Thailand: Inside Dhammakaya

92 images Created 1 Mar 2010

It's one of the world's most influential movements, staging Hollywood-style epic ceremonies involving hundreds of thousands of participants and observers, yet few are even aware of Dham- makaya, despite its worldwide centers and 24-hour satellite broadcasts. Even in its home base of Thailand, most people know of its influence and prominent members, but little of how the temple actually works, why it attracts such reverent followers or the exact philosophy it follows.
Indeed, the main picture in the public eye of Dhammakaya Temple centers on the enormous temple outside of Bangkok, which even monks admit looks like an UFO landed in a dazzling field of orange-robed followers. The glittering gold top of the sacred temple is actually comprised of a million uniquely cast Buddhas.

Such opulence, and excess, combined with a scattering of scandals over the years, largely domi- nates public perception of what is actually a most colorful Buddhist movement with global aspira- tions yet traditional roots. Following the philosophy of the revered Luang Pu, who died 50 years ago, Dhammakaya can actually trace its revival to a British monk, ordained by Luang Pu, who first exported the old sage's teaching and unique form of meditation.

From austere beginnings, the temple has expanded in recent decades with 30 branches across the United States, Europe and Australia. Meanwhile, the temple outside Bangkok has grown to oc- cupy a 900-acre site that includes one of the world's largest religious grounds, capable of crowds of 500,000 devotes.
View: 25 | All