A Short History Behind DSI's Dhammakaya Consultant

On May 28, 2016

Mr. Ong-art Thamnitta pleaded for Dr. Mano Laohavanich--Julaporn Medical Institution Professor, Thammasat University, a quondam disciple of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, and member of the National Reform Council of Thailand--to “cease his behaviour of defaming others with false information and in bad faith. Today more than ever, society needs harmony and unity. He [Dr. Laohavanich] has fabricated stories to defame his previous spiritual leader whom he had once respected and from whom he once accepted support to further his education abroad. He has defamed the abbot with many false statements, which the Most Ven. Dhammajayo has never come out to refute. Nevertheless, the supporters and followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya are hurt and disappointed. If there are any statements still to be made, however, he [Dr. Laohavanich] can confirm their accuracy with me. I’m ready to give information from both sides, so we can see that between a former leading disciple like Dr. Mano Laohavanich and me, a current disciple, which one of us can give more accurate information [about the abbot and the temple].”

Translated from Thai

Mr. Ong-art Thamnitta is a spokesperson for the supporters and followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, who like many other supporters  is outraged by Dr. Laohavanich’s slander against the temple and its abbot--and now, his involvement in the special case over which DSI has tried to arrest the abbot.

Dr. Laohavanich has been vigorously involved in DSI’s case against Ven. Dhammajayo. He has submitted a letter  encouraging and rooting  DSI to continue their investigation against the abbot. The latest news reported that DSI has even invited him to join their meeting in strategizing on how to extract the abbot from the temple. He had also openly said in an interview that he has been an advisor for DSI, pushing this case from the very start.

It is an extreme conflict of interest to have Dr. Laohavanich, an openly anti-Dhammakaya movement individual, work alongside DSI, a governmental office that is required by law to be impartial. Let us get to know who Dr. Laohavanich really is.

Formerly Ven. Mettanando Bhikkhu, with allegedly 19 years of experience as a top leader of the Dhammakaya movement, Dr. Laohavanich is definitely an astonishingly intelligent man. He is decorated with several degrees from Chulalongkorn, Oxford, Harvard, and Hamburg Universities, giving him a long alphabet soup of titles behind his name.

Dr. Laohavanich ordained at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in 1982 with another MD graduate in the same year--now Phrakrupaladsuwattanabodhikhun (Phramaha Dr. Somchai Thanavuddho)--and was given the name Ven. Mettanando.

As a monk, he was given a temple scholarship to study abroad. From several sources inside Wat Phra Dhammakaya, numerous temple supporters donated money to fund this scholarship. One woman said she was scraping pennies just to get by, so she could donate a portion of her earnings to support the education of this very intelligent monk in hopes that one day he would return to do great work for Buddhism.

Phra Mettanando came back and did not stay long at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. A source said that he could not embrace the temple’s culture, and would order younger monks to do chores he thought were too low for him to do. One of these chores was cleaning toilets.

Phra Mettanando was known by  Master Nun Chand, the temple’s founder, as “the monk who doesn't even know how to clean a toilet.” At the temple, cleaning toilets is not just a chore. The founder has trained many of the followers and monks about the importance of humility and cleanliness (DMC TV, March 13th 2014). If a man has too much pride, he should clean the toilet with his hands until he develops humility. Then, he can properly interact with others around him with kindness and respect.

Eventually, Phra Mettanando left Wat Phra Dhammakaya and went to stay at two other temples, Wat Ratcha Orasaram and Wat Nak Prok, but also had to leave after getting into disputes with other monks at those temples. It was also because he wrote a very controversial book. The book was condemned by Prayudh Payutto, known by his current monastic title, Phra Bhramagunabhorn. Phra Bhramagunabhorn is a well-known Thai Buddhist monk, an intellectual, and an outstanding writer. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant Buddhist scholars on Thai Buddhist history.

Phra Bhramagunabhorn commented that “Phra Mano’s writing has no references or meaningfulness, making it damaging [to Buddhism]” and “If this is what he considers [Buddhist] academia, he is not suited to be a monk.” (From the book Wake Up Already, ตื่นกันเสียที, pg. 185 & 124) 

When he was no longer welcome at other temples, he asked to return to Wat Phra Dhammakaya. The abbot, Ven. Dhammajayo welcomed him back but on the condition that he, Phra Mettanando, apologized to the whole temple for his past actions. Phra Mettanando refused to do so.

Phra Mettanando disrobed in 2007, 9 years ago, back when the temple was a much different place than now. Though, he has been self-exiled from the temple years before he disrobed, he has spent all of that time conducting interviews and releasing publications with false information, defaming the abbot.

His claims were many, but without any evidence. As Phra Bhramagunabhorn would say, no source or meaningfulness. They were all anecdotes with no supporting evidence. However, using his credentials that the scholarship from Wat Phra Dhammakaya helped him obtain, he was able to convince even the most elite of politicians that his words were true.