The Roles of Luangpor Dattajeewo in Establishing Wat Phra Dhammakaya
The determination of the pioneers to establish a temple (Luangpor Dattajeewo was one of them) was to cultivate the morality of people in order to create peace for the world. Hence, important principles in founding the temple were initially set as:
- To build a clean and peaceful temple suitable for people to study and practice the Dhamma.
- To develop monks to gracefully follow Buddhist monastic practices, manners, and virtues, faithfully respected by the public, and to have the ability to teach morality to the public.
- To develop people to be virtuous, morally responsible for themselves, their families, and society.
For this reason, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has focused on teaching Dhamma in theory and practice to monks, novices, and laypeople who are interested in studying the Dhamma all along as well as emphasized on cleanliness, peace, and tranquility. The main policy in constructing infrastructure has been based on necessity, cost effectiveness, neatness, durability, and utilization. Various activities of the temple have been closely supervised by Luangpor Dattajeewo until achieving the final goals.
The policy of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has focused on cultivating morality rather than just being a religious place or a place to perform rituals as Luangpor Dattajeewo once said, “Temple is a school for moral teaching to the public”. Even for a large number of people, if they are taught and trained properly, we can make them interested in continuing Dhamma study and practice for lifelong benefits, especially for youth to stay away from moral distractions and drugs.
Luangpor Dattajeewo and the Expansion of Wat Phra Dhammakaya Premises
While the temple was being built, in parallel with the propagation of the Dhamma, more and more congregants came to practice the Dhamma, from tens to hundreds, from hundreds to thousands, from thousands to tens of thousands. As the number of congregants grew, Luangpor Dattajeewo’s responsibility in the temple subsequently increased.
In 1984, there were about 20,000 people coming to the temple on important days in Buddhism, making the original 77-acre plot of land of Wat Phra Dhammakaya full of people. A group of devotees suggested that the temple should be expanded to accommodate a growing number of congregants. As the monks agreed upon the idea, they consulted with Luangpor Dattajeewo, the chairman of Dhammakaya Foundation at that time. Luangpor Dattajeewo, thus, had an important role in acquiring an additional 800-acre plot of land adjacent to the temple on behalf of the Foundation. With donations from people who saw the benefits of learning and practicing the Dhamma, this plot of land was then bought with the intention to assemble Buddhists who would like to learn the Dhamma and practice meditation together in a peaceful place as well as to utilize the facilities for religious affairs of the general Sangha.
The expanded area has been utilized since 1985 with more and more devotees coming to learn the Dhamma and meditation. In 1999, there were more than 100,000 congregants on important religious days. Buildings and facilities were gradually constructed as necessary including Phra Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya (Home for one-million Buddha images) which can accommodate one-million congregants. In all these projects, Luangpor Dattajeewo actively devoted himself in terms of physical strength, intelligence, knowledge, and ability to closely supervise them from the beginning until accomplishment.
Besides his profound love in learning and practicing the Dhamma and life devotion to religious affairs, Luangpor Dattajeewo is a person who has great respect, love and gratitude towards his teachers. What has been seen as an order or desire of a teacher, he has volunteered to do it with his tireless effort. Due to his personal character of being highly responsible for others, Luangpor Dattajeewo has taken parts in various projects no matter how big or small they are.
Thus, it is fair to say that, aside from Khun Yai Chand Konnokyoong and Luangpor Dhammjayo, Wat Phra Dhammakaya would not be Wat Phra Dhammakaya today without Luangpor Dattajeewo.
Monk and Novice Training
Assigned by Luangpor Dhammajayo to be in charge of educating and training monks and novices in the temple, Luangpor Dattajeewo has devoted tremendous time and effort to create “true monks”. Permanent monks of Wat Phra Dhammakaya come from three different paths:
1. Laymen under “Ubasaka” conditions who were trained for at least 5 years and received permission from the Sangha and Ubasaka committee to be ordained. The first ordination of Ubasaka layman was in 1972.
2. Monks who were ordained in various short-term ordination programs of Wat Phra Dhammakaya such as “Dhammadayada Ordination Program”, “Ordination Program in Honor to the Great Master” and completed a three-year training program for new monks at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. The temple started accepting monks this way since 1985.
3. Novices at Wat Phra Dhammakaya who are old enough to become monks. Novices have been ordained as monks at the temple since 1989.
Training new monks
Besides studying the teachings of the Lord Buddha, every new monk is trained to fully understand ordination ideology, gracefully follows practices and manners suitable for monks, practice meditation continually, appropriately administer the basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, and health care items), and develop skills useful for propagating Buddhism. The training areas are as follows:
• Meditation in practice
• Practices and manners of monks
• Disciplines and ordinances
• Buddhist studies: Level 1, 2, and 3
• 38 Blessings
• Life of the Buddha and general Dhamma principles from the Tipitaka
• Tipitaka studies
• Basic Pali
• Wat Phra Dhammakaya: Past and Present
• Skills for Buddhist propagation
• Learning and working in various departments of Wat Phra Dhammakaya
After completing three years of training, each new monk will be evaluated and accepted as a permanent monk and assigned tasks or projects such as missions (by being a teaching monk for meditation or Dhamma lessons), educational work, academic work, construction supervision, and management in various fields of the temple. Besides taking a certain kind of responsibility, each permanent monk still has to continue his study of the Dhamma and Pali as well as meditation practice in order to train and improve themselves for the better.
There are two main paths to become novices at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. About 70 percent of novices are those who have passed the training of novices in the Dhammadayada Ordination Program for Children and wished to stay on as novices while another 30 percent came from branch temples of Wat Phra Dhammakaya and other temples. Each novice must complete a full year of training for new novice before being accepted as a permanent novice at Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
Each novice is trained in the following areas:
1. Respect for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
2. Strict observance of the precepts
3. Practices and manners suitable for novices and rules of the temple
4. Team work
5. Optimal utilization of items offered by laypeople
These young novices had to leave their homes and families to live in the temple under Buddhist and the temple’s rules. Children at this age need love and care, guidance and support, physically and mentally. Luangpor Dattajeewo has understood the feelings and needs of these novices. Therefore, he has found time to meet and teach them, paid good attention to heath care and living conditions of novices, as well as encouraged them to do their best to achieve the goal of ordination.
Luangpor Dattajeewo has always given high priority to developing people. Even though it was his first year in the monkhood as well as the beginning of the temple construction which required a tremendous amount of time and energy, he already started the “Summer Dhammadayada Training Program”. Starting with 50 male students in 1972, the number of trainees has expanded in later years. To this day, tens of thousands of students who underwent the moral training have graduated and are now working in different professions all over the country with high moral standard, according to the principle that an educated person should not only have knowledge but also be well equipped with morality, concentration, and wisdom. For almost five decades, Luangpor Dattajeewo has instilled morality into numerous graduates. He has done so with dedication and perseverance as he had a vision that developing people would contribute to the development of the country.
In addition to “Summer Dhammadayada Training Program”, several moral training programs have been launched to suit different groups of people such as
o Dhammadayada Ordination Program for Children
o Dhammadayada Ordination Program for Adolescent
o Creative Youth Program
o Virtuous Friend (Kalayanamitr) Program for Youth
o Moral training programs for students
o Training programs for government workers, soldiers, police, and organizational employees
o Dhamma preaching on Sundays and important religious days
These various activities have been under close supervision of Luangpor Dattajeewo.
Furthermore, Luangpor Dattajeewo has written several books on training lessons for oneself, family, group, and organization in different aspects, based on Dhamma he had studied from the Tipitaka and Dhamma teaching experiences for the past several decades:
• True monks
• 38 Blessings
• Virtues of the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
• Buddhist’s Handbook
• The Uttermost of Dhamma Can Be Attained by Respect
• Being Truthful to Goodness, the Power to Change the World
• and others
Luangpor Dattajeewo has fully devoted himself to preach the Dhamma to the public with the aim to cultivate the Dharma, which is the truthful knowledge, in the hearts of people in the world.
Creating peace for the world
Luangpor Dattjeewo is another Thai monk who has worked with various sects of Buddhism, leading to collaboration in reviving and propagating Buddhism in many countries around the world. Although there are several Buddhist sects with some different rules and regulations according to culture and traditions of each country, Buddhists are like family. We all follow teachings of the Buddha, which are directed towards true peace. Due to Luangpor Dattajeewo’s knowledge, wisdom, graceful character, and long-term vision, he has performed this collaborative task very well and been accepted and praised by the world community at all levels, from local to global organizations.