The world’s largest Buddhist temple, Wat Phra Dhammakaya, looks like a spaceship—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The otherworldly look is meant to inspire awe. Megachurches across the U.S. give the same message, and the cathedral at Chartres is no shrinking violet. The temple is the handiwork of Thailand’s Dhammakaya movement, which began in 1970 as an attempt to “restore Thai Buddhism to its traditional roots,” as Ron Gluckman writes for the Wall Street Journal‘s Weekend Journal Asia. The movement, which is somewhat of a mystery even in its country of birth, is fond of staging large ceremonies, as the pictures below indicate. There have been some financial scandals in the past, but the Dhammakaya movement remains hugely influential. Through its 24-hour TV station and university, the movement teaches Dhammakaya meditation, a distinctive Theravada-Mahayana hybrid. Read Gluckman’s short article here, and see more photos here.
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