Be a V-Star!: Dhammakāya Programs to Cultivate Virtue in Thailand’s Youth
Keywords:Dhammakāya Temple, Wat Phra Thammakai, Mañgala-sutta, Dhammadāyāda, V-Star, Dhamma Media Channel (DMC), Thailand
The Dhammakāya Temple (Wat Phra Thammakai) in Pathum Thani, Thailand has emerged as one of Buddhism’s largest new religious movements over the past fifty years. The Temple’s phenomenal growth has been linked to its leadership’s ability to apply traditional narratives of merit-making and ethical practice to Dhammakāya fundraising and to promote a distinct form of meditation practice perfectly suited to contemporary life for practitioners of all ages. The Temple has promoted youth initiatives since its founding, and the success of these programs may be one factor in the Temple’s growth over the past decades. This article will examine some of these Dhammakāya youth-oriented religious programs, from temporary ordinations, dhamma quizzes, and student retreats to animated television programming and its “V-Star Change the World” events, and suggest that these youth initiatives have remained a popular vehicle for support and recruitment despite numerous criticisms and scandals over the past decades.
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