Screen capture from Shepparton News online
After the Buddhist ceremony to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the Aroi Thai Restaurant in Shepparton on the 29th March 2016, the Buddhist community in Albury who participated in the celebration felt proud that their city had a Buddhist Temple. Shepparton have long had a Buddhist community however do not have a Temple of their own.
Having a Buddhist Temple means so much to the Buddhist community as they have monastic order who preserves the teachings of the Buddha, theoretically and practically. It is hard for people who are interested in the teachings and only have the internet as a means of research. It is far easier when you have direct access to a trained Buddhist Monk.
The abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Luang Por Dhammajayo (‘Luang Por’ meaning Venerable Father), greeting laypeople at the Wat
With the kindness of Phrathepyanmahamuni the Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Thailand, who’s vision is to bring peace to the world. He has sent experienced Buddhist Monks and lay Buddhists overseas to share Buddhist knowledge and Meditation. The first Dhammakaya centre in Australia was established in Sydney in 1998 and then Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The work in Albury commenced with a very humble beginning in an abandoned Temple located in South Albury. The Temple relocated to a temporary premises that were generously offered by Aisha Flow Yoga while the team searched for a permanent home.
“I feel very proud that we carefully selected the best place to offer to the Buddha to be our Buddhist Temple. Our Temple building might not be so magnificent but for the beauty of the surrounding view, which would be hard to find elsewhere.” Said Phra Satit
The permanent place at 302 East Street, East Albury has a converted a triple garage as a meditation room which will allow for up to 30 people on a Sunday and also acts as a residence for the Buddhist Monks. The regular Sunday service operated for the first time at its new home on the 26th July 2015. Apart from regular Sunday services the Temple has been able to offer accommodation to travelling Buddhist Monks who sometimes come to provide Buddhist services in this city. There are also some other services that the Temple is able to offer to the community here when needed, such as funeral services.
Dhammakaya Meditation Centre Albury or Wat Phra Dhammakaya Albury in Thai (Wat translates in English as Buddhist Temple) is the only Dhammakaya centre in regional cities across Australia. All other centres are in the capital city of each state and mostly accommodate Thai communities while Wat Phra Dhammakaya Albury aims to reach all local people. So the service here uses English as the main communication language. The centre has been well supported accommodating local audiences.
Australian Buddhists are aware that there are many traditions of Buddhist schools and that they all practice differently. However, Buddhism has been well recognised as one of the most peaceful religious no matter which school they are.
What is Dhammakaya? Dhammakaya is a Pali word meaning “body of Dhamma” or the Enlightened body. Wat Phra Dhammakaya using this name as the aim for practicing meditation to attend the Dhammakaya. You could notice every temple has their own name related to the Buddha or Dhamma or Sangha which are the triple gems of Buddhism (the Dhamma being the teachings and the Sangha representing the monastic followers)
The word Dhammakaya that you might come across on the internet or mass media mostly means the Dhammakaya Temple. Dhammakaya Temple is a Thai Theravada Buddhist Temple. The Temple operation is very organised and has a million dedicated followers. The Temple has faced many criticisms in past years. Even though negative news has been mentioned in the Thai mass media, the Dhammakaya followers still continue to attend their Temple. It demonstrates that the message the people who visit the temple experience and understand must be different from that which is represented in some of the media.
Phra Satit Thitadhammo the teaching monk at Dhammakaya Meditation Centre Albury shared the experience that he first came to the Dhammakaya Temple, Thailand when he was only two years old in 1979 with his mother. His father passed away even before he was one. His mother brought him up alone with financial assistance from relatives and her own work. So he confirms that you don’t need to be rich to come to the Temple, rather you need to be good, to come to the Temple. He and his Mother were picked up every week by a good friend, who went to the Temple every Sunday. At that time the Temple was small and located on 71 acres of land. The number of people attending ranged from a several hundred to a few thousand on some special occasions. The activities at the Temple were mostly chanting, meditating and listening to the Dhamma talk. People donate within their capacity and some of the younger generation do volunteer work at the Temple.
“What I saw at that time was that people who were taught at the Temple and followed the Dhamma in an effort to keep their life on the right path were very happy. With the leadership provided by Phrathepyanmahamuni they were confident that they could share the same happiness with more people. They then found that larger facilities with bigger capacities were needed so they were happy to support the growth that allowed the Temple to grow rapidly.” Said Phra Satit.
The word “wealth” is often confused in Buddhism and perhaps with people who are interested in the Buddhist concept, however to make it clear we can look at the opposite word which is “poverty”. Poverty (daliddiya) is in no place praised or encouraged in Buddhism. The Buddha said, “Poverty is a suffering in the world for a layman.” He also said, “Woeful in the world is poverty and debt” (A.III.350,352). Though monks should be contented and have few wishes, poverty is never encouraged, even for the Monks.,
The main point is that wealth in itself is not to be praised or blamed, the importance is the way one acquires and uses it.
The advice about wealth is listed below:
- Seeking wealth lawfully and unarbitrarily.
- Making oneself happy and cheerful.
- Sharing with others and doing meritorious deeds.
- Making use of one’s wealth without greed and longing, without infatuation, heedful of danger and possessed of the insight that sustains spiritual freedom.
(*from Ethics, Wealth, and Salvation R.F. Sizemore 1989 p.45)
So wealth can be wishful for lay Buddhists as long as they acquire and use it correctly. That does not contradict the practice. The more you have, means the more you can share with others as well.
Rather than make this article too long, the Dhammakaya Temple in Albury is here and open each Sunday at 10.00am for anyone to come and see for themselves what we teach and what we practice.