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Date: 12/9/98

Publication: The Nation

Section: Headlines

Dhammakaya temple speaks out on miracle

In the second and final part of an excerpt, the Dhammakaya temple addresses key issues including the ''crystal sun'' miracle and allegations that its fund-raising drive has torn families apart.

Was the Dhammakaya temple trying to mislead Buddhists by publicising the Sept 6 miracle in which people saw the sun being replaced by a round crystal?

There are two points to this issue:

1. Did it really happen? We can not deceive the public. Most miracles are witnessed by only one or two people and are very brief. We cannot be sure if witnesses speak the truth or if they see illusions.

However, the miracle which occurred at the main area in the Dhammakaya temple on Sept 6 this year was witnessed by some 20,000 people and lasted 30 minutes, allowing them to see as much as they wanted. As a result there is no doubt that the miracle really occurred.

At all events, these two questions have been asked:

A. Was the miracle staged by firing a laser beam at the sun?

It is unbelievable that such a question could be asked! No laser has been invented that is strong enough to project images on the sun. If Thai people had use of such a laser, Thailand would be a technological superpower.

B. Was it group hypnosis of 20,000 people with weak minds?

We have never heard of anyone, anywhere in the world, who can hypnotise 20,000 people so that they see pictures for as long as 30 minutes after looking at the sun.

Several of the 20,000 had come to the temple for the first time that day. Some arrived at the temple because they had driven their relatives there but had no faith themselves. Some were followers of other religions who were visiting the temple. Burmese, Cambodian and Chinese monks also saw the miracle.

All 20,000 were wide awake and healthy and had good eyesight. It is impossible that they were hypnotised.

The miracle was unique. At no other place on earth have 20,000 people witnessed a miracle for as long as 30 minutes. Buddhists should be proud that the miracle occurred because the 20,000 devoted themselves to the religion.

2. How did the miracle change the 20,000 witnesses and those who heard of it?

Many lay followers told us that the miracle had encouraged them to do good and to believe in the results of their good deeds. They intend to do good throughout their lives. Some had come to the temple for the first time and had no faith. They liked to drink and smoke, habits they could not give up. After they witnessed the event, they believed. They resolved to stop drinking and smoking.

The crystal-sun miracle helped many people believe in the results of good deeds. It has given them the courage to give up vices. This has raised the level of morality in society.

Some oddities have been publicised as sacred, including white cobras, crying pictures of late entertainers, two-headed monkeys and three-legged dogs. This is deception of the public. Some people believe in this sort of thing. They pray for winning lottery numbers but do no good deeds.

In the past year there has been a lot of that type of publicity. During a crisis people need to believe in something. Why should people be led to believe in nonsense? They should adhere to the three principles of Buddhism.

The miracle really occurred and was witnessed by many people. The account of the event deserves to be disseminated. It will encourage people who are on the wrong path to return to Buddhism and to do good.

There are many miracles mentioned in the Tripitaka. Immediately after Prince Siddhartha was born he walked seven steps and could talk. It was a miracle that a new born child could talk. When he was close to enlightenment he could remember past lives and see the past lives of other creatures, and his body shone with a special radiance. All of these were miracles, not deceit.

What we are not able explain with our brains has always been considered untrue. For example, if we travelled back in time 100 years, stood on a mountain and talked to someone on a mobile phone, the people of that era would not believe us. They would think that we were lying and claimed to have magic powers.

If we told them that we could see what was happening in the world from a box, the television, they would not believe us and again think that we claimed magic powers. However, we would be telling the truth, and they would not be able to understand us.

Is the Tripikata trying to mislead Buddhists into accepting miracles? The answer is no. To accept miracles is to wish to depend on superficial power. In Buddhism miracles are recounted give courage to Buddhists so that they may be rewarded for their good deeds.

* Why does the Dhammakaya temple promise Heaven when it asks people to donate?

In order to convince people to love what they do, we need to illustrate the benefits they can expect.

* What about the reports that the Dhammakaya temple has caused rifts in families?

Hundreds of thousands of people come to pray at the Dhammakaya temple. Most of them have a better life and a happy family. Several women recounted that husbands who beat them after drinking had stopped drinking after coming to our temple. They now love their families and work harder. Their families are happier.

Womanisers have reformed. Rebellious teenagers now appreciate the love of their parents and pay more attention at school.

There are a lot of similar stories.

The mass media pick up these stories and distort them, blaming our temple for families where husbands and wives may already have been in conflict on many issues.

The mass media should look at the overall picture. For example, when a couple argue about sending their son to study at university, the wife may want to continue his education while the husband wants him to drop out because of the recession, so that the couple ends up quarrelling. We cannot say that the university is at fault and caused a rift in the family. We have to see the overall picture instead of hiding behind small issues.

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