Wat Dhammakaya

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Wat Dhammakaya

Postby GrahamR » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:29 pm

Dear friends,

Is anyone familiar with Wat Dhammakaya in Thailand or it's off shoots worldwide, including either of the two in the UK, I noticed it also has DMC TV, which looks quite interesting.

I have heard mixed reports about the temple and it's web site appears to be, well eh, rather comercial.

Does anyone have a first hand opinion please?

With metta,

Graham
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:32 pm

Wat Phra Dhammakaya has experienced its share of controversy. In 1999 and again in 2002 the temple's abbot, was accused of charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to corruption. Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa criticized the temple's abbot for promoting greed by emphasizing donations to the temple as a way to make merit. Julian Gearing of Asiaweek commented that Widespread negative media coverage at this time was symptomatic of Wat Phra Dhammakaya being made a scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Apologies to Wat Phra Dhammakaya were published in full after the Thai newspapers and TV channels concerned were successfully sued for slander in the period 2001-3. In 2006 The Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared Wat Phra Dhammakaya's abbot all accusations when he agreed to return all the allegedly embezzled funds to name of the temple. He was subsequently restored to the position of abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_Dhammakaya

Ive been doing a little research on the Dhammakaya and they sound almost like a cult. I could be wrong tho.


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Wat Dhammakaya

Postby GrahamR » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:59 pm

Thanks Bodom,

I had found that article myself, my wife went once and was not very impresed by the merit sales. But the TV station seems quite good and non commercial. They are the nearest temple probably to us in the UK and we were thinking of visiting just to see what it was like. Their UK website seemed quite dubious to me - 45 minutes one to one talk with a monk for £5!

Thanks for your help.

Graham

quote="bodom_bad_boy"]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_Dhammakaya

Ive been doing a little research on the Dhammakaya and they sound almost like a cult. I could be wrong tho.


:namaste:[/quote]
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby gavesako » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:18 pm

They are extremely good at marketing themselves. They go in the West wherever there are enough Thais, and even try to take over smaller (e.g. Lao) wats. They ask you to join their temple and contribute regular monthly donations. The monks are trained like business salesmen. Their TV station indoctrinates Thais around the whole world in a simplistic quasi-Buddhist outlook based around the notion of kamma: because Mr X gave a lot of money to our temple before he died, he was reborn as an angel in heaven, etc. Their mass gatherings and the whole organization with a remote and holy Leader remind one of the Nazi marches. In short: The Thais (who often don't know much Buddhism really) will be easily duped and will offer thousands to help build their megalomaniac Cetiya near Bangkok, but a Westerner interested in BuddhaDhamma should know better.
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Wat Dhammakaya

Postby GrahamR » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:27 pm

Ven Gavesako

Thank you for the advice and information. I had my suspicions along those lines, but you have confirmed them.

Many thanks,

With Metta

Graham


gavesako wrote:They are extremely good at marketing themselves. They go in the West wherever there are enough Thais, and even try to take over smaller (e.g. Lao) wats. They ask you to join their temple and contribute regular monthly donations. The monks are trained like business salesmen. Their TV station indoctrinates Thais around the whole world in a simplistic quasi-Buddhist outlook based around the notion of kamma: because Mr X gave a lot of money to our temple before he died, he was reborn as an angel in heaven, etc. Their mass gatherings and the whole organization with a remote and holy Leader remind one of the Nazi marches. In short: The Thais (who often don't know much Buddhism really) will be easily duped and will offer thousands to help build their megalomaniac Cetiya near Bangkok, but a Westerner interested in BuddhaDhamma should know better.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:50 pm

I believe it was this temple I mentioned in a thread about homosexuals ordaining?
in their short term ordination program they don't let homosexuals ordain but may be wrong?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby robertk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:23 am

I was out at Wat Dhammakaya last month. They are building one of the biggest campus or whatever I have ever seen, probably valued over a couple Billion in US$$ .
I watch their chanel on Thai TV sometimes but the monk who is usually on has a soporific voice and is very repetitive. That is about as much praise as I can manage of Dhammakaya.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:30 am

i have a thai friend who studied w/ lp paknam (sod?) and he says that the dhammakaya meditation taught is not the same as what lp paknam taught..
seems to be similar though
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby robertk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:34 am

jcsuperstar wrote:i have a thai friend who studied w/ lp paknam (sod?) and he says that the dhammakaya meditation taught is not the same as what lp paknam taught..
seems to be similar though

the same but Dhammakay stress a bit more on giving large donations.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby gavesako » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:49 pm

They are really good at scaring people by showing them vivid images of hell and hungry ghosts, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuuUOHO31aY&feature=related

This is probably the extreme case of literalistic interpretation...
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Wat Dhammakaya

Postby GrahamR » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:55 pm

Dear all,
Just as a post note, we decided to visit the Dhammakaya Temple and were not altogether surprised by what we found.
I don't want to go into it in detail, other than to say I wouldn't describe it as conventional Theravada Buddhism.
On a positive side, everyone was very friendly and welcoming, but I don't think we will visit again.
If anyone would like more details please contact me directly.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby Will » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:51 pm

I recall over at E-sangha, a Dhammakaya monk spent quite a bit of time & effort peddling their special mediation technique. That method was the result of the founder's vision, I believe. At any rate it, it was tantric in the sense that one moves energies from point to point within the body in a certain sequence. He did not get much sympathy or support, so faded away.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby DarkDream » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:52 am

gavesako wrote:They are really good at scaring people by showing them vivid images of hell and hungry ghosts, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuuUOHO31aY&feature=related

This is probably the extreme case of literalistic interpretation...


Personally, I couldn't help but laugh at it. But I feel sorry for a young kid seeing it. It seemed to be addressed to a younger audience by showing what happens if you argue or hit your parents.

Is it really necessary to make a young child wet their pants and install fear in them to promote morality?

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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby SeerObserver » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:05 pm

Lots of interesting points brought up in this interesting thread...
bodom_bad_boy wrote:Julian Gearing of Asiaweek commented that Widespread negative media coverage at this time was symptomatic of Wat Phra Dhammakaya being made a scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Apologies to Wat Phra Dhammakaya were published in full after the Thai newspapers and TV channels concerned were successfully sued for slander in the period 2001-3. In 2006 The Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared Wat Phra Dhammakaya's abbot all accusations when he agreed to return all the allegedly embezzled funds to name of the temple. He was subsequently restored to the position of abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_Dhammakaya

Ive been doing a little research on the Dhammakaya and they sound almost like a cult. I could be wrong tho.
GrahamR wrote:I don't want to go into it in detail, other than to say I wouldn't describe it as conventional Theravada Buddhism.
On a positive side, everyone was very friendly and welcoming, but I don't think we will visit again.
GrahamR wrote:Their UK website seemed quite dubious to me - 45 minutes one to one talk with a monk for £5!

Interesting take. What a convenient target a Wat experiencing relatively recent massive growth could provide. That's the first time I came across that possibility. What is it that makes them seem like a cult and not Theravadin though?

Not sure what this last point means, Graham. It costs 5 pounds to have a 45 minute audience with a monk?

gavesako wrote:They are extremely good at marketing themselves. They go in the West wherever there are enough Thais, and even try to take over smaller (e.g. Lao) wats. They ask you to join their temple and contribute regular monthly donations. The monks are trained like business salesmen.

The Thais (who often don't know much Buddhism really) will be easily duped and will offer thousands to help build their megalomaniac Cetiya near Bangkok, but a Westerner interested in BuddhaDhamma should know better.
gavesako wrote:They are really good at scaring people by showing them vivid images of hell and hungry ghosts, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuuUOHO31aY&feature=related

This is probably the extreme case of literalistic interpretation...

Namasakarn, Gavesako Bhikkhu. It is necessary to make the distinction between a temple training their ordained in business savvy and their ordained having this acumen from prior life experience. It is requisite of Dhammakaya's ordained that they be college educated, among other things. Many of the ordained are former businesspeople, doctors, etc.

As for the video, this wouldn't be the first time I encountered something like that. No idea where they are anymore, but I used to have pictures and verbal descriptions of pretas, hell realms, etc. from a class. This was long before I heard of Dhammakaya. They were not all from the same source, and they were not from Dhammakaya. I don't think this is so "out there". As you know, many Thai temples incorporate folk-supersitious material. This is especially true when talking of spirits, afterlife, etc. Not that I'm saying Dhammakaya partakes of the superstitous. As a matter of fact that seems to be exactly what they omit.

robertk wrote:I was out at Wat Dhammakaya last month. They are building one of the biggest campus or whatever I have ever seen, probably valued over a couple Billion in US$$ .
I watch their chanel on Thai TV sometimes but the monk who is usually on has a soporific voice and is very repetitive. That is about as much praise as I can manage of Dhammakaya.

Funny...not much at all, it seems.

jcsuperstar wrote:i have a thai friend who studied w/ lp paknam (sod?) and he says that the dhammakaya meditation taught is not the same as what lp paknam taught..
seems to be similar though
robertk wrote:the same but Dhammakay stress a bit more on giving large donations.

jcsuperstar, you have a friend who actually studied with LP Sodh of Wat Paknam? It would be interesting if you could post some information as to the differences between his teachings and those of Dhammakaya. robertk, you say it's the same meditation though. Have you learned from LP Sodh himself or from a different offshoot of his teachings than Dhammakaya?
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:02 am

his brother ordained under lp paknam so he(my friend) learned the style rather young but basicly the meditation is similar, but the dhammakaya version is a sort of abridgement of the lp paknam version, there may be more to it, he asked me why the dhammakaya would simplify it, i had no idea. he doesnt seem to like dhammakaya though. maybe lp paknam taught a simplified version later? i wouldnt even know who to ask about this
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby SeerObserver » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:42 am

jcsuperstar wrote:his brother ordained under lp paknam so he(my friend) learned the style rather young but basicly the meditation is similar, but the dhammakaya version is a sort of abridgement of the lp paknam version, there may be more to it, he asked me why the dhammakaya would simplify it, i had no idea. he doesnt seem to like dhammakaya though. maybe lp paknam taught a simplified version later? i wouldnt even know who to ask about this

This is an interesting turn. How long was your friend's brother ordained, and did your friend learn directly from the Wat or from his brother?

Beyond accounts like what you have provided, there is another person who also says that Dhammakaya's meditation technique is different from that taught and practiced by LP Sodh. This person even went so far as to say there was a conspiracy to cover this up and what not. That is really outlandish. Wat Paknam would not acquiesce to claims made by the Dhammakaya movement if they were not truly in accord with their great late abbot. As a matter of fact, Wat Paknam is on "good terms" with the Dhammakaya movement. As a matter of fact the preceptor of Phrarajbhavanavisudh, the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, is the current abbot of Wat Paknam.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:56 am

i dont know much about the brother
i'll ask next time i see him..
this is all rather interesting
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby GrahamR » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:01 am

SeerObserver wrote:

Not sure what this last point means, Graham. It costs 5 pounds to have a 45 minute audience with a monk?



Yes indeed, if you check out their web site - 'Monk and me' it's £5 (our UK currency is pounds sterling) for a chat! :toilet:

I didn't want criticise the Wat publically in the forum, but I have given more information to people who have approached me directly.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby gavesako » Sun May 09, 2010 7:41 pm

PM urged to halt grand temple plan
By The Nation
Published on May 10, 2010

Activists and NGOs yesterday submitted an open letter to the prime minister asking him to put on hold a proposal by the Dhamamakaya Temple to offer a Bt1-billion fund to the Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) to train more than 10 million students and 70,000 officials over a three-year period.

The letter, submitted by noted thinker Sulak Sivarak, called for an abrupt halt to this proposal and an immediate investigation, while suspending all OBEC officials involved.

The temple has offered scholarships to provide training on Bud-dhism, meditation and morality lessons to 10 million high school students in all 30,000 schools across the country, along with around 700,000 teachers, community leaders and politicians over a three-year period starting later this year.

The 43 activists and NGO members are questioning, besides other things, the training project costs, which are not specified, and the content of Buddhism teachings by the temple, as to whether they are accurate enough and in line with mainstream Buddhist doctrines.
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Re: Wat Dhammakaya

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 10, 2010 4:38 am

I only know about Wat Dhammakaya from hearsay, i.e. from what other people told me about it, and from their brochures, which are quite abundant here. To me it looks like the closest you can get to "spiritual materialism", as they appear to measure merit primarily in donations and they even have a table of devata levels that are open to you in the afterlife according to the financial contributions you made. They attract a lot of the Bangkok business elite and rich Thai-Chinese merchants. I think Ven. Gavesako's brief portrayal in post no. 4 is quite accurate.

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