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A Temple of Clay

May 2000

About ten kilometers south of Phnom Penh is a new temple thatís a bit of a curiosity and worth a visit just for that reason. Down Highway 1 in the village of Koh Slaket (near Koki Beach) is an unnamed as yet temple built entirely of clay under the guidance of a hermit monk named Ros Ly. About one hundred volunteers began constructing the temple in 1994 and finished it in 1999. The temple is 100% clay, from the walls to the roof to the Buddha images inside. A villager told me that the amount of clay excavated from a nearby canal left a hole 10 meters deep, 25 meters wide, and 60 meters long.

Ros Ly is a fairly young monk who left a monastery around 1988 to live in the forest and meditate. He emerged from the forest in 1994 appearing in the village to announce his intentions to build the temple. He still lives in the forest but is known to show up in the village from time to time. The monk, obviously an alchemist of some repute, has placed a number of wooden Buddhas in a hole and expects that someday they will become diamonds or gold. Some villagers have faith in his miraculous abilities and have placed various wooden objects of their own in his special hole hoping that they, too, will someday become diamonds or gold.

I wonder what Ros Ly can do with Stung Meanchey's garbage?



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