A Journey through Aesthetic Realms
 
One Pillar, Bút Tháp, & Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagodas in Northern Âu Lạc      
  Print
Today’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms will be presented in Aulacese (Vietnamese), 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’d like to invite you to visit One Pillar, Bút Tháp and Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagodas, three famous ancient temples in northern Âu Lạc (Vietnam).

Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Having a meal by the lamp, planting rice in the moonlight Three, four young women rendezvous with the moon Befriend the moon We light the lamp and play with the moonlight on the veranda We pray for peace and harmony within and without.

Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Having a meal by the lamp, planting rice in the moonlight Three, four young women rendezvous with the moon Befriend the moon We light the lamp and play with the moonlight on the veranda We pray for peace and harmony within and without.

Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Having a meal by the lamp, planting rice in the moonlight Three, four young women rendezvous with the moon Befriend the moon We light the lamp and play with the moonlight on the veranda We pray for peace and harmony within and without.

Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Having a meal by the lamp, planting rice in the moonlight Three, four young women rendezvous with the moon Befriend the moon We light the lamp and play with the moonlight on the veranda We pray for peace and harmony within and without.

Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch Going to the temple with a lotus branch

You’ve just enjoyed the northern Aulacese folk song titled “Planting Rice” with vocals and dance accompaniment by our vegan Association members from northern Âu Lạc, describing the activities of the rural young women under the moonlight, in rice planting season. They do not, however, forget to go to the temple together to pray for a peaceful homeland and happy family.

In the 1000th anniversary of Thăng Long-Hà Nội, one of the most popular tourist attractions was One Pillar Pagoda. One Pillar Pagoda belongs to the architectural complex of Diên Hựu Pagoda in the west of Thăng Long Citadel under the Lý Dynasty, now in One Pillar Pagoda Street, Ba Đình District, Hà Nội. One Pillar Pagoda is also called Lotus Dais. According to “Complete Annals of Đại Việt,” the pagoda was built in 1049, during the reign of Lý Thái Tông.

Legend has it that King Lý Thái Tông dreamt of Quan Yin Buddha taking him by the hand onto the lotus dais. Upon waking up, the king told the court about his dream. Venerable Monk Thiên Tuế advised him to construct a pagoda, erect a stone pillar in the middle of the lake, and build a lotus-shaped dais to worship Quan Yin Buddha like what he saw in his dream. The entire One Pillar Pagoda was placed on a 2-piece stone pillar which at first sight looks like one intact stone pillar.

The temple was made of wood, including a square lotus dais with staircase leading to the main hall built of red bricks. A Quan Yin Bodhisattva statue is worshiped inside the temple. The pagoda’s architecture and decoration is the result of an poetic imagination. It especially uses a robust system of propping wood from the pillars to the floor, creating a steady position while giving an image of a lotus flower rising straight, and thus the pagoda is also called Lotus Dais.

The architecture of the One Pillar Pagoda symbolizes a noble concept: Compassion illumines the world. The wood and stone architecture placed in a setting of a pond and plants creates a sense of familiarity, pure yet elegant. One Pillar Pagoda was elected as one of the symbols of Hà Nội. Besides, the image of One Pillar Pagoda was imprinted on the back of the coins in Âu Lạc.

On May 4, 2006, One Pillar Pagoda was included in the Aulacese Guinness Book of Records as “the pagoda with the most unique architecture in Âu Lạc.” One Pillar Pagoda – a pagoda in the middle of a small lake, just enough space for incense burners and a statue – has no wall fence, no bell tower, and no triple gate, but is still majestic in the hearts of Aulacese people and remains steady in the endless course of time. Bút Tháp Pagoda is quietly situated by the Đuống River’s right bank in Thuận Thành District, Bắc Ninh Province.

The pagoda was built during the reign of King Trần Thánh Tông by Zen Master Huyền Quang. In the 17th century, the pagoda became famous with the Abbots being the Venerable Chuyết Chuyết and Zen Master Minh Hạnh. It was during this time that Queen mother Trịnh Thị Ngọc Trúc left the palace to practice spiritually here. Looking at the pagoda from outside, one first sees the triple gate. Next are the two-story, eight-roof bell tower and two banyan trees, all lend the structure an ancient and secluded atmosphere. Bút Tháp Pagoda has many buildings separated by open spaces. Its architecture isn’t rising vertically, but spreading out on the surface.

Various heights of architectural clusters make one feel as if the pagoda is gently floating in the Buddha’s realm. The pagoda roof is quite large and droops down, almost touching the ground level, creating a warm and cozy space. The architecture uses wood frames for support, but the balcony foundation is constructed with stones. Decorations are seen everywhere on wood and stone materials, on the pillars and altars. The images engraved here are lively with implied meanings in Buddhism and profound Zen elements. Bút Tháp Pagoda has a very unique system of round statues.

Most spectacular is the celebrated Thousand-Eye, Thousand-Arm Quan Yin Bodhisattva that was carved in 1656. Aside from the two main arms placed on the chest and the legs, the statue also has 38 big arms on both sides. The most extended arm is 2 meters long. There are 789 smaller arms in the back that form a halo for the statue, with an eye carved in each of the palms. The arms symbolize both Buddha’s merciful light and his world-saving mission, and are the eyes that clearly see and care for sentient beings. The statue of Thousand-Arm, Thousand-Eye Quan Yin Bodhisattva is the iconic symbol of the hieroglyphic art of Aulacese Buddhism.

For the rotary tower of Nine Class Lotus, nine lotus daises symbolize 9 levels of enlightenment in Buddhism. The tower can rotate without making any sound even though it was constructed centuries ago. Each complete rotation of the tower corresponds to 3,542,400 recitations of Buddha’s name. In 1876, King Tự Đức passed by this place and saw a giant stone tower, thus he named it Bút Tháp Pagoda. That is Báo Nghiêm Tower – an octagonal stone tower of five levels where Zen Master Chuyết Chuyết’s relics were buried. “Vast sea of green rice paddy stretches Stately stands the tower in moonlit shade of areca trees Surrounded by a scenic landscape all around An ancient picture is filled with mountain and sea.”

Bút Tháp Pagoda is indeed a unique relic of Buddhism in the northern Aulacese plains. Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda is located at the confluence of Lục Nam River and Thương River in Bắc Giang Province. The pagoda existed since the Lý Thái Tổ dynasty. In the Trần Thánh Tông dynasty, many eminent monks came here to practice spiritually, and the pagoda was rebuilt to become majestic and splendid. When leaving the throne for a monastic life, before coming to Yên Tử, King Trần Nhân Tông stayed at Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda.

He became the founding Patriarch of the Aulacese Zen order. In 1313, Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda was officially proclaimed by Zen Patriarch Pháp Loa as the headquarters of Đại Việt Buddhist Order. Going past the triple gate, strolling on the pebble-paved road, the ancient pagoda of nearly 1,000 years emerges behind the pine trees. The pagoda was constructed along the south-east direction, consisting of four building blocks. The first block comprises of three temples: Hộ Temple, Celestial Perfume Palace, and Upper Hall with magnificently constructed altar.

After many restorations, this area still preserves its 1,000-year-old dirt-compacted foundation and the 700-year-old nhập nhân tree. The smaller second block is the First Patriarch Home which worships the portrait statue of Third Patriarch Trúc Lâm. The third block is the two-level roof Bell Tower. The fourth is the Second Patriarch Home, the dining hall with a rather large wooden Bodhisattva statue. The highlight of Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda is its wooden architecture with neither complex nor red-lacquered, gold trimmed decorations. The Tả Vu and Hữu Vu buildings, each has 18 spacious compartments are where the monks everywhere come to stay for their summer retreat annually.

Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda used to be a place to cultivate the Buddhist monks and nuns, thus this place keeps the scriptures carved on wood panels of 700 years old. This is a highly treasured ancient library, which people of the past called the “wood panel scripture archive.” The sizes of the wood panels varies depending on the scripture. The largest carved panel is measured 1 meter long, and 40 – 50 centimeters wide. Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda along with Yên Tử Temple and Quỳnh Lâm Temple form a cluster of famous landscapes in northern Âu Lạc: “Anyone who comes to Yên Tử and Quỳnh Lâm The heart is yet tranquil, has one not reached Vĩnh Nghiêm.”

The pristine beauty and serenity of Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda awaken one’s mind to remember our eternal spiritual origin.

Thank you for watching today’s program introducing some well-known ancient temples in northern Âu Lạc. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

  Miracles on the Path: “To Breathe Again” & “Dropping the Butcher’s Knife” 
 Miracles on the Path:“The Tofu Machine” and “The Love Song" 

 
  
 
Non Subtitle Videos
 
Most popular
 Traditional Costumes of Argentina
 Niska: Painter of the Soul
 Hanbok: Korean Traditional Dress throughout the Ages
 Traditional Costumes of Âu Lạc
 Meeting Babaji, the Great Immortal Saint
 Miracles on the Path: “At the Hair Salon” & “Overcoming Addiction”
 Ram Bahadur Bomjan: The Meditating "Buddha Boy" from Nepal
 One World…of Peace through Music & Oscar &Emmy-winning Composer Bill Conti
 How I Became Veg - Inspirational Real Life Stories
 Elegant Costumes of Thailand