The last year proved to be challenging to everyone. However, Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh, against all odds, continued to lead Ba Vang Pagoda to thrive and move forward. Indeed, besides the cultivation routines and the Buddist scripture teaching sessions, He, the monks and lay Buddhists of the Pagoda also completed numerous activities to help the community and propagate Buddhism to everyone. Now that the New Year is approaching, it is a good time to take a look at what Thay and other Buddha’s disciples at Ba Vang Pagoda completed in 2020.
1. The 1st series of Thay’s Dharma talk for foreigners
Starting on 28 Dec 2019 under the allowance of Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh, this Youtube video series aims at sharing the Buddha’s teaching through Thay’s explanation specifically for foreigners. In the series, Thay preached various of Buddhist topics in understandable and beginner-friendly vocabulary, like from the life of Buddha to the 5 Precepts of a lay Buddhist.
The series aired for 9 episodes and ended in success.
2. The 2-day Meditation Experience Programme
With the vow to propagate Buddhism everywhere, Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh hosted a meditation experience programme. The programme started in January 2020 and lasted over the course of 2 days, attracting many people from 11 different countries. This program consisted of a wide range of activities related to Buddhist practice, such as Buddhist teachings by Thay, praying and meditation, etc.
Afterwards, the COVID-19 pandemic became more complicated, the event has yet had the chance to come back again since then. However, while it lasted, it was a good opportunity to help yet-to-be-Buddhists form a connection with the Three Jewels.
3. Thay’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19
Considering the prevention of the COVID-19 a mutual responsibility, Thay and the Buddhist community of Ba Vang Pagoda also took part in this social endeavour by holding many meaningful activities. Notable examples include: chanting Ratana Sutra while practicing meditative walking, 12 hours straight of practice under variable weather conditions; distributing rice and masks for free to the people in need; donating almost 4 billion VND (approximately $160,000) to 15 locations throughout the country to help them fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Activities of Thay to celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday
Vesak Day, or the day to celebrate the birthday of the Buddha, took place on the 8th day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar last year. Although the COVID-19 situation prevented lay Buddhists from going to the Pagoda on that day, Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh allowed the event to be still carried out and broadcast online. Out of the activities during the ceremony, the Night of Lantern in the evening was organized with the participation of Thay and 20 monks at Ba Vang Pagoda.
When the pandemic was controlled in Vietnam, the Pagoda welcomed thousands of lay Buddhists to visit it again. To make up for the inability to gather on the actual day, Thay held many activities to celebrate the birth of Buddha, like Buddha bathing, offering flowers to the Buddha statue, etc.
5. Thay’s charity activities for flood-affected areas in Central Vietnam
2020 was the year of double challenge for Vietnam. Not only did Vietnam have to fight against the lethal COVID-19, but also a severe flood in the same year in the Central region.
Sympathetic with the plight of the affected people, Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh and some monks of Ba Vang Pagoda organized trips to some severely damaged regions. His aim was to give mental and material support to people there in their ongoing fight against their natural adversity. This was a noble act, as it both displayed the compatriotism of Vietnamese people and helped introduce Buddhism to the community. Other than the trips, Thay also encouraged lay Buddhists of Ba Vang Pagoda to cultivate morality and dedicate their merits to lessen disasters like this.
Thay also hosted the Chrysanthemum Festival — Reach out to our beloved Central Vietnam. He took the symbolism of Chrysanthemum itself to be the message of the 2020 festival, which was compassion, solidarity, and dedication to the compatriots in Central Vietnam. Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh shared: “Chrysanthemum flowers are known for having their petals attached to the sepal even after they have withered, representing faithfulness, longevity and loyalty.” Through Chrysanthemum Festival, which was more than a religious event with many socio-cultural values, a lot of people were connected to Thay and the Sangha. That was the benevolent seed that would facilitate them to follow Buddha’s teachings in the future.
6. Thay ordaining nearly 40 people
Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh hosted two ordination ceremonies in late 2020. About 40 lay Buddhists were welcomed into the Sangha under his guidance and nurture. This was a sacred moment for everyone involved, as the newly ordained forsook their secular life and joined the gate of Zen.
Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh said: “Those whose even a notion of renunciation arises in his mind will have merit and eventually accumulate enough karmic conditions to escape the cycle of birth and death.”
7. Thay’s External Affairs
Throughout 2020, Ba Vang Pagoda welcomed the presence of some influential characters from various professions whose reasons to come to the Pagoda were their admiration and respect for Thay. Of these figures, the most notable include Russian Ambassador H.E. Konstantin V. VNUKOV who visited the Pagoda on Lunar New Year; Mr. Nguyen Thanh Son, Vietnamese Ambassador in Russia, who was a devout lay Buddhist and also shared deep thoughts about the Pagoda and Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh; Mr. Bui Anh Tuan, headmaster of Hanoi Foreign Trade University. Thay’s exchanging Buddhist teachings with these figures shows that he cares a great deal about society and the young generation, who will contribute to the progress of the country.