Monday, May 16, 2011

Zen tourism takes shape in Vietnam, edited by Wisdom Quarterly

With a 2,500-year Buddhist history and over 10 million Buddhists at present and a hundred pagodas (ornate reliquaries), Vietnam can become an attractive destination for Zen tourism.

Zen is a school of Mahāyāna ("Larger Vehicle") Buddhism that is most famous in Japan. Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment. As such, at least in legend (legend contradicted by the Western scholar and former Zen Buddhist monk Prof. Robert Buswell, UCLA) Zen de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct self-realization.

Sitting Zen in Vietnam in front of image of Bodhidharma (

Realization (satori, minor awakening or "epiphany") comes through meditation and Dharma practice. The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahāyāna thought, including the "Perfection of Wisdom" (Prajñāpāramitā) literature, particularly the Heart Sutra, and the teachings of the Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha schools.

The emergence of Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in China in the 7th century ACE. From China, Zen spread south to Vietnam very early, around 580. It developed strongly under the Ly -- Tran and Trinh -- Nguyen (pronounced "Win") dynasties.

As a result, Vietnamese culture and lifestyle has been influenced by Zen philosophy, particularly its most famous advocate, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh.

A senior Vietnamese Buddhist monk, previously detained in an alleged plot to finance disorder against the communist regime, is in custody again (Rev. Danny Fisher).

Zen tourism has been developed in Vietnam with tours to pagodas (ornate reliquaries) and pagoda festivals, which enable tourists to visit Buddhist architectural works, observe and participate in the activities of Buddhist priests, monks, and nuns, as well as enjoy and admire characteristics of Zen arts like flower arranging, the tea ceremony, bonsai tree cultivation, and vegetarian food.

There are about 120 pagodas available for Zen tourism in Vietnam, including popular names such as Dau in northern Bac Ninh Province; Ba Da and Tran Quoc in Hanoi; Truc Lam Tay Thien in northern Vinh Phuc Province; Tu Dam, Thien Mu, and Tu Hieu in central Thua Thien-Hue Province; and Tu An, Giac Lam, and Giac Vien in Ho Chi Minh City. Source