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Vietnam Buddhist body committed to national unity

Vietnam Buddhist Sangha urges monks, nuns and laity to participate in state-run patriotic programs and Buddhist activities

Buddhist dignitaries and government officials attend the National Buddhist Congress in Hanoi on Nov. 28

Buddhist dignitaries and government officials attend the National Buddhist Congress in Hanoi on Nov. 28. (Photo: giacngo.vn)

Published: December 01, 2022 12:08 PM GMT

Updated: December 01, 2022 12:11 PM GMT

The only state-sanctioned Buddhist organization in Vietnam has called on its followers to work with government agencies to bring benefits to the nation and Buddhism at its congress.

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) held its 9th National Buddhist Congress in the capital Hanoi on Nov. 28-29. The congress which takes place every five years was attended by over 1,000 dignitaries, monks, nuns and followers throughout the country's 63 cities and provinces and Vietnamese communities abroad.

Also present at the event were President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and high-ranking officials from government agencies and the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, which controls all religious activities in the communist country.

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Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, head of the VBS executive council, said the congress asked Buddhists in the country and abroad to “diligently practice Buddha's teachings and live out the slogan of discipline, responsibility, solidarity and development to together build up the VBS in the hearts of the nation.”

He said in a statement issued at the end of the congress that monks, nuns and laypeople are also urged to actively participate in government-run patriotic programs and Buddhist activities for the sake of the country, the people and the religion. They should work closely with government organizations to foster national unity, strongly respond to environmental protection and develop Vietnamese values imbued with national characteristics and traditions.

Congress participants elected elderly Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, rector of the Vietnam Buddhist Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, as the fourth leader of the VBS since its establishment in 1981 by the government.

The 82-year-old most venerable called on dignitaries, monks and nuns to respect Buddhist precepts and abide by the country’s laws, which will gain prestige for the VBS to exist, integrate and develop. If they fail, Buddhism will decline.

The leader, who studied at Rissho University in Japan from 1965-72, said in the coming five years, the VBS, whose motto is Dharma, nation and socialism, will pay much attention to honoring dignitaries who devote themselves entirely to religious life and are engaged in society according to the Bodhisattva's conduct. Those who violate the precepts and the law will be severely punished.

During the two-day congress, the VBS ordained 268 most venerables, 1,102 venerables, 391 masters of the nuns and 1,581 abbesses.

Participants also amended the VBS’s charter so that it is in accord with the government’s laws and religious regulations and realities. The amended charter will be approved by the Government Committee for Religious Affairs before it comes into effect.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh highlighted Buddhism’s great contributions to the cause of national construction and defense.

The prime minister asked the VBS to continue encouraging monks, nuns and lay people to implement policies and laws of the Communist Party and the government, and take the lead in building national unity and religious solidarity, while upholding fine traditions of Buddhism in Vietnam.

He said Buddhism is a major religion in the country with more than 18,500 worship facilities, nearly 55,000 monks and nuns, and over 14 million followers.

However, the VBS announced that it serves some 60 million followers, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the country’s population.

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