Beauty of the 97th Seven Day Retreat - Assembly for reciting the Buddha

Update: 01/09/2022
The 97th Seven-Day retreat held from August 17th to 23rd is a special retreat - the Buddha Recitation Dharma with the cooperation of monks and nuns from all over the country together with Buddhists from far and near. – This is a special retreat of Buddha recitation to facilitate the cultivation of practitioners.
 

Beauty of the 97th Seven Day Retreat - Assembly for reciting the Buddha

 

This retreat was held in the mass ’s solemnity and purity, as well as the noble presence of monks and nuns from all provinces and cities nationwide. This is the special feature that Hoang Phap Pagoda wants to bring to this 97th Buddha reciting Retreat.

The purpose of the retreat is to help Buddhists better understand Buddhism, as well as promptly answer questions on the way to practice. Since then, cultivators build and strengthen a firm belief in the Three Jewels, going far on the path of learning, aiming at all individuals and classes knowing Buddhadharma, bringing the light of truth to illuminate their own lives, and help the mass better recognize. We should put our faith in the Buddha, complete our body and mind in the recitation of the Buddha so that the three karmas are pure.

The Assembly of Buddha Recitation is a place of four groups together respectfully, joyfully reciting the Buddha's name with one heart, one mind turns to the Buddha, towards the Western world of Ultimate Bliss.

In addition to the Dharma talk, practitioners cultivated pure speech during the retreat to keep the body, speech, mind at peace; Accordingly, every day, the mass will practice 4 sessions of chanting and reciting Buddha in the morning (4h00 - 5:15am), noon (09h30 - 10:15), afternoon (14h00 - 15h30), evening (19h00 - 20h30) and a period of quiet sitting (21:15 - 21:45) to help the mass be more diligent on the practice.

On Aug. 15th - 16th, 2022 (July 18th to 19th) Hoang Phap pagoda officially started the 97th Seven-Day Retreat for reciting the Buddha. This is a special retreat of Buddha recitation to facilitate the cultivation of practitioners.

After completing the registration process, the venerable monks, and nuns and lay Buddhists were guided by the monks in the organizers arranged areas of living, sleeping, dining... On Aug. 17th, 2022 (July 20th, LC) Hoang Phap pagoda officially opened the 97th Seven-Day Retreat with nearly 400 monks and nuns, as well as nearly 1500 practitioners to attend. 

In the morning, Most Thich Chan Tinh, Master of Hoang Phap Pagoda came to the 1st floor of Dharma wheel Building to give instruction to four-group disciples.

Some of the practitioners are attending for the first time, so, they don't understand well about the retreat. On this occasion, the Most talked about the process of forming and developing the seven-day retreat at Hoang Phap pagoda in particular and Vietnam in general. From the retreat until the producing of other programs such as: Summer Retreat, Marvelous Site of Buddhism, Light of Dharma, Sun Flower, etc, all have a strong influence at home and abroad to aim at all individuals and classes know the Buddhadharma, bringing the light of truth to illuminate their own lives. Through this, the Master reminded the mass: Living is dedication, dedication is living forever; until leaving this world, we will contribute something for life.

Then, all Monks, Nuns and Buddhists respectfully welcomed Venerable Monks to the lecture hall to witness.

Present on the stage were Most Thich Tinh Nghiem, abbot of Van Hanh Pagoda, Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa; Most Thich Hoang Tri, Abbot of Van Duc Pagoda, Thu Duc City; Most Thich Nguyen Hanh, Abbot of Tan Chanh Pagoda, Dien Khanh, Khanh Hoa; Most Thich Nguyen Minh, Abbot of Sac Tu Kim Son Pagoda, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa and Junior Thich Tam Truong, Abbot of Hoang Phap Pagoda, Hoc Mon, HCMC, Head of the Organizers of the Retreat.

 

First, Most Thich Tinh Nghiem has some words of advice to the mass. The Buddha Recitation Assembly is a place where four-group disciples together are respectful, joyfully reciting the Buddha's name with one heart towards the Buddha, towards the Pure land of Amitabha Buddha. He instructed them how to recite Buddha's name until the Buddha's name is always in our mind. This practice requires constant maintenance and over a long period of time it becomes a habit.

 

After that, Junior Thich Tam Truong popularized the retreat program with the purpose and rules to help the mass understand and rely on the practice to cultivate better.

 

At the lecture halls in the afternoon, monks and nuns together reviewed the four demeanor and how to practice and recite the Buddha's name; Buddhists are guided by the monks in the Organization about the necessary rules of Buddhists when attending the retreat, such as clasping hands, greeting, bowing, practicing the ritual of offering meals in the lunch.

 

At the Assembly for reciting the Buddha on Aug. 18th, 2022, Most Thich Thai Hoa, Abbot of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda in Thua Thien Hue, came to the main hall to preach a dharma talk with the first part of the topic named "Good roots - blessing - conditions of Pure Land practitioners".

 

 The presence of those who attended the Buddha Recitation Assembly, this is the root of goodness, merit, and cultivation acquired from many lifetimes. The Master analyzed and explained to the practitioners about good roots of Pure Land cultivators, cultivating such factors as: faith, shame knowing, non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion, diligence, peace of mind, non-distraction, equanimity, and harmlessness.

 

The Master gave a message to all Pure Land practitioners, put your faith in the Buddha, put our body and mind in the Buddha recitation so that our three karma are pure (right actions, words, and thoughts). Buddha is always present in every gesture of daily life (walking, standing, lying, sitting), it means the Pure Land has been present in our lives. Therefore, nurturing good roots will promote blessing and good deeds, making us happy wherever we live, bringing benefits to all beings.

At the Assembly for reciting the Buddha on Aug. 19th, 2022, Most Thich Thai Hoa, Abbot of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda in Thua Thien Hue, came to the main hall to preach a dharma talk with the second part of the topic named "Good roots - blessing - conditions of Pure Land practitioners".

 

 In the previous lecture, the Venerable Master preached about the good roots of Pure Land practitioners; This time, he analyzed the merits of a practitioner following the Pure Land method.

 

A person who can be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha needs to  have the blessing of having a human body, which is a necessary condition for cultivation. Therefore, a person who practices the Pure Land method successfully, wants to be born in that one, needs to cultivate merit and virtue from its own life, solid faith with practical actions in daily life.

 

Our blessings are expressed by our actions and doing, all of which are directed towards the faithfulness to the Three Jewels, sincerity, intimacy, and the observation of five precepts. The reverence of the Three Jewels, the practice of reciting the Buddha's name will nurture the good roots in each person; break bad habits, change the impure seeds to the pure ones; illuminating the immeasurable life span of Buddha Amitabha in his mind....

 

At the Assembly for reciting the Buddha on Aug. 20th, 2022, Senior Thich Giac Liem, Abbot of Da La Ni Pagoda in Dong Nai came to the lecture hall to preach a dharma talk named “The theory of practice in the Dharma of reciting Buddha's name”.

 Based on a four-sentence verse, the Senior gave a lecture on the practice of reciting the Buddha's name, that is a thorough understanding on three aspects of body, mind, and external environment. By analyzing and comparing scientific knowledge with the scriptures, he helped four-group disciples realize and understand clearly about the nature, form, substance, and function of dharma. In everyone, there is a nature of knowing; because of being unable to recognize it, humans are still sentient beings with attachments and sufferings, who have not been able to become Buddhas.

 

He also distinguished between the name's reciting, as well as the method of reciting to help the mass clearly understand the meaning of the Amitabha Buddha's name, along with self-reliance, dharma-power, other powers, as well as experimental methods to return to the natural knowing within each of us.

After having breakfast on August 21st, 2022, Most Thich Chan Tinh, the Master of Hoang Phap Pagoda, the pagoda’s Monks and Monks-Nuns who attended the retreat walked around the main hall, mindfully step by step in reciting Buddha. The mass reviewed together what they have practiced in the past few days.

 

 After that, all practitioners gathered at the dharma halls and continued to listen to the dharma preaching session from Senior Thich Giac Liem, Abbot of Da La Ni Pagoda, Trang Bom, Dong Nai with the topic named Theory of practice displayed by five numbers. The Senior continued to share his cultivation experiences in life, accompanying the using five numbers to spread true teachings. He sequentially explained the meaning and benefits of applying five-numbers, such as: number 1 is the nature of knowing, number 2 is the body, number 3 is the environment around, number 4 is objects of connected mind, and number 5 is the method of practice.

The Seniore explained more clearly about the nature of knowing in reciting the Buddha's name. When we skillfully know how to use awareness in the process of transforming body and mind so that every gesture and action is correct, we will have a peaceful life now and in the future.

 

At the dharma hall 1 of Dharma wheel building in the evening, Most Thich Thai Hoa, Abbot of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda, Thua Thien Hue, together with monks in the retreat, came to lecture hall to have a especial Q & A session for Buddhists in the 97th Retreat. The purpose of the Dharma talk is to help Buddhists better understand the Buddhadharma, promptly answer questions of cultivation, and at the same time construct and strengthen a firm belief in the Three Jewels, go far on the path of practice.

 

The Most Ven answered questions and concerns of Buddhists relating to the issue in life, such as: the phenomenon of suicide; obstacles in the practice; the problem of wrong and right teachings, Amitabha Buddha and the benefits of reciting the Buddha's name; other issues, such as, into retreat to cultivate and serve, goodwill; the phenomenon of dreaming of bad omens; karma for unwholesome actions; the matter of body donation and rebirth, the cessation of greed, hatred, and delusion...

On behalf of the Buddhists, Junior Thich Tinh Tan gave thanks to the Master.

On August 22nd, 2022, Senior Thich Tam Duc, Standing Member of the Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha/ VBS, Standing Deputy Director of the Vietnam Institute of Buddhist Studies and Vice President and Lecturer of Vietnam Buddhist University in HCMC, had a lecture named "Reciting Buddha, Reciting Amitabha Buddha".

 

  At the Dharma assembly to recite the Buddha's name, the Master briefly outlined the spirit of reciting the Buddha's name from the time of the Buddha in the world, and then the Theravada period to Mahayana Buddhism. The Senior has explained reciting Buddha's name means remembering, focusing (meditating) on seeing, knowing, being mindful, aware and understanding all things and phenomena directly without the one-sided view of criticism or scrutiny....

At Dharma Hall 1 of the Dharma wheel building in the evening, the retreat’s monks and nuns gathered at the dharma hall to listen to a Dharma talk and have a Q&A program exclusively for monks and nuns.

 

The program has the presence of Most Thich Tinh Nghiem, the Abbot of Van Hanh Pagoda in Khanh Hoa; Most Thich Thai Hoa, Abbot of Phuoc Duyen Pagoda in Thua Thien Hue; Senior Thich Tam Duc, Standing Member of the Executive Council of VBS, Standing Deputy Director of the Vietnam Institute of Buddhist Studies and Vice President, Lecturer of Vietnam Buddhist University in HCMC; Senior Thich Phap Dang, Abbot of Hue Vien Pagoda (Dong Nai Province).

 

Venerable Most and Senior answered issues around, such as, monastic life, the obstacles of young practitioners in today's digital age, steps in the practice of reciting Buddha's name, sitting in meditation, eight commands of a female cultivator in the Sangha ... At the same time, there are Q&A activities of Buddhists at their lecture halls.

On Aug. 23rd, 2022, Most Thich Minh Thong, Abbot of Hue Nghiem Pagoda in Binh Tan HCMC came to the lecture hall to share about his experiences in studying and practicing about the Pure Land method to Buddhists in the 97th retreat.

 Over many years of research and practice, the Master has accumulated many valuable experiences on the path of study, sharing what he has grasped and absorbed. The Master shared about two important factors to lead towards Amitabha Buddha: faith and vow to be reborn, as well as holding two beliefs: Belief in the other powers of Amitabha Buddha in the Western realm of Ultimate Bliss, and belief in itself-reliance; due to being humans with many afflictions, one needs to rely on the Buddha's other-power, but one has to rely on itself first, and then to be welcomed to Ultimate Bliss, progress to Buddhahood. At the same time, he analyzed the practice in only specializing and the mixed practices in the spirit of Patriarch Shan-T’ao.

 

The Master reminded practitioners in the retreat, let have faith and determine in the Pure Land path. Be diligent in reading, reciting, practicing, contemplating and reciting the Buddha's name, always remembering to think about the Land of Ultimate Bliss until our last breath (without leaving the reciting the Buddha's name), then our way will be very gentle.

In the afternoon, the ritual of offering food for the lone souls without worship by anyone, which in life is often referred to as spirit offering. This rite helps requiem alone souls is often organized to support rebirth souls with social humanity in which they pray for the souls of martyrs, or places where deaths occur...

All of us are sad and emotional when we are about to return to our families, although we are happy, we still remember the love and care of monks.

 

I promise to always silently recite Namo Amitabha Buddha every day, always remembering the Master's words: "Life is dedication, dedication is living forever" to repay the great kindness of monks. Therefore, we must practice filial piety, that is, we have created a foundation of merit for ourselves, but also sowed a good condition for our descendants in the future.

“In the morning of August 24th, the 97th Seven-day retreat ended in the joy of four group disciples. The venerable monks, nuns and Buddhists in the 97th retreat saved the moments by commemorative photos. After seven days of practice and study have passed, it will forever be a beautiful memory of teachings of Most, Senior is a valuable to advance in the cultivation"[1]

 

This is a very useful dharma assembly for cultivators and to pray for the spirits of the deceased in many lifetimes to be reborn in a peaceful realm.

 

If in life we always recite the Buddha's name and pay homage to the Buddhas, etc., although we have not yet reached being of one mind at the last moment, it can still be achieved by strong faith in Buddhas and vows to the west. Thus, we can be led by Amitabha Buddha, like the teachings of a monk: "In the circle of birth and death, the only method of reciting the Buddha's name is the only means to save sentient beings that has faith in them, will certainly be rescued to the Pure Land."

 After seven days full of peace and joy, the Dharma assembly was completed, and all the monks, nuns, and Buddhists left with a source of peaceful energy.

 

Hoa Đạo

Translate into English by Lien My

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