THE MEANING OF THE UNIFIED BUDDHIST CHURCH OF VIETNAM’S LEGAL DOCTRINE
Thich Vien Dinh
A church is a religious organization and is created by religions. A church created by a government or political parties are illegal.
The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) is a traditional, independent Buddhist Church that has been built by countless labor sacrifice from Monks and Buddhists. The UBCV is completely nonpartisan and does not belong to any secular political organization or party. That independence is also a manifestation of the meaning of taking refuge in the Three Jewels: Taking refuge in the Buddha, do not take refuge in heaven, worldly deities, demons, entities; taking refuge in Dharma, do not take refuge in nonbelievers and satanism; taking refuge in the Sangha, do not take refuge in evil gangs.
The UBCV inherits Patriarchs and Outstanding Monks’ 2000-year-old tradition of building the culture and protecting the country and has always shared the nation’s highs and lows, glory and disgrace.
The UBCV’s legal doctrine is not simply based on the formality of an organization like a birth certificate. It is the independent tradition, a self-determining viewpoint, a goal to serve the nation and mankind and not obeying any individual, any political organization or party, that is the UBCV’s unspoken legal doctrine.
Due to the ideology of liberation, freedom, self-cultivate, and self-realization, there is no religious power in Buddhism. Even though The UBCV has a Constitution and Regulations, she does not have concrete sanctions. The UBCV’s personnel is based on conducts and volunteerism.
After 1975, the Communist government in Vietnam employed imprisonment, terror, threats, propaganda, and lies to eliminate the UBCV. The UBCV’s offices and documents were confiscated and burned off, respectively. All UBCV’s organizational systems ranging from central to local levels, were paralyzed by the government’s sabotage.
In order to easily spread propaganda, Vietnamese Communist government forged a list of UBCV Representatives using a fake seal to join the meeting to create the Vietnamese Buddhist Church at Quan Su Temple, Hanoi, in 1981. Using that ground, the Communist government says that the UBCV merged with the government’s Vietnamese Buddhist Church (VBC), therefore the UBCV no longer exists.
In reality, the government-created VBC is only an association, a member of the Fatherland Front, and a peripheral political organization of the Communist Party of Vietnam. In international documents, the English version of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and Member Organizations clearly states that “VBC” is only an association, because they wrote that “Vietnam Association for Buddhism” just like other association within this organization.
With an independent and nonpolitical tradition, the UBCV could not have joined the VBC which is a member of the Fatherland Front, a political organization.
(To know more about the scheme to turn Buddhism into a political tool for the Communist Party, please refer to the document “Unifying Buddhism” by Do Trung Hieu”)
In a meeting by the UBCV’s Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma at An Quang Temple in September 1981 to discuss whether or not the UBCV should join the government-created VCB, the Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do, then General secretary of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, stated:
“Perhaps you all, like myself, have clearly seen that the UBCV boat is currently drifting in the middle of an ocean amid powerful winds and huge waves, uncertain when it will sink. Therefore, if those who are present here today feel afraid of the predicament and want to step onto another boat to save their own lives, please feel free to do so; nobody will stop you. I only ask for one favor from you: Before stepping onto another boat, please let the UBCV boat drift in the storms with the people remaining on that boat; these people will strive to steer the boat. If they are lucky to be able to sail through the danger and reach the shore safely, then they will live. Unfortunately, if the boat sinks, they are willing to die with it. Before jumping onto another boat, please don’t be so cruel as to heartlessly sink the boat that once ferried you to the shore of prestige and glory. That’s all I am asking from you … “ (excerpt from “Comments of Grave Blunders of the Communist Party of Vietnam Against The Nation and Buddhism” by the Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do)
That was also the last meeting of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma to discuss the “unifying Buddhism” imposed by the Communist government.
And, three days later, the Most Senior Venerable Thich Minh Chau, General Secretary of the Committee for the Campaign to Unify Buddhism, on behalf of the Most Venerable Thich Tri Thu, Chairman of the Committee for the Campaign to Unify Buddhism, signed the indictment document accusing the Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do:
“…The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, General Secretary of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, has destroyed the reputation of the entire Committee for The Campaign to Unify Buddhism, sabotaging the process of unifying Buddhism, stubbornly challenging the government and Vietnam Fatherland Front who are the ones encouraging and supporting the legacy of unifying Buddhism nationwide!”
Those are precise evidence to prove that, in 1981, the UBCV did not join the government’s VBC.
That’s why, even though the UBCV has been persecuted, her offices confiscated, all activities banned, and members imprisoned, the UBCV’s legal doctrine still exists. The Most Senior Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, despite being imprisoned, persistently campaigned for the reactivation of the UBCV.
In 1992, the Most Senior Thich Huyen Quang, acting president of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, signed the Decision to Establish UBCV Branches in abroad. In 2003, at the Emergency Conference at Nguyen Thieu Monastery in Binh Dinh Province, the UBCV was reinforced, and added personnel to the Bi-Institutional Council and the Management Committee of the Institute for the dissemination of Dharma. After that, one after another, Provinces, Cities, Districts and Wards re-established local Representative Committees.
In 2004, having failed to eliminate the UBCV, and the country’s situation at the time changed, the government had to change its methods to destroy the UBCV. The Communist government used Resolution 36 to divide and conquer. The government no longer employed organizational and foundational destructions; instead, it started personnel sabotage against the UBCV, corrupting members in order to change the UBCV’s view points and goals. That is a method of destruction to uproot the UBCV’s traditionally independent, building culture and protecting and sharing the nation’s highs and lows, all of which are the foundation of the UBCV’s unspoken legal doctrine.
After that, the Communist government wanted to create a Church with a name similar to the UBCV in order to propagandize and mislead the public, but with a purpose to serve as a tool for political agendas. Thus, they advocated a “UBCV without Huyen Quang and Quang Do”, or “UBCV Conciliating” with the communist government; or “Re-registered UBCV” .. and so on. These form of Churches, despite carrying the name UBCV, do not follow the independent tradition laid down by the Patriarchs. On the contrary, these new Churches, if established, would join and collaborate with evil secular parties and forces who advocate materialistic gains and personal promotion for their members and organizations. These impersonated Churches, even if created, obviously are not genuine UBCV.
The Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do, Acting President of the UBCV’s Institute of the Sangha and President of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dhama, stated in an interview with an international radio station:
“We cannot use the Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights of more than 85 millions of Vietnamese to exchange for our own Church’s freedom and reactivation. Therefore, we will continue to call on the government to practice the most basic principles so that our people can live in prosperity, happiness, and advancement just like all people in the world today.”
In 1981, the Communists used terror, imprisonment, propaganda, and lies to force UBCV members join the government’s VBC, causing the UBCV nearly disintegrated and paralyzed.
In 20004, the Communists used threats, ransom, promises of gains and power to corrupt a number of UBCV members, causing the UBCV, which had just been reactivated in reality, divided and weakened.
Even though the Communists were the primary agents repeatedly sabotaging the UBCV, if in 1981, the Most Senior Venerables and Venerables leaders of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, the ones steering the Church boat, had sufficient determination and wisdom, were unafraid of waves and winds or dangers, did not abandon the old boat to jump onto a new one, the UBCV would not have been in this perilous situation. Saddened by this situation, the late Most Senior Venerable Thich Duc Nhuan lamented “How painful, when Vietnamese Buddhism has just liberated to the ocean from narrow creeks, now you Venerables voluntarily step into an imprisoning puddle.
And in 2004, if the Most Senior Venerable, Venerables, members of the UBCV, domestically and abroad, were not corrupted by Resolution 36 with enticing words and did not join, cooperate, conciliate, merge with the communist government and create a new Church, the UBCV which was just reactivated, would not have been divided into multiple factions like the present.
At the end, the UBCV is not the only victim of the Communist Party; Vietnamese people are also a victim of the Communist Party. Vietnamese people are not the only victims of the Communist Party, nearly half of the world population are also victims of the Communist Party who had been mislead, divided and violently conquered by the Communist Party using Marxist-Leninist theories.
In Message for New Year, 2011, the Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do reminded monks, nuns and Buddhists:
“The importance remains the persistent protection of the UBCV legal doctrine … the UBCV legal doctrine exist, Vietnamese Buddhist exists. The UBCV’s legal doctrine disappears, Dharma will be in peril, the country’s culture will return to the time of foreign dependency, the legacy of sentient beings’ salvation and realization will dissipate into unfathomable ignorance.”
“1975 was the beginning of a tragedy and desperation for free Vietnamese in general and for Buddhist specifically. Step-by-step, at times violent and terrorizing, at times calculated adulating, the Communist government has failed in its ploy to eliminate the UBCV. That is because the legitimacy of the UBCV still exists, thanks to the determination to protect the UBCV’s legitimacy by monks, nuns and followers at home and abroad throughout the last 36 years.
..This generation continues the previous generation’s efforts: protecting the legitimacy of the UBCV on legal aspects as well as on human analytic, people and historical aspects.”
In 1981, the entire country only had 2 people who risked their lives and personal liberty to maintain the heritage of Buddhism for the future of Vietnamese Buddhism; they were The Most Senior Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do. Thanks to that, even though the Party and government wanted to bury the UBCV, the UBCV still lives on.
If there are monks, nuns, and Buddhists; if there are people who support a genuine tradition and point of view, the UBCV will live on with the nation.
The above fact is merely an emphatic response to those who only look at The UBCV as a number without recognizing her values in the nation’s existence and as a spiritual asylum for the people who are powerless in front of violent waves threatening forefather’s land.
Recently, there are some people who suddenly call on the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma to “Wipe out previous mistakes in order to expand the “conciliation” and allow monks to cooperate in order for the UBCV to develop. Otherwise, the UBCV will perish with only a small number of people!”
Alas! The attitude of blaming everything on the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, on The Most Senior Venerables Thich Huyen Quang in the past, and now The Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do. It is really painful to hear.
In the past, with the scheme “unifying Buddhism”, the Most Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do were accused of “sabotaging national harmony” because they refused to join the VBC, a member of the Fatherland Front. And now, with “Resolution 36”, the two Venerables were again accused of “weakening the Church” because they rejected the tendency of conciliation with and submission to the Communist government.
In 1981, who caused the UBCV paralyzed to near collapse? And in 2005 and then 2007, and now 2011, who caused the division among monks and nuns? Divided but then “collaborated with one another” to destroy the UBCV under the leadership of the Most Senior Venerables Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do?
The stalwart Institute for the dissemination of Dharma prior to April 30, 1975, the UBCV with numerous offices from the countryside to the city, covering all aspects from religions to education, culture, society, health, and colleges … etc, then over one night became completely empty-handed. Who caused that? Why do the monks and Buddhists who are currently questioning did not recognize who those people were? Nobody abandons evil acts by the people who conspire to eliminate the nation’s Buddhist in order to save Buddhism? Instead, they turn around and impede the path to reactivation of Patriarchs’ 2000-year-old traditional Church?
The UBCV’s legal doctrine is in the hearts and is a torch inherited from the Buddhas and Patriarchs; it is not a piece of visa document for a regime. Life events are impermanent; one day the regime changes, that piece of document also becomes trash.
Commemorating Annual Postmortem Anniversary of the Fourth Patriarch,
Thich Vien Dinh