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Aulacese (Vietnamese) Modern Folk Opera: The Legend of Quan Yin’s Bridge Building - P1/2 (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 “The Legend of Quan Yin’s Bridge Building” was adapted from a Buddhist story, about Quan Yin, a great Bodhisattva who listens always to the prayers in the world to save whomever sincerely believe in her saintly compassion. The tale also shows that Quan Yin’s blessing isn’t just material but also spiritual, depending on the wish of each individual.

We now invite you to enjoy part 1 of the Aulacese modern folk opera “The Legend of Quan Yin’s Bridge Building,” by playwright Thanh Kim Huệ. This opera will be presented in 2 episodes, with performances by Thanh Kim Huệ as Quan Yin Bodhisattva, Thanh Điền as Lữ Đồng Tân, Quế Trân as Bạch Liên, Hoàng Nhất as Vi Đà, Trinh Trinh as Tiểu Mai, Hữu Tài as Boatman, Minh Béo as Tấn Hỉ, Hiếu Cảnh as Nobleman, Mai Thành as Rich Man, Hiếu Hiền as Rich Man’s Son, 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. Take care, and we’ll see you next week.

Oh, poor villagers! What shall I do to help them? Lạc Dương River is vast and the water flows swiftly. How can a small, frail boat survive when tempests rise? What should I do to help the villagers escape mishaps and cross the river safely? Seeing unfortunate plights, I couldn’t be at ease. How can I stand by idly at such a frustrating situation? Doesn’t Heaven have any pity for the poor, decent people? O God and Buddha, please save us. Bless us through miracles. Help me find a way to save people from dangers. Brother Tấn Hỉ, please help me think of a way to put an end to the perils so that villagers may cross the river safely.

You’re really good, I must admit. I stood behind you, but still you knew. I’m also thinking but couldn’t figure out anything. I think about it from night to morning, from inside my house to out the door, from the third to the fifth watch at night, but nothing comes out of my head. I think back and forth, be it wise or foolish, good or bad, yet I end up giving up.

You scared my spirit away!

Very good is it! Geesh! Thinking so much to end up with no solution. And still talking about it!

Miss Tiểu Mai, why do you keep making fun of me? I did think about it, really.

You did? Did you come up with a way?

Not yet. Let me tell you. Thinking is one thing, finding a solution is another thing.

But I didn’t see you think at all, I only saw you sleeping.

When did I sleep? You just made it up. That was when I was contemplating. You see? I close my eyes, but I always think and imagine. You probably thought I was sleeping then? Not at all. I was closing my eyes, but if anyone talked, I...

You wouldn’t hear anything, right?

You always sneer at me. I’d hear it, but a word here and there.

You two are probably verbally incompatible. You fight as soon as you meet.

It’s been like that. But if I’m away just a little bit, she’d run looking for me.

How unfriendly!

Who’d care to look for you?

I feel that you two aren’t compatible, is that right?

That’s right.

I think so too.

Then I have this idea.

What is the idea?

Miss Tiểu Mai should move to live in another village. If you two don’t see each other, there won’t be fighting anymore.

Good idea!

Impossible! What a bizarre idea! If Tiểu Mai moves to another village, I’ll move with her.

That’s strange!

Because without you, I have no one to fight with. That’d be so boring!

So we must keep fighting for fun, right?

Correct!

But I’ve already told you. We’re incompatible.

If we’re incompatible, then...

I don’t want to see your face.

Brother Tấn Hỉ, Miss Tiểu Mai, please stop arguing. Instead, we should try to think of a way to help the villagers.

How can I think? She’s holding my hand. A girl holding a guy’s hand!? How infuriating!

Let go!

All right then. Let me continue to think. Ah! I found a way.

What is it?

I forgot already.

How could you?

You yelled too loud, so I forgot.

What to do now?

Speak softly, so I can remember. Say it again.

What is it?

I remember now. How funny! If people talk softly, I remember right away. For the villagers to be safe and sound, then...

Then what? Oh goodness, be quick! You’re making me anxious. Speak!

Yelling again! I forgot again.

Speak!

That way is...

What way is that, brother Tấn Hỉ?

Don’t cross the river, then they’ll be safe.

That was not charming!

All right. Let me think then. Ah, I found it.

What is it, brother?

Build a bridge.

Good idea! Actually, that was my idea. I thought of it already but haven’t yet said it, then you said it first.

How great! What a fib!

Fibbing, yet adorable! Someone likes me, that’s good enough. That’s a good solution, brother Vi. ( But...) But what...?

Where’s the money?

Where’s the money?

There’s none.

Where’s the money?

You have money?

No, I don’t. I feel sad all of a sudden. Our villagers are so poor. For such a vast river, the bridge must be very long. Where do we find the money to build it?

So what’s the use? We think of all these bright ideas, but don’t have the means to carry out. (What?) I forget. Brother Vi is a stone engraver. A bridge built by him is surely very good. You’re skilful.

But however skilful I am, I also need money. Without money, no dreams will come true.

Sad again!

Let me tell you two. I have this idea.

What is it?

I heard that the Quan Yin Temple on Phổ Đà Mountain is very miraculous. How about we sincerely pray to Quan Yin for blessing so that our wish will come true?

Yes, that’s right. Brother Vi, you should pray to Quan Yin Bodhisattva. Who knows? She may be touched by your sincerity and help you fulfill your wish.

I respectfully bow to the Compassionate One who listens to cries and rescues beings. I now sincerely pray to you that my wish be fulfilled in helping villagers overcome their hardship. I can’t stand idly watching the villagers in trouble. I pray for your help, O Great Compassionate and Merciful One, to rescue sentient beings!

Quan Yin Bodhisattva be praised! Quan Yin Bodhisattva be praised!

Riding the auspicious cloud, I listen to the thousand sounds of wind. Someone is praying, whose sincerity has reached the blue clouds. His affinity probably has ripened. I’ll help a blessed soul. He’s been benevolent for thousands of lives which entitles him to a reward now. So kind and sincere he is. I must hasten to help a soul of good affinity. I’ll take him to the heavenly realm to help me safeguard the Buddha’s Dharma, so that the torch of compassion will illuminate the suffering world.

Greetings, Elder. Could you help take me across the river?

You want to cross the river at this time?

Yes.

You’re probably from far away, aren’t you?

Yes. I came here to find an acquaintance, but he’s not home. So I want to go back right away.

You’re probably from the capital?

Yes, I am.

It’s very dangerous to cross the river at this time.

Why is it so, Elder?

You’re not from here, so you don’t know. In autumn, Lạc Dương River often becomes stormy unexpectedly. So there are people who die every year when their boats capsize. Few people dare cross the river during the rainy season like now.

Is there any way to overcome it, Elder? It’d be very inconvenient for people here if it’s like this forever. When people have an urgent need to cross the river, how can we make it safe for them?

Even as a seasoned boatman, I still feel worried. Every time it’s stormy, I dare not row across the river.

How troublesome! It’s difficult to travel back and forth because there’s only one way, and this part of the river is so dangerous.

It’s been like this for years without any improvement. We can’t help even if we wanted to.

We can’t just give up and leave it to chance, can we?

What else can we do? We want to pray but our prayer is unlikely to reach Heaven.

So the villagers just give up, Elder?

Actually, there’s a young man named Vi in this village. He’s also very concerned for the villagers, so he submitted a petition to the royal court for aid in building a bridge.

That’s very good! It’s a great idea. But what happened, Elder?

The court responded that due to an increasing number of disasters all over the country in recent years, the court’s treasury has dried up. They said that it’d take at least a few more years before they can assist us.

So that idea didn’t work out.

Yet the young man Vi didn’t give up hope. He packed up to go to the upper district, then knocked on the door of every District Chief and those with wealth and power to ask for help. But after learning of the huge cost of bridge building, they immediately refused. He was disappointed and sadly came back home, but he’s still not at ease.

What a pity for the kind-hearted man!

The rich men in the district have plenty of money, yet they shook their head when asked to do charity work. Those people would spend any amount of money without hesitation in the pubs and on beautiful girls. I’m so frustrated every time I think of it.

O Elder! If we’re to build a bridge, it’d cost a lot of money, right, Elder?

Of course! I heard from Mr. Vi that it takes a large sum of money to build the bridge. Yet people here are dirt poor. So bridge building is just a dream.

So, a large sum of money is needed to build the bridge. Let me see how to raise this amount of money. Ah, Elder!

Yes!

I found a way already.

What is it, Miss?

It’s like this.

Father... O father!

What’s the matter, son?

You’re aged, soon to die, and still want to get married. Besides, you have too many wives already, and still want more.

Are you so blind that you see nothing?

Yes.

I indeed have many wives. (Yes.) But they’re all so old with bad habits even. I feel suffocated when I’m reminded of them.

But you’re aged and weak already. Can you manage it?

Leave it to me, son. You’re too talkative.

You’re so strange, father. For the charity work to make merit such as building bridges, repairing roads and assisting the needy and disabled, you wouldn’t give a dime. Yet you bring a whole trunk of gold to compete for a wife. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed!

I said to leave me alone. What do I get from giving out money freely? At least in a contest like this, I still have a chance to win and marry a young and beautiful wife.

Oh my! You have not much strength left and not much longer to live, yet you don’t dedicate to building merit. The fortune teller already said that you won’t have a casket for your burial later. Still, you don’t worry about it.

You’re casting a bad omen on me, aren’t you? Aren’t you, son?

Not at all.

Listen... If you weren’t so demented, you’d be in big trouble with me. Oh god! I’ve led such a kind and virtuous life, why did I give birth to such a son?

O Mister, why blame him, a mentally imbalanced man? You’re the most famous person in this village. Who wouldn’t know that?

Only you understand me.

That’s right. You rank first in every category.

Yeah. For example...

No one is richer than you.

Correct!

No one has more wives than you. (Correct!) No one is more cunning than you. No one is more deceitful than you. No one...

No one is more wicked than your father.

What? Hey, hey! My father is the District Chief. He has nothing to do with you that you sully his name!

The innocent he judged to be a criminal.

That’s correct!

A criminal who bribed was declared innocent.

Why not?

But what are you here for today? To take a wife or to wed a husband?

What…what? You meant to say I’m not a man? Did you? How did you know it so well? Excuse me! You’re old but still have a lot of nerve, don’t you? You’re dead wrong! This man already has two kids and two wives. Today I want to have the third wife, is that okay with you?

Men of the same mind flock together. The wedding boat has arrived.

Oh god! What a beautiful young lady! I must have her as my third wife.

And I, I must marry her. This is the last wife of my life.

Respected aristocrats and noble men! Let me remind you of the contest rules. The requirement is that my granddaughter Bạch Liên will stay in the boat. Each of you will throw in a tael of gold. Anyone whose gold touches my granddaughter will have her as your wife. It’s very easy, isn’t it?

So easy! Very easy!

It’s so easy. (Very easy.)

The contest begins.

I’ll throw first.

I’ll throw first.

I’ll throw first.

I’ll throw first.

What a silly old man you are! I’ll throw first.

I, I…

Be quiet! You’re fighting with me? Fighting for a wife! Fighting for a girl! Playing jokes with me? Listen now! This is the fairest arrangement: My father throws first.

What a clever boy! I haven’t seen you being smart for a long time.

Yes, grandpa.

Respect the elders, you’ll enjoy a long life.

What a fair decision!

How strange! A few days have passed, how come I still don’t see the person I need to bless?

Why is it the villagers all gather in that place? Strange! It’s Quan Yin Bodhisattva sitting on that boat. Why did she descend there? She even disguises as a young woman sitting on a boat for contestants to throw their money to have her as their wife. What’s the reason? Ah, I understand now. Quan Yin Bodhisattva wants to raise funds for bridge building, and at the same time, to save a person who has enough merit and affinity. She’s indeed very wise, accomplishing two tasks in one move. I must bow in admiration. On this occasion, I’ll assist her in attaining her goal.

Greetings, Mister.

Greetings, Elder.

I’m from the nearby village on my way here for some business. I saw the villagers, aristocrats and noblemen competing in a money-throwing contest for a wife. What fun! But... why don’t you join them? Have you seen that girl?

Yes, I saw her.

She’s about 20 years of age with unsurpassed beauty. But, young man! Take a closer look at me. What do you think?

What do you mean?

What I meant is... That lady and I, are we well matched? Why do you laugh? I look like this but I’m still very young. I’m only 80 years old. Comparing with that heavenly beauty, I’m on par with her. Is that right? Just tell me. Why do you hesitate? I’m right, aren’t I?

I find that despite your old age, you have a youthful spirit. Age 80 is not really old when you’re still more vigorous than anyone. Even as a young man, I’m impressed. Only through a long distance, can one tell if a horse is great.

Exactly what I meant. Don’t misjudge my old age. A 20-year-old might not be my match. But, young man! Let me tell you this, don’t laugh at me. I want to have a wife very much, but the problem is...

What’s your problem?

I want to compete for a wife but have no money, so how can I join the contest? Let me whisper to you a request. Do you have money? Let me borrow some. If I win the contest, I’ll have a beautiful wife and her dowry as well. I’ll then return you double. What do you think?

Money I have but...

But what? Speak quickly!

I have just a little.

It’s all right. Just give it to me. Consider it as doing charity for me to have a wife. Okay?

All right! Here, just take it.

That’s all you have? So little! But it’s all right. I’ve reconsidered it. In case I win the contest, I must marry her. After marrying her, I must take care of her. And I’m old already. The thing is I don’t want to die soon, though I’m old. If I marry her now, I probably will pass away within 3, 4 days. Here, I’m giving you back the money. But, young man! What do you save the money for?

To be honest with you, I’ve just saved a little. It’s not much, just more than 10 gold coins. I wish to save enough to build a bridge for people.

How much does it cost to build a bridge?

According to my estimate, I need a lot of gold. But I only have more than 10 coins, so I feel troubled.

How much money can you save each month?

I can save just one coin per month. One year I can only save 12 coins.

Heaven and Earth! Then in order to have enough money to build the bridge, you probably have to wait until your back is bent and teeth are gone.

I’m also aware of that, but I find no other alternative.

It’s very easy. Why don’t you participate in that contest for a wife? If by luck you succeed, you’d have a wife. Wouldn’t it be better?

Frankly, I don’t want to be tied down with family, so I’m not interested in competing for a wife.

You’re really strange! All young men are after beauty and passion. They can’t turn away from beautiful girls. Yet, you said you’re not interested. Are you thinking of becoming a monk?

I just want to be alone because I often carry the world on my shoulders. Having a family will be burdensome.

This is what I think: why don’t you go compete for a wife? If you’re lucky to throw money at the target, you can ask that lady to use the money for building the bridge first, and think of marriage later. Who knows? You may find yourselves in love with her by that time. Then it’d not be too late to get married. Right?

That is a very good plan! Let me go try my luck then. Let’s go, Elder!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been several days, yet no one has reached the right target. But, that’s fine. Perhaps the affinity is awaiting the blessed man. Please continue.

Oh god! How come they all went to the empty space? Why did I fail again and again to hit the target? My money is all gone! Oh god!

It’s nothing. You could go on for a whole month without making a dent in your total possessions. What you have there is nothing! Old but naughty!

You talk like I’m your father. He became rich from taking bribery, so you won’t run out of money, throwing for the whole month, right? But for me, throwing that much pained me already.

Hey, hey! Don’t you insult my father! Don’t sully my father’s name.

Are you finished? Fighting! Arguing! You people have a lot of free time, don’t you? Can I throw now?

Great! Very well! Look, son! You’re still young and strong. Throw it for me, all right? Here, throw for me. If you make it, she’d be my wife, not your wife, all right?

Dear, dear, dear...

Dear what? My family is discussing, don’t you see?

You sounded like I’m women-crazy.. It’s you who is, not me.

Dear, dear, dear...

What else?

Listen, dear.

What is it?

Do me a favor.

I can tell by your look what you want. What favor? Say it!

Here. Take this. Throw it for me, please. It’s my gold. Throw it right at the target. When I get married, I’ll reward you with a trunk of gold.

Look! Be wise, son. I’m your father. Throw my gold, you hear?

O dear, dear! Here is my gold, dear.

Excuse me! Let me think for a moment.

Throw for me, son.

One is filial duty, the other is gold. What should I do to fulfill both? Ah! I know what to do. You two, please move for me to do something.

Look here! Look at me! One, two, three!

What?

That will simplify matters.

Oh god! He’s killing me. My money is all gone!

Now it’s this young man’s turn to throw the money. Please stay away. O Heaven, please help him make it. Throw it!

Look there! It’s right on the target, O Elder.

He’s made it!

I’ve made it, Elder!

Wonderful! He’s made it!

O Elder! I have the fund to build the bridge now.
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