DHARMA BROTHER PHÁP THANH’S HEART LETTER
WRITTEN AND READ FOR THE DAY OF ORDINATION
On the occasion of Vesak Day,
Buddhist Calendar 2565 on June 6, 2021
Respectfully Dear the Sangha and Thầy Trừng Sỹ
In Buddhism, I have learned that we incarnate endlessly from Life To Life. I have also learned that in one incarnation we live many lives as well. In this present life, I have many things for many people. Most importantly, I have been a spiritual searcher, a Seeker. I came to Buddhism after delving deep into countless new, practical, and useful spiritual practices, after investigating multiple religions and philosophies, what I found was endless confusion, endless dead ends, and wrong paths, endless questions. I saw that many of these philosophies and practices found in other systems all did not make me happy and satisfied.
This is the common thread in all spiritual teachings. All this searching made me tired, though. When someone is weary of travel they seek refuge, a place of rest, and protection. In Buddhism, I found the strong spiritual refuge. In the Buddha I saw a bright example of him who eliminated suffering, found the Truth, the Dharma, and brought about true peace and happiness to living things and living beings all over the planet; in his teachings: the Dharma, I found a simplistic and practical path of which to attain the transformation of suffering and the acquisition of happiness in practice right in the present life; in the Sangha, I found a vast body of practitioners working together and supporting each other along the path of spiritual happiness.
I have always been a very introspective person, and one conclusion that I have come to while investigating my own life is that change is the only constant in the universe. Impermanence penetrates all things and all phenomena. Though I try to cling to every passing joy and pleasure, reject every discomfort and pain, what persists is change and impermanence. I realized that regardless if we live for an eternity or a single lifetime how we feel in the present moment, how we react to the here and now is what is most important. So I wish to use my time here and now to recognize and transform my suffering and to try to help everyone else transform suffering. When I come to Buddhism, my compassion and understanding have only grown more and more and the deepest desire of my heart has become to use this life to benefit as many living beings as possible.
In the Maha Parinibbana Sutta, just before the Buddha passed away, he said to his disciples, “Everything in the world is impermanent and changing. Make great efforts to cultivate and practice the buddha-dharma more and more, to bring authentic joy and happiness for yourself and for other people right here and right now in the present life. These are My ultimate teachings for you all.” This final teaching of Buddha rings in my mind and heart constantly and loudly. So my life has led me to this point, to become a novice practitioner, dedicate all my energies to cultivating the Dharma.
The final and key teachings of Buddha ring in my mind and heart constantly and loudly. So my Dharma learning and Dharma understanding have helped me reach the goals of this noble and ideal ordination. To become a novice practitioner, I am determined to dedicate all my energies to cultivating the Dharma and benefiting the many.
I was a Christian for a very long time and what I learned from that is to give one’s life for another is the ultimate act of love. So I take that mentality with me now on the path of Buddhist service and I dedicate my life to cultivating, nurturing, and developing compassion and love for all sentient beings so that they and we can live in joy and happiness right here and right now in the present life. Once I decided to take the three noble spiritual refuges and observe the ten mindfulness precepts, I have resolved to daily practice the Buddha Dharma. This decision has filled my heart with great joy and peace already. I have found great joy in discovering the right path of which to learn the practice of cultivating happiness for myself and others.
There is an old saying that goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Once I firmly resolve in myself to pursue the path of enlightenment, I have been met with the right teacher, I have been given the right teaching, a teaching that is simple, practical, yet deep and impactful. I am no longer weary and tired on my spiritual quest journey. I have been given a zeal and energy that only comes from genuine disciplined practice. My mind, heart, and my body now know peace.
The Buddha teaches that there are five powers or qualities conducive to enlightenment, they are right Faith, Energy, Mindfulness, Concentration, and Wisdom. What little knowledge I have attained of the Dharma has filled me with great faith in the practice, this faith gives me the energy necessary to pursue the path of enlightenment, and best of all I have a teacher and a sangha body here to help me cultivate Mindfulness, Concentration, and most of all Wisdom. So I vow Here and Now to use my efforts and Energies fully to cultivate the Dharma, not only for myself but for other sentient beings. I vow that every Joy and happiness that I obtain today I will share freely with others, that any knowledge and attainment that I gain I will perfect and offer freely to others, I vow that I will not squander this precious time and this precious gift of novice ordination, my life is now in service to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
May all beings be free from suffering and find peace, happiness, and great joy in Dharma learning, Dharma practice, Dharma understanding, Dharma joy, and Dharma happiness right here and right now in the present life.
Dharma Brother PHÁP THANH (Minh Đạo)
Some photos of the heart letter of making the vow of ordination written and read by Dharma Brother Pháp Thanh himself on Vesak Day: Buddhist Calendar 2565 – Normal Calendar 2021