Twisted Tuesdays: (Bizarro Thailand Edition!) The Thai Buddhist Space Cult
by Tracy Vanity, (including pics)
I haven’t made a Bizarro Thailand post in awhile and there’s still a lot of Bizarro things here that you should know about.
During a road trip with some friends to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand, we happened across a huge, sci-fi, space complex very reminiscent of Scientology but with a UFO Buddhist flavor:
As with any road trip in Thailand, you never know what you’re going to run into. I had no idea a Thai Buddhist space cult existed until I ran into it.
The place was empty when we visited but apparently tens of thousands of followers flood the 1,000 acre area during ceremonies and events and more buildings were being constructed to fit more people.
That youtube video does a great job of explaining what Dhammakāya is, especially from an outsider perspective. Here is more information cut & pasted from good ole’ wiki since I seriously have no clue what’s it’s about aside from the fact that their main building is a flying saucer and their symbol is a UFO:
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. It teaches of the reality of a True Self (the Dhammakaya) in all beings, which it equates with Nirvana.
…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. In 1970, a temple, called Wat Phra Dhammakaya, was constructed as a home for the movement. Located in Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani Province, the temple was intended to become an international center for the study of meditation.
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. At that time social critic Sulak Sivaraksa criticized the Dhammakaya Movement for promoting greed by emphasizing donations to the temple as a way to make merit. 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.
…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 a 24 hour-a-day Dharma and meditation teachings broadcast to the audience worldwide.
…Accusations that the Thai Government had financed 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
Seems like Dhammakāya is pretty much the core principles of Buddhism with white clothes, spaceships, and culty grandeur. Pretty cool.