A procession of 1,134 Dhammayatra monks retracing the path significant to the life of the Great Master Phramongkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), the re-discoverer of the Dhammakaya Knowledge.
The life of a monk is the most noble life. It is an exemplary life of one who recognizes the dangers in the cycle of existence (Samsara) and understands the suffering that comes with the life of a layperson. The life of a layperson usually revolves around responsibilities of marriage, making it challenging to dedicate time to performing good deeds aimed at attaining Nirvana.
Life as a monk, therefore, is a life of someone who abstains from the worldly ways, so he can free himself from worries and attachments. His actions, speech, and thoughts are dignified, serene, and polite. He focuses on cultivating his sila (moral discipline), samadhi (concentration), and panya (wisdom).
What is a Dhammayatra?
When a person ordains as a Buddhist monk, he must undergo training to cultivate discipline, respect, and tolerance. Dhammayatra is one of the exercises for newly ordained monk to train himself.
Dhammayatra derives from the words “Dhamma” and “Yatra.” “Dhamma” means goodness while “Yatra” means proceeding or progressing. Dhammayatra, therefore, means proceeding with Dhamma or departing with Dhamma. This essentially refers to the procession of a large group of Buddhist monks walking on foot to different areas to spread virtues, as a way for the monks to conquer their defilements with the teachings (Dhamma) of the Buddha.
The 6th Dhammayatra Project takes place from March 2-31, 2018 and has 1,134 Buddhist monks taking part in it. Throughout the Dhammayatra path, the lay public will have a chance to come pay their respect, as well as line the path with flower petals, as homage to the Triple Gem. The sight of a procession of a large group of monks walking peacefully in unison will inspire those without faith to develop faith and strengthen that of the faithfuls.
The act of paving the path with flowers by people with great faith in the Buddha also occurred during the time of the Buddha as recorded in the Tipitaka. One specific incident took place during a time when Vaishali city was experiencing great calamity. The people suffered severely and the death toll was exceptionally high. During that time, the Buddha was invited to visit Vaishali. As He and the 500 monks departed Rajgir, King Bimbisara prepared the path of about 80 kilometers with flags and banners, flowers of five different colors, tiered parasols, and other flowers. Even the residents came out to clean the road, decorate it with delicate garlands, and line it with flower petals of ten colors to welcome the Buddha.
Why is the Great Master Phramongkolthepmuni (Wat Paknam) so important that the procession follows the path significant to his life?
Throughout this Dhammayatra Project, not only will the monks have a chance to train themselves, they will also have time to recollect the immense compassion of the Great Master Phramongkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), the re-discoverer of the Dhammakaya Meditation. The Great Master, overflowing with virtues and abilities, led his virtuous life in the footsteps of the Buddha. He continuously trained himself, gave Dhamma lessons, and taught people to meditate in order to attain Dhammakaya. Eventually, both Thais and foreigners who followed his teachings discovered for themselves the true goals of life and felt confident that Buddhism was the highest refuge.
The Dhammayatra Project includes six locations significant to the life of the Great Master.
- His birthplace at Lotus Land in Songpinong, Suphanburi province, is also the site where the Memorial Hall of Phramongkolthepmuni was constructed.
- His place of ordination at Wat Songpinong along the Songpinong waterway, in Tontan, Suphanburi.
- Place where he attained the Dhammakaya at Wat Bote-bon Bangkuvieng, along Bangkoknoi waterway in Nonthaburi.
- Place where the Dhammakaya Meditation Technique was first propagated at Wat Bang-pla in Banglen, Nakhon Pathom.
- The Great Master’s home base for the Dhammakaya Meditation Technique at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen in Bangkok.
- World Center for Dhammakaya propagation (The location where the Great Master’s wish to propagate Buddhism and the Dhammakaya Meditation to the world) at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang, Pathumthani.
These significant locations along the path of the Great Master are historical records of his pursuit of Perfections from youth, adulthood to his later years. Each location is enshrined with the gold statues of the Great Master casted by his loyal followers as a dedication to his immense compassion. By retracing the path, future generations will have a chance to study and appreciate the Great Master’s life and invaluable teachings. When his teachings are studied and practiced, wonderful things will occur in our society and nation, and within ourselves.
What do the monks, lay people, and society gain from a Dhammayatra?
The monks will have an opportunity to cultivate discipline, respect, perseverance, and flexibility in living together as a large group or community. The walking during the Dhammayatra is similar to that of walking meditation where one’s health is strengthened as certain physical ailments are alleviated. The monks develop detachment from material things including the body, comfort, and luxury. They also practice restraint of the senses to overcome temptations.
The lay people who come out to welcome the procession of monks will gain great merit because seeing monks is a blessing. Those who see the monks, respectfully receive them, and develop faith will gain immeasurable amount of merit.
In the 6th Dhammayatra Project, local residents will have an opportunity to perform many wholesome activities together with the Dhammayatra monks.
- Clean and maintain community temples
- Listen to Dhamma talks
- Chant the morning and evening chant and the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
- Offer morning alms
- Offer Sangadana to 101 temples
- Sprinkle flower petals along the path to welcome the Dhammayatra monks
- Join lanterns lighting ceremonies in homage of the Triple Gem and the Great Master
These are Buddhist cultural activities that will instill morality in the society and encourage unity within the community–the homes, temples, and schools. Faith in Buddhism will be strengthened among the youth and general public. Everyone will have a chance to learn about Buddhism and its culture, which fosters kindness, compassion, humility, and love. The love and support for Buddhism will help perpetuate these wholesome activities for future generations.
Therefore, the Dhammayatra Project is beneficial to everyone, starting with the Buddhist monks who are determined to practice meditation and cultivate themselves by purifying their bodies, speech, and minds in order to become exemplary role models for the lay public. The wholesome activities of these virtuous monks will inspire others to want to perform good deeds as well. This will spread to the entire country and eventually lead to world peace.
World Peace Through Inner Peace