'Service to humanity is the worship of the Buddha'
Can Buddhist thought contribute to contemporary
(The 17th memorial lecture in honour of Prof. K. N. Jayatilleke in
Reviewed by Prof. Emeritus Jayadeva Tilakasiri
It is said that at least one out of eight Sri Lankans in our
contemporary society is subject to some sort of mental problem or
disorder. Therefore, it is obviously a grave problem that we cannot
overlook. Consequently, it is our duty to come out with some proper ways
and methods to meet this unfortunate situation.
The number of psychiatrists and counsellors do not seem to be
sufficient to face this problem. Psychiatry and psychology, subjects we
have received from the West, are fast developing and trying to solve
these problems though new techniques.
Their therapeutic techniques are followed in both sectors, Government
as well as private. Under such a situation it is quite relevant to find
out whether Buddhism can participate and contribute in the attempt to
serve those who are suffering.
Dr. Senerat Wijayasundara graduated from the Peradeniya University,
specialising in Philosophy under the late Professor K. N. Jayatilleke in
whose memory this lecture was delivered. He serves as a Lecturer in the
Dept. of Philosophy of Kelaniya University for ten years teaching
Philosophy and Psychology.
Later he joined the editorial staff of the Encyclopaedia of Buddhism.
In addition to the depth of learning of Theravada Buddhism, he has also
gained a good grasp of Mahayana and Tantrayana aspects of Buddhism as
Together with his first field of study he devoted his time to the
study of Psychotherapy and Counselling and attended the courses in these
subjects in India, Singapore and Malaysia.
With that background and learning he is trying to understand how far
Buddhism can contribute to bring solace to those who are subject to
serious types of mental problems and disorders.
This memorial lecture is one such attempt he has made. In this
lecture he has mentioned fourteen cases from Buddhist texts where we
find instances similar to those in the practice of Psychotherapy and
Counselling. But he has dealt with two instances in some detail.
The first instance is the one when the Buddha delivered His first
sermon to a not very sympathetic audience. The other is where, lying on
His death-bed, just before Enlightenment, the Buddha found time to
clarify a controversial problem posed by a wandering monk, Subadda by
These can be taken as two illuminating examples that the Buddha
efficiently dealt with.
In the course of the discussion the speaker also introduced six
fundamentals on which the Buddhist attitude to mental problems and
disorders can be built up.
These six points are: (1) Impermanence, (2) Suffering, (3)
Soullessness, (4) Dependent Origination, (5) Free-will and (6) three
factors leading to rebirth i.e. sexual union of parents, mother at the
proper period and the arrival of the Gandhabba (the presence of linking
On this topic he has quoted the well-known Cambridge Psychologist,
Robert H. Thouless. In his booklet, Christianity and Buddhism, Thouless
while accepting "Buddhism is a system of psychotherapy also concerned
with relief from emotional burdens not only for the sake of this life
but also for the sake of future lives in which these burdens may have to
be carried if they are not got rid of now."
If we consider the problems and difficulties that arise today in
various ways the complex nature is quite apparent.
Therefore, counselling as a service is of immense value in finding
solutions and obtaining guidance. Despite the presence of shortcomings,
mental therapy is quite beneficial to human beings.
Educational institutes as well as offices and public companies should
make use of this medium of counselling in their activities and thus
achieve harmony and effective management.
Dr. Wijayasundara must be congratulated in his attempt to look into
Buddhist thought and show the public the nature of the material that
Buddhist literature contains on the subject.
The Speaker's message is clear in that he called for the practice of
the Buddhist methods and their application in living and yearning for
their revival among the educated people.
Such an attempt on their part would no doubt lead to the development
and widening for them for the good of humanity.
At the end of the lecture he has aptly quoted the Indian Brahmin
Buddhist, Ramachandra Bharati as follows: "Service to humanity is the
worship of the Buddha".
Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya where millions congregate seeking inner peace
Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya is a dome Stupa built in the period 1995-2000
and enshrines a total of one million Buddha images (both inside and
out). The construction is a sacred meeting place for open-air
congregations. The surrounding grounds are designed to accommodate one
million people for meditation, prayer or the study of Dhamma.
The Great Dhammakaya assembly hall
The Great Dhammakaya assembly hall is a two storey multipurpose
structure. Believed to be the largest of its type in the world, the
structure covers an area of over forty acres (312984 m2) and has (540376
m2) of utilizable space. The hall is used for moral training, ceremonies
and meditation. It is a covered venue large enough to accommodate
History of Dhammakaya Foundation
The Dhammakaya Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit,
non-political organisation founded in 1970 by the Nun Khun Yay Maharatna
Upasika Chandra. At its headquarters and branches around the world,
foundation introduces meditation and ethics to the public as a way to
promote world peace through inner peace.
Front view of the world’s largest Dhamma assembly hall of
Maha Dhammakaya Shrine.
The fundamental goal of the Dhammakaya Foundation is to initiate and
perpetuate lasting world peace by facilitating a higher level of the
In 1986, the Foundation became a member of the World Fellowship of
Buddhists, in 1990 of the World Fellowship of Buddhist youth and in 1986
the United Nations - accredited Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)
associated with the Department of Public Information.
The Most Venerable Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (Chaiboon Suthipol)
President of Dhammakaya Foundation points out: "All people are from one
family, we breathe the same air, drink water under a single sky, behold
the same sun, moon and stars. We will live together in this world from
our birth until the last second of our lives."
The Most Venerable Luang Phaw Dhammajayo made this statement with his
heart replete with goodwill for the people of the world. No matter what
their nationalities, languages, religions, or ethnicities, he has great
diligence in leading the people of the world to discover true inner
happiness by meditation.
When the human mind is full of happiness and compassion, world peace
will truly arise.
Phrarajbhavanavisudh (Luang Phaw Dhammajayo) was born Chaiboon
Suthipol of April 1944. Reading an article "Vippassana Bantuengsarn"
that spoke about the advantages in meditation of Khun Mae Acariya
Chandra, an expert in the Dhammakaya meditation, propelled Chaiboon to
want to learn meditation at the temple.
Late Acariya Mae Upasika Chandra, founder of the Wat Phara
In April of 1969, Chaiboon Suthipol graduated with a Bachelor's
degree, with a major in Agricultural Economics. After receiving his
degree, he immediately informed his father of his desire to ordain
himself as a Bhikkhu.
August 27, 1969, was an auspicious day as Mr. Caiboon Suthipol donned
the saffron robe and became a monk, as he had wished, at the chapel of
Temple of Wat pak Nam. He received the monastic title 'Dhammajayo',
which means 'The victor through Dhamma'.
In his new life as a monk, Luang Phaw Dhammajayo was very disciplined
in the monastic codes of conduct and studied very hard in the Buddha's
teachings. During all of this, he also gave sermons to lay people at
meditation centre in Wat Pak Nam temple instead of Acharya Khun Yay on a
The Meditation Centre in Wat Pak Nam became so overcrowded that
people had to sit in the streets to be able to listen to his sermons. It
was now time for the community to relocate to a bigger area.
Wat Phara Maha Dhammakaya Golden Stupa with a million gold
plated Buddha images.
It was up to Luang Phaw Dhammajayo's team which consisted of special
young men and women who had comprehensive knowledge of the world and the
perseverance to complete any tasks given.
In 1970 was the ground breaking day in the construction of Wat Phra
Dhammakaya. The land of 80 acres was donated by Khun Ying Prayad
Visuddhadhibodhi. The team helped each other to build the temple giving
all their efforts, working hard with their utmost capability, willing to
devote their life for the benefit of Buddhism.
Spreading peace with the great faith of humankind
Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Wat means temple) rapidly grew, along with
hearts and minds of its supporters which had grown in great numbers
throughout the years. So much that the original 80 acres were not large
enough to accommodate the community and therefore its size was increased
to 1,000 acres for the purpose of serving as a World Meditation Centre.
The very first meditation hall, accommodating only 500 people (named
'Catummaharajika'), was filled to its capacity in only 5 years.
Therefore, the 12,000 capacity thatch roofed meditation hall was
built, but in only a short period of time, the same thing happened,
over-filling with people. Then, it was decided that the community would
need a much larger staging area for meditation and ceremonies.
Therefore, the 'Dhammakaya Assembly Hall' with the help of all of its
supporters, was built within an area of 500,000 square metres and able
to host 300,000 people. Even to this day, building is still being
expanded further. However, it has been utilised as the main staging area
for all religious ceremonies since 1996.
Having seen the number of supporters regularly increase, Luang Phaw
Dhammajayo decided to build the next phase, which consisted of the 'Maha
Dhammakaya Cetiya' (The Golden Pagoda) and the Grand Meditation Stadium
both designed to last for a thousand years and have an area of 1,000,000
square metres in order to serve 1,000,000 monks and lay people from
around the world who will regularly come for meditation in the future.
The day 1,000,000 people from all over the world come to meditate at
Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya will be the day that the people of the world will
stop think and ask themselves how so many people have gathered in one
place to meditate.
The images that they see will embody themselves into their hearts and
they will strive to find the answer for themselves.
Beside the Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya structure built, in order to pay
our highest gratitude to the great Teacher, the memorial hall of
Phramongkolthepmuni and the memorial hall of Khun Yey Acariya
Maharattana Upasika Chandra Konnokyoong are used as a gathering place
for meditation and for all people to come and pay homage.
Around the same time, Khun Yay Acariya Maharattana Upasika Chandra's
dinning hall was built in order to allow supporters to offer food to the
community of monks.
Currently, Wat Phara Dhammakaya is a centre for Buddhists all over
Thailand and it is also one of the main staging areas for major Buddhist
ceremonies worldwide. Success was possible because of the great devotion
and dedication of Luang Phaw Dhammajayo and his team.
For this reason, he was bestowed a High Royal of the monastic 'Raj
level' by His Majesty the King of Thailand to be recognised as a leading
monk in meditation with the title 'Phrarajbhavnaavisudh' in 1996.
The utmost gratitude towards the Teacher, Upasika Chandra, the
founder of Wat Phra Dhammakaya
Every success and achievement of the Wat Phra Dhammakaya, was
possible because there was a significant and important figure behind it
This was Khun Yay, the teacher who provided Luang Phaw Dhammajayo
with the wisdom and illumination in Dhamma, and the support and
encouragement to perform meritorious deeds until her very last breath.
Khun Yay's tremendous significance is immeasurable.
Therefore, it was only fitting that Luang Phaw Dhammajayo extolled
her magnificence with this title: "Our great Teacher Khun Yay
Maharathana Upasika Chandra, the Founder of Wat Phra Dhammakaya".
Khun Yay departed from this world on Sunday the 10th September 2000.
With the utmost gratitude and respect the Luang Phaw Dhammajayo had for
Khun Yay requested all the monks, novice, upasaka and upasika of Wat
Phra Dhammakaya, along with all devotees of Khun Yay worldwide, to join
in body and mind in the most perfect and majestic crystal lighting
ceremony and cremation held on 3rd February 2002.
The crystal lighting ceremony was the biggest and grandest event ever
held at Wat Phra Dhammakaya with an estimated 500,000 participants. It
was also the first time that over 100,000 monks and senior monks, from
over 30,000 temples throughout Thailand, had ever congregated together,
when they attended the cremation ceremony for Khun Yay.
As a way to demonstrate their kindness, monks from many other
countries travelled across many miles in order to participate in the