Article by Nora Lawrence
Video by Nolan Pokpongkiat
Wat Phra Dhammakaya is best known for its immense size and modern design. The sheer size of the temple makes it impossible to fully explore Wat Phra Dhammakaya in a single day, but for those who have just one day to visit the temple, here’s a quick guide to the activities that you simply must do when visiting the largest temple in Thailand.
Take a Temple Tour
Probably one of the most obvious activities to partake in when visiting any attraction is to take a tour. But unlike most Buddhist temples in the world a tour of Wat Phra Dhammakaya can’t efficiently be done on foot. Take a tour through the Buddhist Vatican City with our state of the art trams, designed to efficiently ferry people around the temple from one location to the other and provide an open air 360 degree view for visiting guests to see the sights of the temple with ease.
See the modest living quarters of our thousands of monks and staff who help run the temple, take a walk through our immense, but simple, Sapha Meditation Hall designed to accommodate 150,000 people, get a chance to marvel at the many grand shrines on the temple grounds that represent the history of the fastest growing Buddhist movement in Thailand, and take the opportunity to pay homage to 1 million Buddhas at the Great Dhammakaya Cetiya.
Chant the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Going somewhere just to look at the sights is a bit boring, in order to really indulge in the experience of being in Thailand’s largest temple requires partaking in some activities as well. One of the best activities to partake in at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, especially nowadays, is the mass chanting of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
Get the chance to make history by participating in a verse or two of Wat Phra Dhammakaya’s 24-hour mass chanting of the famous sutta. The ongoing event began at the start of the rainy season this year. The goal of the temple is to collectively chant the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Lord Buddha’s first sermon, 14,141,414 times in honor of the Lord Buddha who used these very words to set in motion the beginning of Buddhism.
Offer Lotus flowers to the Cetiya
In addition to Wat Phra Dhammakaya’s immense size, the temple is also known for its iconic dome-shaped Cetiya. The Dhammakaya Cetiya is certainly one of the more grand cetiyas (stupas) in the world. The Cetiya houses 1 million Buddha statues, 300,000 on the outside and 700,000 housed on the interior. When visiting a Buddhist stupa, it is custom for one to pay homage to the holy shrine.
There are many ways to pay homage to a Cetiya, and the Dhammakaya Cetiya is no different. But the most classic way to pay homage to the Dhammakaya Cetiya is through the offering of lotuses. The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that represents finding enlightenment. By offering the lotus to the Cetiya you make an offering that represents enlightenment to the 1 million Buddhas the Cetiya houses.
Meditate in the Memorial Hall of the Great Master
Wat Phra Dhammakaya is at the heart of the Dhammakaya Tradition, a Buddhist tradition that revolves around a meditation style revived in the early 1900s by the great master Phramongkolthepmuni. In honor of the great master’s legacy, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has casted eight solid gold statues of the great master Phramongkolthepmuni and built the Great Memorial hall to commemorate his contributions to Buddhism.
The hall is defined by its simple structure and clean lines and marked with the sweet sound of silence mixed with the gentle sound of water flowing from the memorial hall’s fountain. The calming and serene atmosphere serves as the perfect location to practice the art of meditation that the great master revived 100 years ago.
Offer Food to the Sangha
One of the oldest traditions in Buddhism is the tradition of Sangha-Dana. Since its inception, the Buddhist monastic community has relied on the generosity of the lay people to survive. Buddhists monastics are not allowed to make their own food and are required live off the sustenance provided by the faithful.
This tradition is no different at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, and makes up a daily routine at pretty much any temple inThailand. Experience the simple practice that has kept the Buddhist Sangha alive for 2,500 years by offering food to the monastic community of the largest temple in Thailand.
Visit the Truth of Life Exhibition
Discover the secrets of life with Wat Phra Dhammakaya’s Truth of Life Exhibition. In Buddhism, when we are born we are born with ignorance, a lack of knowledge into the true nature of life. The Exhibition focuses on self-discovery, based on the knowledge brought to the world by the Lord Buddha. Learn the secrets of life and what teachings the Lord Buddha gave to the world in this state of the art exhibition.
See the history of the Lord Buddha and how and why he was able to achieve supreme enlightenment. Witness his great conquest over Mara in this near 360, 7-D experience that allows you to see the perfect man’s battle with the great Mara in earth shattering detail. Feel the winds howl and the ground shake as Mara and his army mobilize in an attempt to stop the Lord Buddha’s supreme and complete enlightenment.
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Of course, this guide is just a snapshot of what you can see and do at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, and one day is simply not enough to completely experience what the temple has to offer. If u have more time, we encourage you to try our 3-day program in order to have the opportunity to fully discover Wat Phra Dhammakaya. For the 3-day program, click here.