PHẬT GIÁO HÒA HẢO
What is Harmony Buddhism?
Harmony Buddhism is translated from a religion named 'Phật Giáo Hòa Hảo'. While Buddhism stands for a religion originating from an ancient capital city of Nepal, adjacent to India, 'Hòa Hảo' is actually the name of a village, Phu Tan township, Cho Moi, An Giang, in the Southwestern part of Vietnam, where the founder of this religion was born and, in 1939, launched his mission when he was only 19 years old. As Hòa Hảo literally means 'Loving Harmony', it is not a coincidence that the founder named his religion that way. And, by giving it such a translation as 'harmonybuddhism', the translator finds that it reflects very well on both the purpose of Lord Master's philosophy and deeds. That meaning was summed up very well by Stephanie Lucas thus:
"Losing Your Ego and Waking Up to a ‘Loving Reality’ is Beautiful With no more dominating judgments, expectations, and sense of self-importance, many feel an immediate sense of happiness, lightness, and freedom. Love in all things is readily apparent, you are naturally happy, and you see the equality of all – the all one or none of the beings and mother nature working and vibrating in harmony. Your world of duality may come to an end as the conscious and subconscious work in concert and that becomes your normal state naturally." (Stephanie Lucas: path to enlightenment: spiritual journey to happiness)
What are the project's aims and objectives?
1.-To promote mutual understanding and respect among the religions;
2.-To facilitate the communication of Harmony Buddhism with the non-Vietnamese speaking audience, in general, and the younger generation of Vietnamese-speaking background outside of Vietnam, in particular.
1.-Voluntarily translate where possible the contents of Harmony Buddhism based on the Six Volumes of Oracles and more than 200 poems and 20 articles in prose, composed by Lord Master and collected by his disciples.
2.-Trying to explain as many technical Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian, terms from Vietnamese into English as possible, using the variety of sources, which are contained in the Six Volumes of the Oracles and about 200 poems and proses.
What is the origin and nature of Harmony Buddhism?
As far as its origin is concerned, Harmony Buddhism, Phật Giáo Hòa Hảo, is a successor to Buu Son Ky Huong, The Jewel Mountain and Strange Perfume for English, which Đức Phật Thầy Tây An, Lord Master Buddha of the Western Peace, established about one hundred years earlier, 1849. It is easy to ascertain their commonality between the two streams for their theoretical and practical principles. In theory, both the founding leaders, Lord Master Buddha Doan Minh Huyen and Lord Master Huynh Phu So, held that their religions are a synthesis of three main religions of Vietnam, that is, Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, tinged with the cultural traditions of Vietnam facing her needs for modernization.
In the late nineteenth century, Lord Master Buddha mainly dealt with the opening up and enrichment of the Southern region physically and spiritually, Lord Master Huynh faced a multifaced and prolonged impact of the foreign occupation of Vietnam, that disrupted the social fabric of the country. Thus to be effective, while the predecessor engaged in laying foundations for Hoa Hao Buddhism, the successor mobilized the masses to fight for their national independence as a first priority, a pre-condition for the religion to be reinstated. In this sense, they simplify all the methods of religious practice, eliminating unnecessary activities that not only waste masses' energy and finances, but also divert them from their more upfront obligation to liberalize their country and, of course, their freedom of religion and others would follow suit.
For the nature of Hoa Hao Buddhism, Lord Master always said that his teachings are derived from Lord the Patriarch Buddha Sakyamuni, therefore, the core principles of Buddhism can be found in Hoa Hao Buddhism. However, the culture of Vietnam is a traditional mixture of Chinese and Indian influences for more than two thousand years, which are deep-rooted in the lives of all social sectors, especially the peasants who occupied a disproportionate majority of the population at that time given Vietnam had remained a feudal society with an agriculturally based economy. During his eight years of faith propagation, Lord Master Huynh attracted about a two million-strong following, who consists of those inhabitants of the Mekong Delta. His teachings which owed their effectiveness to his use of vernacular and poetry were supported by a faith-healing and intermittent miracles which He performed in order to rekindle commoners' belief in Buddhas and other divinities. His teachings are very practical in that He always urges people to repay their four great debts of gratitude as a pre-requisite for any human being to save themselves from the sufferings that are rampant on planet Earth.
What is the influence of Harmony Buddhism?
First, thanks to the appearance of Harmony Buddhism, the Vietnamese masses who had been far from taking control of their lives under the eighty years long colonial rule and its socio-economic ramifications eventually found unique spiritual support in the appearance of Lord Master Huynh, one of the emergent revolutionaries in many areas. The prophet took advantage of the relative political vacuum created by the emergence of the World War II, with a weakened colonial government and multiple resurging nationalist movements facilitated by the Japanese invasion, to broaden His preachings to different sectors of the society from 1939 to 1947. His teachings are critical to those nationalists who are groping for a viable set of organizational principles for their country, in the competing ideologies of different colors. He provided a political philosophy that has proven highly viable in Scandinavian democracies, with stability and exemplar of the rest of the Western countries at the end of WWII.
Second, in reality, He saved the country from as much unnecessary bloodshed as a consequence of the struggle for the dictatorial style of leadership borrowed from the European theatre, where the imperialists and fascists found their rivalry in the socialist camp, namely the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, while Lord Huynh could avoid a fratricide between His disciples and the communist-led Alliance for Independence, akia Viet Minh, He could not do so for the whole country of Vietnam which eventually fell in the trappings of the post-World War II syndrome, the draconian ideological conflict. His choice of self-effacement to let the Viet Minh run the show also demonstrates He was truly a superhuman, who could have exercised His supernatural powers to make things go His way, but He did not because Buddhism held that everyone had to incur the law of cause and effect, and the predestiny which He always propagated has been heavenly set and which He could not change with his supernatural powers.
Third, He had outstripped his contemporary Buddhism and the social and cultural practices of Vietnam from an exsanguined religion, superstitions, and myriad social burdens. He restored the spirit of invincibility among the young Vietnamese who were standing on the verge of an abyss as they have been alienated by exotism and disoriented due to their lack of a true education system for too long. In parallel with religious and moral initiatives, there are so many reforms from agriculture, commerce, healthcare, social welfare, to security and modernisation of lifestyle, under the leadership of Lord Master Huynh. It is not an exaggeration that He was a gem in the social morass of His era. This reflects the goals which He has set out in His mission statement. Indeed what He has taught still echoes until now, not only in Vietnam but also around the world, and has proven highly relevant and pertinent to the world. Most of His prophesies have been felt by people somehow materialising. Even though the heavenly destiny cannot be entirely revealed to the human being in terms of specific times and places, it will progress to such points that people must know the better, the more conscientious they are in their practice.