Lê Mạnh Thát: Zen Master Chân Đạo Chánh Thống (Translated and annotated by Ðạo Sinh)

ZEN MASTER CHÂN ĐẠO CHÁNH THỐNG
By LÊ MẠNH THÁT
Translated and annotated by ÐẠO SINH
ISBN: 978-0-359-44710-7
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Copyright © 2019 by Lotus Media and Dao Sinh.

 


In the years that followed 1941 he might write some poems to present his view and emotions about contemporary political events; yet, probably on account of their political content they were not written down in his anthology. Not until 1946, when Zen Master Đôn Hậu began undertaking Abbot of the Linh Mụ Temple, he wrote a poem to record his visit to him.

Having been evacuated from Huế, he returned in 1948 and visited some temples, of which only the Quốc Ân Patriarchal Temple and the Từ Hiếu Patriarchal Temple were mentioned in the Thủy Nguyệt Tòng Sao. In 1949 at the passing away of Zen Master Giác Bổn he wrote a poem in memory of him; and in a great ordination organized at the Báo Quốc Temple for the purpose of stabilizing the Buddhist Order he, in his service as a secretary, composed a writing in the style of phú to celebrate this great event.

In 1951 a great congress was held to discuss the unification of the individual Buddhist Studies Associations across the country, of which the result was the birth of the General Association of Vietnam Buddhism. Zen Master Chân Đạo had participated in and written poems to congratulate the congress on its success. A year later during a congress held in the North to discuss the unification of the Buddhist Monastic Order, he wrote a poem to congratulate Zen Master Tuệ Tạng on his appointment as Head of the Saṃgha. After that he went on with his teaching. In 1958 he was invited to the Thập Tháp Temple in Bình Định to teach at a course in Buddhist teachings, whose students were, later, Zen Master Khế Châu, Zen Master Mật Hạnh, and so on.

On the 22nd of the 12th month of Đinh Mùi, i.e., January 21st, 1968 he passed away. His śarīra was enshrined in a stūpa just in the grounds of the Quy Thiện Temple. A student of his wrote a ‘couplet in parallelism’:

Thầy đã đi rồi, bể Thích rừng Nho trông vắng vẻ;
Con còn ở lại, kẻ tăng người tục thấy bơ vơ.

You have passed away, Master. How deserted the Buddhist ocean and the Confucian forest appear!
Your students, both monks and laymen, are gathering here. How desolate we feel!

And another one by Zen Master Tâm Như Đạo Giám Trí Thủ is cited below as a conclusion of our writing about Zen Master Chân Đạo’s life – a life that was totally devoted to the cause of education and literature for both Buddhism and nation.

昔 年 法 乳 同 沾 誓海 者 曾 盟 鐵 石
今 日 曇 花 先 落 禪 林 誰 是 耐 風 霜

Of old we drank Dharma-milk together, arousing firm resolutions in the ocean of vow.
At your passing away as the first fallen udumbara[1] flower, who in the Zen forest is now able to suffer ‘fog and wind’?

—————————–

[1] Skt.; a tree that is said to blossom only once every three thousand years. Therefore, it is often used as an illustration of how hard it is to come in contact with Buddhist teachings as well as to be born in the time of a buddha.

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