Mr. Tran Van Phuong
How are Vietnamese aware of the Buddhism?
Buddhism is not a Vietnamese native religion and it is imported into Vietnam indirectly. Therefore, Buddhism in Vietnam has been partly changed. There are several orders of Buddhism in Vietnam. However, some people are aware of Buddhism differently from its origin.
How is Buddhism awareness in Vietnam wrong?
Some people consider the Buddha as a God who has many form of magic. They think that the more the Buddha is close to them, the more they are helped and supported by the Buddha. As a result, they go to temples to pray for practical values like money, luck, promotion… in the real life. They forget that the Buddha is a thinker and they are the subject that decides their own lives.
Could you make it more clearly?
Buddhism is a great philosophy, initiated by Buddha Sakyamuni. The Buddha is the representative of Buddhism or the representative of the philosophy and catechism of Buddhism. They are advices on inclining to the good and the law of causality.
Thus, we come to the Buddha to not pray for the good for ourselves but to come to Buddhism’s catechism. Based on it, we do benefaction to receive back good things. Here the Buddha is a thinker, not a God.
Why are Vietnamese people aware wrongly of the Buddhism, in your opinion?
In the past, Vietnam was an agricultural country, which was highly impacted by the nature. At that time, Vietnamese thought that everything happens under the influence of some deity. When the Buddhism was imported into Vietnam with the easiness and peace, the Buddhism’s academic aspect reduced.
Coming to temples to pray for prosperity and luck is conformable to the Buddhism?
Today, under impacts of the material life and the poor awareness, some people come to Buddhism as not as followers or researchers of Buddhism, so they wrongly understand the Buddhism, resulted in wrong acts.
How could you explain the phenomenon that some temples attract thousands of people on the first or the 15th day of lunar months, while other temples don’t?
That fact also shows the wrong understanding of the Buddha as a God, as I’ve said. It is not true that the Buddha at the Ha Temple (Hanoi) is more hallowed than the Buddha at the nearby Thanh Chua temple.
Both temples worship the same Buddha. Those who come to temples to worship the Buddha is to better their conduct themselves, not to consider the Buddha as a saint who takes away the bad lucks and bring about good lucks.
As a researcher, what wrong things associated with the Vietnamese’s worship of Buddhism that you see?
There are many things. For example, worshipping the ancestors is not a religion but people often start praying by “Nam mo A di da phat” (which is used in Buddhism). When people come to Tay Ho or Day temple, where worships goddess, they also start praying by “Nam mo A di da phat.”
Temple is the place where worships the Buddha but goddess worship, a native belief of the Vietnamese in the 16th century, is also present at some temples. Even saint Tran Hung Dao (a national hero) is also brought to temples to worship with the Buddha.
Offering Buddha with meat and small changes, burning votive paper at temples or burning incenses rampantly at temples… are also wrong things that come from wrong awareness of Buddhism.