Dhammakāya: A Lion Among Us
There is a story of the Lion’s Roar that many Buddhists and story-tellers are familiar with. The story goes, if you were to throw a stick with a dog observing, the dog would follow after the stick. If the observer is a lion, the lion looks to who threw the stick.
The Dhammakāya (Skt. Dharmakāya) has recently been given a lot of attention in southeast Asia. Let's just say that it has always been given attention and importance in Buddhism, particularly in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna traditions; but not until the early and mid 20th century did it reach a prominent level of discussion and debate in Thailand and southeast Asia. Today, especially in Thailand, it is becoming a household word; though unfortunately usually not for good reasons.
The word Dhammakāya itself is from the ancient Pali language. A common translatio, concurrent with the Pali and Sanskrit Buddhism Canons and Scriptures is: ’Body / Form‘ (Kāya) of ‘Pure / Unadulterated Nature' (Pali. Dhamma, Sanskrit. Dharma)’. It is also the distinguishing word chosen in the name of one of the largest Theravāda Buddhist temples in Thailand: Wat Phra Dhammakaya or 'Temple of the Revered Dhammakāya '.
Some folk, mainly critics, jest that an era of Dhammakaya ‘is upon us'. They speak of the Dhammakaya Foundation in Pathum Thani, Thailand as a culty new age dynasty that stems from an off-shoot ideology founded upon Buddhism. Moreover, to boot, in both previous and current news we hear of the horrid accusations against the temple’s Abbot, PhraThepyanmahamuni Luang Por Dhammajayo. Money laundering? Stolen Property? Wow. These are big allegations against a monk. What to believe? Who to believe?
The Thai media has thrown a big juicy stick at the public. So much time has been given to blindly looking at the accusations against Luang Por Dhammajayo, as if he is guilty beyond any shadow of a doubt. Anyone who does any digging into the facts, knows this to be not just false but formidable slander and degradation of character. Anyone who digs further finds that there are ulterior motives; deep shocking ones. But that would only be seen by the lions among us.
The media and internet can paint a picture of something in very different lights. They can paint it any way they choose; or, rather, any way their employers or funds chooses. Wat Phra Dhammakaya is a bright topical example of this.
My quest here is not to discuss the stick, as much as to discuss the world around the people throwing the sticks, rocks, and government at a lion. That Lion of Dharma being PhraThepyanmahamuni Luang Por Dhammajayo.
At the end of the day, we don’t know what a chili tastes like until we eat it. Meaning, go see it for yourself. Don't believe something just because you read about it online in an article somewhere or because someone describes it to you a certain way. Go find out for yourself.