From the president chair to the court

Update: 07/04/2017
According to articles from Tuoi Tre News, Dan Tri and Thanh Nien, on March 31st, 2017, former president of South Korea Park Geun Hye was officially detained after Seoul Central District Court accepted the request from prosecutors. Park was accused of corruption, abuse of power, and leakage of state secrets to a close friend Cho Soon Sil, who holds no position in government. Previously, on March 30th, 2017, she had spent more than nine hours answering questions at the trial.

From the president chair to the court


Two weeks after being removed from the presidency, she was forced to leave the Blue House (where the current president works and lives) to go to solitary confinement in the south of Seoul. Here, she was in a 6.5 square meter room like other prisoners. Every day, she will have three meals, each meal costs 1,440 won ($ 1.3 or 30,000 dong). She also had to clean the dishes herself before returning them to the wardens. In addition, as a prisoner, she was required to wear a prison uniform, got attendance checked twice a day at six in the morning and at nine in the evening, without any privileges compared to other ordinary offenders.


Before Park, South Korea had two exiled presidents, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tea Woo. Two ex-presidents were charged with incitement during the military coup in 1979. They were accused of involvement in the massacre of anti-government protesters in the southwestern city of Gwangju. Mr. Chun was sentenced to life in prison and Roh was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Article 7, clause 1 of the Korean constitution states: "All government officials are public servants of the people and accountable to the people." In Article 11, clause 2 also states: "The award of medals shall be valid only for the winner and no privileges should arise from such reward."


From there, we can understand that Korean law is very strict; no single party can hold all the power. The Korean government and people agree to "eliminate all wrong and unfair social behavior." Those who do right will be rewarded and those who do wrong will be fined; hence, there is no concession or leniency. Whether it is a president, breaking the law will also be punished. This is a huge step forward of the government in the face of corruption and abuse of power. True democratic spirit is evident. "Superiority of the law," the law is above all, the law is designed to protect the interests of the people, of the country, not to maintain the power of any political party, religion, or bring benefits to a group of people.

Through the story of Park, the former president of Korea, there are many issues for us to contemplate. The fact that she is responsible for what she does reflects the spirit of cause and effect in Buddhism. When we grow lemons, we will get sour fruits; when we plant chilies, we will get spicy fruits; when we plant jackfruit, we will harvest sweet fruit. The Law of cause and effect is the universal law of the universe, no one can shirk responsibilities or deny the wrong things that they created. In the Samyutta Sutra, the Chapter of the Five Dharmas, the Precepts, the Facts to Observe, the Buddha said: "Monks, we are the masters of karma, the inheritors of karma, karma is the ovary; karma is dependent, karma is the fulcrum. From any deed we do, good or evil, we will inherit it”.


Although Park suffered legal punishment for her delinquent actions; however, we should also be grateful for the spirit of her dare. She does not give justifications, deny or try to hide. This should be encouraged. For some people, when they hold the position of leadership and have power in their hands, they try to fend off, hook, on the one hand find a way to maintain and consolidate power; on the other hand, take the opportunity to make illegal budgets before "landing safely". When corrupt acts are exposed, deception scams are exposed, it is when they escape far away, the "big men" will no longer be there for the punishment law they have taken. Western sky with the reason of healing or missing. In another country, because their children have been given a little bit of money and education, and their homes are well prepared, they just fly to enjoy all the comforts of life. The rest of their life will be in comfort and wealth from the sweat and tears of domestic suffering citizens. Unfortunately, these people do not realize that the law of cause and effect does not result in just one lifetime, the sowing seed will lie there, and at some point when the cause will have effect, they will bear retribution, not in this life then in another.


These are very real things going on in society. There are things that everyone knows but few people dare to say, and gradually become "commonplace on the street". Even in our Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam, which is a moral environment, an organization that represents the great religion of the nation, there are also a lot of bad things, the "rotten apple that spoils the barrel." Venerables and monks are worshiped on the religious hierarchy, in which Sangha leaders, once they do the wrong things, we wonder whether anyone dares to stand up commenting them. There are also issues to be resolved, but it is only to deal with some anonymous people, and those who are “influential and respected” are unlikely to face consequences due to some sort of fear.


In the morning of October 17, 2016, at the office of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, a meeting took place on the matter of "Monk singing hymn", which was stirring the public. According to a report by the BSV in District 9, a video of a monk singing at Phanxico monastery was posted on the social networking site. This incident is related to Venerable Thich Le Ngan - Head of District 9’s Buddhist Guidance. At the meeting, Venerable Thich Le Ngan acknowledged the video clip "Calling a star" was performed by himself at Phanxico Monastery, District 9 on the evening of October 3, 2016, on the occasion of “Performance of Prayers”. The participation and performance of this program was made with the permission of Thich Nhut An - Abbot of Phuoc Tuong. After the meeting, based on the rules of the Sangha Thich Minh Thong received the opinion of the religious leaders, decided to temporarily suspend the head position of the District 9’s Buddhist Guidance of the Thich Le Ngan for three years. Venerable Thich Nhut An, Venerable Thich Le Ngan’s master, will not be able to receive his disciples for at least 3 years after the implementation of the decision.



The story of Venerable Thich Le Ngan brings about a lesson for the monks, that is they must be careful and preserve the rules when doing anything as well as communicating with society. However, there was a prominent incident occurring shortly before that, which was also made public on social media, but no one dared to speak up, because this incident involves a famous venerable many people know.


On the evening of December 24, 2014, Venerable Thich Chan Quang celebrated Christmas Eve at the Buddhist Temple on Mount Dinh, Ba Ria - Vung Tau. He performed two Christmas songs, including the song "I Will Sit Down", adapted by Venerable Chan Quang from the poems by Reverend Nguyen Duy. The monk analyzed each lyric, the melody as well as the source of the song. Later, the Venerable also praised Jesus and preached the doctrine of God. This news and sermon of the Venerable are posted on the Internet. (http://thichchanquang.com/br-vt-dem-24-voi-bai-giang-noi-ve-chua-cua-tt-thich-chan-quang-tai-thien-ton-phat-quang/)


Caught in the same situation, two people in different positions faced different treatments. Are we too frightened of power to speak out and handle the situation? Inside the Church there is a case of "teaching each others behind closed door", while people throughout society know what is wrong with that, how can we treat it lightly? We might be afraid of breaking up the sentient beings, of the good image of sangha being tarnished, of hostile forces against sangha, of people badmouthing, of Buddhists turning away from religion. But it is also because of those fears that we have not resolved thoroughly; that we have not dared to be transparent to people, to tackle the wrongdoings of influential people. It makes Buddhism lose prestige because people will not know or fear. As in the case of Venerable Thích Le Ngan, it may be due to a moment of lacking mindfulness, but some people, though understanding, still do wrong things because they are backed up by some power. What even worse is when the breaking of the precepts gets masked deftly, this is very sad as the offenders do not know repentance, contrary to the precepts that Buddha gave.

In the Sutra, Chapter Two of the Dharma, section “the Fool” Buddha, said: "Monks, there are two kinds of wise people. What are they? The offender who finds himself guilty, and the person who accepts another person as the law reveals his crime. "

A monk must know the truth. He has to admit when he makes mistakes himself. That shows the good character of the moral person. No one in this world is without fault, except the saint. If people are blameworthy and we do not dare to speak up, reprimand or criticize, then they will think that doing so is right, and so continue to commit wrongdoings. The people of the next generation continue to follow that wrong path, leading each other into sins. There are things that are absolutely wrong, yet are condoned by many people. Hence, they are gradually accepted as right, but even if they are accepted they are still wrong. From ancient times, we have followed the paths that previous people have gone through, without knowing what is wrong or right, so the core values are lost. Many people blame the "media", presenting ways to seduce the masses, but is that a good way when the first steps are wrong? As true Buddhists, we must use wisdom to enlighten what is right, wrong, right, left, using the rules that Buddha taught to behave accordingly. Never should we justify our wrongdoings. When out in the light, sometimes we are more easily seen than in the dark. But not so that we would stand in the dark and ignore the wrong, the bad; leave people living in the house of Tathagata destroying virtues. That is what we always have to remember. Dharma persists thanks to the monks who keep the world, society develops when people respect the law and human rights.

Translated into English by Doan Thanh Truc


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