99 Years of Dhammakaya Knowledge

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Dhammakaya is the body of enlightenment of the Lord Buddha and “vijja” is the true knowledge; together, “vijja Dhammakaya” means the trueth and supreme knowledge illuminated by the Dhammakaya vision. This knowledge is the core principle of Buddhism that will lead to extinguishing of suffering and attainment of the state of supreme bliss known ias Nibbana.

The term ‘Dhammakaya’ has seen increasing reference ever since the day the Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), Luang Pu Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, meditated and attained the body of enlightenment. This auspicious day occurred on the 15th day of the 10th waxing moon in 2460 B.E. (1917) at Wat Bode Bon in Bang Kuvieng Sub-District of Nonthaburi Province during the middle of the Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni’s 12th vassa, or year as a monk.

The Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni was born in 2427 B.E. during the era of King Rama V. In July 2449 B.E. (1906), at 22 years of age, he decided to enter the monkhood and ordain at Wat Song Pi Nong in Suphan Buri Province, with the Most Venerable Dee of Wat Pratusarn as his Preceptor.

Dhamma Study and Dhamma Practice

From the very first day of his ordination onward, the Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni diligently practiced meditation along with studying Dhamma. Shortly, seven months into his ordination, he entered Wat Phra Chetuphonwimonmongklaram to study Pali until his 11th vassa, becoming very proficient in this ancient language. Once his goal of being able to translate the Mahasatipattarn scripture was achieved, he turned his focus to earnestly practice meditation.

He had the opportunity to study Dhamma with many great masters of that era such as the Most Venerable Noeng Indasuvanno of Wat Song Phi Nong in Suphan Buri Province; Luang Pu Niam of Wat Noi in Suphan Buri Province; the Most Venerable Sangvaranuvong of Wat Rajasitharam in Bangkok; Phrakru Yanavirat (Poe) of Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok; and the Most Venerable Sing of Wat Lakontam in Thonburi. All these masters were highly competent in scriptural studies and meditation practice, possessed exemplary moral conduct and had many disciples.

Attaining the Body of Enlightenment    

On the full moon day in October, halfway into Luang Pu Wat Paknam’s 12th year in the monkhood, after returning from his morning almsround he went into the main chapel to meditate. He closed his eyes and repeated the mantra “samma araham” until his mind came to a complete standstill at a single point. He saw a bright crystal sphere in the middle of his body, giving him an indescribable sense of calmness. Even while having lunch, the crystal sphere remained fixed at the center of his body. Later that evening, after listening to the recitation of the Patimokkha – the Buddhist monastic code that consists of 227 disciplinary codes, he returned to the chapel to meditate with his mind was still firmly positioned at the center of the bright crystal sphere at the center of his body. He maintained the stillness until the crystal sphere became increasingly more radiant. The words “majjhima patipada” (the middle way) was heard emanating from the crystal sphere simultaneously with the appearance of a new luminous point at the center of the bright crystal sphere. He then focused on that luminous spot with a still mind until it gradually expanded and replaced the previous one. He continued to focus his mind at the center of the bright sphere within and each time a brighter and more radiant crystal sphere would emerge. Eventually, he penetrated the various bodies within until attaining the “body of enlightenment,” which is an ultra-luminous Buddha sitting in the lotus position with a topknot in the shape of a budding lotus flower.

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Reflecting on what he had witnessed, he realized that attaining the Lord Buddha’s Dhamma requires one to completely still the mind. The four main responsibilities of the mind – seeing, remembering, thinking and knowing, must converge and come to a complete standstill at a single concentrated point. He would later summarize this invaluable knowledge with a simple phrase “stopping is the key to success.” Eventually, he compiled the various methods of meditation practices, from the beginning level to the advanced level, into a book called “The Abbot’s Handbook” as a reference for those interested in increasing their knowledge.

The word “Dhammakaya” has been cited in numerous Buddhist scriptures, both in Theravada and Mahayana tradition. In Theravada scriptures, the word “Dhammakaya” appears over 40 times: four times in the Tipitaka; 25 times in the Atthakatha; six times in the Vinaya’s sub-commentary called Sarattathipani [Pali version]; twice in the Visuddhimagga; and once in theMilindapanha.

“…Behold Vasettha and Paratawacha… whether it is the word Dhammakaya or Brahma, these are names that refer to the Tathagata…”

“…any sage who is endowed with pure moral discipline [sila]…is a sage destined, in the very least, to become a Private Buddha [Paccekabuddha] who has attained numerous forms of the Dhammakaya, possesses vast Dhamma knowledge, and has a mind focused on liberation …”