Gyalwai Nyugu visited Vietnam (8-21 Mar 2011)

gn-viet-1Gyalwai Nyugu visited Vietnam in March 2011, from 8th to 21st. It has almost been one and half years since Rinpoche visited Ho Chi Minh City as a special guest to the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women. During that visit, many were deeply touched by his warm and genuine words and some experienced great joy upon meeting him. The students, devotees and many new comers expressed their strong wishes for meeting him and receiving his precious teachings again. In the conference, Rinpoche met the Master of Sung Duc Pagoda during the break, and they had a very nice conversation. Rinpoche expressed his wishes: “In my life time, the most meaningful thing for me is to provide my help to those people who need, for their heart and life.” The Master of Sung Duc Pagoda was deeply touched by his aspiration and invited Rinpoche to conduct teachings in Vietnam 2011. To meet the strong wishes from people in Vietnam, and after long time planning, Gyalwai Nyugu visited Vietnam for the second time.

gn-viet-2On the afternoon of the 8th, the Master of Sung Duc Pagoda together with many sangha members and laypersons waited in the Ho Chi Minh airport to welcome Gyalwai Nyugu with the most warming heart and lots of flowers. After waiting in the airport for about 2 hours, they finally found Gyalwai Nyugu and his followers appeared at the exit. Such an honoured welcoming ceremony was not expected for Gyalwai Nyugu. He was a bit tired after the flight as at that time, as he had been very sick before and stayed in hospital for days. But when he saw the honour guard, he put on his cassock, and gently walked towards people with his mostly warm and handsome smile.

It was arranged for them to stay in a very good and clean hotel that is located in the centre of the city. After a short break, the dinner was arranged. During dinner, the organizers discussed the schedule of the visit. The schedule ran smoothly throughout the two-week visit.

gn-viet-3Gyalwai Nyugu conducted a series of lectures at Ho Chi Minh, Da Lat, and Binh duong respectively. The teachings were aimed for both ordained sangha and lay people. To show their highest respects to Rinpoche, before every lecture, Gyalwai Nyugu was formally received with the highest etiquette in the Buddhist world, with honour guards, baldachin and flowers. The public teachings were arranged in the shrine hall at different temples. More than 500 people, including sangha members and laypersons, attended his lectures. Often, the shrine hall was full with people. A lot of people had to sit outside and listen to him by means of the loudspeakers. Some of the listeners travelled far distances to attend his public teachings. Around 13 of his students from Singapore, Hong Kong and China made their way to Vietnam to meet Rinpoche and participate in his teachings there.

gn-viet-4There were two translators, one monk and one nun that helped translating directly from Chinese to Vietnamese. Both of them had lived in China and Taiwan, and studied Chinese language and culture for years.

Gyalwai Nyugu’s teaching was very interesting. He has such wisdom that when he looked into his audience’s eyes, and at their faces, he would know what they were expecting, what kinds of troubles and confusions they have in their life. Therefore, he could easily adapt his talk to people’s need without even asking. His talk is combined with a lot of true stories and is full of humour. His speech always gave people the inspiration to think and to understand the life in another way. The audience highly appreciated his talk, and they even followed him to different temples in order to listen to him again.

gn-viet-5The contents of his speech covered a broad scope that can be interesting for any types of people. He taught that, one should not build own happiness above other’s painfulness; we should try to do one good thing for society per day, such as helping poor people and orphans, and not cheat on each other. Love should not be superficial. He also talked about how to build harmony in family life and within society. In his speech, Gyalwai Nyugu told from Buddhism’s perspective, the importance it is to have communication with each other, and helping one another to go through the pains we experience in life and to share happiness amongst each other. He also spoke about the importance to respect each other, other cultures and other religions. Because all the cultures and religions have got one thing in common, that is compassion. The other topics, such as the foundation of Dharma Practice and related topics were also included in his teaching.

Just a few days before his visit to Vietnam, Gyalwai Nyugu was giving intensive lectures in the Northern part of China for over a month. From deep winter climate of Northern China, to the hot and humid tropic area, his body could not adapt to the huge environmental change. He had intensive stomach ache and back pain, which are the illnesses that he had suffered from for a long time. The weather in Vietnam was too hot and humid for him as grew up in Tibet, the Land of Snow. He could not eat much, so every day was not easy for him physically. His followers had begged him to take rest and shorten the visit schedule, so he could go back to China to see the doctor. But he refused. He said: “My bodhichitta is not enough, I need to continue, and I will do my best to follow the schedule.”

gn-viet-6In the morning of March 12, during breakfast, Gyalwai Nyugu learnt about the tragic accident, where both earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. When he saw the pictures on TV, he asked his translator what had happened. After hearing the details of the catastrophe of the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan, he stopped eating immediately, and prayed for the survival of the people affected by the disaster. He also requested all his followers to pray together with him. Before beginning his teaching on the following day, he sat, silently praying repeatedly for the people in Japan.

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After the teaching, Rinpoche led the animal release ceremony and prayed saying, “Just like travellers releasing the heavy luggage that they have carried, or like cutting the rope that binds bales of straw, let the pain of the hearts from this catastrophe be released, like birds flying from their cages and travel towards freedom and paradise.” Not only did Rinpoche make his most sincere dedication prayers for the victims during the earthquake, but also he made donations through the Buddhist Charitable Organization in Vietnam to help the victims.

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During his stay, Rinpoche made time to visit the charitable school at Sung Duc Pagoda. More than 400 pupils and students were very happy to see Rinpoche again and received presents from him. Rinpoche visited them during his first trip to Vietnam. He said, “I gave you my word that I will come to see you again. So now I am here to meet you. I keep my promise and will help you continuously.”
At the farewell dinner on the March 20, Gyalwai Nyugu sang an aspiration prayer that was made by Buddha Shakyamuni when he engaged in the bodhisattva path. Many disciples, Singaporeans and Vietnamese were moved to tears.

One small incident happened in the temple that was quite interesting. Rinpoche noticed one duck strolling in the temple after his teaching. This duck looks quite unique. The translator then told Rinpoche that when this duck was very little, people bought it to save its life. Many places did not accept it, and it was brought to this temple, where it was being brought up. One special scenario is that the duck will knock on the door of every Sangha’s room in the morning to wake them up, if it was not answered, it will knock on the door until the nun comes out. Rinpoche laughed and said that it must be due to the compassion of the sangha that even a duck has developed some wisdom of awareness.

gn-viet-9Gyalwai Nyugu was left with a very good impression from this visit. The natural environment is very good and the air is much cleaner compared with China, even though the economical development is not as fast as in China. People have got very good education. They are very calm and relaxed. The Buddhism education is very popular and people truly understand Science and Buddhism.

Gyalwai Nyugu left Vietnam on March 21. In the airport, the Master of Sung Duc Pagoda said to Rinpoche, even though it was only a 14-days visit, she felt that they were old friends. People here loved him very much and wished him to come back in the future. Rinpoche also said that people in Vietnam are interested in learning new things, and have high respect for Buddhism. The situation is similar to Tibet, which made him very happy. He believed that he might come back here often.

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