No matter what environment we live in, what form we use, what means of living we use, we must know that we are monastics with “heavy shape”.
10 years ago, when doing the master’s thesis topic “The adaptability of monks and nuns in the monastic life in urban areas”, we had the opportunity to interview and consult the nun Thich Nu Nhu Duc – Lecturer. Lecturer in Law, Vietnam Buddhist Academy in Ho Chi Minh City (from 2005 and earlier), Abbot of Duoc Su Pagoda (Binh Thanh District), on the ability of nuns to adapt to modern means of living. in HCMC.
The chief nun shared frankly and sincerely about the above issue. We have recorded and extracted this conversation, please send it to the monks and nuns, good friends near and far.
Reporter: Dear nun, according to the nun, is the religious life of the nuns now much different from the period of study of the previous nuns (the period before 1986)?
– Now, nuns have much better conditions for cultivation than in our time, and their concept of cultivation is also different. In the past, we often thought that going to school was simply learning to cultivate, learning to gain knowledge to apply in our monastic life, not going to school to get this or that degree. But now, I see some young nuns who are not. Their purpose of study is to learn to get one degree after another, study a lot but spend too little time focusing on research, practice and transformation, so it easily leads to self-grasping, inappropriate behavior. standards affecting collective life, nuns.
Reporter: According to the nun, can you tell me about some factors that affect such behavior and concept of life?
– Actually, if we observe closely, we can easily realize that there are 2 main factors that directly or indirectly affect the behavior, concept of study and practice of the current nuns, that is external (society) and internal (monastic life, individual self).
When we have clearly identified these two influencing factors, in our opinion, when we find out that disciples and nuns in our temple have encountered such a deviation in the Zen life, we should not put all the blame on them. all mistakes and blame themselves for them, and also do not be too strict, blame too much for what happened. Because the social life of each period and each stage develops differently, young monks and nuns also have to adapt to the living environment by chance, sometimes their behavior and concept of practice are rejected by others. Others consider it to be a mistake or standard deviation.
We often say, we cultivators are human too, sometimes we blame each other and blame each other. From the perspective of leaders, abbots, and monks, if we work hard to find the negative factors that change the lives of our disciples and nuns, we have a more tolerant view, we shouldn’t. put all the blame on themselves.
We also understand that religion and life cannot be separated, once the economy and society develop, other areas will also be affected (positively and negatively). Therefore, if we want to adjust the behavior, or the concept of nuns’ cultivation according to the traditional point of view, we must fully understand the cause-and-effect relationships of internal and external factors. find a common voice in religious life, and offer appropriate educational methods.
Reporter: Currently, has the life of nuns and nuns here changed compared to before?
– When we were with the nuns and nuns at this Pharmacy Nun, life, everything was quite simple. We don’t ride a honda that explodes like that, now, one each; Also, in the past, we didn’t use phones, computers, or the Internet… but now we have everything. That is the most obvious change, which our generation was very confused at first, but gradually had to face, accept and find solutions to educate nuns accordingly.
Before, here, all the nuns used landline phones for listening and calling. But when information technology developed, the hand-held phone was born, everything began to change. Some of them started to have their own phones. I remember at that time, when I found out that any of them were using a cell phone, I was immediately reprimanded, and definitely not allowed to use it. Even at night, we go to check the rooms and applications, if we see any application with a light on when using the phone to text, it will be confiscated (but after processing, then return it).
Later, when I saw the utility of a cell phone to quickly communicate with a large group of several hundred people, I accepted it for use, but always reminded me: “You must use it in the right place. , at the right time, don’t let bad things happen, people will judge their cultivators.”
In fact, when there was a new cell phone, everyone liked its convenience. But over time, I observed and discovered, they use the phone but are very miserly, only when they have a job, they dare to call, but “no electricity” for someone, they are afraid of spending money, which shows The “cancellations” (the way to address the nuns in the temple) are also aware of using the phone when necessary.
We think that, once modern material means appear, people’s lives will more or less change in different directions and levels? So the problem here, we as practitioners need to face and accept what has been and is happening in this world, which is most evident in the achievements of science and technology. For modern technological devices, we need to direct young nuns to approach and use it to what extent. Orienting children to be aware of audio-visual devices (phones, computers, tablets, cameras, MP3, MP4) … have an impact on the individual’s religious life, from there will guide the nuns to use modern means of living in accordance with the purpose of study.
Before that, to be honest, I did not agree with the nuns in this temple to use computers, but due to the study needs of those “cancellations”, as well as related to the needs of Buddhist work, I had to just use. But I always pay attention to reminding: “The children use the computer to do the right things and work needs, otherwise it is the cause that leads to troubles later on.”
Reporter: So what is the role of the management and education of nuns and the sense of responsibility of the head, would you like to discuss more?
– At this temple, when we receive nuns and monks, we usually have to have a letter of introduction and a proper brocade sent from the ancestor. If in the process of sending disciples to enter them, the presence of the Master Teacher makes us even more confident, knowing where the origin of that nun is and how the Patriarch is.
We also often remind, after entering them, you need to be in harmony, diligent, not too indulgent, should not be greedy, angry, and delusional. If there is something wrong, it must be resolved in harmony, and if it cannot be resolved, it must be reported to the ladies and gentlemen of the management board. And when anyone commits a mistake related to the collective, the personality value of the monastic, we are required to mention his name at the Way so that the public knows his mistake, and at the same time let others freely. My teeth do not make the same mistake. If you have made a mistake, you must repent before them by bowing to the road (Depending on the severity of the offense, if it’s light, do one, two, or three times; if it’s serious, do one month.)
Moreover, the travel is also taken care of and arranged flexibly by us. In the past, in a month, we could only go out once or twice, but when we went out, we had to have an “outbound certificate”. And now, if you want to go to have Buddhist work, if you think it’s reasonable and have a clear purpose, we also agree to go. But note that when you go, you must ask for permission first and tell the truth about the destination, and what time you return (If it is not reasonable, I will not agree and use advice.)
In fact, I’ve been here since 1959, until 2000, when Sister Nhu Hoa passed away, we brothers took over the work left behind by our predecessors. Medicine Su Pagoda was formerly a nun school, so the life of nuns here always takes the collective spirit as a priority. We and my fellow students told each other that, when we receive them, we have to be responsible, educate and take care of them so that they can rest assured, firmly cultivate and study well. . With that sense of responsibility, it will make them change their thinking and concept of living in a one-on-one style to blend in with the masses, quickly adapting to the monastic life in the city.
I think, with the strong influence of current economic, social, cultural and social factors, the nuns’ monastic life will certainly have some differences with our generation. but that’s just a change in the way of life, expressed in terms of external appearance. As for the core of inner life, posture and behavior according to the old rules of meditation, we and you must continue to inherit, protect, educate and learn from each other.
Reporter: What about preserving traditional values in Zen life?
– In order to keep the traditional Buddhist values, from the perspective of the abbot, to manage the community, I think that, no matter what era, whether we are old or young monastics, we must know how to adhere to life. Zen subjects, keeping the precepts according to the Buddha’s teachings, must always have a high sense of responsibility and commitment to their intention to leave home and practice. Therefore, there are things we change to update with the times to bring Buddhism closer to the world, but we also have to be selective and consistent with the nuns…