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A trip to Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery

Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery is nice place for fresh air, beautiful landscape and, especially, monks' preach about Zen.

Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery is situated in Tam Dao District's Dai Dinh Commune in Vinh Phuc Province. We got on the bus to pay a visit on one cold, foggy Sunday afternoon.

This was my first trip to this site, but many of my friends had been there and said it was a good place to come for the fresh air, beautiful landscape and, especially, listening to Buddhist nuns and monks’ preach about Zen.


The bus arrived at the monastery at 4pm. We were briefly introduced to the nuns and monks here and participated in the repentance service, which lasted for about thirty minutes. After the service, we took a short break to prepare for seated meditation, which lasted for one hour.

After an announcement that all mobile phones should be turned off in order not to disturb the quiet, we were briefly instructed on how to sit and breath during meditation. The nun told us that the point of meditation is to take the mind's focus away from the small concerns of daily life and instill a sense of peace and tranquility.


The next morning, we walked up the road lined one either side by pine trees to get back to the monastery, the smell of flowers drifting in the air.

There I was told that a usual day in the monastery starts at 3am, when nuns and monks wake up and practice seated meditation until 5am. After that comes breakfast. Then, each nun and monk does their assigned work. The work can be anything from gardening or planting trees, to collecting fire wood, teaching Buddhism, or monitoring construction works there. They have lunch at 11am, and then continue with their work. At 6pm, they gather together for the repentance service and have seated meditation from 7.30pm to 9pm. They spend the rest of the night time on studying Buddhism.


We were taken to the biggest hall in the monastery first to say our prayers. Then we took a tour around the monastery. There are many buildings scattered over the hills covered in pine forests. Houses for monks and nuns, houses for guests, a large library and exhibition area, etc., are all built in the same architectural styles which make the whole monastery appear resplendent.


We had a nice vegetarian lunch in the temple with rice, mushroom fried with vegetarian cuttlefish, vegetable soup and fried tofu. Everybody was required to stay quiet while eating (another rule of the zen monastery), which made me better enjoy more of the taste of the food.

In the afternoon, when we sat quietly in the big hall to listen to the nun speaking about patience, I learned a lesson on the meaning of this word. It helped me to understand a deeper meaning of the word. I have always understood it to mean being able to continue dong something, despite difficulty and not complaining. However, I now know that it means something more; being able to control or eliminate tendencies towards greed, anger, ignorance and accept difficulties while maintaining a positive attitude. I think this helped us all understand the world from a different perspective.


Buddhists are being guided around a nearby zen monastery called An Tam


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