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In Lunar New Year Message, Thích Quảng Độ calls for Fearlessness to win freedom for Buddhism in Vietnam

2017-01-30

PARIS, 30 January 2017 (IBIB) - The Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) has issued a Message for the Lunar New Year of the Rooster (Tết), sent from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon where he is under effective house arrest.

The Message invoked the theme of fearlessness, one of the central teachings of Buddhism, which the UBCV Patriarch proposed as the only way for Buddhists to put an end to more than four decades of repression, harassments and restrictions imposed by the Communist authorities since 1975.

The Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ
The Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ

“Forty-two long years of relentless oppression against Buddhism in Vietnam are proof enough that violence will not end by itself. The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam will continue to be denied the right to freedom of religion and prevented from spreading Buddha’s teachings to deliver beings from suffering. Clearly, if we do not free ourselves from oppression, no one will do it in our place”.

Resorting to violence was no solution, he said, for violence would only “push society and humankind to the brink of the abyss”. The key is fearlessness, freeing one’s mind from fear in order to confront all obstacles with serenity. “Fearlessness is the force of nonviolence that enables us to dissipate the wild follies that engender so much suffering, separation and death to humankind”.

Looking at Vietnamese history, Thích Quảng Độ observed that fearlessness “inspired hundreds of resistance movements during the first millennium CE to protect the cradle of our civilization, Giao Châu. Thanks to this, the Vietnamese people preserved their national identity and our nation has never become a slave to China”. Fearlessness also characterized the Đinh, Lę, Lý and Trần dynasties, which promoted cultural development and pushed back successive foreign aggressors.

Thích Quảng Độ called on Buddhists in Vietnam to place the spirit of fearlessness “at the centre of your efforts for the survival of Buddhism in our homeland”, and Buddhists overseas work internationally to bring forward Vietnamese Buddhism as a “force of compassion and peace that can contribute to overcoming the scourges of totalitarianism and terrorism that threaten our world today”.

The 20th Century CE, he wrote, had seen two remarkable Buddhist movements in Vietnam – the Buddhist Revival Movement in the 1920s and the Buddhist movement against religious discrimination in the 1960s. Today, he urged Buddhists to instigate “a new movement of Vietnamese Buddhism for peace, democracy and development”. Such a movement, he wrote, “is awaited by our country more than ever before”.

(See full text)


MESSAGE
for the Lunar New Year of the Rooster 2017
by the Most Venerable THÍCH QUẢNG ĐỘ
Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam



Blessed be Lord Sakyamuni Buddha !

On behalf of the Bicameral Council of Institutes of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, I extend my warmest greetings to respected elders, dignitaries, monks, nuns and Buddhist followers at home and abroad. I wish you peace and happiness in the New Year, may all your wishes be fulfilled and your efforts for Buddhism be accomplished.

Forty-two long years of relentless oppression against Buddhism in Vietnam are proof enough that violence will not end by itself. The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam will continue to be denied the right to freedom of religion and prevented from spreading Buddha’s teachings to deliver beings from suffering. Clearly, if we do not free ourselves from oppression, no one else will do it in our place.

Confronted with this desperate situation, what should we Buddhists do?

Using violence to combat violence is a wild folly that can only push society and humankind to the brink of the abyss. I am therefore calling on you to develop the Buddhist spirit of Fearlessness in order to reestablish the Dharma’s existence and become the cornerstone of our mission to serve our people and humankind.

Fearlessness is the force of nonviolence that enables us to dissipate the wild follies that engender so much suffering, separation and death to humankind. In Vietnam, fearlessness inspired hundreds of resistance movements during the first millennium CE to protect the cradle of our civilization, Giao Châu. Thanks to this, the Vietnamese people preserved their national identity and our nation has never become a slave to China.

It was this spirit of fearlessness that enabled our people to build the Đại Việt nation which flourished under Đinh, Lę, Lý and Trần dynasties, stood firm against foreign aggression, and established the rich historical tradition which is characteristic of our nation and also characteristic of Vietnamese Buddhism.

The New Year comes and goes, people are born and pass away, in keeping with the laws of impermanence. But the New Year is never lost from the cycle of regeneration, and people live on forever thanks to the spirit of fearlessness which gives life to Buddhist teachings and perpetuates its mission of saving all beings from suffering and distress.

To Buddhists in Vietnam, I urge you to embrace the spirit of fearlessness and place it at the centre of your efforts for the survival of Buddhism in our homeland.

To Buddhists overseas, I call upon you to cultivate the spirit of fearlessness, and work together with Buddhists from other Asian nations to bring forward Vietnamese Buddhism as a force of compassion and peace that can contribute to overcoming the scourges of totalitarianism and terrorism that threaten our world today.

In the 20th Century, Vietnamese Buddhism successfully accomplished two well-known and effective campaigns. The first was the Buddhist Revival Movement in the 1920s, which radically reformed the structures of Buddhist clergy and the development of Buddhist teachings. The second was the Buddhist movement for religious freedom in the 1960s, which called for social equality and an end to religious discrimination.

In launching this appeal for Fearlessness in the Lunar New Year, I sincerely urge all monks, nuns and Buddhist followers to devote your energy to mobilizing a new movement of Vietnamese Buddhism for peace, democracy and development. Such a movement is awaited by our country more than ever before.

Thanh Minh Zen Monastery,
Year of the Rooster, 2017
Fifth Supreme Patriarch
of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
(Signature and Seal)
Sramana THÍCH QUẢNG ĐỘ

 
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