The Great Master Minh Chau
FREEDOM in Thought is a prerequisite for FREEDOM in Existence
Amitabha ! Amitabha !
Duc Tang Thong Minh Chau who was a founder Van Hanh University and The Buddhist Church of Vietnam. His death was universally mourned. Born 1920 in Quang Nam Province ,Central Vietnam .In 1946 left family and devoting his Buddhist studies at Tuong Van Buddhist Temple, Hue .From 1952-1961 Great Master Minh Chau has been given himself wholly to his Buddhist studies at The Nalanda University in India . He received PHD with Thesis :” The Central Philosophy of Buddhism” (The Paliterm Sasana) In Asia especially Vietnam , his thought conceived that Buddhism is an historic expression of a universal human ideal. It offers any individual or society a voluntary way of thought and conduct ,based upon an analysis of conditioned existence ,dependent upon supreme human effort ,and directed toward the realization of freedom in perfect existence.
As a way of life, he formed judgement that the Buddhism has been variously understood followed, and expounded by its adherents ,and variously studied, interpreted, and described by non Buddhist. Ethnic traits and social customs, subjective interests and partial knowledge and many other factors have influenced the development of Buddhist beliefs and practices and thus condition an understanding of the nature of Buddhism by all concerned.
His lecture “Buddhist Historical Developments ” Great Master Minh Chau taught students of Van Khoa and Van Hanh Universities, Saigon: That in its historical development and geographical expansion -in twenty -five centuries, over thirty Asian countries, and some twenty-two Asian languages -Buddhism has been designated in several ways. The Theravada Buddhists in South and Southeast Asia traditionally speak of, and live in, the Buddha Sasana. The Paliterm sasana means “teaching, doctrine, discipline, religion” and “is perhaps the nearest equivalent of the modern expression, Buddhism .
In its developed sense, it denotes a System. It has a socio-religious content and is used as a term of delimitation, with a touch perhaps of communal consciousness too -, “within the sasana” meaning ” within the Buddhist system of faith and its rule of living” (Sukumar Dutt ,The Buddha and Five After-Centuries, London: Luzac & Co;Ltd .,1957 p107 and pp 123-234). Hence, the Theravada conception of Buddhism connotes an emphasis upon community spirit and order in life. The Mahayana Buddhist in East Asia and elsewhere customarily refer to the Buddha Darma in Sanskrit (cf Buddha Dhamma in Pali, also used by the Theravadins), Fo-chiao in Chinese, Bukkyo in Japanese, Pulgyo in Korean, or Phat Giao in Vietnamese, all meaning ” the Teaching of the Buddha ,” while Chos in Tibetan signifies the Dharma or simply “the religion” . Thus the Mahayana conception of Buddhism embodies an emphasis on doctrinal guidance in the conduct of life. “PALI” words and their versions in Burmese, Cambodian, Lao, Muong, Sinhalese and Thai are customarily used by the Theravada tradition, whereas Sanskrit and especially Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit words and his translation into Chinese, Tibetan, and other languages with corresponding versions in Japanese, Korean , Vietnamese, Mongolian, etc…are used by the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. Hence, the particular use of a “Pali”,”Sanskrit” or other Asian-language word in his translation, Great Master Minh Chau will indicate the relevant Buddhist tradition or ethnic context of that word. For example ,Dhamma is Pali term used in the Theravada tradition, whereas Dharma is the Sanskrit term used in Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions; Ch’an-tsung refers to a particular school in Chinese Buddhism, while Zen-shu refers to its Japanese development. In the case of a twofold Pali Sanskrit word, the slash mark “/” will be used when the “Pali” and Sanskrit, or Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit,words are spelled differently but a single word will be used when the spelling is identical: for example ,the Dhamma/Dharma, Nibbana/Nirvana,whereas the Buddha,Bodhi.
On the other hand, most Westerners or non-Buddhists tend to view and define Buddhism as a philosophy,noting its humanistic concern with right action being based upon right knowledge,or as a religion, perceiving the frequent incorporation of folk religious beliefs and practices in its institutional development. But “philosophy” and “religious” are primarily Western concepts which have had various meanings in the course of Western thought; although they have been transposed and translated into Asia terms, for example,”che-hsueh ” and “tsung-chiao” in Chinese, “tetsugaku” and “shukyo” in Japanese they should not be used contradistinguishably to dichotomize the essential unity of Buddhist thought and practice. In other respects, however, Buddhism may be described as a philosophic interpretation and religious expression of a way of life, Asian in origin but intended to be universally human in outlook.
Great Master Minh Chau addressed “the Buddha” in his Thesis is the simple definition of the Buddha as “the Enlightened One” in both epistemological and metaphysical or existential respects and the meaning of “Bodhi” as supreme “Enlightenment” remind us that Buddhism, however conceived, is “primarily experiential in nature and purpose. ( Walpola Rahula ” What the Buddha Taught (Trans. Minh Chau Diss. :Published for the Pali Text Society by Luzac & Co., Ltd 1968 pp 171-179) Anguttara Nikaya [vol 1], p11 . Tika-nipata pp 7 -19;) Franklin Edgerton ,Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Language and Literature (Banaras: Banaras Hundu University,1966 ) pp7, 61-69) and Lionel Giles,Descriptive Catalogue of the Chinese Manucripts from Tunhuang in the British Museum (London:Pubhished by The Trustees of the British Museum,1969). Introduction pp.9-36. It concerns the life, here and now, of each sentient being and thus interrelately of all existence. In replying his students:” Where, then, should our exposition of Buddhism begin?” He said : The Buddhist, living within the circle of the Buddha Sasana/Sasana.and following the Buddha Dhamma/ Dharma,would suggest that we start from where we stand in life: our perspective normally develops from our present, conditioned state of being; how could we begin from where we are not? Similarly, the non-Buddhist, living outside the circle and facing it from any direction, might well begin where he is, reaching out and touching the circle at his special point of interest. In any case, whether in study or in practice, Buddhism invites and accepts us as we are and is characteristically tolerant of those views and ethnocentric mores which typify us. To my thought, to start in Buddhism we need no doctrinal assumptions but simply an awareness of the conditioned existence of ourselves and all others.
This concern with conditioned existence and one’s immediate perception and subsequent study of it, this tolerance of all right-minded inquiry and stress on right action guided by right understanding, this philosophycal-religious way of life for any individual or society, this reliance upon supreme human effort and the possibility of experiencing freedom in perfect existence-these principles characterize Buddhism and express its point of life .
The Buddhist spirit of reasoned inquiry is exemplified in numerous accounts of Buddha’s own CONDUCT and ADVICE to others.
In Loving Memory our Great Master Minh Chau.
FREEDOM in Thought is a prerequisite for FREEDOM in Existence!!!
JL Ngu Hanh Son (Phat Tu TNT)
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