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On an afternoon of July 08, lunar year Nham Than (1992), there was a discussion in the lecture hall at Tu Dam Temple, Hue, by Monks and Nuns in Thua Thien, to provide inputs to the modification of Vietnam Buddhist Church’s (VBC) Constitution. I participated in this conference as a representative of Monks and lay Buddhists from Phuoc Duyen Temple, and I voiced my comments about the VBC’s Constitution as follows:

  1. The operative motto of the VBC is “Dharma – Nation – Socialism”

    I suggested that the item “Socialism” should be removed from the VBC’s motto. Why? Because our monastics and lay Buddhists can never meet the Communists in Socialism, and the communists can never meet our monastics and lay Buddhists in Dharma either. If we ever met, it is in the ideal of serving the nation where we could meet.

    Our Vietnamese monastics and lay Buddhists strive to learn and cultivate in order to construe the Dharma’s greatness to serve the nation, a place where we have had the predestined causes to be born and growing up.

    And the Communists should also draw out the brilliance from Marxist-Leninism to serve the nation, since no-one among Vietnamese did not have Vietnamese roots before becoming Communists or religious followers.

    Therefore, our Vietnamese monastics and lay Buddhists only function within the boundary of Dharma and Nation; Socialism is for the Communists.

    Thus, in the VBC’s Constitution, the “Socialism” trailing tail should be chopped off.

  2. There is no Buddhist flag in the VBC’s Constitution. Why? In 1963, just because the government of Ngo Dinh Diem ordered the elimination the Buddhist flags on April 8 lunar calendar, it caused multiple serious consequences and at the end, led to the demise of the First Republic in South Vietnam.

    In the VBC’s Constitution, the Buddhist flag is not recognized. Thus, it is the VBC that rejects contributions of Vietnamese monastics and lay Buddhists in a crucial era of history.

  3. The Youth Buddhist Movement is an educational organization teaching youngsters according to the Buddhist spirits to contribute to the building of the country. Why does the VBC’s Constitution not include the Youth Buddhist Movement? How can we terminate our future generations right in our own juristic activities.
  4. A Buddhist-designated organization is to serve people and mankind according to the direction of wisdom and compassion; it is not to serve any individual, group, dynasty, or ism.

    Therefore, the VBC should not be a “trusted member of the Fatherland Front of Vietnam”

    The Fatherland Front of Vietnam is only a political organization whose goals are to propagandize the Communist Party of Vietnam’s policies and ambitions.

    On the other hand, a Buddhist organization’s goal is to inherit and spread righteous dharma from the Buddha and Patriarchs through the ages to serve life; therefore these two organizations can not combine and can not misidentify each other’s purposes.

The VBC’s Constitution was born in 1981; after having read it, I went to pay homage to the Most Venerable Thich Mat Hien (The Most Venerable Truc Lam) and said:

“Dear The Most Venerable! You are the leader of the group that drafted the VBC’s Constitution; why did you write that the VBC functions according to the motto “Dharma – Nation – Socialism”; and there was no Buddhist flag in the Constitution; no Youth Buddhist Movement organization, and why is the VBC a trusted member of the Fatherland Front of Vietnam?

The Most Venerable taught me that: “I have never drafted that Constitution. That Constitution was self-drafted and self-directed by the Government Religious Department and the Fatherland Front of Vietnam; then they put my name on it.”

Upon having heard the Most Venerable teach, I bowed my head and did not know what to say. I have held that pain in my heart until 2PM on July 8, lunar year of Nham Than (1992) when I could present only a few points in the lecture hall at Tu Dam temple, in front of many Monks and Nuns of Thua Thien, Hue as stated. The pain continues steadily until today without any certainty of when it will end.

At the time, before speaking, I had definitely known that all hardships would come to me. But I was ready to accept those challenges as nurturing substances to grow my bodhi mind.

Phuoc Duyen Temple – Hue, March 11, 2006

Thich Thai Hoa