Buddhism in Vietnam

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Growing up in a predominantly Vietnamese community, religion played an important part in identifying and bringing members of similar views together. It acts as a medium for guiding people through life, especially during times of confusion when some form of clarity is needed. Among the various beliefs in my community, Buddhism and Catholicism are the two main religious practices.

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I myself, identify with being a Christian in the Catholic denomination. Catholic beliefs revolve around the idea that Jesus is the son of God, the bible is the true word of God, baptism is essential for salvation, the Ten Commandments is a moral compass, and the Holy Trinity is an objective reality. The Catholic service comprise of a very organized system of mass that is unique to the religion itself. In contrast to other non-christian beliefs, Catholicism follows a very intricate pathway for achieving ultimate salvation and a seat in God’s Kingdom. As a Catholic, I am aware that there are many different religious perspectives outside of Christianity. Although there are observable differences in how people approach certain practices, all religions aim to reveal truths behind human action, thoughts, and emotions. I believe that there is no right or wrong way to worship God(s), but in order to live in peace with contrasting views surrounding us, we must be mindful of each other’s religious affiliations. To achieve this, my group and I (all Christian Catholics), decided to enlighten ourselves with the knowledge of a commonly practiced religion in our community: Buddhism. On Sunday, November 4, 2018, we made a visit to Ch??a B?? D?? for the 11:00 AM service. Ch??a B?? D?? is a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, situated in a secluded area of the woods, located on 4386 Lincoln St., New Orleans, LA 70131. The temple follows the practice of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, which focuses on the principles of Dharma and how to attain enlightenment.

Upon arrival, many attendees had already removed their shoes before setting foot in the temple. This gesture was out of respect for the temple because it symbolizes a place of cleanliness. Removing the shoes also encourages relaxation when people take their position on available empty matts and begin meditating before the service. The area filled quickly during entry, so we decided to stand towards the back of the temple to participate in the service from the background. Among us were regular attendees whom had stood beside us because the area was fairly crowded. These people were very welcoming, explaining to us what we should do during the service. At 11:00 AM, the service began when someone struck the gong. The sound of it signaled everyone to stand up. Two monks were summoned into the room shortly after, standing near the altar. Their arrival cued the congregation to kneel down on the matts/floor,

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