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 Venerable Master
Thich Chon Kien



Biography of
The Late Very Venerable Thich Chon Kien

8 – 2006)


I) Family:

 Venerable Master Thich Chon Kien, (Dharma name - Thich Trung Loc, Bikkhu name - Thich An Minh, lay name - Ngo Dinh Thung), was born on 20 June 1948 at Dai Dien Dong Hamlet, Dien Dien Village, Dien Khanh District, Khanh Hoa Province. His father, Ngo Ky, (Buddhist name - Trung Phong) and his mother Huynh Thi Khang, (Buddhist name - Trung Tang) have both passed away.  

Master is the tenth child of the family consisting of eight girls and three boys. His youngest brother, who is also a Buddhist monk, is the Very Venerable Thich Nguyen Phuoc, who is now the Abbot of Phuoc Long Temple, Dien Toan Village, Dien Khanh District. Two grandchildren, who call master as their blood uncle, are Venerable Thich Tinh Hanh who is living in the North and Venerable Nun Thich Nu Nguyen Nhut, who is living in the south. 

II) Entering and studying the monastic life :

 He was born into a virtuous family, where they respected and believed in the Triple Gems. Having already a good nature from the past, at the age of ten, Master was allowed by his parents to leave his family and follow the Most Venerable Thich Minh Quang and become a novice at the Van Duc Temple at Vo Dong Hamlet, Vinh Trung Village, Nha Trang City.

 1969 - Master attained the Sramanera at the Ordination Ceremony organized at Hoa Quang Temple, Vinh Hiep Village, Nha Trang City, this ceremony conducted by Most Venerable Thich Hung Tu. Sramanera - a male observer of the minor commandments is the lowest rank of a person cultivating the way. He must vow to keep the ten precepts.

 1969 - With deep vows and proper behavior, for one who obeys the Buddha’s teaching, Master has been allowed by his master to attain the Full commands for the Sangha Ordination Ceremony, conduced by Most Venerable Thich Tho Gia, at Hoa Nghiem Temple. 

1973 - Master sought to learn and practice the Dharma with Most Venerable Thich Hung Tu at the Phap Hoi Temple in Binh Tuy District, Ninh Thuan Province.  He was granted name An Minh by this master with this Successful Dharma Verse:

 Dinh Trung Ngo is Secular nature
Trung Loc is high Dharma name
Chon Kien is peaceful mind land
An Minh is mutual intercourse through Buddhism.

 Master graduated and was granted a diploma in 1970 from the Vo Tanh School, Nha Trang, after that he studied and attained the Summer Retreat at Hai Duc Buddhist Institute, Minh Son Temple (Tuy Hoa Province), Dien Tho temple in Dien Khanh, and the Kim Son temple in Nha Trang.  At the beginning of the year nineteen-eighty, he received instructions in the ritual of bringing relief for Forsaken spirits, from Most Venerable Thich Chanh Ky at Thai Binh Temple, Dien Khanh District.

 III) Widely to proclaim the Buddhist-truth

 1972 - Master was invited to be an Abbot of Thien Phu temple by the Temple Supported Board. Thien Phu temple is a kind of ‘temple transfer from house’. Starting in 1945 (the year of the chicken) when Mr Nguyen Ban and his wife Nguyen Thi Do and some members of his family had build a house (around 2000 square metres) on Ancestral land, to worship the Buddha and Ancestors. Some time after that, Mr Nguyen Ban dreamed to see the Avalokitevara Bodhisattva (Quan Am) and he vowed to turn this Ancestral Hall into a Buddhist Temple. The Main Shrine and Patriarchal Hall were about 50m2. After that Mr Nguyen Ban asked permission from the local government to expand the Main Shrine. However they did not approve it due to some members of the family attending an Anti-French Group. In 1966, Mr Nguyen Ban passed away before the temple had been expanded. In 1969 the Temple Supported Board invited Very Venerable Thich Hue Minh to look after this temple. When he died in 1972, Master Thich Chon Kien replaced him as the official Abbot for this temple.

 1974 - With the full support of local Buddhist disciples and with the new Abbot position, Master Chon Kien made a building plan for a new Main Shrine, to include a Patriarchal Hall. Gradually, Master built up other parts of the Temple, including the construction of the fence and Avalokitervara in front of Temple.  It made the temple tidy and more beautiful. Finally, Thien Phu Temple was true holy place for people to come and worship and practice Buddhism.

 1991 - Seeing the need for practice and learning of Buddhism, the number of follower increased. With the activity area of the temple so small, it could not meet that needs. Therefore Master Chon Kien requested permission the Buddhist Congregation and Government to build up the Main Shrine with an expanded area 400m2. Master also built another building as a Monks’ or Preaching Hall. Building started on 24th January 1991 and was completed on 24th December 1993.  Designed by architect Bui Van Minh, Master Abbot himself supervised the construction. The Temple was designed following the traditional architectural ideas, in the form of the letter “I” (Cong), with two adjoining levels of roof tiles, shaped in the ancient oriental style of the double dragon welcoming the moon. It created a formal appearance amongst the rows of coconut inside the Phu Vinh Hamlet.

 The Main Shrine was wide, and when decorated, it looks very nice and solemn. Set in the centre is the statue of Shakya Muni Buddha (2.5 metres high). On the left is the statue of Manjusri Bodhisattva (symbol of Buddhist wisdom or an idealization of a particular quality).  On the right is the statue of the Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Universal Virtue, symbol of religious vows).  Samantabhadra embodies calm action, compassion, and deep-seated wisdom. He is usually depicted astride a white elephant (the elephant is being noted for its tranquility and wisdom) sitting in attendance on the right of the Buddha. Manjusri Bodhisattva, with his delusion-cutting vajra sword in one hand, sits on the back of a lion on the Buddha’s left side. Manjusri represents awakening, that is, the sudden realization of the lion’s vigor is symbolic. When the knowledge acquired through ‘awakening’ is employed for the benefit of mankind, Samantabhadra’s compassion is manifesting itself. Accordingly, each of the Bodhisattvas is an arm of the Buddha, representing respectively, Oneness or Equality.

 In front of the main shrine doors are two statues of the Dharma Guardian - Dharma protector - To protect and maintain the Buddha-truth. Behind the main shrine is the Patriarchal Hall, a place to worship the Bodhidharma and two altars to worship the members who have passed away.

 Inside the main shrine you will see many pairs of parallel sentences have been carved with skill, by an artisan of Khanh Hoa, Ngo Dinh Luc, the elder brother of Master Chon Kien

 1993 - Master Chon Kien established the Dharma Flower Group in order to recite the Lotus Sutra and Master also composed the Ritual Reciting Book, to guide the followers near and far, to correctly recite the Saddharma-pundarika-sutra (The Lotus Sutra, The Lotus of the True Law) and this group grew to 500 members.

 1994 - Master Chon Kien built the Tue Tinh Duong (Medicine Hall) inside the temple where local poor people were examined and received free treatment and Vietnamese herbal medicine.  

 1995 - Master Chon Kien established the Thien Phu Buddhist Youth Group, to lead the local young generation, with the aim of helping the young to keep and maintain Buddhism and morality in the modern society.

 1998 - On the Enlightenment Ceremony of Shakya Muni Buddha, Master Chon Kien made a vow to mold (cast) the great bell, (2.8m high, weighing 2500 kg and with a diameter of 1.45m). This great bell was created by Dai Hanh Mold Factory of Nguyen Luong Nguyen Thanh Thao. The ceremony was hold at Thien Phu temple under the blessing of Most Venerable Thich Tri Nghiem, Most Venerable Thich Dong Minh, Most Venerable Thich Chi Tin, Most Venerable Thich Thien Binh, Most Venerable Thich Tri Tam, Most Venerable Thich Minh Quang and Most Venerable Thich Tinh Nghiem.

 2000 - Master bought a parcel of clear land in the Forest of Phuoc Dong Village, Nha Trang, and established the Phuoc Son Monastery to guide the local members to practice Buddhism.

2001-2006 - Master assumed the position as a Commissioner of the Sangha Executive Committee, of Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Khanh Hoa.

 2003 - Master Chon Kien with Most Venerable Thich Phuoc Thanh, Most Venerable  Thich Thien Nhon and another 25 monks, came to Australia to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Quang Duc Monastery in Melbourne (10th, 11th & 12th of October 2003). After that, Master with this delegation visited Holy places in India before returning home.

2005 - Master Chon Kien built and completed the Buddhist Youth House and Pureland Hall.

 2006 - Master Chon Kien built and completed the Main gate of Thien Phu Temple, and village road leading to Phu Vinh Hamlet; this was the last construction that Master left for us. 

Through his virtue, inheritance from his previous existence and extraordinary power, Master was the original teacher, Acarya (Master of a new or junior monk) for many monks, nuns and lay Buddhists. Via his teachings many his disciples went on to study at the Buddhist University, Buddhist College, Preaching Course.

 With a pure heart and providing a good example of Buddhist monastic life, the Master was entrusted to receive many monks, nuns and others. Master was invited to be Preceptor for Ordination Ceremony at Long Son Temple in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001 

IV) Following the Impermanent of life: 

In the end of 2002, Master realised that he was sick and doctors told him he had cancer. He was admitted to the Binh Dan Hospital in HCM City, where doctors and nurses treated him with care and kindness. But his health gradually deteriorated, even though, the mean time, he still continued his building work for the temple. Non-stop, he worked very hard, not caring about his own health.  That was probably the reason why his body collapsed so quickly.

 At the beginning of August, the cancer symptoms returned and destroyed more of his body.  He was sent to a Saigon hospital again to undergo more surgery, but he could not fully recover.  He was aware that he would not live long, so he left behind a will for his disciple to inherit his temple and to continue to complete his unfinished tasks. He also advised his disciples to be diligent and make right effort to practice Buddhism, carrying benefit, peace and happiness for sentient being. Before he passed, he left the last words:

 Karma has passed, my heart is nimble
Even after a thousand years, white clouds still fly free.

Following this impermanent life, and after 49 years of Monastic life and 37 Summer retreats, Master passed away at age 59, at 6:00pm, on Sunday, 3rd September 2006 at Thien Phu Temple. 

The loss of this remarkable monk is a loss borne, not only throughout the Buddhist Community, but throughout the World in general and in particular, Nha Trang, Saigon and Melbourne Australia where his disciples live.

 We pray for his spirit, and that he will be in Maha Nibbana, soon to be re-born in this earthly realm, so that he may continue with his mission.

Nam Mo Shaky Muni Buddha 


 Melbourne, Australia, 3 Sept 2006
Ven Thich Tinh Tue ( Nguyen Tang)
(Master Chon Kien’s disciple)





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Trang Tưởng Niệm TT Thích Chơn Kiến


Update: Steve Nguyen Thien Bao - Nguyen Thien Hanh

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