The Cambodian Ministry of Environment is developing a meditation site for Dharma practice at the Cambodia Buddhist Cultural Center, located in Kirirom National Park, Kampong Speu Province. The aim is to encourage local and visiting Buddhists to practice meditation and better understand the teachings of the Buddha.
On January 6, Minister of the Ministry of Environment Eang Sophalleth visited the site and said it was designed to purify the mind, bringing tranquility and happiness. “We are creating a special space for Buddhists to meditate, with modern Khmer tents that stand out from the rest,” said Sophalleth. “This place is destined to become a legacy for the next generation of Cambodian children. For our testing phase, we plan to set up five to ten tents. (Asian News Network)
The Ministry and the Department of Environment of Kampong Speu Province have been actively engaged in planting tens of thousands of plants on the center's grounds, in line with the religious culture's emphasis on natural forests. According to Sophalleth, the combined objectives of promoting Buddhist culture and developing natural resources are consistent with his ministry's circular strategy on the environment 2023-2028. The strategy attempts to transform the potential of the environmental sector into practical benefits for Cambodia and its people.
The still unfinished Buddhist cultural center, which covers 126 hectares, has been operational since 2005. Its stated objective is to promote Buddhism, defend societal values and develop national culture. Former Prime Minister Hun Sen supported the establishment of the institute. The location is home to the spectacular Pathom Chedi Temple, a large stupa measuring 108 meters long and 37 meters wide, and said to house the relics of the Buddha as well as various sacred texts. The intricate stone carvings within the center grounds reflect key periods in the Buddha's life, such as his birth and enlightenment. 84 stunning Buddha sculptures were also carved from the natural rock and placed in the center.
Sophalleth highlighted the ministry’s objective of promoting environmental management in communities. He believes there is a link between conservation efforts and improved livelihoods, since the center intends to improve the lives and prospects of local residents.
“In various countries, Buddhist centers have existed for centuries. As Khmer practitioners of Buddhism, it is very appropriate for us to have our own center,” said the center’s founder, Venerable Nhek Buntha. “I consider him a national treasure, generously initiated even if he does not have hundreds of millions of dollars. The participation of the Queen Mother and people from diverse backgrounds underlines the broad support given to this initiative. (The Phnom Penh post)
According to Sun Meanchey, director of the Culture and Fine Arts Department of Kampong Speu, “. . . this center constitutes a remarkable achievement and is poised to become a leading cultural and religious tourist destination, given its immense size and importance. (The Phnom Penh post)
Chhort Bunthang, a researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, also praised the project, citing the site's fresh air and rich natural beauty. “In our advanced society, people today face many mental challenges. This meditation space serves as a remedy, purifying hearts and minds to resolve these issues,” said Bunthang. “This plays a role in boosting tourism, as Cambodian and international tourists support the products sold by nearby residents. » (Asian News Network)
A Buddhist center flourishes above Kirirom National Park (The Phnom Penh post)
Cambodian Ministry of Environment shapes sanctuary of deep reflection in national park (Asia News Network)
Related news reports from BDG
Cambodian Buddhist community in Maine launches temple fundraiser
Sustainable living in Cambodia: Buddhist monks grow organic produce
Buddhist temple revives sacred Cambodian dance in Minnesota farmland
Italian architect unveils ambitious plan for new Buddhist meditation center in Nepal
Cambodian Buddhist Institute Announces Winners of 5th Buddhist Literature Competition
New York's Metropolitan Museum to return Buddhist artifacts stolen from Cambodia and Thailand
BDG Related Feature Reports
For the Earth: Buddhist Thought and Environmental Activism
Maha Ghosananda: Cambodia's great defender of world peace
Book Review: Until the Age of Nirvana: Buddhist Chants from Cambodia
Environmental Warriors: Buddhist Eco-Monks and Tree Ordination