Following the dharma-teaching tradition of previous patriarchies and great masters of our Buddhist sect through many generations in our homeland of Vietnam, the residing monks of Dong Hung Temple in Virginia Beach (aka Buddhist Education Center of America) also want to bring the Dharma to the public in general, and particularly, to the residents of this Hampton Road locality.
Dong Hung Temple of Virginia Beach was established by the Most Venerable Thich Thong Kinh in 1998, who came to America as a refugee after the fall of Saigon. It is named after the same well-known Dong Hung Temple that is located (and still active) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was there that the young monks of Virginian Dong Hung temple entered the monkhood at their very tender age, studied their Buddhist doctrine and chanting, earned their full ordination, and practiced their spiritual calling until migrating to the United States and becoming full-time residents in Virginia. The term “Dong Hung” means “propagating and spreading the Buddha’s teaching, as well as enhancing and beautifying our Eastern traditions and ethics.”
Master Ven. Thich Thong Kinh
In the beginning, Virginian Dong Hung Temple was created out of the spiritual need of the Vietnamese community residing in Virginia Beach and its surrounding areas. But since 2005, the need to reach out to the American Buddhist followers necessitates bringing younger generation of monks from our motherland. First came Thich Chuc Do and Thich Chuc Thanh. Then Thich Chuc Hoi was also invited over later. The three younger monks are more proficient in the English language and are able to facilitate and provide wider and more enriched activities for English-speaking individuals with interest in learning about Buddhism.
Ven. Thich Chuc Hoi, Thich Chuc Do, Thich Chuc Thanh
These English-only activities include: basic and regular classes teaching the Dharma, chanting and meditation sessions, one or two-day retreats, etc… The monks also provide some counseling and teaching for young college students of ODU, CNU, Regent University, Virginia Wesleyan College, and TCC, and various high school in the areas.
There were also some inter-religious activities, in the form of sharing knowledge or question-and-answer sessions with many local Catholic and Baptist churches in the vicinity.
A few times during the past years, the monks were also invited to perform chanting prayers before certain meetings of the Virginia Beach City Council, as well as other peace-initiative assemblies collaboratively organized by inter-religious or social/political groups.
Dong Hung Temple of Virginia Beach is now having a small group of “regular” American attendees who meet weekly for numerous activities entirely conducted in English. Many of whom have dedicated fully and have taken their Buddhist precepts and refuges.
Walking meditation at Sandbrige Beach
Above are some of the regular religious activities at Dong Hung Temple. At times, Dong Hung temple also organizes out-of-town trips for its members to visit other temples, participate in retreats, and to attend dharma-talks given by well-venerated Masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Other non-religious endeavors conducted by the monks and lay followers of the temple include charitable, humanitarian and philanthropic deeds to aid the sick, the poor, the elder lies, the orphans, and the less fortunate people suffering from catastrophic disasters and natural calamities.
Listed below are regular on-going activities of Dong Hung Temple:
- 8:00 am - 9:00 am: Public service in English
- 10:30am to 12:00 noon: Vietnamese chanting and Dharma talk (with English translation)
- 7:30 pm - 8.30 pm: Dhamma Class by topic.
- 7:00pm to 9:00pm: English chanting, meditation, and Dharma discussions
- 8:00pm to 9:00pm: Recitation of the Great Compassion Heart Dharani (Chu Dai Bi)
Please contact the monks at 757-689-3408 for further questions and inquiries. Or visit the Temple’s website at www.buddhistedu.org for more information, and direction to the temple.