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Thiên Mụ Pagoda, Bảo Lâm Temple, & Tam Thai Temple in Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam) (In Aulacese)    
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Today’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms will be presented in Aulacese (Vietnamese), with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The Unsurpassed Dharma King is matchless throughout the three realms and beyond Teacher of gods and humans.

Remember that Âu Lạc is a holy land. Do you see the map?

Does it look like an “S”? Do you see the Tao symbol? It has a circle with the letter “S” in the middle; one side is white with a black dot and the other black with a white dot.

These are called yin and yang. Âu Lạc looks like that. By looking at the geography, one can tell that it’s a sacred land with extraordinary people.

Âu Lạc (Vietnam) is a country in Southeast Asia with a history of over 4,000 years of civilization. Since ancient times, the sacred and beautiful land of the descendants of the Dragon King and Fairy Princess has been the birthplace of many enlightened spiritual practitioners such as the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng, Great Master Khuông Việt, Zen Master Vạn Hạnh, Zen Master Mãn Giác, Lý Era’s National Teacher Nguyễn Minh Không, Zen Master Từ Đạo Hạnh, Grand Master Tuệ Trung, Zen Master Huyền Quang, Zen Master Pháp Loa, Trúc Lâm First Patriarch Trần Nhân Tông, Zen Master Vũ Khắc Minh, and Zen Master Vũ Khắc Trường.

In modern times, Âu Lạc has been graced by Buddha Master Tây An, founder of the Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương Order; Master Ngô Minh Chiêu, founder of the Cao Đài religion; Master Nguyễn Thành Nam, founder of Đạo Dừa; Master Huỳnh Phú Sổ, founder of Hòa Hảo Buddhism; First Master Minh Đăng Quang, founder of the Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association; and more recently, Supreme Master Ching Hai, a world-renowned spiritual teacher who imparts the Quan Yin Method – all were born on this holy land.

Buddhism, around 300 BCE, under the reign of King Hùng III, was introduced to Âu Lạc from India. Since then Âu Lạc has been graced by the presence of many venerable monks and nuns. Among them were great sages who contributed immensely to the nation’s development and worked tirelessly to disseminate Truth teachings.

The ancestors of Buddhism were great Zen masters. When you go home, read the book “Vietnamese Zen Masters,” written by the Venerable Thích Thanh Từ. You will learn how the Aulacese (Vietnamese) of the past practiced spiritually, who the great Zen Masters were, and how enlightened they were.

In Âu Lạc, Buddhism reached its pinnacle in the Lý and Trần dynasties. An excerpt from “A Collection of Unusual Tales,” written by eminent scholar Nguyễn Dữ, describes: “Those initiated into monkhood or nunhood were as many as half of the general population. Pagodas were constructed, more than 10 in large villages, and about 5, 6 in small villages.” Pagodas can be found throughout the nation, from north to south. For instance, northern Âu Lạc has the One Pillar Pagoda, built around 1049; the Đậu Pagoda built in the 11th century; and Perfume Pagoda, built at the end of the 17th century.

The Central region has Celestial Seal Pagoda, built in 1694; Từ Đàm Pagoda built at the end of the 17th century; and Heavenly Lady Pagoda, officially built in 1601. The Heavenly Lady Pagoda in the Complex of Huế Monuments was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1993 as a World Cultural Heritage site. Southern Âu Lạc has Sacred Mountain Cave Temple, built in the 18th century, Vĩnh Tràng Pagoda at the beginning of the 19th century, and Tây An Temple in the 19th century. From the early 20th century till now, Buddhism in Âu Lạc continues to flourish.

According to statistical data by the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam, the number of Buddhists taking refuge in the Three Jewels (Enlightened Master, Truth, Saintly Assembly) have reached nearly 45 million. The entire nation has over 44,000 monks and nuns, with more than 14,000 pagodas, temples and monasteries. The temple has become an endearing image closely connected to the life of the Aulacese people, who go to the temple to study profound Buddhist teachings, find inner peace, and be reminded of their ancestors’ virtues, as conveyed in the verses written by the Most Venerable Thích Mãn Giác: “The temple protects the spirit of the nation, It’s our ancestors’ way of life since time immemorial.”

During a lecture at the Việt Nam Temple in Los Angeles, California, USA on March 24, 1991, Supreme Master Ching Hai expounded on the purpose and significance of a temple.

A temple is an important place. Why is it important? It’s important not because it’s big but because it reminds everyone not to forget his or her spiritual aspiration. Therefore, a temple is a place for you to come to study Buddhism, to stand and walk more dignified. You must find the monks to study Truth teachings so that your mind develops further. But you must protect the temple.

For example, if you’ve been going there for a long time, the temple would inevitably have wear and tear, so you should contribute your effort and material resources to upkeep it. First, the temple represents the long-standing culture of Âu Lạc (Vietnam); it represents a great religion in the world. Second, it’s there so that you can have a refuge for the spirit, and third, for our children to have a place to continue the virtuous traditions of the Aulacese (Vietnamese) people.

We are deeply grateful to Supreme Master Ching Hai for her treasured words and boundless grace for the nation and the righteous and pious people of Âu Lạc.

In a foreign land, I met you some years ago. Your nun’s robe, the color of faded brown, Both worldly life and renunciation uncertain. Born with a headstrong personality, In a female form, you endured controversy.

I read the old verse with nostalgia – A cheerful line here, a line of grievance there. Each polished sentence Still quietly reflects your grace and elegance. When you passed on, who cried and who rejoiced? To whom could you explain the misjudgments and turmoil? Pray to the Three Jewels on the high abode May the Awakened Soul be saved from the world of sorrow!

Beauty is often ill-fated; A poet’s hair turns gray before others’! Alas! Alas! At the Buddha’s altar, I lit a fragrant incense In reverence And prayed to Amitabha Buddha To take the kindhearted to the Western Land... Namo Buddha Namo Dharma (Teachings) Namo Sangha (Assembly of renunciates) Namo Quan Yin Bodhisattva Mahasattva! To take the kindhearted to the Western Land...

Beauty is often ill-fated; A poet’s hair turns gray before others’! Alas! Alas! At the Buddha’s altar, I lit a fragrant incense In reverence And prayed to Amitabha Buddha To take the kindhearted to the Western Land...

Namo Buddha Namo Dharma (Teachings) Namo Sangha (Assembly of renunciates) Namo Quan Yin Bodhisattva Mahasattva! To take the kindhearted to the Western Land... Namo Buddha Namo Dharma (Teachings) Namo Sangha (Assembly of renunciates) Namo Quan Yin Bodhisattva Mahasattva! To take the kindhearted to the Western Land...

In today’s program, we invite you to visit Thiên Mụ Pagoda, Bảo Lâm Temple and Tam Thai Temple, three famous and ancient Buddhist temples in central Âu Lạc (Vietnam).

On the first day of the lunar month, I visit the temple. I go with my mother to buy lotus flowers. Huế is the place of many historical areas, natural beauty, and famous ancient Buddhist temples in Âu Lạc, among them is Thiên Mụ Pagoda. Thiên Mụ Pagoda was built in 1601 and has been renovated several times through the Nguyễn dynasty. The pagoda’s name came from a legend. It’s said that in olden days, at night, villagers often saw an old lady in a red dress and green trousers, who appeared on the hill where the pagoda is situated now and said, “A true lord will come here and build a pagoda to harness the energy and strengthen the good layer of earth, for Âu Lạc to become a powerful nation.”

After coming to govern Thuận Hóa, Lord Nguyễn Hoàng once passed here and heard this story. He had a pagoda built and named it Thiên Mụ (Heavenly Lady) Pagoda. The pagoda is situated on the hill lush with many plants. In the front, the dreamy Perfume River is like a silken strand of fabric, hugging the foothill. The pagoda is enclosed by brick walls, with a tower in the front, a shrine at the back, all appearing solemn and mythical. Phước Duyên Tower in the pagoda front yard is regarded as the symbol of Thiên Mụ Pagoda, comprising seven stories, each for the worshiping of a different Buddha.

The pagoda also has a grand, beautiful and precious bronze bell, cast during the reign of Lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu who reigned from 1691 to 1725. Inside the gate situated between the tower and the shrine stand the statues of Vajra (Diamond) Deity, the Dharma (true teaching) protectors. Đại Hùng Shrine, comprising of 5 compartments, where Buddhas are worshiped, is a grand architectural work with antiques having historical and artistic values such as statues of Dharma Guardians and the Ten Kings of Hades.

Behind Đại Hùng Shrine is the Earth Store Bodhisattva Shrine and Quan Yin Shrine. Inside the pagoda is a flower garden with verdant ornamental trees, which leads to the tomb tower of the late Venerable Thích Đôn Hậu, the legendary abbot who dedicated all his life to activities benefiting Buddhism and people. Thiên Mụ Pagoda is a renowned tourist attraction in the ancient capital, classified as a national historical cultural monument. For centuries, the resonating sound of the bell and the pervading incense smoke amidst the serene air have stirred the hearts of many people in Huế, inspiring them to eschew worldly attachments and sorrow, and kindling the longing to return to our bliss-filled origin.

The rhythm of scripture reciting reverberates in my heart, blending with the sounds of tocsin and brass bells. The love I feel from the Father of old is deeply imprinted in my innocent mind. Bảo Lâm Temple leans against the foot of Chóp Chài Mountain in Phú Yên Province. The temple was founded by Zen Master Đạo Trung of Rinzai Zen school, the 38th generation, in the 19th century. Crossing the gate, one sees a large, airy and graceful space with many kinds of flowers and decorative plants, meticulously cared for by the monks.

In front of the main hall is a statue of Quan Yin Bodhisattva standing on a lotus. The path up the mountain slope is built of many stone steps across the gardens, creating a secluded and tranquil painting that is characteristic of Zen. The temple has a 18-meter high statue of Shakyamuni Buddha sitting on an immaculately white lotus, leaning against the mountain. Underneath are statues of the Dharma Guardians and Buddha’s disciples. Behind Shakyamuni Buddha statue is a green forest of shady trees amidst a garden called Lumbini, a reminder of where Buddha was born.

The sight of Buddha preaching to the first five disciples is also reconstituted. With impressive figures of Dharma Guardian Deities, it’s as if the garden is leading visitors to a mythical world. By the forest are Bell Tower, Amitabha Shrine, and Maitreya Shrine. With a beautiful natural scenery, as well as harmonious architecture and tranquil atmosphere, Bảo Lâm is a famous ancient temple in Phú Yên that often welcomes numerous Buddhists and pilgrims who come to worship and find peace in the teachings of Buddha and recitals of scriptures.

I pray to Buddha to bless me so that I can become an obedient child. From now on, I’ll stop indulging in play. I’m determined and vow to study diligently. One of the oldest Buddhist temples still existing in Đà Nẵng, situated on Ngũ Hành Mountain, is Tam Thai Temple. The temple was founded by Zen Master Nguyên Thiều in 1630; its majestic, ancient look has remained till this day.

In the 6th Minh Mạng year (1825), the king ordered the restoration of Tam Thai Temple and conferred its title as a national pagoda. Legend has it that Princess Ngọc Lan, King Minh Mạng’s younger sister, came to be a nun at this temple. The king ordered her to return to the court to get married but the princess was determined to stay and practice spiritually.

She wrote a poem to her royal brother, excerpted as follows: “Worldly affairs are all in a muddle. The more I see it, the more tainted it looks Morning bell dispels base thoughts Sound of afternoon tocsin shatters the mundane mind.” From the foot of the Thủy Mountain, following the stone steps to about halfway up the path, one sees stone pillars: that is the gate of Tam Thai Temple. Going past the gate, on both sides are Hành Cung which was built upon King Minh Mạng’s order to use as a resting place when His Majesty went sightseeing at the temple.

To the left of the Tam Thai Temple is Huyền Không Cave which is high and wide; the air inside is cool. Next to it is Linh Nham Cave. Following the path across the mountain leads us to Tàng Chơn Cave and Linh Ứng Pagoda. The Vọng Giang Tower in front of the temple is situated at the peak of the Thủy Mountain. From here, one can have a broad view of the area. Rivers and mountains merge with the clouds, and the occasional sounds of the bell, tocsin and chanting – all bring about a supra-worldly joy and dettachment from mundane matters.

I pray to Buddha to bless me so that I can become an obedient child. From now on, I’ll stop indulging in play. I’m determined and vow to study diligently. From now on, I’ll stop indulging in play. I’m determined and vow to study diligently. From now on, I’ll stop indulging in play. I’m determined and vow to study diligently.

Thank you for watching today’s program featuring some the famous and ancient temples in central Âu Lạc. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Coming up next is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, right after Noteworthy News. So long for now.
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