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Aulacese (Vietnamese) Modern Folk Opera: A Golden Lesson - P1/4 (In Aulacese)    
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Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Aulacese (Vietnamese), with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai.

In Aulacese (Vietnamese) culture, cải lương (modern folk opera) is a popular theater art that dates back about three centuries, when the flourishing South was a new land. Among those who settled in the South at that time were musicians from the royal palace in the ancient capital Huế. Since then, the kind of ceremonial music often heard in the palace became more widely known among the populace.

Eventually, new songs were composed. Many amateur musical groups were formed, adopting music and song as a form of elegant entertainment. From about 1912 to 1915, the artists of these musical groups began to combine gestures to their songs. Since then, a new genre called ca ra bộ was born. Performers conversed; sometimes a song would be used as dialogue. Ca ra bộ continued to develop to create the theatrical art that is now called modern folk opera.

The orchestra for Aulacese modern folk opera usually consists of the six-string guitar, the moon lute, the pear-shaped lute, two-string fiddle, sixteen-string zither, and monochord zither. The themes of Aulacese modern folk opera highlight humanitarian and moral values. The dialogues are profound, the song lyrics and tunes are rhythmic and rich in melody. These are some of the reasons cải lương (modern folk opera) has an enduring place in the hearts of the Aulacese people.

In the Lunar New Year 2007, during an outdoor gathering with our Association members in Formosa (Taiwan), Supreme Master Ching Hai was moved to spontaneously sing a folk opera song “Spiritual Practice is a Source of Blessing” written by Mr. Viễn Châu, which she knew by heart since her youth. We now invite you to listen to an excerpt of this folk opera song through the voice of Supreme Master Ching Hai.

Kneeling down, she sobs in the main hall of worship
As the temple bell sounds the hour of prayer O young devotee, why do you wish to be a nun?
Finding comfort in the scriptures, and acquainting yourself with spiritual practice?
But how can you achieve enlightenment when earthly traces are still evident on your seasoned countenance?
Are you rid of worldly debt or are still entangled?
Did you renounce the world because glory and fame have lost their appeal and life seems like an abyss?
Or was it because of a fleeting moment of jealousy and distress that you intend to hide yourself behind the temple’s gate to bury your grief and forget your sorrow?

On Enlightening Entertainment, Supreme Master Television is pleased to introduce different forms of arts from Âu Lạc (Vietnam), as well as from other countries in the world, in order to share the beauty and cultures of the peoples on our planet.

The modern folk opera “A Golden Lesson” was adapted from a Buddhist story. “A Golden Lesson” is an invaluable lesson about the law “what you sow, so shall you reap,” to remind people to be prudent and wise in their action, speech and thought, so that they can enjoy peace and happiness in this lifetime and in the future.

We now invite you to enjoy part 1 of the Aulacese modern folk opera “A Golden Lesson” written by the late Venerable Thích Thiện Hoa. This opera will be presented in 4 episodes, with performances Châu Thanh as King Đột Quyết, Phượng Loan as Second Queen Hoàng Hoa, Tâm Tâm as General Thanh Lan, Khánh Tuấn as General Hoàng Cái, Hữu Tài as Eccentric Elder, Hiếu Liêm as Lý Bá, Bích Thủy as Commander’s Wife, Chiêu Linh as Prince Phương Tùng, Thanh Liêm as Commander, Thanh Phong as Young Man, and other artists.

Thank you for joining us on today’s Enlightening Entertainment. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Words of Wisdom is coming up. Farewell and we’ll see you again.

Who wishes to get rich? Who wishes to be classy? Who wishes his business to go well? Quickly buy this priceless lesson! Who wishes to excel in literature and fine writing? Who wishes to succeed academically to become a mandarin? Who wishes to achieve title and rank? Quickly buy this priceless lesson! Who wants to enjoy a harmonious married life? Who wishes to have a happy family? Who wishes to be loved and respected by neighbors? Quickly buy this priceless lesson! Who wishes to self-cultivate and accumulate merits? Who wishes to enjoy a good life in old age? Quickly buy this priceless lesson! Buy it now! Buy quickly; otherwise, you’ll regret later. Buy quickly!

O Elder! What are you selling?

It’s a priceless lesson that enables people to achieve whatever they want.

Wow! A priceless lesson. How wonderful! Why don’t you use it yourself?

I’ve used it for myself and it has been very effective.

You’ve used it for yourself? How come you’re still penniless?

Because I don’t want to be rich.

Why don’t you attain academic success to be a mandarin?

Because I don't want to be a mandarin.

Why don’t you have a harmonious family with children to rely on?

Because I don’t want to get married.

You don’t want to have anything at all. You really don’t want anything at all?

I want only one thing.

What do you want?

I want to sell this priceless lesson for worldly people to use. I was born to do only this work.

You must be a crazy old man! Who would want to buy your lesson anyway! People buy rice, paddies, gardens, and houses. Who would buy your priceless lesson? Without your lesson, people still eat and drink well all day long. They still indulge in pleasure, build their homes, and enjoy wealth.

But if worldly people have this lesson, I believe that they will enjoy even more happiness and wealth. Buy it quickly or else you’ll regret.

Do you know who I am?

That has nothing to do with me. Whoever you are, I couldn’t care less. Why should we know each other?

You came to do business in this area but you don’t care to know about me, then your life is over. This area is my kingdom. I give the right of doing business to anyone I wish. Otherwise, you’d better leave this place quickly. If you’re making trouble, I’d beat you to death!

Are you the inspector or the tax collector?

That’s just small potatoes, not worth mentioning! I’m the top gangster in this area.

I thought you meant something else. I don’t even fear the 18-eye toad man, much less the top gangster here. If you’re really so, come on in!

This…this…old man is really bold! How dare you get me infuriated! I’ll give you one stroke of my knife and let you reincarnate.

Ouch!

Son! Don’t try your bullying habit because you think I’m an old man. Before taking the priceless lesson out for sale, I already practiced martial arts for self-defense. I’m not so dim and naive to come here to be bullied by you. I’ll forgive you if you ask.

Look! If I count to three and you don’t apologize, I’ll press this cane down. You’ll be flattened, kid! Listen! One! Two!

I beg you to forgive me! I apologize to you, sir. I won’t dare do it anymore. I beg you!

Attention, everyone! The King is on his sight-seeing tour, everyone must yield his way. Whoever you are or whatever you do, all must immediately stay out of the way. Attention, everyone!

A golden lesson! Buy it quickly, or else it’s too late! A golden lesson! It’s a rare chance!

O Elder! Where are you from? Are you aware of the law of Nhục Chi kingdom? When His Majesty is on a sight-seeing tour, no one is allowed to stand in his way.

I lead a homeless life and will die without a burial ground. I’ve traveled everywhere to sell a priceless lesson. But I haven’t met anyone who realizes its value, so my goal isn’t yet fulfilled. I’m getting older every day, so I’m afraid that the lesson will still be unsold when I die. Today, His Majesty is passing by here; I believe this is a rare opportunity for finding a potential buyer, so I forgot the protocol. Please forgive me, Your Excellency.

Where? What lesson? Show me!

It’s in this bag.

It’s not that easy. If you want to buy it, then pay for it. When money is paid, I’ll give it to you.

Tell me how much that lesson is worth.

A thousand taels of gold exactly.

Are you crazy? I’ve served as a general and a mandar in my entire life. I’ve fought invaders from the North and put down the rebels in the East. I’ve defied death countless time, yet I’ve never had a hundred taels of gold at any time. And today I don’t know what’s in that hand-span bag, yet you asked such a high price for it. A thousand taels of gold! You’re too crazy. All right, you should leave now to yield this way to the King.

What’s the matter, Commander Thanh Phong? Why do we stop here all of a sudden? And this elder is...

The man who has a precious item.

Your Majesty, this old man stands in the middle of the road, selling a lesson that he claims to be very valuable!

A valuable lesson? It must be very good, right?

Your Majesty! Good is not quite correct. I must say that this is the most valuable lesson in the world.

Aren’t you exaggerating? But I pardon you, because normally any merchant would claim that his or her goods are the best.

Your Majesty, I’ve never exaggerated anything in my whole life. I regret that no language can convey correctly the noble value of this lesson, therefore I resort to using the term “priceless lesson.”

All right, I’ll assume that it’s priceless. But since it’s priceless, how can I pay you?

Your Majesty, I only ask for a symbolic payment of 1,000 taels of gold.

You call 1,000 taels of gold a symbolic price! So if it’s sold at its real price, His Majesty wouldn’t have enough to pay you, even if he sells this whole country of Nhục Chi.

Your Majesty! Your Excellency! It’s indeed so. And I believe such a price is not at all high because with this lesson, Your Majesty can build 10 more kingdoms.

Is it really so?

Elder Mandarin! May I trouble you to quickly return to the court on horseback and ask the treasury to release 1,000 taels of gold for me? Then come back here right away.

Your Majesty! Do you intend to…

Leave now, would you!

Order obeyed.

Elder, are you married with children?

Your Majesty, I’ve been all alone since birth.

So, what will you do with 1,000 taels of gold? Whom will you leave it to, especially when your days are numbered now? I’m afraid that not only you won’t be able to keep the gold, but you may get yourself in trouble.

I’m grateful to Your Majesty for your thoughtfulness, but I already have a plan to use the gold from the sale. Please do not be concerned, Your Majesty.

How do you treat me? Am I more special than others?

Your Majesty, you’re at the noblest position in my thinking. That’s why today I came here waiting for Your Majesty to pass by, to sell you the lesson. Because I think that besides you, probably no one is capable of buying this lesson. Other than you, no one can create more goodness from the use of it. If Your Majesty applies it, I’m certain that the benefit will be a hundred fold.

But with the price of 1,000 taels of gold, you truly make it difficult for me.

O Your Majesty! I’m aware that kindness and righteousness is like thousands of gold coins, whereas money is like dust. While living, worldly people suffer because of gold. Yet people can’t take it along to Hades upon their death. I may offer Your Majesty the most valuable lesson in the world, as I’m now like a withering tree approaching my evening when life is as fragile as the morning dew. Dew will fall down when swayed by the breeze and my eyes will be closed when my strength wanes and my breath exhausted. But I think that by offering it to you free or at a low price, you may think little of it. There’s a saying “What costs little is of inferior quality.” So, I’m determined to sell it at 1,000 taels of gold. Only when you spend such amount of money will you treasure this lesson.

All right. I agree to pay 1,000 taels of gold for the lesson. But I’ll pay you in advance 500 taels. I’ll pay the remaining 500 taels, if I find the lesson is good and its application effective.

So you’re not wholeheartedly wanting to buy it? Then please let me go to another place to sell it, since it’s getting late already.

Hold it! You have no respect for me at all! Why are you leaving when the bargain isn’t yet settled?

Please pardon me, Your Majesty. I think if as the King, you value 1,000 taels of gold more than my lesson, then in my position, I also feel sorry for my lesson.

All right. I agree to pay you 1,000 taels of gold. Show me the lesson.

Please pardon me, Your Majesty. There’s a saying, “Pay your money and take your porridge.” I’ll present Your Majesty the lesson after I receive 1,000 taels of gold in full.

You’re really difficult! Don’t you trust me?

Before I answer you, may I ask: Does Your Majesty trust me?

Frankly I’m a little skeptical about the value of the lesson you’ve praised.

If Your Majesty doesn’t trust me, then I’m sorry, how can I trust you? People often trust what the King said, but the King doesn’t honor his words. Therefore, the country crumbles. I think that fairness must be ensured between the King and his people or the two sides must trust each other. If we don’t trust the other side, then don’t force the other side to trust us. And if the two sides don’t trust each other, they’d better apply the motto, “Pay your money and take your porridge.”

All right. I’ll do as you wish.

Your Majesty, 1,000 taels of gold are all in the bag. They’re at Your Majesty’s disposal.

Here is 1,000 taels of gold. Do you need me to send guards to protect you on the road?

Thank you, Your Majesty. I need no one’s help. I’ve learned some martial arts since my childhood, so I can carry hundreds of kilograms. Now, I respectfully submit it for your review! I wish to say one last thing before I leave. Please remember, Your Majesty: A lesson, whatever it is, must be applied to be judged of its value.

I can’t open and read the golden lesson here. Commander Thanh Phong, return to the court!

O beloved wife! I died a wrongful death, thus my spirit isn’t liberated. I now come back in bitterness. Your longing for me grieves me greatly. Face to face now, but we’re as if a thousand miles apart.

So the news from the court is indeed true. You died because His Majesty was too merciless.

O beloved wife! Someone with a wicked heart devised an evil plot to accuse me of coveting the golden throne and ordered people to kill me in the dark night. I’d died in jail. What hatred can be greater than this!

Pain pierces my heart as I hear it. The King mercilessly murdered a loyal subject. His name will be stained for thousands of years.

O beloved wife! I still don’t know why the King was so heartless. I devoted almost my entire life for my country, never once committing an offense, never once thinking of seizing the throne. The word loyalty never faded in my heart. Yet I don’t know why after a few sight-seeing days, His Majesty started the rumor that I attempted to usurp the throne. Despite my trying to explain, the King still had me imprisoned and sent people to take away my life.

I’d never expect this to happen to you. You wholeheartedly sacrificed yourself to protect the country. A loyal subject had to endure a tragic death at the end of his life!

Tell Thanh Lan to raise her sword for vengeance.

Your word is obeyed. I’ll tell our daughter Thanh Lan to dispatch troops to the court to make King Đột Quyết pay for his crime.

If so, I’d feel at peace to be liberated. I bid you farewell now. Farewell, beloved wife!

O beloved husband! My husband was right. What resentment can be greater this! Đột Quyết! Someday you will die by the hands of my daughter Thanh Lan.

Karmic ties should be loosened, not tightened. I tell you in advance that the more you tighten it, the more you’re bound by it. Unfastening it is genuine compassion.

Who are you? Where do you come from? And what is your purpose in telling me these things?

I’m a nameless person from the realm of peace, just passing by here. My words weren’t to disturb you, but to advise: An advice more precious than gold and gems.

So what you said earlier was to advise me to forget my resentment, forget the one who killed my husband and still sits comfortably on the throne.

The loser can’t sleep well; the winner creates more hatred. Forsake both losing and wining, one will sleep peacefully.

Are you sent here by King Đột Quyết? (No.) Once again, I want to know who you are.

I’m the one who comes to talk about the law of retribution that led to Commander Thanh Phong’s death in the prison.

What retribution is it that my husband had to endure, causing his family to suffer separation?

Of all things in the world, nothing comes from nothing; nothing happens without a cause. But due to their ignorance, sentient beings have yet to understand thoroughly, thus they blame Buddha and resent Heaven for not being fair. In fact, life and death, happiness and misery, joy and sorrow which we experience are all created by us.

Then let me ask you. What caused my husband to be imprisoned while he was completely innocent? And he was forced to die a tragic death. What retribution is it that caused us wife and husband, daughter and father to suffer separation and shed tears? Tell me! What caused it?

Since his youth until he became a high-ranking official, Thanh Phong probably had jailed and chained people many times. How many people died by his hands in the battle fields? “A tooth for a tooth” to resolve it. We kill, thus we must be killed.

Don’t be offended but your explanation couldn’t convince me.

As I said, I came from the realm of Peace and Bliss, so I know neither anger nor resentment. If there’s anything that you haven’t understood, just tell me, please.

As a general defending the country, how could he not kill the enemies?

Killing the enemies with the intention to sit at the high position with pride and joy at others’ deaths is different from the act of a compassionate general who drives the enemies away to bring peace to the multitude.

You meant my husband’s killing in the battle fields was for his fame and position?

Such is the cause, so came the retribution from it.

Enough! Don’t talk about it anymore. Leave now! Don’t make me resort to the authority of a Commander’s wife to drive you out.

I’ll leave right away. But before I go, there is something I wish to tell you. “Before you do anything, carefully consider its effect.”

Are you lecturing me? Elder!

In broad daylight, I dreamt of my husband coming back to speak to me and of an old man telling me the law of retribution. Oh, how so confused and worried I am!

O mother! I’m home already!

Thanh Lan, my daughter has returned from the frontier. Thanh Lan!

O mother! At the frontier, I learned that my father died in prison. I just come here to say a few words and then I’ll leave. I vow to kill the ruthless King. Only when he dies, will I feel at peace. I’ll never neglect a child’s filial duty.

I’ve heard the painful story. For a young woman to go to the royal court alone to kill a benighted king, it’s difficult to safeguard her life.

Though a young woman, I’ve been to battlefields, exposed to many dangers. Life and death to me is just a trivial thing.

Oh soldiers from the Western frontier post! I, General Thanh Lan, will head to the court to bring the benighted king Đột Quyết to trial. Everyone, follow me! Let’s head to the court!

What happened after the King’s sight-seeing tour? The King ordered the imprisonment of Commander Thanh Phong, then quietly sent someone to force him into death. The Commander died. His daughter Thanh Lan is a woman general stationed at the Western frontier. Thanh Lan will surely bring her troops here to put the King on trial. Great! Heaven must be helping this Second Queen Hoàng Hoa. The King will die by the hands of General Thanh Lan. By then, my son, Prince Phương Tùng, will succeed the throne. My son will be the King of Nhục Chi.

O mother! What you said yesterday is indeed correct. The royal guards just informed people that General Thanh Lan is mobilizing her troops, preparing to go to the court to find and put Royal Father on trial.

Really? Then smile with happiness, my son, because your days of dreaming are about to end.

What dream are you talking about? The reason I tell you this is for you to inform Royal Father right away so that he can scape disaster.

Phương Tùng! You’re so naive. No wonder your Royal Father didn’t consider you as someone who will succeed his throne later.

I won’t be King, but I’ll still have a happy life. What for are you concerned about?

How could I not? If your Royal Father happens to pass away and you’re not concerned about being King, then the court officials will choose someone else to succeed him. Son, even if you regret, it’ll be too late by then.

I think a king must be a man of virtue and talent, not that anyone can be the king if he wants to. But why are you thinking of this today? Right now, you should quickly arrange for my Royal Father to escape disaster.

Dull-witted! Your words make me more furious. The spite of old is intensified. My heart is burning with hatred and resentment, while you’re so indifferent. The situation is changing. General Thanh Lan will bring her troops back to the court soon. Your father has to pay for what he did. No one else but you will sit on the throne.

How come? Why do you plan on unrealistic things? You make me so worried. I have to find my father to inform him.

Phương Tùng, stop! Don’t you want to be a king while living?

Mother, think no more about winning or losing. You’d be scorned by people and future generations. I’m going to inform my father now.

Phương Tùng! O God! Is this some kind of retribution? Twenty-five years ago, I made someone miserable and bitter. Today, 25 years later, I’m miserable and bitter when I have a son who doesn’t walk the same path. That day, due to my ambition to become the nation’s mother, I betrayed someone to be the Second Queen.

Despite a lovelorn soul watching his beloved leaving for the royal palace per King Đột Quyết’s order.

O Lý Bá! You come to me at the right time. You entered by the same secret tunnel, right?

Thank you for providing me a way to revive our past love, even though it’s only in our old age.

If only you knew what would befall me if that secret tunnel is discovered, you probably would not resent me anymore.

The road leading to our love wouldn’t have to be a narrow, dark, and stealthy one like that tunnel, but instead could be wide open and beautiful. I still remember the past. It doesn’t fade in my heart though it’s been 25 years. In a remote countryside, there were two lovers who vowed to unite in matrimony and stay together until their old age. But Heaven and Earth became stormy when the one I love betrayed me. She was mesmerized by the luxurious palace and the title of Second Queen.

Why mention it when all has passed already? After a long separation, we’re now together again.

You’ve deceived the King, claiming me as your relative so that I could serve in the golden palace.

And our love of yore always remains ardent. We’re apart in daytime, but keep each other company at night.

But I keep feeling worried that the secret tunnel might be discovered.

Supreme Master Ching Hai lovingly sent gifts to the artists contributing to the classical theatre opera “What Came From Heaven is Returned to Earth” broadcast on Supreme Master Television. They expressed their gratitude toward Master’s caring concern.

Actor Nguyễn Diêu Trì as Ngô Thiên:
On behalf of the writers and artists, I’d like to send Master my most sincere gratefulness for providing the opportunity to promote Aulacese traditional art to the world. That is an honor for all the writers and artists.

Actor Huỳnh Văn Tân as Lý Địa:
In the opera “What Came From Heaven is Returned to Earth,” I played a role in it, and we all helped to create the play script. I respectfully send Master my regards. The best of wishes to Master.

Opera actress Mỹ Dung as the Fairy:
I’d like to sing in dedication to Supreme Master Ching Hai an excerpt from the opera “Bidding Farewell to Revered Master.” O revered Master, I now bid farewell to you who lives in the Fairyland. Please allow your disciple to return to Earth. O Master, I now return to Earth. O revered Master, I’ve followed you to practice spiritually all this time. The literature, martial arts, and magical powers that you taught, I’m now well-versed. Now you allow me to return to Earth to visit my parents. I’m leaving at this moment, yet I always remember your favor of teaching me. Thank you, Master.

Opera actress Minh Liễu as Guard:
I wish to dedicate to Master a song about Bình Định, Quy Nhơn.

If you visit Quy Nhơn, stop by the Nhơn Hội Bridge over the Bạch Đằng River.
The long bridge takes passengers across the river.
I stand gazing at the emerald water, longing for you.
Moonlight shines upon the river.
Gentle autumn night with cool breeze and bright moon.
O friend, stop by Quy Nhơn, where ocean waves rise and fall adorably .
Roads open along the shore Shady trees, bright flowers
O Quy Nhơn! Cool breeze, bright moon.
O friend, stop by the glorious land. Stop by to visit the tomb of Hàn.
Stop by Tây Sơn, land of the heroes of old.
O friend! Stop by Hầm Hô. Stop by to visit Quy Nhơn.
O Quy Nhơn, such beautiful sceneries!
A view at the Mount Mister will enthrall every heart.
How I long and wait! Praying God to bring you to Quy Nhơn.

I wish to send my regards to Supreme Master Ching Hai. I’m sincerely grateful to Master.

Musician Đặng Nguyễn Trâm Anh:
On behalf of our group’s musicians and artists, I pray that Master be blessed with peace and safety.

We sincerely thank all the artists and professionals who have been helping to preserve the genre of classical theatre, a valuable ancient traditional art of the Aulacese people. We wish you viewers’ love and support always, with much blessing and good fortune in your daily life with loved ones.
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