Miracles tell the story of abbot's life
AMONG other things, Dhammakaya Temple's miraculous abbot Luang Phor Dhammachayo is a major selling point.
The abbot's story is recounted to show that he is not like everyone else, but is the one chosen to lead the temple.
His story has been related to every Dhammakaya follower and was included in the book published to mark the temple's 20th anniversary.
According to the publication, the abbot, originally named Chaiyabul Suthipol, was born to a senior engineer from the Department of Industrial Works.
Before his birth, his mother dreamed of the much-revered Buddha statue in Phichit handing her a boy and saying, ''This child is your noble son. Take good care of him and he will take care of others in the future''.
Later she had another dream of being given a beautiful Buddha image which lit up the whole city after it had been rubbed clean.
Chaiyabul, educated in a boarding school, was known among his friends as a special boy who was also brave, determined and had leadership qualities.
The best example of his qualities was when he asked his friends to ride their bicycles over his body, saying ''I shall not be hurt''.
Another tale says he led a game with his friends of jumping over a big manhole. Despite falling, he managed to grab the rim and was quoted in the book as saying: ''I shall be patient and win. I can't lose or I'll die''.
The book says the future was always as clear as a picture for him and he was able to give accurate predictions, such as the prediction of his grandfather's house being burned down. This prediction came true.
In his teenage years, Chaiyabul liked to read biographies of historical personalities. An entry in his diary said: ''I shall set my own path. If I choose the worldly path, I will be successful. If I choose the path of dhamma, I shall reach the highest dhamma of Lord Buddha and will disseminate it all over the world.''
Teenaged Chaiyabul started teaching himself meditation while he was a student in Kasetsart University and the nun known as Grandma Chan, a follower of Luang Phor Wat Paknam, named him her favourite student.
After Chaiyabul had picked up the ''Dhammakaya science'' from Chan, he was told to beat up a senior student and the student's teacher because they had supernatural powers.
The student, Padet Pongsawat, was said to have powers so strong that he could touch boiling oil with bare hands. Yet his powers disappeared in Chaiyabul's presence.
Padet escorted Chaiyabul to meet his teacher and asked him to match their power. Again, Chaiyabul won. As a result, Padet became a devout follower and eventually became Luang Phor Tuttachiwa, a deputy abbot.
Apart from telling Chaiyabul's life story, which is filled with miracles, the temple also manages the distance the abbot keeps from his followers -- both monks and laymen.
Followers are told that the abbot does not have meals with other monks and his appearances are rare. He refuses to accept ordinary guests in his living quarters.
Lay followers are only allowed to meet the abbot on Sunday afternoons and the abbot does not teach followers the Dhammakaya method of meditation. Just ''the chosen ones'', or people with strong meditation skills and the will to study advanced Dhammakaya, are allowed to learn from the abbot.
While the abbot is presented as a monk with supernatural powers, the deputy abbot, Luang Phor Tuttachiwa, is in charge of administrative matters and is accessible to visitors and followers who have problems with their day-to-day lives.
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