Nov 5, 2018

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 8 Comments

Letter to Disciples No.270: EUROPEAN SKY – PART 2: Traveling Abroad to See How Beautiful Our Country Is (Thấy người rồi lại thương mình hơn xưa)

Letter to Disciples No.270: EUROPEAN SKY

PART 2: Traveling Abroad to See How Beautiful Our Country Is

Dear disciples!

Getting out of the shuttle train, I walked for over 1000 meters to catch a cab. Surprisingly I did not feel tired though walking up and down many slopes on the street. The only tiredness I felt was when I met black people of all types. I didn’t feel comfortable or in other words, I felt a little prudent. It’s not by chance Catherine and Mat Kha Phuc warned me before. Four black young men gathered in a corner of the train gossiping and whistling. I sat in the other corner feeling worried thinking about the warning of Mat Kha Phuc over dangerous situations I may face in my first time abroad. Luckily, four men in black uniform, the station guards I guessed, were standing around which made me feel a little assured. I decided to call a taxi for fear of risks may arise from long-time waiting for bus. I started feeling the weight of the backpack on my shoulder and the heavy in my feet and legs, not to mention a suitcase being pulled behind. I felt discouraged upon thinking about a 30 kg-suitcase that I and Mat Dieu (my consort) will have to carry in our next trip. Worse, how will I handle all things if she has motion sickness and fear of heights? After struggling to speak English with the driver, I finally got in the cab. The night of Paris gradually appeared in front of my eyes. Obsolete apartment buildings with weak yellow light spreading from small bulbs make it like a cemetery with old, cold graves. Unlike my imagination, the roads are in bad conditions. The driver asked me something but I couldn’t understand a word. Poor me, I accepted to be a dumb but not deaf person!

– We’ve arrived, sir. Please pay 45.30 Euro! The driver pointed at the taxi meter

I was pretty upset: “Why do you charge me extortionately?” With an exchange rate of VND27,000, 45.30 euro is equivalent to over VND1.2 million. Well, don’t be so upset if you know prices in the restaurant: 2.5 euro for a cup of tea, 12 – 15 euro for a western-styled breakfast, 7 euro for an Asian-styled breakfast (a small bowl of sticky rice and pork meat). Lately I had a meal with Mr Duong Vu at a restaurant in Latvia which cost me 50 euro. Duong Vu is the one who picked me up in the airport of Latvia. I almost cursed the one who had posted an article praising incredibly reasonable price in Latvia. In fact, the restaurants in this nation are even far less comfortable and well-styled than that of cafés in Vietnam, let alone comparing to restaurants. Due to mistaken calculation, I had to pay for three nights at a hotel in Paris with a total of 195 euro. A room cost me 65 euro per night but its quality was so bad. There were no slippers; the tube got stuck, no bidet shower, no fridge, no telephone, no wardrobe, just some clothes hangers staying out of the guest’s reach, old metal creaking elevator… . Is it France? Is it their civilization?

Dear disciples!

Sitting in front of Louvre Museum

Before coming to France, I thought I should wear a thick French coat to be in accordance with the elegant style of the French. But after visiting Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Luxembourg gardens, Notre Dame de Paris and went around the food street, I was disappointed to see people with slim fit jeans. Where are elegant vests or French coat in my imagination? Likewise, it’s worthwhile to mention here is the xenophile orientations of many lay Buddhists in Vietnam who blindly praise or venerate monks from Burma, Tibet or Thailand until they are disappointed for discovering their poor or wrong knowledge of Buddhism. Though these monks come from countries well known as the cradle of Buddhism, this is not the measure of their merit or spiritual achievements.

Arc de Triomphe undergoing renovations

During my stay in France, I visited Arc de Triomphe which currently is undergoing renovations, just like an old woman needs cosmetic surgery to re-gain their perfect beauty. I remember a poem that goes:

Under that layer of shimmer powder

I mock at the world with a smile

Frankly speaking, Arc de Triomphe though being one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world, still suffers from the destruction of time. It is no more a young beautiful girl with a smile that can make a nation collapsed. A thought flew to my mind:

Cold land, strange people, crumpled space

Arc de Triomphe is merely the victory in samsara

French or Vietnamese makes no difference

Bodhicitta is the crown prince to come

Seine River

Eiffel Towel

I continued to hire a cab heading to Eiffel Tower. There’s nothing special apart from metal bars assembled artistically by rivets with high technique. May be the Seine River with ships sailing up and down flowing softly by gives the Eiffel tower a prominent look. The tower is so high that one needs stand far away to capture its whole image. However, I think:

Even that tower (Eiffel) reaches high in the sky

It is far lower than the willpower of a practitioner (with right view)

Even one practices for a hundred years (with wrong view)

A thousand years captured in samsara still lie ahead.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Then came to one of the famous museums in the world, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral which is well known through the French romantic novel named “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. The museum has very large space filled with art masterpieces, visited by hundreds of people each day. I don’t know much about museum nor the spiritual meaning of the Notre Dame but strangely enough, there’re always security forces standing outside. I also saw soldiers with rifle going on patrol. This scene is not found in Vietnam. The security in our country is better, isn’t it?

Soldiers with rifle patrolling around

European architecture

At present, Paris is undergoing large-scaled renovations with lots of big construction equipment lying on the street. Nonetheless, Paris still shows its dazzling beauty as it is. Five-storey buildings with typical European style, the omate wrought-iron balconies with high domes over along with ornamental details – all make an ancient, elegant and aristocratic city.

I had breakfast at a restaurant in the street corner near Arc de Triomphe at a price of 12 euro. The French toast is delicious till the last piece, added by the scenic beauty of the city, make my trip worthy. However, it would be a big inconvenience for a Vietnamese man who could not find his familiar teapot, coffee filter or fish sauce. The Phu My Hung urban complex in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam will surely be equal or even more prominent for its luxury and stylish decoration as well as full range of food and drink equipment. Nonetheless, Ba Huyen Thanh Quan (a famous female poet) once exclaimed:

Gone were the old horses, the carriage paths and the spirit of plants in the autumn 

Once splendid castle sees the last light of the setting sun.

Thus with a profound understanding of life impermanence, shouldn’t I attach too much to the worldly scenic spot? Mecca (Saudi Arabia), Bodh Gaya (India), Yen Tu Tong Lam (Vietnam) receive millions of spiritual visitors a year not because of the matter of attractiveness or unattractiveness.

There is a proverb going that: “Going out one day and come back with a basket full of wisdom”. Although I have yet gained “a basket full of wisdom” but the only thing I know is “Our country is beautiful”. Lovely Vietnam!

May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of the Buddha’s nature

With the receptionist of Wellton Hotel

Breakfast Buffet

With the restaurant’s manager

A rainy afternoon on the peak of Phu Van Mountain

November 4, 2018

Thinley – Nguyen Thanh

Translated by Mat Hue Phap

 Thư gửi các trò 270: ĐẤT KHÁCH TRỜI ÂU – BÀI 2: Thấy người rồi lại thương mình hơn xưa

Letter to Disciples No. 270: EUROPEAN SKY PART 1: A LIE DERIVED FROM BODHICITTA (Lời nói dối Bồ đề)

Letter to Disciples No. 270: EUROPEAN SKY


PART 2: Traveling Abroad to See How Beautiful Our Country Is (Thấy người rồi lại thương mình hơn xưa)

Part 3: Both Europeans and Asians, there is still the mind of good and evil (Á Âu đâu cũng tâm thiện, ác)

Part 4: The warmth in the winter (Hơi ấm giữa mùa đông)

Part 5: “Gods” & “Pedestrians”: Having experienced and known how nice our country is! (“Thượng đế” & “Bộ hành”: trông người mà ngẫm đến ta)

  1. Dr C H Lakshminarayan says:
    Respected Guruji,I bow my head at your lotus feet.

    Buddha is my life

    Dharma is my boat

    Sangha is my strength

    Guru is my guide.

    It is very fascinating to read the mixture of joy, loneliness, discomfort and adverse conditions  experienced during his fly under the umbrella of European sky in the countries Guruji visited.!

    Guruji was surprised to see the exorbitant rates they charged in the Hotels and other services he needed like cab fare during his present trip as compared to Vietnam.!

    It is a funny thing to see Furniture as Lilliput before a Gelliliyo and gigantic Receptionist of Welto Hotel ! as seen in the photos displayed in the article.

    Though , Guruji witnessed  France  and saw the world famous  Arc dear Trimphe which is then undergoing renovations like an old woman trying to appear like an young girl with cosmetic surgery and make-up !

    Then Guruji visited Effel Tower, Luxembourg gardens, Notre dame cathedral and enjoyed the ‘ sight seeing’ !

    There is one saying in Sanskrit :

    ” Yad  drushyam thath  nashyam ” meaning

    ” Whatever is seen through eyes, is bound to destruction” !

    Accordingly, after seeing all these, Guruji began to ponder over

    ‘the impermanence’ principle of Buddhism.

    ” Every thing changes.  ‘ Change’ is only permanent.!

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Dr C H Lakshminarayan.




  2. Dr C H Lakshminarayan says:

    A mother loves her offspring  however it may be ugly, o r not beautiful or crippled etc. She loves it profoundly.!

    Like wise,  Guruji, after returning from his tour,  he expresses his patriotism towards his country and says he loves his mother land and says” There is nothing like Vietnam and it is in matchable !

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Dr C H Lakshminarayan

  3. Tink Clarence hamm says:
    I worked in Europe many times, I never liked it, I loved everything in asia, and Europe is expensive. The security has been a lot heavir- yes, all the Muslim refugees bringing terrible violence there. I am happy your safe and in good spirits, it’s a blessing knowing this. The 3 times I come to Vietnam I found it to be beautiful, some street thieves but that’s everywhere. Food was very good even though I was not acclimated to it, it was delicious. Please be safe, and take in all you can because wisdom in the world is good to understanding it’s pain and suffering

    Your friend and follower


  4. Mật Thái Hòa says:
    Kính Bạch Thầy.

    Con hoan hỷ tán thán thiện hạnh của đạo huynh Mật Huệ Pháp đã chuyển ngữ bài viết của Thầy sang tiếng Anh, nhằm giúp cho những  chúng sanh hữu tình ở nước ngoài được tiếp cận với ánh sáng chánh pháp của Đức Phật, ngang qua những bài viết trên và được cơ hội bước đi trên con đường giải thoát theo sự chỉ dạy của vị Thầy Mật giáo, nhằm hướng đến  mục tiêu tối thượng là giải thoát khỏi luân hồi sinh tử, giác ngộ thành Phật trong tương lai.

    Con cầu nguyện cho sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy Cô vì hạnh phúc của chúng sanh.

    Con cầu nguyện cho con đường hoằng dương chánh pháp của Thầy Cô tại chân trời Âu luôn được thành sắp tới luôn được thành công viên mãn.

    Cầu mong cho tất cả chúng sanh thức tỉnh với trạng thái giác ngộ.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  5. Jane ( Tantra Mikaya) says:
    dear holy guru. Thank you very much for your wonderful and experienced article. It made me a little sad to read that our holy guru had different experiences in Paris. The prices in Europe in metropolises like Paris or London are very high. I am very sorry to hear how much you had to pay for a taxi ride. Nevertheless, I hope that you will visit once again Holy Guru Europe to teach us the Dharma as well. I would like to host. Receiving the Dharma is also a very valuable asset for us. Despite all the different lifestyles or traditions, Europeans have also experienced the Buddha’s path and realized that this is the right way to live and purify our minds with meditation and to live the bodhicitta. Your wise knowledge and valuable articles help us to go the right path. Ultimately, we all want to live in peace and with love and harmony. You holy guru and our precious sangha have personally taught me that you all live the values ​​we were taught as children as well. The Dharma is a solid pillar in my life that gives me strength and comfort. My sincere thanks for all your articles that I was allowed to read and bring me closer to the Dharma. That’s why I feel so comfortable in Buddhist countries because I think spiritual wealth and a life of happiness is more important than high-quality technology or wasting money on nonsensical things. My article taught me to be more mindful. I thank you from the heart for the photos you gave us and your travelogue. I sincerely hope that you had a nice time here. At home it is certainly the most beautiful. In Europe, a lot has changed and daily police operations have become normal. I hope that you have arrived safely back home in the circle of your family and our sangha. A Buddhist monk once told me that we carry all the important things inside us, so we would not have to travel. Maybe that’s true, but personally my travels showed that there are places where I feel more comfortable and beloved and learned a lot more than books May all be free from Suffering. May all be healthy and happy. with May our holy Guru lives long for the sake of all sentient beings. May all beings achieve the happiness of Buddha s nature. Om Mani Padme Hum
  6. Dear holy Guru,

    I am delighted to read this article. So many lessons you have taught us in this article. Thank you so much for your precious teachings.

    I have learnt that as a Buddhist practitioner, enlightenment is the ultimate goal we should focus on. We should not waste time on worldly things, because temporary happiness in samsara never brings us the true bliss nor ends the suffering. In addition, the mind is still impure and has attachments on the affairs of life, we never get the peace in mind.

    However, in order to get the peace in mind, the Buddhist practitioner needs to have the right methods to practice or to tame our mind. Buddhism takes the mind as the creator of all actions of body and speech, and Buddhism takes wisdom as the only concern. Many practitioners think wrong that meditation is only the way to get enlightenment and sit in meditation for a long time. But when being out of the meditation session, they still feel suffering and become out of control.

    Therefore, I am so gratefull to practice and do internship Pure Mind  yoga daily to purify the mind, to develop right view and get wisdom for the foundation to end the suffering and obtain the achievement on the path of enlightenment. It is only the sword of  wisdom which is able to cut off the samsaric suffering and lead Buddhist practitioners to the Pure Land.

    I would like to express my gratitude towards Guru for your great effort and compassion to guide us on the path of liberation with the eassy and effective methods.

    May Guru and your consort have a good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  7. Totte Nordahl says:
    Dear Guru

    Thank you for letting me be a participant on your Journey. Very interesting.

    Regards Totte

    • Kính bạch Thầy! 

      Con xin phép được dịch comment của bạn đọc Totte Nordahl sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      Kính bạch Thầy! 

      Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã cho con được tham gia cùng với chuyến đi của Thầy thông qua bài viết rất hay và lợi lạc này. 

      Con – Totte. 

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