by Phap Trung
The Dong Hung Temple is a religious institution dedicated to serving followers of the Mahayana tradition of Zen Buddhist practiced in Vietnam.
This Zen sect is based mostly on meditation, applying the strict rules and discipline(Sila and vinaya) as principles, and using the Pure Land tradition (Sukha’ vati), together with meditation practice, as the foundation for cultivating one’s virtue and wisdom.
Buddhism was started with Sakyamuni Buddha (624-548 BC). Buddha reached Nirvana, and ended his 49 years teaching Buddhism to the people of India and surrounding nations at that time. His Great Disciples continued to propagate Buddhism to China and many other countries in Asia. Bodhidharma, the 28th generation descendant of Buddha, and the First Zen Patriarch, brought Zen Buddhism from India to China in 520 AD. From Bodhidharma, Zen Buddhism continued to be passed down during several more generations to a Descendant named th parts of Vietnam.
Ven. Minh Hai Phap Bao developed the Lam Te Chuc Thanh tradition, starting at the first temple in Hoi An, Vietnam named Chuc Thanh Temple, and became the First Patriarch of this Vietnamese tradition. This tradition eventually spread out all over the Middle and South parts of Vietnam.
In 1934, The Most Venerable Thich Hanh Tru (1904-1984) who was the 9th generation in the Lam Te Chuc Thanh tradition helped propagating this Zen sect in the south of Vietnam, with the help of several other Highly Venerable Elders, who also migrated to the South of Vietnam around the same time. He has established many temples, including To Dinh Dong Hung, one of the representative temples of Lam Te Chuc Thanh, where he lived, practiced his faith, and passed away at the age of 80.
In 1994, The Reverend Thich Thong Kinh (1958-present), one of the 10th generation descendants of Lam Te Chuc Thanh tradition, has brought this Zen sect to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. There, in 1998, when the Vietnamese community of Virginia Beach saw the need to start a Buddhist temple of their own, they and Master Thich Thong Kinh began the quest to create one. The Master became the Abbot and named his temple after the Ancestral Temple of Dong Hung where he grew up spiritually and took his vow to monkshood. Even though Dong Hung Temple serves mostly the Vietnamese Congregation, it is the vision of the Monks to reach out to the Americans as well, and the temple now has a small regular group of Americans attending the temple in chanting, meditating, and studying the Buddha’s teachings.
Dong Hung, literally means “to spiritually maintain and strengthen the traditional teachings of the East”, to make all the distinguished eastern teachings more prosperous, in which Buddhism is an unequivocal part.
Resedent monk at Dong Hung Temple