Biography of the Master

THE BIOGRAPHY OF MOST VENERABLE NGO CHAN TU (1901-1988)

(THE FOUNDER OF HOANG PHAP PAGODA)

 

Most Ven. Ngo Chan Tu whose mundane name is Tran Rinh, was born on March 3rd Lunar calendar in Ox Year (1901) in a Confucianism family in Thai Binh province. Tran Quan is His father and Tran Thi Phuoc is His mother. Besides, He is the eldest brother among 5 siblings (3 boy and 2 girls)

Having absorbed and had a deep understanding about Confucianism in the early age; then He changed to do research on Buddhism following the instruction of Great Master Quang Huy. Having the root in the former life, and with the addition of diligence He soon penetrated in the Buddha Dharma, from which He realized that human life is full of multi-diseases, impermanent world affairs, fortune and frame is also changeable illusion, human life is unstable and short as well. As what great Master Quy Son had taught:

It exists in the morning but disappear in the afternoon

Ksana pass turning to the next life

As the fog in the morning

It will disappear when the sunshine appears

As the shadow of the tree attached on well’s wall

Never does it last for long

Chanting Buddha is fast and marvelous

Just breath by breath the destiny of life is changing

Thought so, He decided to live over a worthy life. His conception was “it is just worthy of a human beings if people strive not only to win the nature - the realm of body but also to win the realm of mind. It is great feat if one can conquer the realm of body but it will be much greater if one can win the realm of the mind! Understanding the law which rule the stars and the planets is good but understanding the law which rules human’s ambition, emotion, and will is much better and much more difficult”. Therefore, He was determined to follow the greatest Father- Sakyamuni to release from the round of birth and death and to find the universal truth. After a period finding the right Master for learning the principle, He finally met Venerable Teacher Hu Khong Tu who often traveled to rescue, cultivated a Alone Enlightenment of Conduct and preached the Dharma to save people from the illustration. With an elegant preaching, and an imposing figure showing, the Venerable Teacher was a true Monk who cultivated for release. Therefore, this Master converted Him all at once and on February 8th Goat Lunar Year, He was transferred Triratna Precept Refuge, and given a religious name as Ngo Chan Tu. Later He attained The Dharma from the Progenitor of Ba Da pagoda in Ha Noi.
In lunar Goat Year (1919), on the way following His Master, He had enough primary and secondary cause to visit and adore many historical sceneries, one time to Yên Tu, other time to Con Son, Non Nuoc, Tam Dao, Tan Vien, Huong Tich, Chua Thay, ect., all of which were the wonder places for cultivating meditation.
In 1927, He asked permission for coming back hometown to restore village pagoda in Cao Mai, Kien Xuong, Thai Binh province and inviting Venerable Master to preach the Dharma. His high virtuous and generous master and his enthusiasm converted His family to follow Buddhism. They all neglected the secular lives, unanimously taking an oath for cultivating abstinent rules. They also offered all their properties to Three Treasures in order to use for Buddha’s affairs.
From 1929 to 1932, He came and restored Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva pagoda in Kien An province, Uc Giang village pagoda in Kien Thuy district, Van Dau pagoda in An Lao district, Kien Bai pagoda, Con Son pagoda, Do Xa pagoda in Chi Linh District, Hai Duong province, Phu Coc pagoda, Khanh Van pagoda Kien Xuong district in Thai Binh province.


In 1935, He bought land and founded the Hoang Phap pagoda in Kien An province to help others lead a religious life and spread the doctrines. Experiencing a long time of cultivating, He realized that the way to attain Buddhahood was to practice Bodhisattva conduct and took Six Paramita (six virtues of perfection) as the basic steps. So giving alms according to the spirit of Paramita, in 1938, He founded Duc Anh institute in Kien An province where poor orphan children, deprived children were received to feed and study until their achievement. Besides, He also helped the poor improve their lives by offering some handicraft jobs. Local government and all the honoured Zen Master highly appreciated and supported his work, which was totally represented the spirit of Buddha’s compassion. As one Monk praised:

Come and see Duc Anh Lecture Hall’s propagation

Thanks to skillful management to have beautiful scenery

Past karmas gathered the children here

It is many times of luck having a merit Master

Preciously, “pearl” is hidden beneath the cloth

Happily, “real gold” is existing at sight

Wishing for this pagoda will be more prosperous

The juniors have a happy bath under the willow water*

In 1945 (lunar Rooster Year) the France and Japan war took place in his homeland, hence famine spread the north where corpses filled up the street, cries was like extremely painful wound. Witnessing what was happening, He appealed to charity associations and generous donors to cooperate with pagoda. Social aid groups assisted with clothes, food, and medicine to the sick and starving people. Every day He and His religious mates pulled a wheelbarrow to collect unrecognized dead bodies for burial.

In 1953, he bought 2 hectares of land in Hai Phong province to build Tung Lam monastery now it was changed into Pho Chieu pagoda. Also a nursing home was built for the weak and elder to stay and cultivate.

In 1955, with the aim of propagating the Buddha’s Dharma to the whole country, the Most Venerable went with religious work to the south through places such as: Go Cong, Cai Lay, Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Can Tho, Chau Doc.

In 1957, the Most Venerable realized Gia Dinh was a good place for practicing the religious affair, He bought at once 6 hectares of land in Tan Hiep commune, Hoc Mon district to found Hoang Phap monastery in order to give a place for practicing, propagating, receiving Buddhist Clergy, and instructing Buddhists to lead a religious life.

In 1965, the war left compatriots homeless in Dong Xoai, Thuan Loi so the Most Venerable had received and fed 60 families, which included 361 members for 8 months. After that, 55 firm houses for a settlement were built and distributed to them with all the necessary household stuffs. In 1968, the Most Venerable founded a Congegation of Meditation Truth Spot in order to propagate Buddhist doctrines to all parts of the country. He also got and restored Thien Phuoc pagoda located at 192/11 Nguyen Trai street, district 5, Ho Chi Minh city for preaching the Dharma and popularizing books and sutras.
Still in 1968, the brutal war kept happening over the homeland causing many children who lost father and mother without reliance, education and lived in poverty. Once again, the Most Venerable founded Duc Anh institute in Tan Hiep commune, Hoc Mon district to welcome orphans and children from 6 to 8 years old. Here, it was about 355 children accepting to be feed, taught and trained knowledge and ethics, physical exercises free of charge so that they would become the next useful generation for the country.

In 1974, despite his old age, with His boundless merciful vow He bought 45 hectares at Phu Duc hamlet. Tan Tao commune, Binh Chanh district for the plan of building Vietnam orphanage where would be fitted with all the facilities. Besides, Hung Vuong (ancestor of nation) temple would be found to remind descendants about setting up and serving the country of Hung kings. Work was in progress until April 1975, Vietnam was unified so He donated all that land for Management Board of New Economic Zone. It is Le Minh Xuan farm now.

Since 1975, Venerable continued social charitable work for the country. Although in old age, poor health and a tight budget, He still monthly contributed to Senior Buddhist school. In the fire in the small market on ward 24, district 1 Nguyen Canh Chan street HCM city, He had 3 times relief for 31 households there.

No matter how busy He was with all the Buddhist affairs and social charities, but His resolve of mind to propagate and save all living beings He aslo did not forget to spread the Dharma. He had complied and published a number of books such as

1. Daily Reciting Sutras (specially compose for Hoang Phap pogoda)

2. Facilities Essential Religious Law

3. Practice Regulation

4.The Legend of Causal Recompense

5. Commendation Fine Dharma

6. The Way to Attain Nirvana

7. Commend Saddharma

8. On the Way of Practice

9. Up to Kaya’s Praying Course

10. Sakyamuni Buddha’s History

With life-length practicing the Dharma from north to south, Venerable has devoted His life to Buddhism and to the nation. It is true for the statement "Sacrifice wealth for poverty; Sacrifice life for Enlightenment", because the Most Venerable ate inferior rice, worn inferior clothes. There are times seeing the people in miserable and starving situation, the Most Venerable cut down His meal, just only ate boiled vegetables with sesame and salt. He also told His disciples to economize to help the poor .
Living in a thatched cottage all His life, He cherished a great goal to proclaim the Buddhist-truth and to benefit all beings. Though His life would not last long, He hadn’t satisfied about what he did in his lifetime. No matter when and where the disciples come and saw Him, He always reminded them: “Be awake to lead a religious life, be diligent in praying to the Buddha in order not to have vain hopes in this illusory life. It is known that The Twofold Truth must be harmonized, and to live according with this conditional cause in this complex society, don’t let yourself immerse in this world. But you should be like pure lotus growing in muddy water, at any circumstances you still deserve to be a child of the Sakyamuni clan. Don’t betray your ideal”.

Having this physical body so it will absolutely be damaged one day.

In 1986, because of old age and declining strength, His illness condition made no progress. However, He was treated at any method. Realizing about His own body’s soon leaving, the Venerable gave advice and instruction for followers carefully. A week earlier, He refused medical transfusion and said that: “Let me go and don’t grieve for me”. At 1:30 pm on November 26th 1988 (lunar October 16th Dragon year) He calmly indicate the way to Nirvana at Hoang Phap monastery. The Venerable lived to the age of 88 and the religious age to 65.

Grievous land and sorrow sky when Venerable went

It broke Buddhist and monks’ heart

Missing the Great Monk with the soul of Bodhisattva

Venerate enlightened Monk filled with the great compassion

Printing doctrine and sutras to train disciples

It is invaluable of Him to found almshouse saving orphans

Great Sages get free from earthly life

His Assistance is a deep and wide favour