Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Sacred Pagoda

In Nha Trang there are many beautiful pagodas such as Long Sơn (lowm sun) or the one at Vinpearl.  Few are spoiled in riches such as those.  In their own ways they have become tourist traps.  And some of the monks at the former carry themselves more as cocky fratboys than humble students.  I once saw a group of them at an adjacent  karaoke room with 2 karaoke hostesses.  It is bad enough when a whole country of supposed followers of the teachings of Buddha are obsessed with wealth and outward appearances. 

The one pagoda that I respect as being true to carrying the essence of the Buddha is Chùa Linh Quang (jewah lin wang).  The head monk there is a tall, lanky man named Thầy Thích Nhuận Thanh (tay tit newon tawn).  Thầy means teacher.  He with the help of several old ladies have raised over 30 abandned children, with zero expectation of them staying with the pagoda when older.  Thanh himself was an orphan raised in a Da Lat pagoda.  He waa given the opportunity to study in England.  As a young adult, he was entrusted to take the helm at a new pagoda in Nha Trang which I call a Buddhist sanctuary.  The whole area with its trees, ponds, and wide open spaces is so serene.  It is humble, not flamboyant.  And it is peaceful.  I treasure the uplifting conversations I have had with Thay Thanh and the invitation for me and my friends to have lunch with him and the kids of the monastary. 

If you wish to visit, take Le Hong Phong to Phong Chau.  Make a left when you see the sign for Chua Linh Quang.  The address is 58/8 Vườn Xoài (voong swai)- Đòng Rọ (dom raw)- Vĩnh Xuân (vin swung) - Vĩnh Thái (vin thai)