The Urban Dharma Newsletter... September 3, 2002


In This Issue:

1. Awakening to the Present ...by Lama Surya Das
2. Solving Gosho no Ichidaiji - the crisis of afterlife
3. Book Review: Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die
Death and Rebirth
6. Temple/Center of the Week: Wat Thai of Los Angeles


1. Awakening to the Present
...by Lama Surya Das

* Lama Surya Das has spent more than 30 years studying with the great spiritual masters of Asia, including 15 in India and the Himalayas and eight years in a cloistered Tibetan retreat. He has brought many Tibetan lamas to North America to teach and reside. He is a leading spokesman for Buddhism and contemporary spirituality, as well as a poet, translator, spiritual teacher, and a lama in the Tibetan Buddhist order. Surya leads meditation retreats, workshops, and lectures worldwide. Lama Surya Das is the founder and spiritual director of the Dzogchen Foundation in Massachusetts and California, and organized the Western Buddhist Teachers Network weeklong conferences with the Dalai Lama. Surya is the author of four books, including the national best-seller "Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Modern World," and is active in interfaith dialogue. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

Q. What is the Buddhist perspective on an afterlife?

A: Different schools and traditions offer slightly different answers. For example, some Buddhists say that the Buddha himself did not say much about the afterlife, or even about rebirth for that matter, but concentrated on teaching how this life can be lived in virtue and wisdom. A Zen teacher once told me, "The afterlife is just a dream. Be here now." When I said I had heard and read much about it from Tibetan and other sources, he laughed out loud and said, "That is all just a Himalayan nightmare!"

Nonetheless, the Tibetan teachings on dreams, conscious dying, the afterlife or bardo (intermediate stage), and rebirth, are very well developed and subtle. They aim to help us awaken from illusion and realize our true nature. These teachings are found in the renowned "Tibetan Book of the Dead," an ancient scripture of the Nyingmapa tradition, recently outlined and commented upon by Sogyal Rinpoche in his best-selling "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying," which I highly recommend.

The concept of an "afterlife" is not generally found in Buddhism. Lamas say that birth is not our beginning nor is death our end, that the bardo is a transitional space between death and rebirth.

The afterlife more properly applies to Christian theology and its notion of a heaven and hell-- which people reach after death, depending upon how they live in this world. I used to think that my Jewish ancestors believed in heaven, but when I asked an Orthodox rabbi from Jerusalem who teaches Kabbalah about this, he responded that rather than a permanent heaven or hell, the Kabbalah views all creation as being in constant transition and process until such time when all re-unites in primordial oneness with God.

Buddhists are similarly process-oriented, recognizing the nature of all conditioned phenomena as impermanent, ever-changing, and interconnected. Therefore, Buddhists do not believe in any eternal state such as heaven or hell. The bardo between one life and another, between one day and the next (through the bardo of sleep and dreaming), or between daily reality and spiritual reality through the bardo of meditation are viewed as equally real and unreal. Each stage is simply part of our spiritual journey and can be utilized--either intelligently or unskillfully--as grist for the mill of awakening and enlightenment.

Thus, Buddhism stresses the importance of mindful, ethical, and compassionate living in the Holy Now, each and every moment. Living in this manner helps us awaken from the dream-like nature of everyday existence, come into lucidity while dreaming at night, and awaken through conscious dying and even after death. If in our lives we become awakened, liberated, and free then there is no afterlife to be concerned about.

2. Solving Gosho no Ichidaiji - (the crisis of afterlife)

* http://www.bcc.ca/NLtoronto.html

Of those who encounter the power of the Primal Vow, Not one passes by in vain; They are filled with the treasure ocean of virtues, The defiled waters of their blind passions not separated from it. (From Hymns of the Pure Land masters. #13)

A few weeks ago, I found a good story from Hongwanji Shinpo, Hongwanji's Newspaper. The story was really short, yet made me think about our life. Here is the story.

Son: "Mom, why do I have to study?"

Mother: "Because you can go to a good school."

Son: "Why?"

Mother: "So you can get a good job."

Son: "Why"

Mother: "If you have a good job, you can make a lot of money."

Son: "But we all die eventually don't we?"

Mother: "Yes, but you will receive a lot of flowers at the funeral."

Son: "Oh, now I understand. I'm studying now to receive a lot of flowers at the funeral."

I thought this story was funny, yet at the same time makes us question our lives. If we live for wealth, power, and material things, then our life will be in vain. We are not doing our best to get flowers at a funeral. What then is the purpose or meaning of life? I wish I had an answer, unfortunately I don't. In fact, I'm not sure that there even is an answer to this question. I can however, give you some thoughts as a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist.

Regardless of religion or culture, we all want to live a happy life or least a life without worries. How do we do this without living in vain? In Jodo Shinshu, solving Gosho no Ichidaiji (the crisis of afterlife) is the most urgent thing that we have to do. Once we over come this problem, we will have peace and a sense of security. This gives us strength, and will lead to a fulfilled life. A good example of this is the R.R.S.P. Why do we save money for our future? If you think about this, I'm sure you will be able to understand why solving Gosho no Ichidaiji is important.

I know some of you might feel that Gosho or the afterlife is something far from our present life. So here is another story: One day a minister was invited as a guest speaker to a temple. After his Dharma talk, he asked the host temple∂s Bomorisan (Minister∂s wife) a question. "Who was the young lady sitting in the front row and listening so enthusiastically?" She said "Oh, her? She's my daughter and I think she listened so intently because of recent events." "What do you mean?" Asked the minister. "Recently she was seriously ill and almost died, but fortunately, she survived. After that experience I told her she survived this time, but we all have to die eventually, so she had better listen the teaching of Buddha and solve Gosho-no Ichidaiji."

Please think about these stories and when you do, you will be one step closer to solving Gosho-no Ichidaiji.

Gassho, Masanobu Nishiaki.

3. Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die: Death Stories of Tibetan, Hindu & Zen Masters
...by Sushila Blackman

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0834803917/wwwkusalaorg-20/

Graceful Exits offers guidance in the form of 108 stories recounting the ways in which Hindu, Tibetan, and Zen Buddhist masters, both ancient and modern, have confronted their own deaths. By directly presenting the grace, clarity, and even humor with which great spiritual teachers have met the end of their days.

DEATH AND REBIRTH ...from Kalachakranet.org

* http://buddhism.kalachakranet.org/

"Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die." ...Source unknown


Why a page on death and rebirth?

How can we really understand life if we don't understand death?

Buddhists do not have a morbid fascination with death, but, as Tibetan Master Drakpa Gyaltsen said:

"Humans prepare for the future all their lives, yet meet the next life totally unprepared."


"This day is a special day, it is yours.

Yesterday slipped away, it cannot be filled anymore with meaning.

About tomorrow nothing is known.

But this day, today, is yours, make use of it.

Today you can make someone happy.

Today you can help another.

This day is a special day, it is yours."


In Buddhism, the way to describe the body and mind, is to talk about the five aggregates. The first aggregate is form, which refers to the physical aspect or body of a sentient being, and the next four aggregates are aspects of the mind.

All five are:

1. Form - the body

2. Feeling or sensation - this refers to the mental separation of sensations into pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.

3. Recognition, discrimination or distinguishing awareness - in many ways similar to the discriminating intellect

4. Primary Consciousness - the five sense consciousnesses (smell, touch, taste, seeing and hearing) and mental consciousness

5. Compositional Factors, volition - these are all other remaining mental processes, in general "thoughts".

Another essential distinction is made between the different levels of subtlety of body and mind. Distinctions are made between:

Gross Body: our "normal" physical body of muscles, fat, bones etc.

Gross Mind: our "normal" observed continuation of thoughts and feelings etc.

Subtle Body: the "energy" within our body as it flows in our energy channels, similar to their description in Chinese acupuncture or Indian yoga.

Subtle Mind: the state of mind that we are normally unaware of, and which becomes noticeable during deep meditation. This is not really identical to our Western concept of sub-consciousness, although some aspects may overlap. It may be more similar to intuition and inner wisdom.

Most Subtle Body / Mind: this is the most essential and subtle part of a sentient being. This aspect of ourselves is extremely difficult to observe; body and mind at this level are inseparable and could be described as 'mental energy'.

The above levels of mind and body are sometimes compared to going to sleep:

Gross: when awake, we are aware of our gross body and mind.

Subtle: when we are dreaming, we have a very flexible body and ideas in our mind that we normally do not experience, similar to the subtle body and mind.

Very subtle: when we are in deep sleep, we are barely aware of both body and mind.


In Tibetan Buddhism, often the so-called 'clear-light mind' is mentioned. This is the most subtle level of mind, which we are normally not even aware of. It appears to the very advanced meditator and during the death process. In the case of death, only advanced meditators will be able to notice it. It is a non-conceptual, 'primordial' state of mind.

From a talk given by HH Dalai Lama. Oct. 11-14, 1991 New York City. Path of Compassion teaching preliminary to Kalachakra:

Question: When people hear of luminosity of clear light that dawns at the moment of death they ask why it is called clear light. What has this got to do with light as we know it?

Dalai Lama: "I don't think that in the term clear light, light should be taken literally. It is sort of metaphoric. This could have its roots in our terminology of mental will. According to Buddhism, all consciousness or all cognitive mental events are said to be in the nature of clarity and luminosity. So it is from that point of view that the choice of the term light is used. Clear light is the most subtle level of mind, which can be seen as the basis or the source from which eventual experience or realisation of Buddhahood, Buddha's wisdom might come about, therefore it is called clear light. Clear light is a state of mind which becomes fully manifest only as a consequence of certain sequences or stages of dissolution, where the mind becomes devoid of certain types of obscurations, which are again metaphorically described in terms of sun-like, moonlike and darkness. These refer to the earlier three stages of dissolution which are technically called, including the clear light stage, the four empties. At the final stage of dissolution the mind is totally free of all these factors of obscuration. Therefore it is called clear light. Sort of a light. It is also possible to understand the usage of the term clear light in terms of the nature of mind itself. Mind or consciousness is a phenomena which lacks any obstructive quality. It is non-obstructed."


"No matter where you prepare your last bed,

No matter where the sword of death falls,

The terrifying messengers of death descend,

Horrid and giant; and glare with thirsty eyes.

Friends and family, weeping, surround you.

Eyeing your wealth and possessions,

They offer prayers and enshroud you.

Unprepared, you pass away;

Helpless and alone."

From 'Songs of spiritual change' by His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama (transl. Glenn Mullin)


Death is in Buddhism defined as 'the separation of the Most Subtle Body & Mind from the more gross aspects of the body and mind'. As this separation is a gradual process, death is not a point in time, like in Western thought, but it describes a period during which this separation occurs.

During the death process, it is said that we have a sequence of experiences. What these will be exactly, how long they last and their exact order may depend on the individual person and the death cause. Generally they are described as "visions", which appear when the experience of the various physical elements dissolves and sense awareness diminishes.

In common sequential order they are:

1. Mirage vision: vision become blurred, mirages and dark images appear, the sense of seeing dissolves. Earth absorbs into Water: the body becomes weak and powerless, a feeling of sinking or falling.

2. Smoke vision: feeling absorbed in smoke, the sense of hearing dissolves. Feelings of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral cease. Water absorbs into Fire: the bodily fluids dry up.

3. Fireflies: feeling surrounded by sparks or fireflies, the sense of smell dissolves. Memories of friends and enemies fade away. Fire absorbs into Air: food and drinks are not digested anymore.

4. Butter-lamp: appearance of a dying flame, the sense of taste dissolves and the body cannot be moved anymore. No more thoughts of worldly activities or purpose etc. Air absorbs into Consciousness: the breath ceases.

- Somewhere around here one would become "clinically dead" according to Western science -

5. White vision: appearance of a vacuum filled with white light.

6. Red vision: appearance of a vacuum filled with red light, like at dawn.

7. Black vision: appearance of darkness, slowly losing consciousness.

8. Clear light of death: appearance of an empty vacuum. Few people have a sufficiently trained awareness to experience this clearly.

As this state appears quite similar to the highly evolved state of the clear light mind of an enlightened Buddha, very advanced practitioners are able to remain in this state for weeks by the power of their meditation; clinically dead, but without decay of the body. In Tibet, many stories are told of masters who died in meditation position, and whose body would not decompose or even fall over for weeks.

A dedication by the Panchen Lama:

"When the doctor gives me up,

When rituals no longer work,

When friends have given up hope for my life,

When anything I do is futile,

May I be blessed to remember my guru's instructions."


Following the death process, a similar process like the above visions is experienced in reverse order. After the mirage vision, one finds oneself in the intermediate state or bardo in Tibetan. The experiences in this state are described as being similar to dreaming. The "body" moves as fast as thought and - confused as most beings are by death - it can even take the aspect of a very long nightmare. Of course, nothing but our own karma is at work here, creating pleasant or unpleasant experiences.

Traditionally, it is explained that the maximum period that one can stay in bardo is 49 days. Within that period, all beings have been attracted to a new body to take rebirth. Every 7 days in bardo, a kind of 'small death and rebirth' occurs. Very advanced practitioners can use this period to make quick spiritual progress by realising the mental and karmic processes at work.


In the bardo, one will be attracted to a copulating male and female. At this stage, a kind of small death from the bardo occurs. The reverse process as described above in the 'visions' is experienced while the most subtle body / mind is connecting to the fertilised egg. With this, contact to a subtle and gross body is established, and gradually the subtle and gross levels of mind will arise as well. If one is attracted to the female, one will be reborn as a male and vice versa.

"A school teacher would not suggest that pupils should disbelieve the ‘round earth theory’ until they had circumnavigated the globe. So the ‘round earth theory’ is actually accepted on faith in the West under the auspices of a scientific rationale. We have science but we allow ‘faith’ in science. Buddhism is an experiential science which also allows ‘faith’. I would say that the similarity between the two went further – I would say that both use ‘faith’ in terms of ‘working hypothesis’. And that is how Khandro Déchen and I present rebirth: it’s a beneficial working hypothesis. One doesn’t have to believe it, but one should not disbelieve it either. To disbelieve without experiential evidence is the same as to believe without experiential evidence."

From; Ngak'Chang Rinpoche


A short story from 'Zen flesh, Zen bones', called 'The Gates of Paradise':

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"

"Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.

"I am a samurai", the warrior replied.

"You, a soldier!" sneered Hakuin, "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar". Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably to dull to cut off my head."

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked:"Here open the gates of hell!"

At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, put away his sword and bowed.

"Here open the gates of paradise", said Hakuin.


The concepts of the different realms in Buddhism can be seen as a direct consequence of the law of karma. When beings accumulate many negative actions, they can be expected to receive "hellish" experiences in return; similarly, many positive actions can give rise to a "heavenly" existence.

The reason that these realms are called "Desire Realms" is that desire (and other delusions) is in some way or another present in all of them.

There is also mention of the 'Form Realms' and 'Formless Realms'; which are more like being in advanced stages of meditation, and are actually results of advanced meditation. Although desire is not really experienced in these states (they are sometimes called Desireless realms), apart from the desire to meditate, progress to enlightenment not possible here.

The "realms" do not necessarily need to exist in different locations or dimensions. Basically, they are described in terms of the main type of experience that beings have. All these realms are all within "cyclic existence", meaning they are all temporary states within the cycles of death and birth.

According to Buddhism, we cannot only be born as human beings the next time, but also as animal, "god", "half-god", "hungry ghost" or even in "hell". Obviously, these words have specific connotations in most religions, and the expressions in Buddhism refer to different experiences than e.g. in Christianity. The main difference is that a stay in none of the realms is permanent. After a life in "god-realm" one could be reborn in the "hell-realm"; it all just depends on our karma ripening.

A brief description of the six desire realms:

1. God-realm: Life is experienced as happiness virtually without any problems whatsoever. The largest problem of this realm comes when the time is near to die, one begins to experience suffering as one can see the next rebirth coming up, which is usually much less pleasant. So a life as a god definitely does not refer to anything like "God" in the Judeo-Christian-Moslim traditions; maybe more like the Greek gods.

2. Demigod realm: Life is experiences at much happiness, the main problems are caused by jealousy. The demigods can see the perfect life the gods are experiencing and become jealous, as the gods have somewhat better lives. They then want to fight the gods, but are always defeated.

3. Human realm: Life is more or less a balance between happiness and suffering. The biggest advantage of being born as a human is that one has the possibilities (and good reasons because of the problems) to change one's karma and do practices to become liberated from cyclic existence or even achieve Buddhahood; see below in Precious Human Rebirth.

4. Animal realm: Life is ruled by ignorance. Happiness and suffering happen, but understanding it or even controlling it does not occur in the darkened awareness of an animal.

5. Hungry ghost or Preta (Tib.) realm: Life is marked by suffering, especially from attachment and craving, without being able to satisfy one's needs. Life here is often described as a continuous suffering from hunger and thirst, but one cannot eat or drink.

6. Hell realm: Life is defined as suffering virtually without any happiness whatsoever. The only positive thing about the Buddhist hell realm is the fact that it is not eternal. After consuming up much of the negative karmic potential, one will die and has the chance to be reborn in a different (more pleasant) realm.

Outside the Desire Realms, but still in cyclic existence, there are the Form Realm and the Formless Realm, existence in these realms can be extremely long, but when one's karma runs out, rebirth into lower states of existence with apparent suffering will occur:

Form Realm: achieved when one has attained high levels of concentration with which one focuses on clarity and nonconceptual awareness.

In the Form Realm, one does not experience the 'suffering of suffering'. Beings here have renounced the enjoyment of external sense objects but still have attachment to internal form (their own body and mind).

Formless Realm: The highest state of cyclic existence, achieved when one has attained high levels of concentration with which one focuses on nonconceptual awareness. Beings here have renounced form and attachment to pleasures of form (physical) pleasures, and exist only within their mindstream. Their mind however, is still bound by subtle desire and attachment to mental states and ego.


The human rebirth is often called precious in Buddhism, as one has unique possibilities to free oneself from the cycle of rebirth. Simply said, in the 'lower realms', one is usually completely engulfed in misery (hell and hungry ghost realm) or simply unable to reason logically (animal realm). In the 'higher realms' like of the gods and demigods, one tends to indulge luxury and comfort, and barely realises the problems of rebirth until that life comes to an end.

In the Tibetan tradition, the factors making up the preciousness of human life are listed as the 8  leisures and 10 endowments (note that some of them actually are repeated twice with marginally different meanings):

The 8 leisures are freedom from: rebirth as hell-being, preta, animal, demigod or god, incomplete organs, having done the 5 heinous crimes, and having no views opposite to 3 jewels of refuge.

The 10 endowments are: being human, having one's organs intact, not having performed the 5 heinous crimes, no views opposite the 3 jewels of refuge, not being crazy, living in land where Dharma exists, not living in a barbarian country, living in a time when Dharma is available, having Dharma teachers/centers/practitioners around, and other people appreciate and help practitioners.

"In order to develop a fully qualified desire to take advantage of a life of leisure, you must reflect on its four elements, as follows:

1) The need to practice the teachings, because all living beings only want happiness and do not want suffering and because achieving happiness and alleviating suffering depend only on practicing the teachings;

2) the ability to practice, because you are endowed with the external condition, a teacher, and the internal conditions, leisure and opportunity;

3) the need to practice in this lifetime, because if you do not practice, it will be very difficult to obtain leisure and opportunity again for many lifetimes; and

4) the need to practice right now, because there is no certainty when you will die.

Among these, the third stops the laziness of giving up, which thinks, "I will practice the teaching in future lives." The fourth stops the laziness of disengagement, which thinks, "Although I should practice in this lifetime, it is enough to practice later on and not to practice in my early years, months, and days."

His Holioness the Dalai Lama


Dogen Zenji instructs:

"You are right about not relying on intelligence, talent, quick-wittedness, or sagacity in learning the Way. Still, it is wrong to encourage a person to become blind, deaf, or ignorant. Since studying the Way does not require having wide knowledge or talented abilities, you should not show disdain for anyone because of their inferior capacity. True practice of the Way must be easy. Nevertheless, even in the monasteries of great Sung China, there are only one or two people out of several hundred or thousands of practitioners who realize the dharma and attain the Way in the assembly of one teacher. . . . I believe this: it depends only on whether one's aspiration is firmly determined or not. A person who arouses true aspiration and studies as hard as his capacity allows will not fail to attain the Way." "To arouse such an aspiration, think deeply in your heart of the impermanence of the world. It is not a matter of meditating using some provisional method of contemplation. It is not a matter of facbricating in our heads that which does not really exist. Impermanence is truly the reality right in front of our eyes."

5. Wat Thai of Los Angeles

* http://www.watthaila.org/

The Purpose of Wat Thai

     The purposes of establishing Wat Thai are mainly divided into two categories.  The specific and primary purposes are to promote Buddhism in the United States, to establish a Buddhist Temple school, and to found a monastery to operate as non-profit corporation for the interchange of Buddhist information and education between the United States and Thailand. 

     The general purpose and power are the promotion of the principles of Buddhism. As it is practiced in Thailand and religious worship in accordance with the doctrine thereof, to unite others of their faith into one organization, to establish, erect, maintain and thereafter conduct services in a Buddhist temple according to the rites and rituals of the Buddhist religion. Erect and maintain a school and monastery for teaching and practicing Buddhism and to encourage attendance at lectures of religious and educational character to raise funds for these activities and to operate for charitable, religious and educational purpose. 

Emerald Buddha Image

     The Emerald Buddha Image in the main assembly hall is considered the masterpiece of Thai art. This image is a duplicate of the original in Chapel Royal or Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok Thailand. In Thai, it is known as Phra Budhamahamaneeratana Patimakorn. It is not really made of emerald but of dark green jade of a fariety found only in Siberia and near the borders of China and Burma. It is about twenty-one and a half inches high and fifteen and a half inches from knee to forehead, in 1854 AD on large diamond base was added by King rama IV. 

     The actual origin of this image is not known, but there is an expert opinion in recent years that it belongs to the later Chiengsan period (13th-16th century AD). It was first heard of in Chiengrai in the north of Thailand where it was covered with cement and coated over with gold leaf to prevent its discovery by hostile neighbors. It was placed in pagoda in Wat Phra Keo in Chiengrai.

     In 1434 AD a thunderstorm destroyed the pagoda and the Buddha was moved to another part of the temple. Very soon afterwards the cement cracked, revealing the jade image inside. The matter was reported to the King of Chiengmai who gave orders that the image was to be conveyed by elephant to Chiengmai. In the square of Lampang the elephant stopped and refused to proceed. The King of Chiengmai decided to leave the image in Lampang where the people built Wat Phra keoh Don Tao for it. It remained there 32 years. The King of Chiengmai then had the image removed to Wat Jetiya Luang in Chiengmai where it remained for 80 years. 

     Chiengmai came in the dominion of Laos in 1551 AD an the image was transferred to the Laos capital, Luang Prabang. 1564 AD, due to the capital moved to Vientiane and the image was brought along with it. There was trouble between King Tak Sin of Thonburi and the King of Laos in 1778 AD. Chao Phraya Chakri, who later became King Rama I, defeated the King of Laos an brought the image to Thonburi where it was placed in the Phra Keoh Hall which in now in the compound of the Naval Headquarters next to Wat Arun. Then King Rama I moved the image from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1782. 


    Ubosatha-Sala is generally known as Ubosoth-Sala or Main Assembly Hall. It's plan was designed by the Religious Department in Thailand and some parts of it's carved teak windows and doors were imported from Thailand. it consists of two stories of Thai architecture, 12 meters in width and 33 meters in length. It is rectangular in shape with a portico at the front and sides and has been recognized by the eight boundary stones surrounding it. The multiple roofs give the impression of being superimposed one upon another and the gable end of the roof thane a figure or Bi-raka runningdown each edge. The curved finical at the peak of the roof is the apex. The roof tiles are glazed and set in designs in colors of red and green. 

     The main Assembly Hall is used to perform the religious functions e.g. giving or donation. Reciting the disciplinary rules, morning and evening chanting,   meditation and conducting birthday, wedding and funeral ceremonies. In the basement is a library, dinning room and classroom. Regarding the construction, on May 19, 1972 His holiness the Supreme patriarch, Somdej Phra Wannarat of Wat Phra Chetuphon presided over the stone founding ceremony of the building. Construction was begun in the same year but it was delayed by many problems. In May 1974 construction was begun on the lover part of the building and it was finished in the same year. 

     In 1977 the construction of the building was again started on the upper half by Ven. Phra Thepsophon who came as Abbot and President of the temple in February 13, 1970, General Kriangsak Chamananda, the Prime Minister of Thailand came to preside over the roofing ceremony. The priests and the people mainly carried out the construction at this latter stage. October 21, 1970 His Holiness the Supreme Patriarach came to officiate the apex-lifting ceremony. 

Buddha Image

     The main Buddha image in the main assembly hall is known as "Phra Bud-dha-nor-thep-sas-da  Dip-ya-na-ga-ra-sa-thit" in blessing posture, whose casting ceremony was officiated by His Majesty the King on December 22, 1979. On March 30 it was brought to shrine at Wat Thai of Los Angeles. The consecration ceremony was officiated on April 4-5, 1980, by His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch, who offered a 7 tiered state to the Buddha image. In this connection, the Thai International Airways Company opened its first Bangkok-Los Angels, flight and acted as host in the shipment of Buddha Image. In front of the main altar are sets of red and gold tables on, which are placed flowers, candles and incense sticks presented to the temple for warship of The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. 

Kuti (Living Quarter of Monks)

     A house for monks is known as "Kuti" in Thai. One of 9 Kutis was constructed in 1976 when Venerable Phra Mongkolrajamuni was the chief of clerical staff. The board committee of Wat Thai authorized a grant to rebuild a new residential area for the monks. The new two-story "Kuti #1" has six bedrooms, three restrooms, a living room and an office. On August 20, 1976, the monks moved in.


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