Propagation of Buddha’s Dharma
Buddha has passed away more than 25 centuries ago, but his holy behavior still instills in people the desire to venerate and worship him. Furthermore, up to the present time, his teachings are still used as guidance to enrich people with knowledge and ethical conduct.
Particularly in our era, considered as the summit of scientific civilization, Buddha’s teachings illuminate much more, mostly in Western civilized countries, as they open a way for people to escape from their crisis and deadlock.
Today, in continuing Buddha’s heritage to propagate the Law and benefit people, as well as to contemplate the essence of Buddhist Law, we should revise the special ways of educating people by Buddha and the Predecessor Master Monks. Together with this, it is of vital importance to find out new ways for propagating the law suitable to the current period and develop advantages for Buddhism and the welfare of the people.
I Buddha and the ways for propagating his teachings
Buddha’s super character is composed of three vital prominent points: super accurate knowledge, holy virtue, and altruistic selfless conduct. Due to this reason, he can bring together all of the social classes to follow and worship him - from the Kings, Lords, rich, and educated - to the common people, and even to those categorized as the inferior class of society. For whichever class who comes to visit Buddha, he always guides them to prosper their knowledge and virtue.
On his way to propagate and benefit people with the Law, Buddha has clearly revealed his talent for developing knowledge, educating, and transforming people. Throughout his life, he assists people energetically. In other words, Buddha reveals the great power of his mind, energy, and physical strength - the utmost features that assist him in completely achieving his mission.
Every place he travels, Buddha always works according to environmental situations in order to help people live happily and comfortably. It is to be asserted that Buddha’s teachings are for the people, aimed at providing benefit to them.
Before traveling to any place, Buddha meditates deeply, contemplating on the places to visit, the lessons to work on, and the kinds of people to assist. He thinks deeply, finds ways to educate people, and understands things accurately. Moreover, he knows well the feelings, aspirations, and capabilities of the people he must assist, and finds out the best solutions to help them. After carefully considering these factors, he comes to meet them, solves their problems, and leads them to possess holy lives.
The ways that Buddha propagates Buddhist law not only bring real benefits, but also reveal super wisdom - totally different from the plain and vague doctrine of other religions that time. After completing his work, he returns to his serene temple and meditates again. In other words, he revises his past deeds. Moments later, he rises from his meditation and presents the Buddhist teachings for people to recognize the value of the life lessons they have just learned when following Buddha and using them as experience to practice Buddhist Law.
The fact that Buddha educates people while traveling is very suitable to the reality of life. Nowadays, it is similar to a professor who leads his students to go abroad to observe situations and organize seminars to study.
People’s lives flow smoothly and progress continuously. Moving throughout the life-stream, Buddha continues to teach people. Originating from his golden speech and noble life, the teachings also follow the stream to exist, bringing different advantages to people, places, and time.
After Buddha enters into Nirvana, people who study Buddhist doctrine with narrow minds cannot develop the living power of knowledge or religious virtue, so they remain in their own realms and cannot continue moving throughout the stream of Buddhist law.
On the contrary, the teachers who are affected by the developing Buddhist spirit can gain the vital meaning of the teachings and can reveal them in their lives following the Buddha’s way. Owing to that, they can enrich their physical, mental power, and energy, thus becoming true religious teachers.
Indeed, we can see that the Predecessor Master Monks have creative minds and do not follow the old path. They rely on the essence of the Buddhist Law, thus they can develop their accurate views, and present the new principles suitable to the new age, thus possessing the power to persuade many people. With this basis, they can build up religions and can guide people to practice and progress in Buddhism, as well as they can create religious sects.
II Inherit and develop the teachings of buddhist law from the predecessor master monks
Continuing the work for propagating the true law, each Predecessor Master Monk has his separate knowledge, without any resemblance of one to the other. However, there is one thing to emphasize - all of them have accurate minds compatible to current activities. They can apply them into practice, thus creating great benefit for the country, the people, and for the religious law to continue surviving.
As a symbol in Japan, Nichiren Daishonin (The Great Sage of the Sun Lotus) presents a suitable way to eradicate the ancient tradition and create new energy for the development of Buddhism, as well as politics. Japanese people venerate him as The Superior Bodhisattva of the Lotus Sutra. Or Zen Monk Dao Nguyen, Predecessor of the Zen Sect Tao Dong has promulgated the Zen method so popular that anybody can practice it. It may be said that it is the form of integrating the Zen method now developing strongly to social activities. After getting tired from work, a person can relax for five or ten minutes, thus training himself to regulate his breathing in order to eliminate his stress and worries. Speaking of China, Predecessor Zen Monk Hue Nang has the wonderful capability to concentrate. Only by listening to a verse of the Diamond Sutra can he attain realization of the truth. Moreover, just by carrying water, or cutting wood, he can receive spiritual wisdom, becoming the Sixth Predecessor Zen Monk gaining the inheritance of Predecessor Zen Monk Hoang Nhan.
Particularly in Vietnam, we can only present some representatives such as Zen Monk Thao Duong, King Ly Thanh Tong, and Steering King Tran Nhan Tong, among others.
Each one has his own particular view and way for propagating Buddhism suitable to the current situation. Owing to that, they have brought advantages to the country, thus illuminating Buddhism. In the Ly dynasty, Zen Monk Thao Duong presented a new way for simplifying the ways of living, and made an effort to train talent, using benefit to help the poor and elevate their lives in order to solve the crimes of the society. King Ly Thanh Tong was affected by the education from Zen Monk Thao Duong. The spirit to love and take care of people, expressed in his sayings and his kind acts, even towards prisoners, is still recorded in the History of Great Viet: “I live in the Court, warmed by the charcoal stove, wearing a thick lamb coat, but I still feel cold, let alone the prisoners in jail, not yet judged to be innocent or guilty. I feel much pity for them. Ask the jailer to bring mats and mattress to distribute to them and serve them two adequate meals”. Besides, the King also reduces the tax in half for the people.
In addition, the Vietnamese people and the Buddhist religion are very proud of Zen Master Steering King Tran Nhan Tong. According to the country’s situations varying upon moments, he plans his work accordingly. Sometimes he is an intelligent king leading the country toward development; other times, he acts as a brave hero engaging in battles to protect the country. At peace time, he is an enlightened Zen Monk. All his work aim at benefiting the country or developing the essence of Buddhist law. Due to that reason, King Tran Nhan Tong is not only considered as the most unique and talented Predecessor Zen Monk of the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen sect, but also a Buddha completely realizing the special features of Vietnamese Buddhism, engaged positively in the world in the spirit of “Working accordingly to world matters without fear; There is no difference between Nirvana and Life or Death: All prosper equally”.
In general, although originating from all classes, the Predecessor Zen monks have new views compatible to the current era and recognize the ways to propagate Buddhism according to the various classes of society. In addition, their positive physical force and their supernatural energy assist them in having sufficient strength to overcome conflict or harm. From that point, these Predecessor Zen Monks can gather and transform people who have good causes, assisting them to lead holy lives, thus bringing benefit to them, to society, and to religious law. As for the ones who are greedy, unintelligent, weak in knowledge and virtue, if they want to assist the rich or talented people, they cannot do so. This is identical to using sand to make rice.
Today, in order to continue the Predecessor Zen Monks’ heritage, the Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation has achieved many good results. In fact, by confronting the practical problems of life, the Congregation has lead the Monks, Nuns, and Buddhist disciples to live accordingly to the upward trend of society, leading them to work energetically and thus assisting the Vietnamese Buddhist Religion to develop more and more strongly.
For almost 30 years, the successful harvest in many fields of the Buddhist Monks, Nuns, and disciples have contributed greatly to the building of a happy, united, and developing society. This affirms the vital and beautiful presence of the Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in the life-stream of the people.
III Ways for propagating buddhasm in the present period
Everybody knows that the economy plays a decisive role in the present era for the success or failure of many fields, and indeed, controls them. The missionaries have recognized this principle and have exploited the economic factors to develop their religious activities.
Reality has shown that religious organizations oftentimes opened many companies, enterprises, or factories in general in order to build up businesses by investing money to occupy the market and produce wealth. At the same time, they could gather people under the form of workers or employees to help. In doing so, they could create many jobs for people, paying them high salaries, meaning that they formed real ties with many people. On this basis, they could lead people to become disciples and follow their religions.
To state justly, whoever has the capability to elevate the physical lives of people, they can surely have many followers. Besides the development of physical lives in order to attract people, it is necessary to guide them to implement their knowledge and to enrich their spirit.
If we, as Buddhists, want to progress during periods when the economy plays a dominant role, we must respond to the needs of the trends of society. It is asserted that in order to be strong, we must have the ability to
possess good lives for ourselves and still have excess power, wealth, and knowledge to help our disciples excel spiritually and materially.
Buddhism cannot survive if monks live luxuriously, waste their time and money, depending upon their disciples to support their lives, and worse than that, causing their disciples to be exhausted. As for the old times, the Predecessor Zen Monks all knew thoroughly the Five Ways of Knowledge, thus using them to educate and transform people, assisting them to develop their knowledge and careers in order to live prosperously on their way to propagate Buddhism.
In my opinion, nowadays the missionaries need to equip themselves adequately with the knowledge of natural and social science. Most of all, we must observe the knowledge of natural science such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer science, as they are the combination of the essence of human knowledge. These kinds of science develop according to the progressing level of civilization we use as a means of shortening the immense universe and explaining to the people of today how to recognize the subjects of Buddha’s teachings in the realms of Buddhism, environment, life and death, and the evolution of various kinds that the Buddhist teachings metaphysically describe.
In the realm of social science such as History, Literature, or Philosophy, we also must know these thoroughly. Indeed, in order to be able to enter seminars with other people, missionaries must deeply understand the civilized history of humanity and the evolution of human thought revealed through great international ideas such as Eastern and Western philosophies.
Besides the above-mentioned vital knowledge, monks excel in knowledge gained from the application of Buddhism to life. On the basis of pure intelligence, on the condition that we cannot attain enlightenment, we can at least understand natural and social phenomena, at the same time producing accurate answers to the problems that nobody can solve. Only when we fully achieve these things can we persuade people to follow us.
In summary, we can deeply know the practical advantageous path that Buddha has been making, and we can recognize the full achievement of the Predecessor Zen monks in the continuation of the stream for propagating Buddhism.
If we want to affirm the mission to inherit the holy and invaluable heritage of our Buddha Master Shakya Muni and the Predecessor Zen Monks, we cannot do anything other than develop the physical, intellectual power and energy by ourselves to reveal the virtual lives, understand the teachings accurately, and work to bring advantages and beauty to the people and Buddhism. If we move forward on the Path to propagate Buddhist Law originating from such true missionaries, we then deserve to be the eldest sons of the Tathagata existing in this world, worthy of being loved and respected by the people.
To sum up, nowadays Buddha and the Predecessor Zen Monks, as well as the Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation, have used Buddhism in a practical way to educate people, transforming their minds to realize the virtuous and intellectual lives from which they can create a happy and comfortable society.
Today, following the Buddha’s Path - although we may live in any country, or join any religion or sect - all of us need to reveal the essence of Buddhist Law when engaging in the multi-faced nature of life in order to form a peaceful and developing society, as well as contributing to building a common peaceful and prosperous place for humanity.
Most Ven. Dr. Thich Tri Quang Vice President of Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha
Most Ven. Dr. Thich Tri Quang
Vice President of Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha