Should Buddhists demonstrate?

Update: 19/06/2018
In recent days, some young men and women came to the pagoda to ask me about the situation of our country. They said that the government would allow foreigners to lease three key areas of Vietnam such as Van Don in Quang Ninh, Northern Van Phong in Khanh Hoa and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang in order to make special economic zones with 99 years for lease term.

Should Buddhists demonstrate?


They said that if the government leased land for foreigners; particularly Chinese, in 99 years that we have to face the risk losing our country. Nowadays, China has unruly built an artificial island in Vietnam's watery territory, including an airport and military zone to control the sea and air. They even took fishing boats in Vietnamese water territory, crashing Vietnamese fishing boats. The government cannot interfere. These are expressions of the Chinese invading the Paracels and Spratlys of Vietnam, but the government seems to have no way of preventing this. If our country rents these three special zones to Chinese for 99 years, can the government control them? At that time, the Chinese will move to live and work, gradually turning Vietnam into China’s autonomous region. 

The world is looking at China as "Imperialism of Debt Owner". When Chinese bought a series of seaports in Greece, Australia and Africa, it formed an economic and military belt. The obvious lessons of the autonomous regions are Sri Lankan and Cambodian. In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government was unable to pay its debts owed from China, forcing them to hand over the Hambantota seaport official administration to China, even though the people rose up waves of indignation and violent protests. The same is true of Kenya's Mombasa seaport. The landmark model in Koh Kong province in Cambodia is a bloody lesson. China rented the land for 99 years and named it a "test area".  They built a port, an international airport and a city on an area of ​​45,000 hectares. Investors gradually turned the province into an independent, economically independent city for the China. The rent is only about $ 30 per hectare, while the total cost of the project is $ 3.8 billion, a huge different level. Firstly, the Cambodian government thought that the special economic zone would provide employment opportunities for people, as well as certain benefits in terms of facilities, promote economic develop. In fact, local people are forced to leave their arable land, house burned, homes burned clean, and nature seriously damaged. People of this country do not get any benefits from China’s investment.

  Conflicts have frequently arisen between people, environmental companies and Chinese companies. As far as Vietnam, some hotels and restaurants invested by the Chinese in some resorts such as Da Nang or Nha Trang have selected customers, only the Chinese and use the yuan to pay. That is the matter we are very worried about. If the Chinese massively migrated to Vietnam, gave birth to babies, formed Chinatown, they just stood up to hold a referendum on something that we lost. At that time, our grandchildren were not allowed to go in the land of their father by the barbed wire and high walls separated. Later people have not got back to hand because of our carelessness.

 From thousands of years ago to today, the Chinese always have conspiracy to invade our country. The history of the Vietnamese people has witnessed many invasions by foreign invaders in the North. The blood and tears of our generations have fallen in our country to protect the territory.  The attempt to conquer Vietnam to increase the border of this neighboring country will never stop. The government leasing the land for 99 years is to create good opportunities for them to conquer and make Vietnam into China's colonies legally and easily. If they aggressed Vietnam like 1979, they would be condemned by the world. Now, they rent our land for 99 years, these three special zones will turn into three places for the Chinese people to enter Vietnam easily and legally. Congress will convene and pass legislation to lease these three special zones for a period of 99 years.

 Many intellectuals, young men, young people, students and patriots are pressed and opposed to the 99-year lease. They encouraged us to take part in the protest to protest the bill before Congress voted to lease the land. That is how to show the patriotism towards the country. They asked me:

-   Should Buddhists participate in the demonstration or not?

-  This is a very difficult question to answer. Before answering, I would like to tell two stories that occurred in India more than 2600 years ago.

Because of the rivalry, the king Virudhaka in Magadha led troops to occupy the capital city of Kapilavastu., the dynasty of the Shakyamuni. At this time, the Buddha is in the town of Mesopotamia, border of the two countries. He knew that this incident lingered waiting for the king. When the troops arrived, the king saw the Buddha sitting under a sparse tree, while the surrounding trees were shady, for he respected the king and said,

-  Dear World Most Venerable, why don’t you sit under the luxuriant bushes instead sitting in a bare and empty place on the head like this?

Buddha replied:

• The shade of the tree does not shade me from the sun, dear the great king.

He asked again:

• I do not understand your idea.

Respected Buddha replied:

• Yes, the king needs to understand. The "shadow of relatives" really cool, Buddha.

After that, the king withdrew. The next day the king to continue another way but he again met Buddha. Knowing the conspiracy to kill the Shakyamuni family line of King Vidudayan, the Buddha had three times dissuaded but still not suceeded. The Buddha is a life of love but understanding, he knows the karmic of beings, so he only use compassion to neutralize the violence, and use wisdom to scrutinize doing anything. Image of the Buddha sitting under the tree to prevent the advances of King Venerable is also a form of nonviolent protest or not?

Furthermore, Buddha is not indifferent to the times. At another time, Buddha settled the war at the Rohini border between two relatives, Sakya and Koliya. These two families competed the source of the river Rohini.

 To return to the above question, you have the following ideas: For Buddhists, the Buddha taught that before doing anything, it should be carefully considered, to evaluate if that works for the benefits of ourselves, family, society and country. If this is beneficial and good deed, it should be done. On the other hand, if this harms ourselves, family, society, and country, we should not do it.

In the Thousand Golden Lessons, there is a saying: "Whatever work, first we must consider its consequences." In the Noble Eightfold Path, eight methods bring peace and happiness that the Buddha taught us, first method is the right view. We are Buddhists following of Buddha’s footprint, so we must have the right understanding. If we want to see the right, we have to learn thoroughly and study deeply. When we have the wisdom to lead, we think rightly that is right thought. The right word is called right speech, and the right work is called right action, ... Therefore, to get the right action, we need to have the right view, from which our work will be good, leading to the happiness for ourselves, family, society, and country.

As people living in a country, each person should be responsible for the prosperity, loss, and security of the country. As a result, we need to participate and contribute to the government  in the development and protect the country. We can express our views by writing thoughts and post them on facebook, or writing letters to the prime minister or the National Assembly. Even, we can protest to express the patriotism, but to protest in a peaceful, non-violent spirit. As I know, in the early 20th century in India, Gandhi has advocated nonviolent demonstrations against the British colonial government. At times, the number of Indians arrested by the British colonial up to nearly 60 thousand, not to mention those who were beaten, shot dead. However, thanks to this persistent, long-lasting and persistent nonviolent spirit, the Indians regained their independence and freedom for the country, despite those who laid down their lives.

 Prior to 1963 in South Vietnam, the Ngo Dinh Diem government suppressed Buddhism. They beat, shot, and killed monks and nuns. Against the discrimination and injustice of Ngo Dinh Diem's ​​religion, Buddhist monks and nuns in Vietnam must stand up for nonviolent demonstrations to demand religious freedom. There were monks and nuns who set themselves on fire to alert the authorities to review their wrong actions. Thanks to the nonviolent demonstrations and the self-immolation of monks, nuns, and Buddhists, they contributed to the preservation of the dharma, collapsing Ngo Dinh Diem's ​​domineering dictatorship.


A Buddhist wanting to achieve the ultimate goal of liberation needs to practice ten Paranirmita perfections in fullness. TenParanirmita perfections are charity, modal conduct, renunciation, wisdom, devotion, patience, truth, vow for Bodhicittta and helpfulness, contemplation and proper means. In these 10 perfections, we must practice for many thousand lives to attain liberation. In ten perfections, there are three levels including lower, middle and upper level. For example, we practice the perfection’s charity on the lower level is to give out things outside the body such as money, material, spouses, and children. However, such charity does not harm our body and life. Middle charity of perfection is to give a part of the body such as to the kidney, liver or eyes. However, this generosity does not harm the existence. The upper charity of prefection is to give all of his body to benefits of people. Thus, there is only a dhamma in the ten perfections that we have experienced many lifetimes, from lifeless bodies to even a part of the body, so we can achieve the goal of enlightenment.


 Back to the question of the youth, I neither encourage nor deny the protest. He only advises that being a Buddhist, you need to have wisdom when doing what has to consider its consequences. We need to have an accurate view of the problem before doing, followed in the spirit of right view and right livelihood that the Buddha taught in the Eightfold Path. If it is genuine, beneficial and peaceful for ourselves, family, society and  country, we are ready to do even if we sacrifice our lives without regret. Acting humanly because of others to forget ourselves is to achieve the gift of  Paramita. It also means the fullness of the Buddha in the future. Wish all of you have full compassion, wisdom, and brave, to implement your beautiful, noble ambition for yourselves, family, society, the law and the country.

T.T Thich Chan Tinh

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