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Aulacese (Vietnamese) Modern Folk Opera: The Legend of Quan Yin’s Bridge Building - P2/2 (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 2 of the Aulacese modern folk opera “The Legend of Quan Yin’s Bridge Building,” by playwright Thanh Kim Huệ,
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.

Feeling sympathy for the good-hearted people who often encountered mishaps when crossing the river in times of high tides and winds, the stone carver Vi Đà tried all ways to obtain money to build a bridge, but to no avail. At last, he earnestly prayed to Quan Yin Bodhisattva. Recognizing Vi Đà’s sincerity and his great merit accumulated from many lifetimes, Quan Yin Bodhisattva descended on Earth to help him. She manifested as a beautiful young lady, Bạch Liên, who opened a contest with the condition that anyone who could throw his gold right at her would be allowed to wed her. Many rich men and noblemen failed to make it. Meanwhile, Vi Đà, with the aid of Lữ Đồng Tân, one of the Eight Immortals, threw his only gold coin right on Bạch Liên.

Thank you for joining us on today’s Enlightening Entertainment. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Words of Wisdom is coming up. Please tune in next Thursday for the Aulacese film entitled “For Gold, For Silver” by screenwriter Nguyễn Đông Thức. So long for now.

Brother Tấn Hỉ!

I’m here. Why are you breathing so hard, Mai?

I’m exhausted!

Goodness! It’s just a short run, and you’re tired already. I’m standing in one place but almost feel tired just the same.

Stop teasing me! O brother Tấn Hỉ, the bridge has been built. From now on, villagers can cross the bridge at ease. No further need for the ferry. No more worry of big storms and waves. I’m so happy, Tấn Hỉ! How about you?

Happy.

How come you don’t look cheerful at all?

I feel happiness inside. I don’t like to show it. If you want me to show it, then here it is. I’m so excited, Mai!

All right, put me down. Be careful, I may fall.

Thanks to brother Vi for mobilizing the help of young men in the village, so the bridge was completed early. O Mai! I’m so excited. I’m so happy! I’d smile at anyone I encounter. I’d greet anyone I see. I want to hug and kiss anyone I meet.

It’s taken so much effort to finally have it done. What joy could be greater than this! Thanks Heaven and Earth! People will be safe, no more fear of mishaps. But there’s something I’m wondering about.

What is it?

It’s about brother Vi. He joined the contest to throw gold for a wife. After he won the contest, he promised to think about it after the bridge building. The bridge is now built, but he doesn’t seem to care about marriage. Do you find it strange?

I do! I also wonder the same. Very strange! But this is what I think. Perhaps he’s still occupied with something, so he hasn’t had the time to think of marriage.

I feel sorry for Miss Bạch Liên. Any young woman would wish to soon get married. Having waited for a long time, she’s probably anxious and sad.

Wow! You must have read her mind, right? I’m impressed with your ability to know what she thinks.

O Tấn Hỉ!

What is it?

We’re both women, so I understand how she feels. Any young woman would hope to meet her lifelong companion for protection, because a girl is to get married when she grows up. A simple life in a thatched house yet filled with happiness. Husband and wife live in harmony until their old age. You don’t realize that we women don’t need riches and honors. As long as two hearts are on the same path, paradise is right here.

What you said makes me think again, and I find it to be strange. Brother Vi is a good man. Miss Bạch Liên is also a good person. Together, they double the goodness. Why does he keep delaying it? Why would he?

Why would he?

Why would he?

Let me ask you, why?

Why?

Why?

Do you want to know?

Yes.

We must find out.

Good idea!

I don’t know what to say to make you understand my feeling.

I understand. You feel shy and embarrassed, but who wouldn’t? Talking about marriage, any young man would be bashful. So, I’m very sympathetic to you. You promised me that when the bridge is completed, you’ll plan our marriage. Now that the bridge is built, and villagers are all delighted, my heart is also stirred with emotion. I’ve waited long for a matrimonial union and dreamt of our lifelong togetherness.

But respected Miss, please understand that I haven’t yet planned on getting married. There are still many things to take care of, so I’m reluctant. There are still many things that I need to shoulder.

In this world, everyone takes care of his own business. Why bother to waste your time in life? Let’s exchange our betrothal vow. What would be happier than two souls merging in love?

O Miss, you’re a young woman of gentle nature and exceptional beauty. How about you look somewhere else? There are definitely many rich aristocrats and noblemen who are willing to stand in line.

No. I could care less for wealth and glory. I just need a compatible companion. You’re the only one I adore since long ago. I just wish to tie a matrimonial bond with you. My dear, I’ve planned out everything. Once we get married, I’ll give birth to 10 children one after another to bring joy to our family. How wonderful it’d be to spend our lives together with our children and grandchildren! One big happy family under one roof! Some cry for their dad, others for their mom. Our home will be bustling and very joyful. Early in the morning, you’ll feed the children. At night, you’ll sing them to sleep. If they keep crying, you’ll take them out for a stroll. Though it’s tiresome, the fun is immeasurable.

O God! What you said makes me shiver with goose bumps. If I spend the whole day taking care of the family and crying kids, then how will I have any mind to help the world? I don’t want to think for myself; I just want to help others.

How could you speak without thinking? Why bother to take care of other people’s affairs? Just care for yourself, your wife and children. That is true happiness. People in this world are all like that. Why should you do any differently? If anyone suffers, it’s his or her problem. A person’s lamp shines for his home only. I earnestly ask you not to refuse. Join me to tie the knot of our mutual affection.

Although I don’t understand much of the profound spiritual teachings, I do know that this world is transient. Sorrow follows happiness. Nothing lasts forever.

My goodness! How foolish this man Vi is! If it were me, I’d grab the opportunity and wouldn’t bother to talk long-windedly.

You sound like you like that girl a lot, don’t you?

Yes. I mean no, I don’t. I just said it to ease my frustration, but I’m interested in another person.

Someone else? Who is she?

Someone who is always near me, yet it feels like a thousand miles away, because as soon as I open my mouth, she’d scoff me.

Who is that person?

She’s someone who has a cute slightly open mouth and darting eyes that are full of tender emotions. I love her, I adore her. I miss her while eating, drinking, going to the market. I miss her even more when I sleep at night.

My God! Are you all right?

I’m fine. I just want to cough.

But who is that lucky person?

Do you want me to reveal it?

Yes. Tell me! Who is that?

She is…

Who?

She’s Tiểu Mai. O Tiểu Mai! It’s you.

It’s me?

Yes.

I’m fainting! Is it true?

How come you are conscious again so quickly?

You must swear for me to believe you.

I swear now. If I lie to you, then the hammock would break when I lie on it, the rice would burn when I cook it, I’d be choked when I drink water, my sandals would fall apart when I wear them, my shirt would be worn inside out when I put it on, I’d eat wormy potato when I have it, and the bridge would collapse when I cross it.

Let me take back the last sentence. Erase it, okay?

Don’t cast a bad omen on the newly built bridge.

I know I was wrong. That’s why I asked to take it back. So, Miss... I mean, dear Mai, do you understand my feeling? Do you get it?

I do.

What do you understand?

How dull-witted! Don't you know that I'm calling you?

She suddenly walks away and waves her hand. Oh! She’s calling me. Tiểu Mai! Tiểu Mai!

Ouch! Tiểu Mai, Tiểu Mai! Wait for me!

There you are! Hi brother. Greetings, beautiful lady.

Greetings, Elder. The bridge is completed. I’m so happy. I haven’t seen you for a long time, how come?

I’ve been busy. I was busy begging around the district palace. Have you two finished planning your wedding? Why didn’t you let me celebrate with you?

You like it very much, right?

Well, you’ve helped him build the bridge already. What else are you waiting for?

But respected Elder...

O Elder, I’ve tried to convince him, but he doesn’t want to go along.

How come? Is this lady not beautiful enough for you?

No, not that. But... Because...

You see!

No why, no but, no because! I haven’t met anyone like you. It’s rare to find such a strange person. I feel really uneasy. Why don’t you care about it at all? She’s a beautiful lady. Marry her right away! What are you waiting for? You two are a perfect match! A talented gentleman to wed a fair lady. If there’s any unresolved issue, tell me.

Actually... I just don’t like to start a family.

What? How come? Do you plan to become a monk?

It’s not that. Since I often shoulder public affairs, I’d make her sad if I marry her.

O God! How frustrating! You’re making me mad! If I were your father, I’d give you a good beating.

How come you’re standing still without stirring? Are you all right, Elder?

I’m fine. I like to stand like that to pose for fun. So? Does my standing posture look nice?

You’re so jovial in nature.

Quan Yin, I’ve done you no wrong. Why are you making me lose face like this?

Lữ Đồng Tân, if you keep interfering, I won’t forgive you.

I was just joking for fun.

All right, leave now! Don’t tease me anymore.

It’s too tiring to pose. Well, I won’t tease you two anymore. I’ll take leave now. Good bye, brother. Farewell, lady.

Good bye, Elder.

You see? Everyone wants to see us soon become husband and wife. This life is so short, we must fully enjoy our sweet happiness. Why are you so unrealistic? Or you think I’m not a good match, that you keep refusing me? Don’t you love me?

It’s because I feel for you that I don’t want to make you suffer. When I was young, I often heard my mother say: O son, a woman endures much hardship! The hardship of pregnancy, of bringing up and feeding her child. Giving birth is like crossing a vast river or sailing the immense sea all alone. The trials are indescribable! After giving birth, if the child is healthy, what joy is greater than that! But if the child is often ill, the mother suffers the most. Feeling pity for a woman’s lot, I dare not create a karmic (retributive) bondage.

A woman’s fate has always been known to be full of bitterness, but that’s the plight of all women in this world. I vow to dedicate my whole life in hardship because of you.

I’m thankful for your deep affection, but I’m sorry to disappoint you. As a man who aspires to roam far and wide, I just want to devote my life to helping all beings. If I’m to hang around the house, bound by an ill wife and hungry children, that is not what I aim for. Please don’t be angry and sad. I’ve told every piece of advice I could. Be calm to reflect upon the truth. This world is ephemeral like drifting clouds and faint illusions.

What a noble heart behind that rustic appearance! He hasn’t read any Buddhist scripture, yet he understands it so well. A pure heart transcends the mundane world. You’ve cut off the bondage of romantic love and attachments from this time forth. You’ve sown this good affinity infinite lifetimes ago. The tree is laden with ripe fruits today. Delighted, fairies play music in congratulations. Even pure gold can’t match that heart. How blessed is the one who has accumulated enough merit! I’ll take you across the fairy shore to the land of never-regressing Saints. On Earth, one may lose one’s goodness due to adversities, yet as soon as one repents, a peaceful realm is manifested.

I’ve said all I could. Please do not refuse. I’m determined to join you in marriage. If you keep refusing, I’ll end my life here.

No, no. Please don’t do that, gentle lady. Coercion and pleading won’t go anywhere.

No, I’ve made up my mind. Where will you run away to?

Please Miss, I apologize to you a hundred times. Please allow me to take leave.

Turn around to see who is standing in front of you.

Quan Yin Bodhisattva! Could that young woman be you in disguise?

Yes. I disguised to test your righteousness. Since you have a good affinity, I descended here to save you. Very good! Your determination to help the world is strong indeed. I’m very pleased. Thanks to the root of goodness that the tree has blossomed flowers, which made me manifest here to free you from the cycle of reincarnation. How pleased I am to find such an upright gentleman!

I bow to Quan Yin for forgiveness. Please pardon my mistakes. Not knowing it was you, I’ve spoken many careless words. I sincerely ask for forgiveness, O Great One of Mercy and Compassion.

I don’t blame you at all, so don’t feel sad. It was just a test to find a person with deep affinity to goodness. Praised be a man of great aspiration who vows to help the world, forsaking his personal love.

I vow to dedicate my whole life to help people, regardless of hardship. I respectfully implore Quan Yin Bodhisattva to guide this sincere soul. I wish to deeply understand the miraculous Truth and be liberated from this world of vicissitudes and suffering.

I’m delighted that you’ve now accumulated enough merit and affinity. Since you vow to follow me wholeheartedly, I accept you as my disciple from now on.

I’m deeply grateful to Quan Yin Bodhisattva. I vow to forever follow you to safeguard the Truth teachings.

Excellent! Your affinity has fully ripened now. I’ll have you serve as Dharma Guard General. From now on, I confer you as Vi Đà Divine General, one of the Four Great Heavenly Generals to help me protect the Buddha’s teaching life after life.

I’m deeply thankful to Quan Yin Bodhisattva’s boundless grace.

Be committed to your spiritual practice to soon attain full enlightenment. Now, follow me to Phổ Đà Mountain.

Order obeyed.

Noble is the heart that transcends the mundane world! He lives in the world, yet his mind is untainted by the world. A lay person, he’s a renunciate at heart. He’s not concerned with personal enjoyment but devoted to helping people build merit. That is also a method of practice. He desires not fame and honor, yet longs only to help the world. How many in this world are comparable to him? His example of righteousness sparkles like a shooting star. A Dharma guard, he protects the Buddha’s teaching. Vi Đà Heavenly General, his name shines in glory. Sentient beings are eternally grateful to Quan Yin Bodhisattva’s boundless grace. Praised be Quan Yin Bodhisattva! Praised be Quan Yin Bodhisattva! Praised be Quan Yin Bodhisattva!
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