Buddhist Temples in Central Âu Lạc (Vietnam):Từ Đàm Pagoda, Tà Cú Temple, & Linh Phong Monastery (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 Từ Đàm Pagoda, Tà Cú Temple, and Linh Phong Monastery, three famous and ancient Buddhist temples in central Âu Lạc (Vietnam). My homeland, central Âu Lạc Temple bell peals gently in the morn and evening Eternal sound imbued with our ancestral heroic spirit O majestic Từ Đàm Pagoda Where love sows the seed of enlightenment.

Through many a storm, my Từ Đàm Pagoda remains... The gentle melody of the song “Từ Đàm, My Homeland” by composer Nguyên Thông, refers to an important event which occurred at the ancient pagoda Từ Đàm, central Âu Lạc, in 1951. That year, Từ Đàm Pagoda was the venue for a meeting which 51 representatives from 6 groups of monk assemblies and lay spiritual practitioners from all three regions of Âu Lạc attended to establish the Vietnamese Buddhist Association and approved the Vietnamese Buddhist Association’s joining World Buddhism Association.

Từ Đàm Pagoda is located on a large and high area, 2 kilometers from the center of Huế City. Từ Đàm means the benevolent cloud, symbolizing Buddha. The temple was founded after 1695 by the Venerable Minh Hoàng Tử Dung, an eminent monk of Lâm Tế Zen lineage. Reconstructed in 2006, Từ Đàm Pagoda nowadays is spacious with a high and large three-door gate, and an elegant tiled roof. The pagoda yard is airy, large enough to hold thousands of people during ceremonies.

In front of the main hall is a majestic 7-story Precious Tower, with Buddha statues worshiped on every floor. To the left of the hall is a statue of Dr. Lê Đình Thám who contributed significantly to help promote Buddhism and founded the modern-day Buddhist Family in Âu Lạc. The Buddhist Family consists of members who regularly participate in group activities, assist in the temple’s work, study Buddha’s teachings, and acquire living skills.

The purpose of the Buddhist Family is to train youths to become true Buddhists who help build Aulacese society in the Buddhist spirit. Từ Đàm Pagoda prides itself as the founding place of the Buddhist Family, an organization that later spread throughout the country. Từ Đàm Pagoda is now the headquarter of the Buddhist Association in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province. Important Buddhist ceremonies in Huế are always held solemnly at this pagoda.

My homeland is here Aloewood incense smoke softly wafts day and night Sounds of scripture reciting linger this evening O cherished Từ Đàm Pagoda Where North and South join as one family Hand in hand, for the sake of humanity, O Từ Đàm!

Another traditional temple not to be missed every time one visits central Âu Lạc is Tà Cú Temple in Bình Thuận Province. Hidden in a vast verdant forest of ancient trees, the temple has been recognized as a national historical-cultural monument. Tà Cú Temple is comprised of two temples: Upper Temple (or Patriarch Temple) and Lower Temple. The Patriarch Temple was founded by Patriarch Hữu Đức in about 1872.

The Lower Temple was built after Patriarch Hữu Đức passed on. These two temples are situated south of Tà Cú Mountain, at the height of 475 meters above sea level. Tà Cú Temple is famous for its majestic scenery and idyllic mountain and forests. On the other hand, with reverence, humans through many generations have created grand architectural works of art such as the 49-meter-long statue of Shakyamuni Buddha entering Nirvana. To cast this Buddha statue, 200 workers worked day and night for two years.

Nearby are statues of Amitabha Buddha, Quan Yin Bodhisattva, and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, viewing the whole world with gentle countenance as if ready to save beings. About 100 meters under the statue’s foot is a mountain cave where the founding Patriarch practiced spiritually. In 1993, Tà Cú Temple, along with the forests in the nature reserve area, was ranked a national attraction of Âu Lạc.

On the road from Quy Nhơn City to Nhơn Hội, passing Bà Mountain at Phù Cát District, we will see a glimpse of a crimson rooftop amidst the deep green forest trees. That’s Linh Phong Monastery, one of the most ancient Buddhist temples in Bình Định Province. From the road going to the mountain’s foot about a couple of meters, we will see the pillars that open up to the stone steps leading to the monastery. The way to the monastery still retains its pristine look, with plants growing between the rocks.

Climbing over 100 stone steps, we will see the monastery at the height of 400 meters above sea level. According to Linh Phong Monastery’s record book, in 1702, Zen Master Tịnh Giác came to this mountain, built a thatched hut to practice spiritually, and used tree bark to make clothes. When needing food, he’d carry firewood to the foot of the mountain, and left it there. Local people would bring rice and salt to exchange.

The following day, the Master would go down to gather the food, then quietly returned to the mountain. Every time an epidemic plagued the village, he would bring medicine down the mountain to treat people, then immediately left without taking any payment. The north side of the mountain still retains the vestige of a large stone cave where Master Tịnh Giác practiced spiritually before.

In 1733, Lord Nguyễn Phúc Chú, who praised the Master as a true spiritual practitioner, ordered the temple renovation, and renamed it Linh Phong Monastery. Nowadays, Linh Phong Monastery has been totally reconstructed. In front of the main hall is the Quan Yin Bodhisattva statue with the vase of Pure Water. In the back is the Patriarch Hall where a statue of Master Tịnh Giác is worshipped.

Under the shade of lush ancient trees, with a waft of fragrant lotus, one feels light and peaceful. Crossing a bridge over a stream, following stone steps to go up the mountain behind the temple, here we find many ancient towers among mountain stones and forest trees. This is where the temple’s deceased abbots were buried.

Further into the mountain, there are many stones stacking up, creating a tranquil space suitable for meditation. From the mountain, looking yonder, we’ll see the clear blue Thị Nại Lagoon. Near the mountain’s foot are villages with brown tiled roofs standing out from green paddy fields. Along the seaside, waves toss up white foams. Leaving the monastery, we come to realize that this world is really beautiful and charming.

Thank you for watching today’s program introducing a number of famous 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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