|Sangha History and Profile: Lotus
Bud Sangha, Sydney
late 1986, Thay was invited by the Buddhist
Peace Felloship to lead retreats in Australia.
During his visit in Sydney, the Vietnamese
community had a rare opportunity to enjoy
mindfulness practice with him. During that
five-day retreat, many of us tasted true
peace and joy for the first time. The practices
Thay offered were like beautiful fresh air
gently blowing over our community, and he
also chose the name of our Sangha. He mentioned
that there was Plum Village in France and
Maple Village in Canada, but that the name
"Eucalyptus Village" did not sound
right in Vietnamese. He invited us to think
of another name. At that time, some of us
did not have any idea about building a Sangha
or forming a practice centre. One day Mai
and Nguyen visited Thay while he was giving
a retreat south of Sydney. They were invited
to have lunch with him, followed by a walking
meditation. Returning from the walk, he
told them, with a beautiful soft smile,
that he had found a name fo our Sangha:
Lang Sen Bup or Lotus Buds Village. He explained
that every time we joined our palms together
to greet one another, a lotus would be there.
Since there would be many of us together,
there would be many lotuses. Mai and Nguyen
bowed deeply to show their gratitude.
Thay left Australia, a number of us who
had been to the retreat decided to continue
the practice. We met once a month and each
family hosted events for the next year.
We were touched when we received a parcel
from Thay containing a mokyu and a big bell.
During the initial stage of searching for
a suitable place, Thay paid a brief visit
to the land. We spent eight months looking
at various places and finally settled on
the first piece of land we had inspected
with Thay. Lotus Buds acquired three pieces
of adjoining land with a total of 100 acres
about 170km northwest of Sydney. It has
beautiful big rocks, old trees, birds, kangaroos,
foxes, rabbits, and many other wild animals.
We took walks to the top of the mountain
to watch the sunsets, feeling as though
we were also sitting at the Gridhrakuta
Mountain in India.
In early 1989, with a small budget, we
started to build a meditation hall. Thay
seemed to know through past experience that
if one were to start with big plans and
cling to a dream place, one might never
have the opportunity to put the Dharma into
practice. We remembered his advice: "You
can start with a shed as a temporary meditation
hall". The hall was the former Phap
Bao Temple, recycled with the help of many
friends, children, and Tony Coote, an architect
from the Sydney Zen Centre. Feelings of
togetherness during the hard labour time
brought us closer, and it was a period of
great joy and peace. We continued regular
sitting meditation early in the morning
and at night throughtout our construction
period. We rejoiced at the simple but adequate
facilities of the land, using only rain
water, gas, and candles or kerosene lamps
for everyday activities. For the quarterly
retreats, we camped outside. Since there
are no sleeping accomodations, we also hold
retreats elsewhere for non-members. The
place is simple and yet has witnessed several
precepts transmissions ceremonies.
Although Thay has not been able to visit
Australia since 1986, we feel blessed to
have had monks and nuns from Plum Village
lead retreats during the past six years,
and to hear tapes from Plum Village which
strengthen our practice. In 1988 we had
two Tiep Hien members. Now there are 19
of us, including two Dharma teachers.
Lotus Buds continues to hold monthly Days
of Mindfulness. Since 1992, more Australians
have been coming, inspiring us to revise
our programme for participants from both
cultures. We practice sitting, walking,
and eating together but split into two streams
for the Dharma talks and discussions. We
feel blessed and happy to have two young
Australian children currently practicing
regularly with the Sangha. As parents, we
feel deep gratitude to Thay for being so
interested in young people's activities
and for encouraging open communication within
families and teaching reconciliation techniques.
We also have regular sutra study nights
in Vietnamese and English in different suburban
areas. We recite the Mindfulness Trainings
monthly, rotating among member's homes in
Sydney. Quarterly retreats are held on the
Lotus Buds land. Dharma teachers Khanh Le
Van, backed up by Dan and Lam, teaches meditation
weekly at the Buddhist Library downtown.
During the last two years, a few brothers
and sisters of the German, English, and
Italian Sanghas have joined us for meditation
while visiting Sydney.
Some of us feel the need to have our own
centre in the city, but until conditions
are more favourable, we continue to practice
happily as is. We also raise funds for the
rejuvenation program in Vietnam, work with
destitute young people, and distribute Thay's
books and tapes throughout Australia. For
the past year, we have enjoyed transcribing
and editing Thay's Dharma talks.
If you plan to travel Down Under, you are
most welcome to contact us. Even though
thousands of kilometres separate us, we
are close in spirit.
|About the Lieu Quan School of
Note: If you received th Five Precepts from
Thay Nhat Hanh, your Dharma name, if you
asked to receive one, begins with the word
Tam, "Mind" or "Heart",
and you belong to the ninth generation of
the Lieu Quan School of Zen, and the forty-third
generation of the Lin Chi (Japanese: Rinzai)
school of Zen. Note that in the verse in
the last paragraph of this essay, the ninth
character is Tam (Mind or Heart).
Master Lieu Quan was born in the village
of Bac Ma, in the Phu Yen province, in Vietnam,
in 1670. He lost his mother at the age of
six. His father used to bring him to the
Hoi Ton Temple, where he met the abbot,
Te Vien. At the age of ten, he was accepted
in the temple as a novice. He studied with
Te Vien for nine years.
When Master Te Vien passes away, Lieu Quan
went to th far away province of Thuan Hoa
(now Hue) to study with the Master Giac
Phong at the Thien Tho Temple, now called
Bao Quoc. One year later when he received
news that his father was sick, he asked
permission to go back to his village where
he worked as a logger to support his father.
Four years later, his father died and he
nt back to study and practice at Thien Tho
Temple. He was ordainedas a bhiksu in 1697
at the age of twenty-seven.
1702, he met Master Tu Dung and began to
study with him at the An Tong Temple in
Thua Thien. For five years, he was given
the Cong an: "All dharmas return to
the one. Where will the one return to?"
In 1708, he went back to his teacher. Master
Tu Dung told him:
Alone let yourself go down
to the abyss.
The only way to be reborn is to die.
Who could blame you after that?
Lieu Quan clapped his hands and laughed.
Tu Dung said: "Note ripe yet".
Lieu Quan tried once more: "The hammer
is iron itself". Tu Dung shook his
head. Lieu Quan went back to his cell. The
next day, Tu Dung was passing by Lieu Quan's
cell and called out to him: "Our conversation
of yesterday is not finished yet. Tell me
Lieu Quan replied, "If i had know
that the lamp is fire itself, then the meal
could have been ready a long time ago."
Master Tu was delighted by this reply.
Lieu Quan was thirty-eight when he received
this transmission and set up the Thien Tong
Meditation Centre. He allowed the Thien
Tong Centre to be built by his students
at the foot of the Ngu Binh Mountain. Lord
Nguyen Phuc Khoat used to come to this centre
to practice. In the pyears 1733-1735, four
national ceremonies of ordination were organised
in the Thua Thien province over which Master
Lieu Quan presided. The number of his disciples
were as many as 4000. In 1740, he presided
over an ordination at the Long Hoa Center
and in 1742, at another one organised at
the Vien Thong Center. Practice centers
of the Lieu Quan School were set up everywhere
in the country. The Phu Ye province is one
of the strong holds of the school, along
with the Hoi Tong, Co Lam, and Bao Tinh
On the morning of the twenty-first day
ofthe eleventh month of the lunar calendar,
1742, Master Lieu Quan asked his attendant
to bring him a pen and a piece of paper.
He wrote this gatha:
During the seventy or more
I have been in this world.
Form and Emptiness have always been the
Today, all vows fulfilled.
I am going back to my home.
Do not tire yourselves out asking questions
concerning schools and patriarchs.
After finishing the gatha,the Master sat
quietly drinking his tea. Monks living at
the center came to see him. Some of the
monks cried. Lieu Quan said, "Please
do not cry! Even Buddhas have to enter nirvana.
My coming and going is clear. There is nothing
to be sorrowful about." The monks stopped
crying. He asked, "Has the mui hour
(from 1-3pm) come?" People said, "Yes."
Lieu Quan said:
The great Way of Reality
is the pure ocean of the true nature.
The source of Mind
has penetrated everywhere.
From the roots of virtue
springs the tradition of compassion.
Vinaya, samadhi, and prajna --
the nature and function of all three is
The fruit of transcendent wisdom
can be realised by being wonderfully together.
Maintain and transmit the wonderful principle
in order to make known the true teaching!
For the realisation of true emptiness
to be possible,
wisdom and action have to arise together.