Aulacese (Vietnamese) Buddhist Temples: Ngọc Viên Monastery, Tây An Temple, & Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda (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, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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.

On the first day of the lunar month, I visit the temple. I go with my mother to buy lotus flowers. I go to the temple to offer all my soul and sincere reverence to Buddha. The scent of aloe wood incense permeates the air. In my earnest prayer, I dream of Buddha. The Most Compassionate appears composedly serene. I dream that Buddha is smiling.

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. 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.

Gentle viewers, in today’s program we invite you to visit three pagodas well regarded as famous and ancient Buddhist temples in Âu Lạc. Namely Ngọc Viên Monastery, Tây An Temple, and Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda.

The Mekong River Delta area in southwestern Âu Lạc, Vĩnh Long Province is the homeland of the First Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang. This is where Ngọc Viên Temple is located. Ngọc Viên Temple is also the Patriarchal Temple and the Center of Dharma Propagation of the Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association in Âu Lạc (Vietnam). Born in 1923, since childhood Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang had yearned to seek the Truth.

At age 21, after meditating earnestly seven days and nights, he attained enlightened. From then on, he established the Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association, encouraging spiritual practice and teaching people tirelessly. Ngọc Viên Monastery was founded by Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang in 1948. After having been renovated several times, it is now a temple with an octagonal architectural style symbolizing the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, the way to liberation and enlightenment.

These are right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Inside the main hall, there is a tower for worshipping the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. The tower’s foundation has three levels, symbolizing the Three Jewels: Buddha (Enlightened Being), Dharma (Truth Teaching), and Sangha (Spiritual Community). The tower’s four sides are open, representing the Four Immeasurable Minds of Buddhism: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Around the tower are four great pillars supported by lotus flowers, as a reminder to build the foundation of life with our body, speech, and mind as pure as the lotus. Behind the tower is an altar for the Book of Truth and Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang’s picture. Above his picture is the image of a lotus flower upholding the lamp of Truth which the Patriarch had chosen as the symbol of the Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Order. Its meaning is that the true teachings of the Buddhas, through the symbol of the lotus flower, will illuminate the way by the light of Truth for those with spiritual affinity.

Behind the main hall is a library that stores the Buddhist Tripitaka (holy text) as well as the scriptures of Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association. The lecture hall preserves photographs and autographs of Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang and later patriarchs. In front of the Patriarch’s hermitage is a banyan tree planted by the Patriarch himself when Ngọc Viên Monastery was first constructed.

Recently, many young banyan trees have sprung from the original tree’s roots, offering more shade to the serene temple. The Monastery has many hermitages made of simple thatches for the resident bhikshus (monks) to meditate or for visiting monks to stay overnight, according to the spirit of minimal need and modest living taught by the Patriarch. Ngọc Viên Monastery is also a place to study Buddhism and to train future generations on the path of compassion, wisdom, and courage.

At their activities club on every Sunday, youth often chant many sutras and verses such as “Don’t Kill the Animals” from the book “Chanting Rites” of the Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association. All animals aren’t any different than us. They also desire life and avoid danger. They have parents and relatives.

They form groups for activities and diligent work. Do not kill them for our food. Ngọc Viên Monastery, the first monastery of Aulacese (Vietnamese) Sangha Bhikshu Buddhist Association, is a significant historical vestige of Patriarch Minh Đăng Quang’s initial period of founding a spiritual path for Aulacese people to further develop their inherent moral values.

In the southwest of Âu Lạc, Tây An Temple is situated at the foot of Sam Mountain, Châu Đốc District, An Giang Province. The folk verses

“Every evening swallows soar at the mountain in the west How deeply we esteem Buddha Master Tây An’s great virtue!” bespeak the Sage’s compassion and wisdom. Buddha Master Tây An cured the sick and helped people make use of the wild land for farming to sustain themselves on the path of spiritual practice. He founded Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương Order and taught people to study Buddhism and cultivate their virtue, following Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching for self improvement.

He also emphasized the practice of four gratitudes which are gratitude to one’s parents, one’s country, the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), and fellow citizens and humankind. Author Sơn Nam wrote, “One may say that Buddha Master Tây An was the first person who brought awareness that the Declining Age is about to end to begin the Golden Age, when Maitreya Buddha will descend on Earth to form the Dragon Flower Assembly.” Although Buddha Master Tây An passed on in 1856 at the age of 49, his great legacy continues to this day.

Built circa 1847, Tây An Temple is the first temple in Âu Lạc that combines Indian art and Aulacese traditional architecture. The temple has three towers with brilliant yet harmonious colors. In the middle is the highest tower which has Shakyamuni Buddha’s statue. On the two sides are a bell tower and a drum tower. At the three-door gate is the statue of a mother carrying her child based on the legend of Quan Yin Thị Kính, a Bodhisattva (Saint) who was a perfect example of compassion and patient endurance. On the front steps are two elephant statues: a six-ivory white elephant and a two-ivory black elephant.

At the entrance to the main hall, there is a drawing of Shakyamuni Buddha meditating under the bodhi tree, and in the front are two lion statues signifying spiritual power. In the main hall, there are hundreds of statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Deities and Fairies. The statues of Four Heavenly Kings and The Eight Vajra (Diamond) Deities, holding weapons in their hands to protect the Dharma, look very stately. At the back are statues of Tây An Pagoda’s abbots, including the Venerable Thích Bửu Thọ, who passed away in 1972 when he was 79 years old.

A highly respected monk, he greatly contributed to the renovating of the pagoda. Behind the main hall on the left is Buddha Master Tây An’s tomb area, surrounded with the tower of the later abbots. The majestic natural scenery amidst with a tranquil atmosphere inside the temple give visitors a chance to remember the virtue and shining examples of ancient sages as well as to study the Truth with Buddhist monks who are devoted to their spiritual practice and a pure vegan lifestyle. Upon leaving the temple, devotees carry with them the noble ideal of leading a virtuous spiritual life in service of others.

Another famous pagoda in southern Âu Lạc is Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền, located on Thị Vãi Mountain (also called Nun Mountain), in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province. According to documents preserved at the pagoda, the first nun who practiced spiritually at this mountain once helped Lord Nguyễn Ánh escape danger.

After ascending the throne in 1802 as King Gia Long, in gratitude to the nun who saved his life, His Majesty mandated the pagoda renovation and conferred nun Diệu Thiện the title “Sacred Mountain Holy Mother,” with the pagoda being named “Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền.” The next abbot was the Venerable Thích Từ Thuận, an enlightened monk who helped many people, and in particular, with immense compassion, he had converted a tiger to practice spiritually beside him.

The mountain now still has the vestige of the tiger's lair, only about 100 meters from the pagoda. Since 2000, the Venerable Thích Trí Quảng continuously renovated the pagodas as well as other beautiful sites on Thị Vãi Mountain. The three main pagodas on the mountain are Liên Trì Pagoda, Hồng Phúc Pagoda, and Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda. From Liên Trì Pagoda at the foot of Thị Vãi Mountain, devotees must climb 1,340 stone steps to reach Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda.

At Hồng Phúc Pagoda (also called Central Pagoda), there is a temple worshipping Maitreya Bodhisattva sitting on a lotus flower, which is placed on a dragon’s back. From here, pilgrims continue to the Upper Pagoda, namely Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền. Here, there are outdoor statues of Vajra (Diamond) Deity, Four Great Heavenly Kings, and Quan Yin Bodhisattva. The main hall of Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda faces south; its decoration is filled with reverence.

At the center is Shakyamuni Buddha statue; in the front are statues of Baby Buddha and Maitreya Buddha. On the two sides are statues of Manjusri Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Quan Yin Bodhisattva, and Earth-store Bodhisattva. In the back hall is the altar of Patriarch Bodhidharma. All were enlightened spiritual practitioners who manifested on Earth to save sentient beings. The pagoda has a fragrant lotus lake with the Vairocana Shrine behind it and a sand mine above.

Graced by the blessings of God and Buddha as well as nature’s support, the sand at the lake has been a great advantage to the pagoda in construction projects on the mountain. In front of the lotus lake is the Life-and-Death Long Bridge. Walking across the bridge to admire the pure lotus flowers, pilgrims have the feeling that they are standing on the miraculous lotus of True Dharma, which takes the devout beyond the cycle of transmigration to return to the shore of awakening.

Behind the Vairocana Shrine is the Ultimate Bliss Garden, where there is a statue of Amitabha Buddha with his head leaning on a big stone. Behind the main hall is a road leading to the Quan Yin altar and Nirvana Peak. On the mountain, there are still caves where abbots of the past practiced spiritually in seclusion. Throughout the years, in the mountainous landscape, beside sacred statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and a solemn atmosphere of spiritual practice, Linh Sơn Bửu Thiền Pagoda has been offering pilgrims tranquil moments to remember their source of eternal bliss.

Thank you for your company on today’s program presenting some ancient temples in southern Âu Lạc (Vietnam). We wish you and your family peace and joy. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Coming up is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, right after Noteworthy News. Farewell for now.

Thank you for your company on today’s program presenting some ancient temples in southern Âu Lạc (Vietnam). We wish you and your family peace and joy.

Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Coming up is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, right after Noteworthy News. Farewell for now.

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