ON THE 7th JANUARY, 2007
AT BAO TINH PAGODA – TUY HOA CITY – PHU YEN PROVINCE
THE DUAL PATH OF MEDITATION AND PURE LAND CULTIVATION
PHAP QUANG CULTURE COMPANY
ĐT/Fax: (08) 38462646 – 38479599
Mobile: 0986.861338 – 0984.982229
On the occasion of the fifteen Lieu Quan practicing course, we can talk about the subject of the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation in memory of our founder.
Our founder was a Zen Master who was absolutely enlightened. We can be sure that He professionally practiced meditation, while we now practice Pure Land, specially recite the Amitbha Buddha’s name, and get used to performing rites of chanting. For that reason, we should connect His practice with our practice so that the two practices can have a relation. We don’t know when the change of practices began, but we should carefully examine its reason and its situation.
Today, we will find out:
- What is the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation?
- Why should we take the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation?
- What did our founders mean when they set up the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation?
- How can we carry out the founders’ purpose?
Firstly, we should study the background when Patriarch Lieu Quan came from.
In our view, we can see that He lost His mother when He was five or six years old. He abdicated when being twelve years old. His master died when He was nineteen. He lost his father when He was twenty one. He became lonely to seek for the way of cultivation until He met the most Venerable Minh Hoang – Tu Dung who handed down to Him a koan. He practiced hard and then attained Enlightenment. Generally speaking, His life of cultivation was full of hindrances which could never let Him down.
Although, He faced a lot of obstructions, He still kept His mind pure and His character intact. He practiced meditation diligently until he was enlightened.
In a view of Mahayana, we can see that in Phu Yen province, there were good causal conditions to have many famous monks, and there appeared a Bodhisattva who practiced hard till attained Enlightenment and left the next generations His example of spiritual strength that has gone along with our national Buddhism. Nowadays, thanks to the spiritual strength, we are to spread His doctrine, follow his way, and have responsibility for protecting our country and reassuring our people.
It was in 1662 in China, five years before our founder was born1, the Manchu occupied all over China, and established the Qing dynasty. The Manchu was in the East of Mongolia. Specially, Mongolia and Tibet were fond of Lama Sect and Tantrism very much; therefore, the people in the East and East North of China were the followers of Lamaism.
The third King of Manchu called Shunzhi was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty to rule over China. His Mongolian name was Eyebeer. In 1661, he abdicated and left his six-year-old son to be the Emperor, who official name was Kangxi. The dynasty at that time was run by Oboi. Although Kangxi Emperor was a child he had extraordinary talents. After he was enthroned, he defeated Oboi and took back his power.
Qing dynasty had a faith in Tantrism, so Tantrist monks paid visits to its
mandarins very often. However, National Master Yulin2 had good causal conditions with King Shunzhi and King Kangxi and then he became National Master of the Qing dynasty.
At the time of the Buddha, the Sangha got up very early in the morning
1: He was born 1667
2: Died in 1676
to practice meditation. When it was dawning they could get out of their meditation, took a walk, and then went to town to beg for food. About 10 A.M they finished their lunch, and came back the monastery, practiced meditation, had conversations or gave people preaches. In the afternoon, they continued to meditate until midnight. Their time of rest was very little.
After the Buddha entered into Nirvana, Buddhists in everywhere worshiped His statues and relics with all due their respect. Monks got up early to worship the Buddha with flowers and fragrant incense, after that they practiced meditation. In the sunset, the venerable sat cross-legged in higher positions to read the Buddha’s saying what they had heard, while novice monks sat around and repeated after them, while their hands were clasped. It was unwritten then. They only kept Sutras in mind through word of mouth. If a novice monk repeated the saying incorrectly, the venerable reminded him and asked him say again. It is called repetition in verse of a prose section. That was the beginning of chanting sutras. Its aim was to remind the Buddha’s disciples of His teachings. Thanks to the aim, the Three Baskets of Sutras have been handed down to us.
When Buddhism came into China, the Sutras were printed or craved by the Chinese; therefore, the precious Sutras could help monks who had not yet learned by heart to chant together with the venerable. At that time, activities of pagodas had changed. The Sangha practiced meditation in the morning, and knelt down in front of the statue of the Buddha to chant Sutras in the evening.
Although National Master Yulin was enlightened through his practicing meditation, he had to harmonize with Tantrist monks when the Qing dynasty wanted to reform religious life of monks. For that reason, he combined all Zen School, Pure Land School, and Tantrism. He compiled the Morning and Evening Recitation which was the official rite for recitation ceremonies of pagodas. Every service, there were the Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra that contains a little meaning of Dhyana (meditation) and harmonize with the Surangama Heart Mantra, and the Great Compassion Mantra, and the Ten Small Mantras, and the Amitabha Sutra and the Rebirth Mantra. The official rite is still applied to Vietnamese pagodas nowadays. National Master Yulin’s reform was opposed by many Chinese Zen Masters. Obeying the King’s order, the mandarins must watch carefully monks’ religious life and attitude, and then they reported the opposition to the King. National Master Yulin wrote a severe document in order to strike back the opposition of the pagodas.
From then on, all Chinese pagodas had to follow absolutely the reform. They had to perform the Morning and Evening Recitation instead of practicing meditation. Step by step, this activity becomes monks’ habit, and then monks suppose that whenever they enter to a pagoda they must learn by heart the Morning and Evening Recitation so that they can be called monks.
However, many Chinese Zen Masters felt dissatisfied with it then they left China to go to the South of Vietnam, to Champa, to Chenla Kingdom, and Thailand. They dared not to stay at the North, where the border between Vietnam and China is very close, because they were afraid that the Qing court would find them.
Then in Vietnam, the Lord Trinh ruled over the North, while the Lord Nguyen ruling over the South. In that time, the activity in Vietnamese pagodas still kept practicing meditation, and they had not yet influenced by Master Yulin’s Morning and Evening Recitation at all.
The founder Lieu Quan entered into Hoi Ton pagoda when being twelve years old, and he became the Venerable Te Vien’s disciple. He practiced diligently meditation in order to attain enlightenment. After his master, the venerable Te Vien died, he went to many places to study some ways and he met with serious difficulties. He received ten precepts as a novice monk from Venerable Thach Liem in 1695. In 1697, he received 250 precepts as a bhiksu from Venerable Tu Lam. His difficult life was not completely noted. We can only see several common features such as he was hungry, was scorned, and worked hard in pagodas.
In the South, the Lord Nguyen was very fond of Zen Master Minh
Chau – Huong Hai, who followed the way of Truc Lam Zen School3 that belonged to the North. However, there was someone who spoke ill that the Zen Master was a spy who worked for the Lord Trinh in the North. The Lord Nguyen put Zen Master Minh Chau into prison immediately. After being released, the Zen Master fled to the North with the fifty Zen practitioners. He took with him the statue of the Buddha and many sutra books. This event happened in Phu Xuan four years after the founder abdicated, while he was living with his master.
The Lord Nguyen supposed that Truc Lam Zen School was reactionary nature then he commanded to kill nine generations of monks of Truc Lam Zen School. Consequently, all Truc Lam Zen Masters fled to the South, far away from Champa, Chenla Kingdom, Khanh Hoa, Phu Xuan provinces. Some of them left the monk- hood, while the others went up to mountains to escape from the wanted of the Lord.
At that time, there was absence of Venerable; therefore, the Lord Nguyen had to come to Binh Dinh province to ask Venerable Nguyen Thieu to While the founder was then practicing hard, a rebellion happened in Binh Dinh. A group of Chinese called themselves Linh Vuong rising in revolt against the Lord Nguyen. After investigating, the investigators found out that the group was the disciples of Zen Master Nguyen Thieu. The Lord Nguyen had faced two times of rebellions, so he had doubts about the Zen Master and then accused him of spying. For that reason, the Zen Master had to take a boat for fleeing. He came to Bien Hoa and changed his religious name to Sieu Bach; therefore, his stupa (tower) was really worshiped in Dong Nai Province, not in Binh Dinh.be the leader of the Sangha of the South Vietnamese Buddhism.
After that, the Lord Nguyen must invite Chinese Zen Masters to come to the South, because he didn’t have any Vietnamese famous monk to worship. Among Chinese Zen Masters, Zen Master Minh Hoang – Tu Dung who was a disciple of Master Dai Xa – Nhu Truong accepted the invitation. We need to know that Master Dai Xa – Nhu Truong was a disciple of National Master Dao Man of Qing dynasty. When the Lord Nguyen had a Zen Master who had a relationship with Qing dynasty, he felt very easy. Then the founder Lieu Quan came to Zen Master Minh Hoang – Tu Dung and asked him for being his disciple. He was accepted, and then he ended his wandering, lonely life. He was tirelessly to save and help people. The Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu was very fond of him and invited him to come to his palace, but he refused the Lord’s offer.
He died in 1742, four years after the Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat succeeded to the throne. When the Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat died, Nguyen Phuc Thuan was enthroned as the Lord, but he was controlled by mandarin Truong Phuc Loan. In 1778, the Lord Trinh seized Phu Xuan imperial city. The Lord Trinh was accompanied by famous mandarin Le Quy Don when coming to South. At that time there appeared the Tay Son uprising. The Lord Nguyen Phuc Thuan died in battle. Nguyen Phuc Anh succeeded to the throne. When the Tay Son brothers divided, Nguyen Phuc Anh took the title of Emperor under the reign name Gia Long, in 1802.
It was the time of Emperor Jianqing in China then, all pagodas in China obeyed the order of National Master Yulin to practice the Morning and Evening Recitation. King Gia Long wanted to follow exactly the Qing’s example, so he applied the practice of Chinese pagodas to Vietnamese pagodas.
In the old time, if there was a famous monk living in a pagoda, there were many disciples gathered in that pagoda to study, so there was no enough room for them, and the subjects were not adequate to them, too. Based on their experience of cultivation, the Venerable taught his disciples what they knew and what they practiced; therefore, the study was limited. Any pagoda called itself the original Rinzai School which was more prominent than Soto School, or Yunmen School, or Guiyang School. However, Buddhists have no longer practiced meditation they are likely to practice Pure Land School nowadays.
The Pure Land School has two features:
- Reciting the name of Amitbha Buddha, through which Buddhists can be reborn in the Highest Joy world (Pure Land world).
- Developing the rites, through which Vietnamese monks can show their talent for art.
When the Venerable changed their practice of meditation into chanting sutras, they realized that the Pure Land School was easier to practice than Zen School, anyone can get it. They thought that if they kept reciting the name of Amitbha Buddha in their mind, and then their mind would be calm. Specially, people were easy when they were given a word that if they absolutely determined to recite Amitbha Buddha’s name they would be reborn in the Pure Land. People believed that the Pure Land was pure and solemn, and if they went up there they could never worry about their life where poverty and suffer were always existing.
In the first time, it seemed that the Pure Land School was easy for everyone to practice. Actually, this School was for those who had good roots, because only these people could be mindful of reciting Amitbha Buddha’s name every moment. People who had no good roots and were absence of merit and had to manage everything in life could be hardly mindful of reciting Amitbha Buddha’s name. Furthermore, the promise of rebirth in the Pure Land was not strong enough to persuade everyone to practice diligently recitation of Amitbha Buddha’s name.
However, chanting was the high culture then. Any incident happened in a family, the members of the family would invite monks to come to their house to chant and to perform a ceremony. The atmosphere in pagodas was bustling thanks to chanting and musical instruments, so people felt like it so much.
Nowadays, although people enjoy music very much, they prefer modern Rap, Rock and Disco to traditional music. Most of people, especially the youth, wouldn’t enjoy chanting and the sound of wooden bell any more.
In short, the followers of the Pure Land School only recite Amitbha
Buddha’s name in order to be reborn in the Pure Land, and it is easy for them to practice; whereas, there have been many famous Zen Masters who have practiced meditation and attained Enlightenment. That is why the followers of Zen School have still paid homage to the Zen Masters. As a result, the two Schools have existed in the dual path for long; however, such the dual path might always sow a seed of division. Zen followers suppose that they are directly going on the way to Nirvana, while Pure Land followers think that they will be soon reborn into the Highest Joy world4. The two ways are so different that people wonder and question
“what Buddhism is?” This is the question that has penetrated into people’s minds and the deep division has existed for long, too. The founders have been tortured so much, because they never wanted to see Buddhism being divided. They have tried hard to find a way to harmonize the Zen School with the Pure Land School; therefore they could have greatly encouraged all followers to practice the dual path of Meditation
and Pure Land cultivation.
Today, when we talk about the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation, we really want to remind our people of the founders’ saying: “It was as if a tiger had its horns if the followers practice chanting and meditation, or practice meditation and chanting at the same time”.
The founders helped both meditated and chanting practitioners realize that they need to take Meditation and Pure Land cultivation, instead of having a hatred of each other. If we think that the two Schools are completely different, we misunderstand our founders. In fact, there is a close relationship between Zen School and Pure Land School.
Why did the founders widen and develop the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation?
First of all, they didn’t want followers with good roots to practice meditation and followers without good roots to practice chanting. They really wanted to associate the two Schools in harmony, and to improve the level of cultivation of all followers in equal. For example, if a person has 4: Pure Land world practiced meditation for long, but he has not got any achievement, the founders would advise him to change meditating into chanting so that he could improve his level of practice. If anyone practices meditation, but erroneous thoughts always arise in mind, they should recite the Buddha’s name and confess to the Buddha that they have done many things wrong. After that, they could come back to practice meditation. However, a person pratices chanting very well, his mind can be peaceful in every sentence of recitation of the Buddha’s name, his morals are excellent, and then the founders would advise him to practice meditation so that he can attain the void of recitation, instead of keeping on the recitation which would become obstacles of his religious life.
Second, the founders wanted Buddhism not to be divided because of the two practices. Everyone who practices both meditation and chanting follows exactly the founders’ advice. That one is deserving of people’s worship.
Third, thanks to the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation, Vietnamese Buddhism can be associated and grown strongly, along with other religions which are spread rapidly. We must take a vow that we will try our best to develop our Buddhism by helping people come into Buddha-Dharma. This is the most important aim that we must determine to fulfill.
In the time of the Buddha, the view of reciting the Buddha’s name so as to be reborn into the Heaven was absence. The Zen Masters always tried to attain a stage of Arhat-hood such as Srotaapanna, Sakrdagamin,
Anagamin, and Arhat5. Far from the Buddha’s time, monks have faced difficulties to practice meditation, so they have relied on reciting the 5: Srota-àpanna: One who has entered the stream of holy living Sakrdàgàmin: One who has attained the 2nd stage of the Noble Path Anàgàmin: One who has attained the 3rd stage of the Path
Arhat: One who has attained the final stage of the Path.
Buddha’s name to concentrate their mind. In order to enrich tastes of religious life in pagodas, monks have created many ceremonies and activities such as the rite of bringing relief to the needy, ceremonies of praying for peace and of praying for rebirth in the Pure Land, and the Morning and Evening Recitation, etc. …
From then on, there is the sound of bell ringing in pagodas every day, and in fact, the sound of bell penetrates into our people’s minds. Every sunset and every early morning, the bell rings loudly and clearly, resounding throughout the dark.
People are busy to live and to purchase the illusion of glory, when they hear the sound of the bell they may suddenly feel moved to think that “what we have indulged in is real? Where we will be when we die? What we will take with us when we die are only our spirits and merits; therefore, what should we have done to bring good to life and to create merit? Would our spirits have progressed?”
Thank to the rites, pagodas have beneficial effects on people and help their spirits progress. It is the Pure Land monks who create merits very much by bringing good things to life and bringing Buddhism very close to our people.
Later, the Venerable realized that “anyone who believes in the method of reciting the Buddha’s name could try hard to practice. If he is the man of superior character, living morally, giving his love to all his religious brothers and all beings then when he recites the Buddha’s name his mind is easy to concentrate”. The Venerable may ask such the person that “you recite diligently the Buddha’s name, so do you know who is reciting?”, “my mouth is doing”, says the person. The Venerable continues “when you die how can your mouth recite?”, the person says “if so, my mind can”. The Venerable asks more “then where is your mind?”. The person is confused to look for his mind, but he doesn’t know where his mind is. So the venerable advises him to find it through his recitation. When he find out where his mind is, he was suddenly enlightened and then he becomes a Zen master. It means that when the person is well-trained reciting, the Venerable used the best way to open his mind in order that he can be enlightened.
Actually, the division between Zen School and Pure Land School is not existed at all. The Venerable always improve the practice of Pure Land followers through meditation.
Sometimes, Pure Land monks have causal conditions with Zen School, so they are fond of meditation and come to a Zen Master to ask for giving some teachings. Then the Zen Master would ask them “what have you practiced so far?” They might say “Before now, we have practiced recitation of the Buddha’s name; but now we can give it up to practice meditation”. If the master is clear-sighted, he would never let them give up their expert practice that could help them raise their virtue of religious life and cultivated blessing. The master would advise them to practice both of meditation and recitation of the Buddha’s name, and then he would teach them that:
- Breath in – namo Amitàbha Buddha Breath out – namo Amitàbha Buddha Or:
- Breath in and out – namo Amitàbha Buddha
- Breath out and in – namo Amitàbha Buddha
If a practitioner has to recite the name of Amitàbha Buddha while he has to control his breath, such the practitioner has no good roots. We are always heard that “this person has good roots while another doesn’t”.
Good roots are merits which people have created from their past life to present life. The recitation of the name of Amitàbha Buddha is one of the factors which help us create much more merits. It means that if we create more merits our good roots will be increased.
In case, a practitioner is well-trained to recite the Buddha’s name and has good roots, when he is asked “who is reciting?” “who practice recitation?”, at the moment, he will be suddenly enlightened and give up his recitation. On the other hand, if a person wants to practice meditation, but his root is not good enough, he should recite the name of Amitàbha Buddha and practice the method of control of breath. This is the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation.
On the occasion of talking about the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation, I’d like to tell the truth I received when I was accidently on the plane with the Venerable, who is the leader of the Central Propagating Department. The Venerable asked me to sit next to him, and throughout the travel, he gave me some of remarkable teachings related to Pure Land School. It was on Jan. 5th
The Venerable told me that he was born in Jan. 5th This year his birthday was on the same day of the birthday of Amitàbha Buddha in lunar Nov. 17th. So he felt very happy.
He said that the Pure Land World of Amitàbha Buddha is symbolized the spiritual world, while this world of the Buddha is symbolized the realistic world. The spiritual world is where people seek for happiness, and beauty, and where there is no hatred or evil or sin. The realistic world where we are living is full of hatred, of evil, of sin.
He added more information that Amitàbha Buddha’s birthday is lunar Nov. 17th, and the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment was lunar Dec. 8th. It is twenty one days apart from the birthday of Amitàbha Buddha to the day of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. The Venerable supposed that whether the Patriarch wanted to send us some message? Why they set up the birthday of Amitàbha Buddha twenty one days before the Buddha attained enlightenment? We don’t know if our Buddhists can understand their message.
According to the Venerable, if we try to find out the implication, we can see that there is a strange connection between Meditation School and Pure Land School. For example, Buddhists can enjoy celebrating the birthday of Amitàbha Buddha today, and then twenty one days later, they can enjoy celebrating the day of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
The first implication is that when a person recites the name of Amitàbha Buddha, so as to attain rebirth in his Pure Land, but he doesn’t know that three weeks later he will suddenly attain Enlightenment. If the Patriarch gave their disciples the implication then there is no longer division between Meditation School and Pure Land School.
The second implication is that the Patriarch would like to connect Meditation School with Pure Land School so that Buddhism could be never divided any more. If we get the point of the second implication, we have the important aim to fulfill in future.
When we breathe in, we recite Namo Amitàbha Buddha. When we breathe out, we also recite Namo Amitàbha Buddha. Thanks to our recitation, we can get blessing from the Buddha. If people only control their breath but they don’t recite Namo Amitàbha Buddha, erroneous thoughts can appear in their mind. When we are well-trained, we can give up recitation, and then we suddenly realize that our body is impermanent. When we breathe in, we know that this body is impermanent. When we breathe out, we know that this body is impermanent.
At that time, only our knowing exists, while the recitation disappears. Thought is no longer in our mind, but there comes wisdom along with breath only. Step by step, the realization is increased so much that we just know the breath and impermanent body. We don’t follow the erroneous thoughts any more, but we continue to overcome the five hindrances in order to enter the first stage of meditation, and then we come into the spiritual world. We can see the Pure Land World being here, the Spiritual World being here.
If novice practitioners only practice meditation but don’t recite the name of Buddha, the Patriarch would ask them to take Pure Land cultivation by worshiping the Buddha instead of reciting the name of the Buddha. Worshiping the Buddha must be harder than reciting the name of the Buddha, because monks have to kneel down and stand up hundreds of times.
The importance is that they have to be aware of their sins they make every day, and then they must repent our sins and ask the Buddha’s forgiveness. Moreover, they should always pay homage to Him with their deep hearts, and take a vow to help all beings. When they worship the Buddha more often than not, and create merits very much, and love their religious brothers and all living beings, then their merit and their blessing will be increased at the same time. As a result, their realization will be increased, too. They no longer need to recite the Buddha’s name, they just control their breath, but they can destroy their erroneous thoughts and come into deep meditation.
This is the association of the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation.
This is the way that a person recites the Buddha’s name while practicing control of breath; and the other practices meditation while reciting the Buddha’s name.
One more thing is that we should remember the Amitàbha Buddha’s birthday only twenty one days before the day of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Instead of leaving this world, and finding the way to Pure Land world, we can attain Enlightenment in this world all of a sudden, and at that time we realize that this world is also the Pure Land world.
In Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra, when the Buddha answered a question of why this world was uneven, He pressed his toe down to the ground and then the Earth turned into gold and He said that “It’s because you can’t see anything, certainly the Earth is the Pure Land world”.
Because people are absence of wisdom to understand the doctrines, they would think that the Buddha came into this Earth, where it was uneven and impure, to help and transform very hard all living beings. Like this, because we are not wise enough to understand the Buddha’s teachings, we might suppose that this person hates us, while the other discards us. If we have wisdom then we will realize that those who hate or discard us are our supporters. It is them who help us practice patient and modest conducts, who we should consider as our good friends. When we realize how good people are we can see this Earth being the Pure Land world.
So, according to our view, we can see how the world is. Another thing is that our Patriarch would like to block the division of Buddhism.
At that time, when the Venerable developed the Pure Land, they gave prominence to this School too much, while Zen practitioners had to clean their mouths for three days if they slipped their tongue to recite the Amitàbha Buddha’s name. It was unreasonable then.
The two Schools were biased to criticize mutually. Pure Land Masters criticized Zen Masters for their knowing of true mind and Buddha – nature, and for their unknowing of the Three Baskets of Sutras; whereas, Zen masters criticized Pure Land Masters for their learning. Knowing that Buddhism was about to be divided because of extreme views, the Patriarch had to develop the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation in order to block the division of Buddhism and to lay a firm foundation of Buddhism which should be firmly connected and strongly developed.
When we realize how hard our Patriarch worked to develop the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation then we should follow their example so as to help all schools of Buddhism be very close together.
If people come to a pagoda and have a feeling of coolness, then they can know that the Sangha of this pagoda doesn’t take good care of each other. That is reason why Buddhism is easily weakened. The Sangha should think that they are all siblings. We are monks and nuns who have left home to enter into pagodas for the goal of emancipation, so we should live together in a pagoda with our big love and great compassion. Our big love in the pagoda can affect Buddhists who come to pagodas to seek a warm atmosphere of the Sangha’s love and compassion, before they can listen to preaching. If we can’t give our love to religious brothers living together in the same pagoda how can we give our love to the followers? And how can the Buddhists learn from us the lessons of love and compassion so that they can apply those lessons to their daily life? We are the monks and nuns who should show the great examples to our Buddhists who always put their faith on our cultivation.
Although, we are in different Schools, we are still the children of the same Father, our Buddha. Then we should take good care of each other and love each other as much as our siblings. If we can do that, we can be sure that our Buddhism will be never separated, but always connected closely. This is the way that our Patriarch wanted us to carry out when they developed the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation.
If we want all Schools of Buddhism to be in harmony, we should note that we never have a high opinion of any school. All Schools should be based on the Eight- Fold Path that is the best guideline, and based on the
Three Studies of principle, meditation and wisdom6, which is the key point, and based on the aim of attaining Enlightenment that is the ultimate end.
Though Buddhism contains 84.000 gates of Dharma, the gate of the Eight-Fold Path is the foundation, and the way to Enlightenment is the only one. For this reason, we all base on the same foundation, and have the same way to Enlightenment to reach to; therefore, we can never obey any command to sow a seed of division between the Schools of Buddhism.
Because we are the disciples of the Buddha then we should give love to each other. And because we are the children of the Fairy and the Dragon then we should be always loyal to our country.
In the way to develop profession of faith, other religions have skill at organization, they know well how to attract believers; whereas, we are Buddhists we are indifferent to this. We don’t care how many people can be our followers this month whether the number of followers can be increased next month. Buddhist doctrines always guide people to live together in harmony; however, we have no skill at organization or underline determination of developing profession of faith in Buddhism.
6 Tripitaka (three vehicles of learning)
Meanwhile, there are many bad people who sow the seeds of division among the Schools of Buddhism or among pagodas; therefore, the great Buddhist work is never completely carried out, and of course Buddhism would be weaker and weaker. We should stop immediately anyone who speaks ill of the Sangha. If we have no bad opinion of our people even though we are pushed to do that, then we can win Mara’s power. Mara has always found any way to seduce people and control people’s minds. When we determine to follow our Buddha’s teachings and keep the Sangha in harmony then there is nobody who can divides our Buddhism. We need to have the strong faith and the long-standing cultivation so that we can avoid arising bad thought in us. In this point, we can realize that our behavior depends on how much our practice would be. Only when we never feel hatred to others can we be the Buddha’s disciples, can we keep Buddhism close together. We hope that for the sake of the development of Buddhism, the Sangha always keeps up spirit so as not to be forced by bad groups to divide Buddhism.
Moreover, the management of a pagoda need to look mightily, and any pagoda should have enough classrooms to serve a purpose of study of the Sangha.
Monks and nuns should pay more attention to organization of propagating Dharma. When people come into pagodas they should be given our love, our care, and a warm atmosphere in pagodas so that they can have good feelings of pleasure whenever they come to us.
People need principled and talented monks who can bring Dharma to human beings, while the talented are rarely, so are the principled. The principled and talented monks are really precious gems nowadays. Therefore, if any good Buddhist can enter monk-hood, please do it in order to serve the purpose of development Buddhism.
In practice, The Sangha should be never pleased with themselves. Whenever we feel satisfied we are regressing. We need to find fault with ourselves so as to perfect our practice. If we do that our characters of religious life will be improved more and more.
Whoever you are, monks and nuns or Buddhists, you need to know how to improve yourselves, and then you are the one who have the strong spirit. Your knowledge of doctrines is also your strength to deal with other religions. You can explain Buddhist doctrines to them and help them understand more about our Buddhism. This is a way to make all religions close together.
Today, in memory of our Patriarch, we should give a talk of the dual path of Meditation and Pure Land cultivation. Thanks to our Patriarch, our Buddhism has strongly developed for long, and could have firmly gone throughout the time of French domination.
As a result of our Patriarch’s effort, Vietnamese Buddhism has been improved and pagodas have appeared everywhere, and then our children can enjoy listening to the bell resounding all over the villages every early morning and every evening. We can’t express how much we are grateful to our Patriarch but we can take the great vow that we will practice very hard to maintain and develop our Buddhism and help our people live in the moral principles and saintly life.
Namo the Master Buddha Sakyamuni.