The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Dhammakāya Movement is a Buddhist movement founded in Thailand in the 1970s, with roots stretching back much earlier. It is said to be the fastest-growing Buddhist movement in present-day Thailand.
This meditation school formally belongs to the ancient Maha Nikaya tradition of Thai Theravada Buddhism., being correctly regarded as revivalist rather than a new movement or a fundamentalist movement.
It supposedly has many doctrinal elements to distinguish it from conventional Theravāda Buddhismcitation needed] and in some respects resembles the tathagatagarbha (Buddha Nature) doctrines of Mahāyāna Buddhism; some of the Thai meditation masters who teach of a true Self (Dhammakaya), of which they claim meditative experience, are highly revered and even worshipped as arhats and Bodhisattvas by members of the Thai Buddhist populace.
The Dhammakāya school of meditation is marked by its literal interpretation of Buddhist technical terms, (including the term dhammakāya) in their physical meaning, as described by Phramongkolthepmuni.
The Dhammakāya Foundation was founded in 1916 in Thailand by Phramongkolthepmuni, the abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. Following the death of Phra Monkolthepmuni, the Foundation's work was continued by his disciple, Khun Yay Mahā Ratana Upāsikā Chandra Khonnokyoong, a Buddhist mae chi.
From acidic paddy fields, a woodland was created: a parkland for meditators.
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.
The movement produced a CDROM of the Pali Buddhist Scriptures in cooperation with the Pali Text Society in 1995 and by the year 2000 its monastic students were the most successful Pali students in Thailand.
Public accusations of 1999–2002
The Dhammakāya Foundation has been subject to its share of controversy. In 1999 and again in 2002, leaders of the organization were accused of charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to corruption.
Widespread negative media coverage a this time was symptomatic of the movement being made the scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
In 2006 The Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared the Dhammakaya Foundation and Phrathepyanmahamuni of all accusations when Phrarajbhavanavisudh agreed to return all the allegedly embezzled funds to name of his temple.
Under the leadership of president Phrathepyanmahamuni (Luang Phaw Dhammajayo, b.1944), the image of the Dhammakāya Foundation has made a recovery, and in 2004-5 had received further recognition for its contribution to world peace from organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Thai Senate, and several peoples' associations in the South of Thailand.
It has also encouraged Thais to quit drinking and smoking through the activities of anti-drinking and anti-smoking programs. World Health Organization (WHO) presented the 2004 World No Tobacco Day Award for this work on 31 May 2004
The movement has expanded branches to over eighteen countries worldwide and is promoted via a Buddhist satellite network or Dhamma Media Channel (DMC.TV) with 24 hour-a-day Dharma and meditation teachings broadcast to worldwide.
Accusations that the Thai Government had financed the activities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya were made in a letter by Sulak Sivalaksa on 10 May 2010 but the government issued a press release on 12 May to deny the accusations.