28 DAYS: ADVENTURES FOR THE SOUL.
The Spiritual Army that is Vietnam.
Chinese New Year will be arriving this weekend and Vietnam is as ready for the spiritual festivities as it’ll ever be!
In celebration of the culture’s beliefs, Day 4 was spent learning about the richness of the spiritual practices of the Viet culture. We visited the One Pillar Pagoda and the Tran Quoc Buddhist pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and Vietnam’s first university “The Temple of Literature” (dedicated to Confucius) as well as a Vietnamese ethnic groups exhibition. Pure magic!
Deeply influenced by Buddhism from both China and India, Buddhism is the main religion practiced here in Vietnam.
From what I noticed, symbolism is crucial in identifying Vietnamese religious principles.
Heaven, human and hell are the three significant symbols in Vietnamese Buddhist spirituality. Heaven signifies good karma. Human represents the humanity within us all. Hell is the reincarnation and passage through the next life.
It was said that in the 10th century, an Emperor visited Hanoi, “the city in the river”. He claimed to have seen a dragon ascending out of the river. Thus, he named Hanoi “Thanh Long” which means “Ascending Dragon” in Vietnamese and dubbed it the capital city.
From this myth, the four cornerstones of Vietnamese values and spirituality were built:
The Dragon symbolises power. The Tortoise, longevity and wisdom. The Phoenix is all about beauty and the Unicorn represents good and evil.
All of this was in consideration of building a spiritual army.
Then, there’s Buddhist Rituals that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. They are noted as passports for the soul to journey back to ancestral times. The Vietnamese had to go through three days with three levels of ritualistic rites. It was obligatory for men at their coming-of-age. Men were given their ranks in traditional society according to how well they succeeded in these rites of passage.
The ritual challenges were education-based. The rites represented Taoism, Buddhism and Yaoism.
This experience reminded me that within each of us there is a heaven, a human and a hell. It’s what you choose to value that will pave the way for your presence in the world.
I am deeply thankful to have the opportunity to be exposed to such deep and meaningful experiences.
I hope what I shared with you can stand as a little snapshot into the world of Vietnamese spiritual practices.