Interviewing Venerable Thich Chan Tinh about building a temple in USA

Update: 11/11/2018

 Interviewing Venerable Thich Chan Tinh about building a temple in USA


 1. In the 64th program of Dharma’s light, Buddhists, monks and nuns inside and outside our country to hear about building a branch of Hoang Phap temple in USA. Can you please clarify the reason why?

In 2016, some Vietnamese Buddhists, monks and nuns living in USA invited me to deliver the lecture there. At that time, I went to nearly 20 states and delivered over 90 lectures. When leaving for Sacramento, a capital city of California, there was a family of Buddhist Ma Dat who had kept track of Hoang Phap retreats expressed their admiration. They showed their confidence that there would be a Hoang Phap temple in Sacramento. They asked me for the advice, but I did not have intention to build a branch of Hoang Phap temple in USA, as I had been to USA for the first time and I had no acquaintances. I replied: “It depends on good conditions.” In 2017, they looked for the land and then bought 10 acre (equivalent to 4 hectares in Vietnam) and offered to me for constructing Hoang Phap temple in USA. I thought that monks’ mission was first to reach the enlightenment and then to help the sentient beings to be protected. Wherever the monks are needed, the monks can help. I was so pleased with that family’s wish.

Before buying that land, they carefully asked the authority to make sure whether temples are allowed to build in that area or not. They agreed as the land had been for the churches in hundred years ago. Then, the Buddhist family asked architects for the temple building plan and asked for the construction licence. They suggested that when they asked for the building licence, there should be a ceremony of laying foundation stone  for people to know and contribute budget to the temple. The family and I agreed to hold that ceremony of Hoang Phap temple on Oct 7, 2018.

 2. There had been a rumor that the ceremony for constructing Hoang Phap temple in USA could not be carried out as there would be some Vietnamese in USA going on the manifestation, is that true?

As mentioned previously, in 2016, I went to the US to give the lecture in the warm welcome. In 2017, I went back to USA in order to propagate Buddhism and deliver the lecture over a month in the warm welcome, too. In 2018, I informed that there would be the ceremony laying foundation stone of Hoang Phap branch in USA on the website. The problem happened from that time. At the beginning of May 2018, I went to USA for propagation, my classmate Minh Hau from Giac Ngo temple in 1980, invited me for the lecture. He informed Buddhists about the lecture, but some opposed and wanted to stop my lecture. Unfortunately, my mother in Vietnam passed away; so I had to go back to Vietnam and the lecture obviously canceled. I heard that they gathered and went for demonstration. From the time I informed publicly about the foundation ceremony, some anti fans tried to deform and raise the manifestation for Vietnamese living in USA against Hoang Phap branch in USA. They said that I was a notorious monk, connector of Vietnamese Communism, a communist monk to USA following the Resolution 36 for the communism’s foundation, etc. They wrote a notice for raising the manifestation, wrote letters for those living near the temple to fight against Hoang Phap temple in USA. They also asked the authority for help to fight against Hoang Phap in  Sacramento. 

On 2 Nov 2018, I went to USA for the preparation of celebrating Hoang Phap branch’s laying stones. There was a house damaged 80%, restored by Buddhist Ma Dat for monks and Buddhists to shelter distant monks and nuns. At first, they subjectively thought the house was restored sparsely, but the authority checked and did not accept. They required us to follow construction quality for the house. Because the time for the ceremony was so close that the construction could not be carried out, the authority asked for delay. We got in trouble at that time, because we had sent the invitation letters and posted the ceremony would take place on 7 Oct 2018 on   the website. It could not probably be changed. We discussed for the solution, and reached an agreement that we hired a hall for the organization. Only two days the ceremony would take place, but we did not find the hall.  All the halls mostly were booked. Eventually, there was an empty hall, and we paid the deposit immediately. However, the ceremony would not smoothly work as the hall would be opened at 8 a.m. on Nov. 7, 2018 which we had chance to decorate for the ceremony. Fortunately, there were tables, chairs, living room, dinning room, toilets available in the hall, which helped the ceremony to be easily run. In the morning of the ceremony, the monks and Buddhists visiting the temple were guided to the hall. Only the sparse land and the house being restored there, the manifestations went there and made noise around the temple in the cold and rainy weather. No one in the temple, but everything was run smoothly in the main hall for the ceremony. Therefore, the ceremony was conducted successfully. Then, everyone went back to the land and laid the first stone for the foundation.

3. Do you know the reason why they fight against the foundation of Hoang Phap branch in USA?

I think some people dislike Hoang Phap branch in USA, they deformed the truth and asked the others to fight against Hoang Phap. Actually, they were the victims of some selfish people, and they were so pitiful and need our sympathy. If they had known my biography, my propagation for Buddhism, they would never have done this, whereas they just listened to the incitement, which was very dangerous and unenlightened. Buddha taught that we had to think carefully before doing something. 

After the manifestation, some suggested I should sue them for offending my honor.

Ven. Thich Chan Tinh: “What do I sue them for?”.

Buddhists  answered: “They slandered that you are a communist. Now, let’s conversely ask them to show the date I was admitted to Communism, and granted the certification. If they cannot, let sue them”.

Ven. Thich Chan Tinh explained: “It’s OK, but they are the victims of the selfishness and jealousy, additionally. the monks do not have any enemy.  If I sued them, they would have animosity against me. Buddha said: “Return grace for resentment, resentment disappears. Return resentment for resentment, it makes double”. Or “Taking revenge for revenge is not for the life. But taking no revenge for revenge is golden rules.”

I often said: “Do not be afraid of being slandered, just be afraid that you make something wrong”.

However, if there were some Buddhists in the manifestation, it would be so sad for them! As they take refuge in the Buddha and receive the five precepts: “No killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no taking alcohols.” Supposing that a Buddhist holding a flag, standing in front of the temple, and slandering the monks, is it right? As the fourth precepts was no telling a lie, but the words they said are completely wrong. The Buddha said that Buddhists should listen, think, and practice. That means when we heard about something, we had to consider carefully, and then believe and do it. Buddhists are the ones who support the monks to build temples, propagate dharma; they do not oppose it. Buddhists should not become ghosts. Buddhists should contribute to build and expand Buddhism. They do not destroy Buddhism. The USA is the country where the Vietnamese come to immigrate, and they allow us to build the temple, but some prevent and destroy. How is the freedom? Buddhists who prevent the monks to build temples should think whether they are worth being a Buddhist or not.


 4. In a video clip on Youtube, Most Ven. Thich Thong Lai said that he would prevent Hoang Phap branch from building Hoang Phap pagoda in USA and declared a war against Ven. Thich Chan Tinh. What do you think about this?

I do not know much about Most Ven. Thich Thong Lai, but he is a Most Venerable, so he is my senior, as I am only a Senior venerable. Although Most Ven. Thich Thong Lai and I do not have the same teacher, we are Buddha’s son in common. I always admire the senior. I admire him that he has been living in USA for a long time, but he still keeps and follows the monks’ rules instead of being a false monk. He has helped over hundreds of monks and nuns, 10.000 Buddhists to take refuge with Three Jewels. If he did not have grace, how could he help so   many people? In life, people get married thanks to good conditions. Why did Mr. B gets get married to Ms. B, but not to Ms. C, etc. So, it is said that: “Every Jack has his Jill”. Equivalently, there are a number of monks and nuns. Why don’t Buddhists take refuge with Ven. A, B, C, but Most Ven. Thich Thong Lai? It is called good conditions. Because he may have good qualifications and grace. This is good conditions between practitioners and masters. 

Regarding to the monks, their mission is to reach enlightenment, and to protect sentient beings. Therefore, the monks should propagate Buddhism as Most Ven. Thich Thong Lai does, too. Why does he prevent me from doing the good things? Maybe he just plays a joke. He does not mean that. That he had declared a war against me was true or not, but I yield to him first. Monks do not fight against people, just against their greed, anger, and delusion, which makes people become selfish, evil, and criminal. Buddha taught that: “Defeating thousands of enemy is not a glorious feat of arms, defeating yourself is really the most glorious feat of arms”, now I try to defeat my greed, anger, and delusion, not defeat anyone else. Who wants to fight me, I will yield to him first. It is well said that: “Wise people responds to outsiders, the ones with the same mother should not defeat each other”. 

5. After those difficulties, do you continue to build Hoang Phap temple in USA or not?

 As noted previously, I went to USA for lectures thanks to the invitations of monks and nuns, I did not have intention to build a temple in USA. As the good conditions Buddhists offered the land, I planned to build. Everything usually starts with difficulties, but the results will come with memory and values. I remember a story of Phu Lau Na in Samyutta Nikàya sutra, chapter 35: “After giving the lecture to Phu Lau Na, Buddha asked Phu Lau Na where he would practice and propagate. He responded that he would come to remote areas. Buddha said the people were so savage that they shouted at you. He answered that: “Dear Buddha, they are still nice that they do not hit me”. Buddha said that if they hit you, and he responded that they were still nice not throwing soil to me. Buddha asked if they did, he answered they were still nice not using the stick to hit me. Buddha said if they did, he answered they were still nice not using swords to hurt me. Buddha said if they did, he answered they were still nice not killing me. If they did, he answered he thanked to them for releasing me. Buddha praised that such his strong wills would bring him success. Actually, Phu Lau Na went there and helped a number of savage people to retreat and take refuge with Three Jewels. In conclusion, I try to learn Phu Lau Na’s exemplary.

Now, I still ask for licence for building the temple, if it is allowed, the temple is built. If not, it is still alright.   Without me, there are still a number of Vietnamese monks and nuns propagate Buddhism in USA. If there will be a Hoang Phap temple in USA, Buddhism will be more powerful to propagate there. Manifestation is not my business, mine is to build temples. To monks, it depends on good conditions, so I do not feel sad at all. 

6. The last question, do you feel disappointed with the unexpected things?

 At first, I felt worried a little bit, but when I calm down, I thank to the manifestation so much. Normally, when you want to popularize something, you need to post on newspapers, on the Internet, on the television, but the Foundation stone laying ceremony is popular thanks to those manifestation. On the windy and cold day, the SBTN came to record the video posted on Youtube for the ceremony. And the ceremony then would become well known. Therefore, I have to thank to them, to SBTN for popularizing my name and the ceremony. I wish Three Jewels to protect and keep them in peace and happiness.  One more time, I would like to give thanks to all the good conditions to Hoang Phap temple.

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