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my trip to Wat Dhammakaya

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Here's a long and detailed critique of Dhammakaya by former member Dr Mano Laohavanich: http://www.undv.org/vesak2012/iabudoc/22LaohavanichFINAL.pdf

A very interesting read with the insight of a deep insider - this paragraph jumped out at me and shows how bizarre and sinister the cult is and had it baked in from the very start.

Adolf Hitler’s the Third Reich: the dream for global expansion

Respect to the command of the leader is the core of Wat Phra Dhammakaya ethos.

The control was neither coincidental, nor was it a part of Buddhism monasticism in

Thailand. It was rooted in another frequently told myth of the organizational structure

was always referred to the prophecy of the late abbot of Wat Paknam who, according to

the Venerable Dhammajayo took Adolf Hitler and as one of his great man. According to

this story of Refined Dharma, the world would have turned into an ideal place if the Nazi

Germany had won the World War II. The former abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has

been inspired by the success of the Third Reich which has become the blueprint of for the

massive ceremonies and organization of the



According to Dhammajayo, the late abbot of Wat Paknam believed that the Hitler

was intrinsically a good person whose victory over the World War II would be good for

the world, Buddhism and the Dhammakaya School of Meditation. This belief inspired

him to meditate and pray for the success of the Nazis in WW II. Even after the defeat of

the Nazis, Phra Mongkol-thep-muni prophesized that Dhammakaya meditation would

flourish in Germany and Italy and soon the rest of the world. This is the reason behind

the grandiose projects of Wat Phra Dhammakaya who sent teams of monks to start new

missions in Germany and Europe.

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I visited a dhammakaya temple on a meditation retreat a long time back, so although I wouldn't have any input on scandals about corruption or misuse of funds I could say a little about what I did see.

That was a small temple outside of Bangkok, well outside in the country. The buildings weren't expansive on that scale but it was growing fast and had a lot of infrastructure for as small as it was. Related to the commercial aspect, they did sell amulets and statues, and there was talk of magical powers that seemed a little shady, seemingly too farfetched to be genuine, but that was the extent of all that.

Their practice of Buddhism was quite close to "normal" Thai Buddhism, with a couple of exceptions related to meditation practice and afterlife beliefs. A lot of Thais have inconsistent beliefs related to afterlife, and the belief in different realms one might come back to isn't really so controversial in Buddhism, so it's a short step to believing in a relatively Christian version of heaven. But most don't take that step, and dhammakaya standard teachings do. I'll leave it to others to go further with saying to what extent there continuity of a person (rebirth as continuing patterns of karma, versus no permanent soul), or how rebirth is supposed to work, since all that was never interesting enough for me to focus on it much.

As for meditation, practices vary within the rest of Thai Buddhism too. Some meditation emphasizes visualization of colors, and other practices nothing like that. Focus on breathing is normal and standard, not just within the Thai tradition but there as well. Seated and walking meditation are both taught. Dhammakaya emphasizes guided meditation, kind of an unusual idea, listening to someone talk, with focus on what they are saying as a form of meditation. Along with that one is taught and encouraged through that real-time guidance to visualize a crystal monk figure or angel or something such. Then you are given certifications related to what degree of success you had in your practice, based on what you tell someone helping with that guidance, some type of instructor.

It starts to sound a little like Scientology, doesn't it? The form is different, since that relates to taking classes and something more like psychotherapy, with even more commercial aspect to it. The potential seems to be there to extend the levels of certification and tie it together with donations, although I have absolutely no experience with that being conducted. The only fund raising I ran across was asking for donations, and not in a very direct fashion involving any pressure, so nothing different from any other religion, with a lot more emphasis on religious item sales.

The monks I came in contact with seemed to not really be a part of any conspiracy to raise a lot of money. No one was marching in formation or anything like that, not even sitting in those rows to meditate. If there was a commercial aspect that involved some degree of corruption or inappropriate funds handling it seemed they had nothing to do with it, so selling magic amulets and the like seemed the worst offense being conducted. Since ordinary Thai Buddhism, the standard forms, also overlap with unusual belief in the effectiveness of icons in a way that somehow limits this as a transgression, under one possible interpretation.

My take, for what it's worth, is that they were extending the worst aspects of Thai Buddhism in directions it really shouldn't be going further in. I have no idea if that carried over to higher ranking monks being personally wealthy.

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  • 9 months later...
On 2014/2/20 at 5:57 PM, RandomSand said:

Hmmm, I used the word vehicle differently when referring to Dhammakaya vs Asoke.

You know; It's better if I rephrase it all like this...

This movement might turn out to be a vehicle which becomes very important in the future direction of Thailand's religious foundation. Other movements such as Asoke, at this time, are too small and controversial to become vehicles that could hold a whole nation together. However; Dhammakaya really could, in time, float the boat.

Regardless of the financial aspect; I think the Dhammakaya movement is valid spiritually and it's self evident that Thai people get benefit from it.

Of course; Whilst Theravāda Buddhism is the current "de facto" religion in Thailand, If Dhammakaya became the "de facto" religion then there would have been a change and Dhammakaya would have to be called the vehicle.

Now; If you want to identify the driver of this vehicle then you're asking a very profound question about the nature of a nation's Dharma.

Don't understand what you are talking about at all. Is English your mother tongue? No offence meant.

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  • 11 months later...
On 6/30/2016 at 4:22 AM, vinniekintana said:

I am not familiar with the 'alien' or 'cult' aspects of Wat D.

I understand that they will ordain non-thais without much ado.

Try that in any ordinary temple.

I had a friend who struggled for months to find a place that would ordain him here in the South.

Also they seem to mean business...well-organized and also a very convenient location if you don't want to ordain it in the wilds of rural Thailand

If they are a cult or not it makes no difference to the average monk (esp. farang) who is there to practice

YOU are in control of your mind, not them.

You can be sure of one thing though if you are not in a position to donate shed loads of money to the organisation you are not wanted. Anecdotals from my wife's circle of friends who have got dragged in is that they are on a treadmill of donating far more money than they can afford. In one respect they help someone to clean up their life , focus and meditate regularly in order to achieve success and therefore be in a position to make money for Dhammakaya. 

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