How Do the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and Vietnamese Buddhist Association Differ From Each Other?
Thich Vien Dinh
In short, the communist government of Vietnam sabotages Buddhism by using “Party’s orders, government’s Resolutions, mobilization from the People’s Campaign committee, Fatherland Front, or police according to the tactics of “carrot and stick.” “Stick” is to use suppression, terrorism, arrests, murders, administrative retention, and so on; “carrot” is to seduce with baits of worldly gains or threats. “Stick” is to bestow forced suicide onto the UBCV, a people-established and traditional Buddhist Church with a history of 2000 years. “Carrot” is by creating a toady enterprise called the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha, which people call government’s church or nationalized Buddhist Church” (Excerpt from the comments by the International Buddhist Information Bureau). Despite creating the “Nationalized Church”, the government is not happy with this Church, as commented in the Secret Document:
“A number of senior monks from An Quang Buddhist Church who join the current VBA (The Most Venerables Thich Tri Tinh, Thich Thien Sieu, Thich Minh Chau, Thich Tri Quang, and so on). Generally these monks have good point of views and behavior, but they have many different states of mind. Previously, they did not have any influential positions in An Quang Buddhist Church. Being leaders in the new Church, they are now in a hesitant position they do not dare rebel. Thus these monks can not develop their roles are leaders of the Central VBA and do not have enough eminence and significance to summon the Church to protest. Hence they are leaning onto the government for support more and more, leading to their eroded esteem. “It is recommended that the Board of Secretariats and Prime minister re-evaluate whether the fundamental nature of the current VBA’s organizational structure truly represents the entire Vietnamese Buddhism?”
A number of monks, either being overpowered, pressured, bribed, or seeking personal welfare, have become submissive. If a Church advocates self-practice, self-salvation, and disengagement from society, who would Buddhist followers turn to for support, and who would the nation look up to for hope? Being blind-folded and deafened, this Church does not hear earth-shaking laments of innocent victims or the groaning from a nation under oppression and imprisonment. It does not see that people have had their freedom robbed, their democracy seized, and their human rights squashed. It does not see the Ancestor’s land has been violated by Northern invaders. Excruciated by the attitude of “using monastic hats to cover the ears”, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do wrote in his poem “Ignorant or Clever” (From the book “Poem in Exile” published by Que Me):
I teach my Self day and night:
Dharma deteriorated by heaven’s might.
Seeing temples desecrated: stand and spectate
Witnessing statues devastated: sit and shut eyes
Monks, nuns arrested: Who cares? They are not my mother!
Buddhists, supporters imprisoned: Why worried? They are not my father!
Ensuring my own welfare protected, that’s witty
Standing up for the disadvantaged, that’s stupidity.
Vietnamese Buddhist tradition has always been tightly connected with the nation: “Vietnamese Buddhism has always been identified and experienced the ups and downs with the nation. Vietnamese Zen masters have always kept in heart that Monastic rules are dharma’s blood vessels, but they don’t forget that Salvaging sentient beings is a monk’s calling. With a Bodhicitta spirit, “selfless and forgiving”, Zen masters don’t just seek liberation for themselves and disengage from society. They have always vowed to liberate all life’s sufferings. Zen masters, being either a boat driver, a diplomat, a soldier, or countless shapes and forms, when they have completed their assignments, they all return to their place of true nature and don’t accept any secular position, firmly adhering to the tradition “Sravanas do not bow to the rich and powerful …” (quoting “On Thang Long’s centennial anniversary thinking about Dharma and the Nation” by Thich Vien Dinh, published by the International Buddhist Information Bureau)
In the past 60 years, the communists have followed Marxist-Leninist atheistic ideology, class struggle, extending the Communist Party’s totalitarian reign, uncompromising with other national elements; all of these are destroying the national unity. In 1981, the communists installed the government’s Buddhist Church, a member of the Fatherland Front, which is the Communist Party’s peripheral instrumental organization, in order to fight against the traditional people-established UBCV, triggering internal Buddhist sabotage. Since 1992, feeing that it had not done enough after 10 years of destructions that caused the UBCV paralyzed; the communist continued to find ways to sabotage in order to completely eliminate the UBCV. The Public Security’s Top Secret Document orders two fundamental attacking methods:
“Cause deep division among the ranks of monastics, exploiting a number of them who have progressive attitude, and enticing the undecided; admonish phenomena that exhibit negative tendency; to a number of rebellious extremists, we have to cut their hands and feet, using monastic rules and secular laws to fight and disable them from uniting to fight against us”
“Reinforce our core personnel, especially among Buddhist followers , pushing for revolution in religious areas”
Sabotaging Buddhist internal affairs, sabotaging national unity; when will the Vietnam’s Ancestor’s land become powerful, self-soveign, self-defensible in order to compare with other civilized nations in the world?
Thich Vien Dinh