m. sleep.
Good quality and variety supplied by the temple. Meditators and laypeople eat twice a day in morning. Monks and novices go on pindabat within the temple; laypeople can bring food or purchase it in the temple to offer. Drinks are supplied in the afternoon.
Very simple. Meditators stay in palm-thatch housing or sleep in the open in the dhutanga tradition with a klod (special umbrella with mosquito net). Men and women live in separate areas.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?
Recommended. Best is to make a day trip on a Sunday. You can talk with people and determine if you’d like to apply to join a retreat group.
Can be requested. One must speak fluent Thai.
The Information Center has a series of short English videos, shown on request, that introduce the aims and way of life at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Books (also one in Chinese), a meditation tape, videos, and the newsletter “The Light of Peace” are available in English. Many Thai publications have been produced. A small library has some English books.
The very dynamic and outgoing style of Buddhism practiced here makes the temple unique in Thailand. (The emphasis on fund-raising and attracting large numbers of followers resembles the style of evangelical Christian churches.) Sundays are “open days” at the temple, the best time to visit; members make a special effort to attend on the first Sunday of the month. Most major cities in Thailand have a branch meditation centre; Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok also have retreat centres. Only group practice is offered here — you cannot come and do an individual retreat. Visit (best) or write ahead for information on suitable dates that you can join a group. Laypeople follow 8 precepts and wear white clothing.
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