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In Memory of An Su (1) 

To the Consciousness of Senior Venerable Thich Chon Kien
Tabooed Name: Above to Justify Below to Bestow
Penname: Pure and Secluded Master 

 



 

I am Respectfully Bowing in Front of the Consciousness of My Master.  

From Australia, in the south quarter of other side on the planet, I am in deep sorrow with my forehead touching the Earth toward Thien Phu Hall in Nha Trang, a city in the middle of Vietnam Country, to venerate your Consciousness.  Su Phu  oi! (2) In the moment of your leaving, I should be bowing right at your Casket instead of staying here in grief to sending you the memorials.  Please, forgive me for just having a simple passage sharing my memory to honor your heart of compassion which had prolonged the comfort to beings in those I was among. 

Master Was in Place of My Father, Su Phu  oi! In early of year 1983 when I faced the difficulty after three years attending at An Duong Temple, my mother with the permission of Tam Tri Su Phu (3) sent me to your place by the recommendation of your class-sibling Venerable Trung Thi who was cultivating at Thien Phu with you. At the beginning, Su Phu  was not sure about me but still opened your heart to accept and treated me like your own disciples.  You were careful, even though I studied and memorized well the four sastras: Vinaya, Sramanera, Dignity, and Guishan Lingyou’s Warning and Advices along with two prayer sessions, you requested me to complete The Bodhi Heart Book written by Tinh Am Patriarch and The  Basic Buddhist Dharma class.  Then, you sent me together with Tinh Hanh, my class-sibling, to Linh Son Phap Bao in Cau Dua Town for attending the classes conducted by Venerable Tam Hai and Nhu Y Master.  In early of year 1985, you sent me to a temple in Chau Doc City for obtaining Sramanera Precepts to become a novice monk. 

For many days out in pain and success I came back staying right in the Patriarch Hall with permission to have a Thank-offering to you; It was the moment you named me Tinh Tue in the soft voice: “After receiving the precepts, when in the prayer sessions or when in Sutra chanting periods you must put on the kasaya.  Do not cover your shoulders with any clothes after taking shower, because the shoulders of a Buddhist Monk are just for the yellow kasaya of enlightenment, not to forget.”    

 Su Phu  oi! Your teachings sound simple but have rooted deeply and absorbed well within that today I still remember. The teaching and care giving the wisdom, a mission of one hundred years for me to take. The love and support from a Master for thousands lives hardly a disciple could repay.   

All things you did for me and my Buddhist siblings were awesome. Su Phu  oi! My parents gave me the body made of the four constituents with birth and death; Su Phu  gave me the property made of wisdom for life after life that would never fade out.  You were in the place of the father watching me since small on my every single step.  You were happy when seeing me on the side of success and inspired when I felt tire in depress.  Su Phu  smiled when I worked hard in the practice.  Su Phu  gave me enough confidence to not give up and not to be distracted by the bustling places on the long road of cultivation.    

I am Respectfully Bowing in Front of the Consciousness of My Master. 

During the year 1984, there were only Su Phu , Senior Venerable Thich Trung Thi, Tinh Hanh sibling, young novice Dung, and me living at Thien Phu Temple.  Ven. Trung Thi was just traveling back and forth until he became the abbot of Tan Long Pagoda in An Bac City.  I still remember, there were no volunteers doing cooking at our temple for the duration of years 1983 to 1987, we three disciples took turns to cook, serving you the foods with awful tastes; a day with the extremely salty soup, a day with burnt rice.  Instead of complaining you smiled at us and felt happy when seeing your young followers were trying hard on the cooking jobs.  You were very strict but compassionate, punctilious but motivated on the care, showing your heart with a vast of love and compassion.  Your nature of simple and pureness was clearly revealed by whoever having privilege to live with.  You were quiet and careful.  You always reminded us that: “People were born with hammers in the mouths.  A person with talking inappropriate language is to beat himself/herself.  Whoever gives complements to people who don’t deserve, or whoever criticizes people who are not supposed to be, all would carry bad deeds.”  Therefore, “talking as Dharma, and muting as Dharma.”  In the life of practice Su Phu gave more than received probably it was your secrete vow.  In your own room we found there was nothing beside some bookcases and a wooden-surface flat bed for you to rest over night.  Su Phu  seemed to demand for your own life much less than the minimum convenience required, perhaps, you wanted to dedicated everything to the Dharma and to wish for the building the Three Precious Gem of Thien Phu to be soon completed. 

The economy of the whole country was at a turning point starting from year 1975.  People had hard time on maintaining the basic life, our Thien Phu Temple was not in exception.  Su Phu oi! I never forget, during that period, our income was based on the selling of the incense products.  You went to Suoi Dau Place of Thanh Minh Area to buy aloe-wood for us to make the incense.  We all had to stay up very late to chop down the wood into small pieces before grounding them.  Grounding was the first step of the process of making incense sticks.  I remember, we made the paste by mixing the ground aloe-wood with the sawdust and glue and rolled them in shape.  The sticks were then dried and packed before selling at the markets.  Tinh Hanh sibling and I took turns to carry the chopped aloe-wood to the grounding stations.  It was a very heavy work for us to ride the bike on long distance and muddy roads to the factories.  The roads were always in bad condition, especially, the path between Tan Chanh Temple and Dai Dien Village!  I never forget the evening, an evening that I carried a bag of chopped aloe-wood on my bicycle to Dai Dien.  When I got there the factory of Mr. Tran (nearby Dai Phuoc Temple) was closed due to power outage that made me bike all the way to Truong Lac hamlet to find the shop to grind for us.  I wanted to have it done that night because we needed them for the morning process.  It was real late in the evening but Thien Phu was still very far.  Unfortunately, my bicycle had a flat tire on the dark road with no service at the area nearby Thanh Intersection.  I ended up with walking and dragging my bike with a bag of ground aloe-wood on top.  A happy moment burst high in me, Su Phu oi! I almost cried out loud when seeing you at Binh Cang looking for me; Su Phu wanted to share with me my difficulty! Just you, who were there because of could no longer being in anxiousness waiting for me all evening with no sign of return.  You biked out with a flash light on hand to search for me in mid-night darkness.  Su Phu oi!  I am writing to you about this memory, because in me, it seems to just happen yesterday, just happen now!  

Then, not for long, since we did not have enough money to buy aloe-wood, you asked around to find other ways to make incense.  We went to Thien Quang Temple with Most Venerable Minh My’s recommendation to collect the aromatic leaves from eucalyptus trees for our incense process.   However, we ran out of the leaves again after a while; someone told us about the Cow Field in Song Lo, the area of cajeput trees with the leaves could be used to make incense products.  That was a reason for us to bike all the way to Cow Field for the work.  I could not think of how is the view of Song Lo today!  But in me, I am still carrying its landscapes of twenty years ago.  It was amazing!  An area of just ocean and mounds with hills of aromatic greens exactly as a landscape that was described on some famous paintings; facing to the wide clean shores leading to the ocean and back to the mounds and hills of cajeput trees in plenty.  All were deeply in the pleasant scent of aroma.  The nature created unique world with kind of peace of human in nature and nature in human; all were imbedded in one, absolutely.  I could feel there was not at all a single impure thought that could appear to bother human’s calmness.  It was the environment where people could easily maintain their stillness for insight.  Really, Song Lo was a wonderful picture of nature perfect that is carrying in me a great memory about Su Phu  in no limit of space and time.  It is regret for whoever has not been there as expressed by To Dong Pha poet: “Not to come not to feel, just in dream ultimately.”  No wonder why, Su Phu  had the idea of building Phuoc Son Monastery right in Cow Field, because of these refined landscapes had led you to come up with.  

Quietly, the time continues to pass, we all grew up, you accepted more disciples.  I still remember their names: Tam Phuoc, Nguyen Xuan, Tam Tu, Tam Tinh, Tam Nhu, Nhu My, Tam Hien, Quang Long, Tam Phong, Tam Thien, Tam Tri, Tam Phap, Tam Nghia, Tam Chau, Tam Hanh, Tam Thong, Tam Hoang, Nguyen Nhut, and more…. By 1987 year-end, even though Su Phu  was so busy on the Buddhist mission and needed our assistants, however, Su Phu  always set our goals on top.  You applied the teachings of Quy Son Linh Huu Patriarch: “as a priest, every single step moved is always forward to the highest heaven, the manner must be unique to the common people in order to promote the morality and goodness, to stop evils, to repay the four great kindness above, and to relieve the suffering of those on the three paths below.”  You sent me to Phap Van Temple, Gia Dinh City in Sai-Gon for more training.  It was my first time being away and was really difficult for me that not to think of you; I swallowed my tears and hold the emotion for let go.  Then I kept on going!  Day after day as I travelled on road to success, many courses were completed at Kim Cuong Pagoda under Most Venerable Tue Dang, and the classes at Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Fundamental Institute, The Teaching and Education Faculty, and Advanced Buddhist Learning. I again left you for a much longer distance, Quang Duc Monastery in Australia, under the sponsor of my brother, Ven Thich Tam Phuong.  It was back in early of year 1998; this “going away” I could no longer cover up my deep emotion when I came home to say good bye. I happened to see the sadness from your eyes resting on the faraway objects thru the window.  You and I we both clearly understood that the beings came to lives on their karmas but not the same.  You felt confidently on your disciples because we have been strong and good for just in one direction of practice, repay the four great kindnesses above, and relieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, even though we are in the ocean of defilements and dissatisfactions.  Then, you and I said good bye in happiness and promise. 

Even though your health was in critical, in October, 2003, you still visited me on the occasion of Quang Duc Monastery Inauguration.  We were so happy when seeing each other, especially, at the Melbourne International airport, a moment I picked you up, it was hard to describe; none of the words could tell my feeling!  Seems always, join is followed by a divide!  Three days after the ceremony you left us for the pilgrimage to India and together with Most Ven Phuoc Thanh, Most Ven Thien Nhon and Senior Ven Quang Ba went to the trip.  I was with you at your departure time but always wished you not to leave.  Before left me for the gate, you reminded me not to forget the responsibility and must always work hard toward the goals.  Su Phu oi! That was the last time we saw each other!  Really it was.

The constituent body has life and death.

An existence becomes emptiness; emptiness becomes an existence is that always in the world of saha.” 

Your Contributions to the Facilities 

Whether or no enduring a great pain or distress
I offer a sacrifice to the Truth if needed.
 

No matter how hard your life was, you always wished to build a decent monastery with enough facilities for the Buddhists and your disciples to practice, the place where the population has been crowded increasingly over time.  Could possibly say, most of your time was devoting for building Thien Phu, the temple that today we inherit.   I know very clearly that the task was not simple, in stead, was the most challenge work that you overcame.   You built with your own labor, with your own sweat starting with empty hands along with your best.  Although there was a couple of times seemed you almost gave up but with the nature of patience and hard working you completed the last step of the construction in honor and success. 

It is an extraordinary accomplishment indeed” , a comment of Most Venerable Thich Tri Nghiem (1911 – 2003), a Buddhist priest also a famous translator in Nha Trang City; he extolled you once he came by to visit.   It was not an over grateful please, really, because if whoever has a chance to visit Thien Phu Temple, I believe, he/she would agree with that delight and respect, because just you, who contributed to Vietnam country a Buddhist Center, the place that is carrying the heart of culture and art.  This is an invaluable gift you have left in life and for life.  We, your disciples feel proud of it.   

For the facility, you began at the Patriarch Hall and then the Main Buddhist Chapel; the East Hall including the Shangha and the Meditation units were the next to build; The West Hall was done after the installation of the Great Bell.  The Gate of Thien Phu along with the road leading to the whole complex from the village was the last step in the plan of the construction finished in end.  You decided to have an inauguration ceremony sometime this year in Ullambana Season but could not make it because of the relapse!  You re-admitted the hospital for the treatment.  Soon, the fetal disease blocked the flow of your life stream as usually it does to the world of impermanence, finally, has released you for going back to the no-birth and no-death spiritual nature.  Oh! Su Phu  oi! You left us while many things are still waiting for you to complete.  You were in calm and relax with no cling on the attachments when good bye, when this universe was still with plenty of the outflows leaking away from the Buddha Hood.   

Life appears to be an existence, appears to be emptiness.
For hundred years, it leaves in you a good heart, that’s all.
 

Your love and care to us have expressed in your will with wishing us never give up or have a single delay on our practice toward the enlightenment.  Wishing us continue to be succeeded to expand the Truth in order to pay our respect to Lord Buddha.  Wishing us continue to be models for the Buddhists to follow and to be proud of.  For years, those are your teachings.  Those are your wishes; you always warned us that not to take materials as the properties.  Yes, Master!  We’re all listening and together rolling your legacy forward.   

Path of Cultivation in Mantrayana 

You were a yogi cultivating mind on the path of Mantrayana.  You used to meet Senior Venerable Vien Duc in Saigon and Thu Thiem Cities to learn and practice.  You followed the teachings in The Supernatural Power Omnipresence of Exoteric and Esoteric Series (4).  We found in your meditation hall a picture of Cundi Buddhamat (5).  You practiced The Three Mystics in Conjunction of Tathagata (6), the important method in Mantrayana, toward your objectives.  I was lucky helping you during your periods of entering meditations and have learned, and absorbed this method.  That was a seed you sowed in me, by chance, the seed has grown well and now I harvest.  The materials of the wholesome collection on death and rebirth theory from the experiences of manyTibetan Monks, such as Padmasambhava Rinpoche, Govinda Rinpoche, and Milarepa Rinpoche I have earned too.  Just you, who had built a bridge leading me to the Buddhism throughout the world; I began to expand my knowledge and did more research on the being’s life cycle and started my translations.  Soon, the first two books Death and Rebirth and Buddhism throughout the World were published.  Su Phu  oi! I recall, in year 2000, the Death and Rebirth book was first published in Australia, I sent you a copy, you was very happy reading from word one to the last because it was a result of your training your disciples.  Then, you brought the book to gift Venerable Chi Tin, the Abbot of Long Son Temple; Ven. Abbot then made many copies to gift Venerable Dong Minh and other friends in Nha Trang City, especially to the Buddhist patients in the hospital.  I was very happy and could not hold my emotion when heard Ven. Dong Minh reported.  You quietly inspired and supported my Buddhist mission oversea.  Could possibly say, most of your disciples know well by heart the Basic Dharani of Mantrayana such as the Cundi Dharani, The One Word Golden Wheel Dharani, Đại Bảo Quảng Bát Lầu Cát Dharani, The Vairocana Dharani, however, the most highlighted Sutra is The Unisha Vijaja Dharani, because this script has been selected for reciting at Thien Phu each ceremony.  You taught us, this Dharani is very powerful that could help the mind to get into the calmness quickly. 

I am Respectfully Bowing in Front of the Consciousness of My Master. 

Even though the constituent body has returned to the Earth,

Your consciousness, in its nature, is always no-birth no-end. 

The visiting of fifty nine years on Earth, in those of forty nine years immersing in practice and devoting to the Buddhism was remarkable. 

Eventually, the presence of being is not valued on the length of how many years he/she has bound with, but on what he/she has contributed to the world.  Although, your almost-sixty-years in life was short but no doubt that it was your wish as you once mentioned:

All the debts have been paid, there is no worry attached,
Return to the original nature, just as free cloud patches on the sky
.” 

The self-interest and beings’ interest you had done and accomplished.  Although the outflows would disappear to join the dirt as the time has passed, but the property earned from the cultivation is eternal.  You are reflecting sharply your good deeds like a mirror showing the pictures on it.  You are a role model for us to mimic and to follow. 

I am Respectfully Bowing in Front of the Consciousness of My Master. 

According to the Buddhism, life starts to fade out since day one of the birth; death is a part of being born that no one could void.  If understanding this natural fact, that when the death comes is when people could extract the most out of the deep spiritual experience to advance the mind toward the enlightenment.  I have noticed this fact pretty well however, the feeling of suffering a big loss has postponed my resist on spilling the emotion.  You are not here with us no longer, we all feel quiet in helpless.  You like the shade of a giant tree gave us sweet air of the breeze; you comforted our sores; you emptied our distress for us to feel easy on the return to the original spiritual nature. 

Language is very plain if used it to express what is in the mind, especially to say about my heart to Su Phu . Please allow me to borrow some simples for the plenty: always maintaining the consciousness surrounded by precepts of the Truth along with your teachings and not to delay the practice.  Hope, it is an initial point of the paying back to you the awesome work that you had done for us. 

Master! Wishing your Consciousness continues to help and to support us, mainly to my siblings who are delegated to watch Thien Phu Temple and Phuoc Son Monastery, for the happiness everlasting.   

Master! Wishing your Consciousness continues to support me for having more and more confidence on the long path of cultivation and spreading the Buddhism. 

Master! Wishing your Consciousness enters the Pure Land and quickly comes back to save beings in Saha World as the vow you made “Above for the Pure Land to reach, below for the compassion to spread.”   

Namo Pure Lin-Chi’s, Forty Two Years, Thien Phu Temple Founder, Phuoc Son Monastery Abbot, Formal Name Above to Justify Below to Bestow, Called Chon Kien, Penname Pure and Secluded Master, Senior Venerable Consciousness, Observed and Approved.  
 

Your disciple,
Bhikku Thich Tinh Tue
(Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang)

 Translated by Helen Quảng Tuệ Nguyện
 

Notes:

1.  An Su - The Master who is in the place of father, teacher, and mentor to provide the disciples not only the education but also all other cares.

2.  Su Phu Oi! – Master! (called in mourning).

3.  Su Phu – Master.

4.  Exoteric and Esoteric – The Teaching on the practice to penetrate the nature or truth of all things by wisdom.

5.  Cundi Bodhisatta – form of Kuan-Yin Bodhisattva.

6.  The Three Mystics of the Tathagata – including the body, mouth, and mind.

 (Vietnamese Version)

 

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