Basic Hoa Hao Buddhist Teachings
The doctrine of Hoa Hao Buddhism, as taught by the Venerable Master Huynh Phu So, is a reformation of the religion founded by Gautamal Sakymuni Buddha c. 530 B.C. Hoa Hao Buddhism is a return to the essence of Buddhist thought, with a focus on the individual human being: our relationship with the universe; ore responsibilities - to ourselves, our family, our community, our nation, and mankind.
The way of the Buddha is the "Middle Path" between excessive Luxury and Asceticism. This path is centered on the Four Noble Truths:
- - Suffering: Human existence caught up in the cycle of rebirth;
- - Causation of suffering: human attachment to desire;
- - Cessation of suffering: escape from the cycle;
- - The Eightfold Path: right views, right intentions, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
In addition to the Four Noble Truths, Venerable Master Huynh Phu So has emphasized the four debts of gratitude:
- - Thankfulness to our Ancestors and Parents
- - Thankfulness to our Country
- - Thankfulness to the Three Treasures: Buddha, Buddha's Teachings, and the Priesthood.
- - Thankfulness to our fellow countrymen and to mankind.
Hoa Hao Buddhism is a "Buddhism of the people." Its concerns are for the common person who has a family, work everyday responsibilities. It is a religion whose primary place of practice is at home, with the community church a supplemental support. Hoa Hao Buddhism is a "pocket-book Buddhism" meant to be always carried with you. Venerable Master Huynh expressed this thus "Our religion stems much more from internal faith than from a pompous appearance. It is better to pray with a pure heart before the family alter than to perform gaudy ceremonies in a pagoda, clad in the robes of an unworthy bonze."
The Hoa Hao Buddhist strives for liberation from samsara, the cycle of rebirth, by sublimation of self in service to other living creatures. If he is fortunate, he will share his good fortune with those less fortunate than he. As a responsible citizen, he helps his community be a better place to live in. As a parent, he nurtures his children with love.
The essence of Hoa Hao Buddhist worship is simplicity and purity. Fresh water, flowers, and incense are the offerings employed, on an altar covered with brown cloth, brown being the association of all colors and thus symbolizing a harmony of mankind. Upon this is placed a picture of Venerable Master Huynh, and a statue of Buddha may also be placed. Worship is made in the morning and in the evening; the first and fifteenth of each lunar month are considered holy days and are specially commemorated.
Hoa Hao Buddhism differs from other Buddhist variations by the reforming characteristics instituted by the Venerable Master Huynh Phu So. He taught that Buddhism should not only be preached in pagodas and temples, but should be practiced at home by the family. Since not all of us can withdraw from the world to become monks, we should lead our normal lives in normal attire, yet follow and practice the way of Buddha. He modernized ritual by discarding futile rites and practices, stressing the essence of Buddha's teachings to facilitate our self-improvement in order to evolve to a higher plane of existence.
Hoa Hao Buddhism, a synthesis of the essences of the teaching of Buddha, Master Phat Thay Tay-An and the Venerable Master Huynh Phu So, humbly offers itself as harmonious living, and enlightenment for all peoples, from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds.
Forward Message from Prophet Huynh Phu So
The French oppressive policy of religious persecution has kept me from being with you for five long years, thus preventing me from clearly exposing to you the line of my faith.
It was only the coercive force that divided us from each other. There were, however, many disciples who remained deeply faithful to our religion. Nevertheless, recently some people misunderstood it and did not comply to moral teachings. They acted against the doctrine of mercy and altruism and the nobleness of Buddhism. Hence, the reason for this booklet to be published. I, therefore, hope that from now on the believers of our religion will think over the outline herein given and will behave according to the prescribed rules to avoid regretful incidents and to preserve the honor of Buddhism. Only then shall we show real gratitude to our master Sakyamuni - the Creator of Buddhism - who is leading mankind in the search for Deliverance.
Venerable Master HUYNH PHU SO