Wat Phra Dhammakaya
The Buddhist temple traditionally has a significant role in the Thai community. The temple is a centre to teach and exemplify ethical practice which is an implicit part of everyday life. The real essence of the temple is not to be found in the buildings, but in the community it serves - which can be divided roughly into two parts. Most people like to cisit the temple on a day-to-day basis to to support the monks, hear sermons, consolidate their own virtue and seek advice. The complementary part of the community comprises the determined few who give up their home life to enter the temple on a more long-term basis in order to train themselves. The latter must often undergo a long period of apprenticeship before being accepted into the community.
Wat Phra Dhammakaya is only one of 40,000 temples in Thailand. This temple perpetuates the temple's traditional role but is characterized by adherence to the Dhammakaya tradition of meditation and adaptation of traditional values to modern society
The Dhammakaya tradition in our era started in 1916 when the Great Abbot of Wat Paknam (Phramonkolthepmuni) strove with a determination to the degree he was prepared to lay down his life and re-discovered in meditation the knowledge known to the Buddhas. Meditation, previously considered nothing more than a mental exercise or spiritual austerity, became popular through this master's dedication to teaching and research in the Dhammakaya tradition he has discovered. The Great Abbot's most gifted disciple was a nun Kuhn Yay Upasika (Jan Kohn.nok.yung).
Wat Phra Dhammakaya was founded by Kuhn Yay in 1970 after the Great Abbot's death when her own dwelling at Wat Paknam in Bangkok became too small to accommodate all those coming to study meditation there. Kuhn Yay and her students led by Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikku and Ven. Dattajivo Bhikkhu wanted to see the continual growth of the Dhammakaya Tradition and established the temple with vision of a santuary for peaceful spiritual practice - a refuge in the midst of a turbulent world. The temple was to be centre:
The temple was established on Magha Puja Day, 20 February 1970, on an eighty-acre plot of land donated by Lady Prayat Phaetayapongsa.visudhathibodi. The site, sixteen kilometres north of Bangkok International Airport, was originally called 'Soon Buddacakk.patipatthamm'. From acidic paddy fields, a woodland was created: a parkland for meditators. Buildings were kept to a minimum and emphasized finesse, easy maintenance, cleanliness and durability. The foundation stone for the main chapel laid by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on behalf of H.M. the King in december 1977 marked the official foundation of the centre as a temple - Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
- " . . . to train men to be truly men, to train true men to be monks, and to train monks to be truly monks . . . "
The Main Chapel was completed in 1982 and the ceremony for the allocation of the chapel boundary (sima) was held three years later.
While the temple was under construction, the Dhammadayada ordination scheme gave training to hundreds of university students, a steadily increasing number of whom swelled the number of residents in the temple community, numbering 200 monks and 200 novices, 90 laymen and 160 laywomen in the present day. At the same time, congregations on Sundays and major religious festivals reached 20,000, necessitating the construction of Sapha Dhammakaya Hall, presently the centre for ceremonies.
Although recognizing the importance of constructing buildings, the temple has always placed special emphasis upon training devotees. Thus, during more than twenty years since the foundation of the temple, activities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya have attracted devotees not just from Bangkok, but from all over Thailand and countries abroad. There are fifteen Dhammakaya Centres and twenty-two groups in the provinces and two centres abroad.
The use of modern technology to present traditional teachings in a way that responds to the needs of those in contemporary society:
Since the outset of the Dhammakaya tradition, the inner peace of meditation has reflected an aspiration to cultivate peace in the world at large. It has been obvious that the work involved requires more than just a temple organized by monks. For this reason, the temple has grown together with its supporting organization, the Dhammakaya Foundation to facilitate a broader base of activities by the public and participation by lay members of the congregation.
Activities organized at Wat Phra Dhammakaya by the Dhammakaya Foundation:
Presently, activities include meditation teaching and retreats, scriptual education and research, youth training, school orientations, social services, and environmental conservation. Activities for devotees always emphasize working upon oneself through the practice s of charity, self-descipline and meditation.
With the expansion of the temple to one thousand acres in 1985, Wat Phra Dhammakaya stands on the threshold of the development of the World Dhammakaya Centre - a resource to serve the needs of the international community.
DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES FOR VISITORS
Major Religious Festivals
MAHA PUJA DAY (Springtime)
In the morning there is meditation instruction, followed in the afternoon by offering of new robes to the monks. At nightfall, the monks and laypeople, in candlelit procession, circumambulatte the Dhutanga Fields in homage to the Triple Gem
VISAKHA PUKA DAY (Summer)
Celebrating the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha. In the morning there is meditation instruction followed in the afternoon by offering new robes to the monks - especially those trainees who have newly completed the Dhammadayada course.
KATHINA DAY (After the rains)
In the morning, there is meditation instruction, followed in the afternoon by a grand ceremony for offering of new robes to the monks.
Offerng a Midday Meal
Every day, from 10.30 - 12.00 hrs, devotees can offer midday alms food to a monastic community of more than 300 monks and novices, on a daily nasis or on special occasions such as birthdays.
Sundays and Weekends
On Sunday morning, there is meditation instruction, followed in the afternoon by a sermon on topics relevant to everyday life. For Thai speakers, there is a Dhutanga-style retreat (staying in mosquito-netting tents) from Friday evening to Sunday morning - a chance to learn meditation through simplicity of lifestyle.
Ethics and Meditation Courses
Group training courses for adults in the private and public sectors are held throughout the year by special requet giving a basis of applied Buddhism for home and workplace.
Dhammadayada Youth Training
The Dhammadayada Training and Mass Ordination Scheme gives university students the taste of monastic life that rounds off their education. The tough two month course from March to May has versions for male and female students as well as younger children.
Popular weeklong meditation retreats for English/Chinese speaking devotees are held in the temple two or three times each year. Besides instruction in Dhammakaya meditation for beginners and those already experienced, the retreat is the chance to study Buddhist scripture and ethics connected with the meditation through lectures and group study. There may be a minimal charge for food and accommodation. Details of dates and application forms for these retreats can be requested from the temple guestmaster. To save disappointment, applicants should await a reply from the temple before attendinga retreat because the temple cannot take responsibility for guests wishing to stay overnight who have no previous appointment.
In order to preserve a chaste and peaceful environment, the temple would ask for your coooperation in the following respects while on the premises:
- No smoking/addictive substances;
- No trading, promotions, leafletting, electioneering, canvassing. Only useful words should be spoken;
- No newspapers or other 'worldly' literature;
- No radios, romantic music, dancing, shows, lotteries or fortune-telling;
- No courting or petting;
- No unauthorized release of animals on the premises;
- No unattractive lying about or exaggerated gestures;
- The temple provides special facilities for groups of over ten persons. Group leaders should apply to the temple at least ten days in advance of a visit;
- Temple visiting hours: 0830 - 1730 hrs daily. Sundays are best for general visits. Visits by appointment midweek are best for visitors with specific interests;
- Don't dress provocatively. Your cloths should be modest, adequately covering both shoulders and legs (at least above the knee). The colour white is preferred as a symbol of purity.
List of publications
Dhammakaya Foundation's "The Light of Peace" Newsletter.
Direction to the temple
FREE BUSES: Every Sunday and on Buddhist holidays, charted buses depart from Sanam Luang (near the main gate of Thammasart University) and from Jatujak (Opposite the Northern Bus Terminal). Look for passengers dressed in white. Buses leave for the temple from 0700 - 0800 hrs travelling direct. Buses return to bangkok from the temple's bus park between 1530 and 1730 hrs.
PUBLIC BUSES: The following buses travel from Bangkok to Rangsit:
From the Western corner of Rangsit market, take the 1008 service to the temple
- Air-conditioned Nos - 3,4,10,13,29,39
- Non-Airconditioned Nos - 29,34,39,59,95
BY CAR: The journey from central Bangkok to the temple takes approximately 90 minutes.
For further information, please contact:
Wat Phra Dhammakaya
Khlong Sam, Khlong Luang,
Patumthani 12120, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 524 0257 to 63
Return to the Homepage