Life Life

13/09/2018 - 07:54

"Taking time for mind relaxation is an indicator of living art"

Venerable Thich Tam Hanh, the master of Truc Lam - Bach Ma Monastery, said as such when we asked him about the issue of spiritual tourism and stories related to the Temple Stay tours that I would like to share with readers below.

Truc Lam - Bach Ma Monastery. Photo: TLTV

The provincial authorities have recently had the policy to boost the market of spiritual tourism. In your opinion, should this be a worthy cause?

I think anything that benefits the society and help to make people life better is worth doing. Hue is the city of temples, pagodas, tombs, historical cultural works and poetic landscapes. Its geographical shape with adjacent sea and mountain makes it a special site for spiritual tourism.

What is spirituality, Master?

Spirituality is the holy link between the mind and the body. When the reality of life vanishes, the human utmost innocence appears.

So, what is spiritual tourism?

Spiritual tourism is to take advantage of the scenery to support tourists to subdue the practical mind that is dominated by thinking too much about materialism. Temples, pagodas and tombs are relevant places to help liberate the mind from material practicality. Quiet forests, gentle streams and seas help us gain the balance. Yet it is more supernatural for some people to establish a holy link between the body and mind even when they are in the middle of the busy urban area. For this, it is broad to discuss spiritual tourism.

Venerable Thich Tam Hanh

What should spiritual tourism be organized?

Tourism is for relaxation. Spiritual tourism is manly for the relaxation of the mind. Those who take time to relax their mind have the art of living. Princess Huyen Tran Temple, Huyen Khong Son Thuong, Bach Ma National Park, Buddhist establishments such as Bach Van, Bao Quoc, Linh Mu and Tu Dam, as well as Truc Lam - Bach Ma Monastery are spiritual tourism destinations in Thua Thien Hue.

Developing spiritual tourism products requires organizers to be neutral and moderate. If it is too real, it is trivial; if too unreal, it’s hard for tourist to reach, and they will go impatient and give up. This is a matter of consideration at the start.

What about human factors in spiritual tourism products?

Before spiritual tourism is introduced to the market, we need to assess ourselves and consider whether we have the honor to welcome visitors or we pride in ourselves and need none. This spirit must be practiced first because it is easily and rapidly recognized by visitors. When we pick up the phone, for example, if we smile then the other will feel it. In a face-to-face service like spiritual tourism, the attitude is even more easily felt.

Venerable Thich Tam Hanh is giving a book to the interviewer

As you take your visit to the Monastery today, I, Tam Hanh, have none other than the enthusiasm to welcome you. You’ve felt it even when you sit in a quiet ordinary atmosphere. Let me put it in a brief way, an attitude of truthfulness and enthusiasm to visitors is a good starting point for all.

According to Korea Times, Temple Stay has currently become the most valuable cultural property of Korea. The Korean market of spiritual tours in 2017 increased by 26% compared to 2016. With the density of temples and pagodas in Thua Thien Hue, can and should monks and nuns organize tours for the locals and visitors to experience Zen life?

Experiencing Temple Stay in Korea

It is easy to understand your question but hard to answer. My point of view is that once monks and nuns allow everyone to come for the Zen life experience, they need to develop a strong will to go beyond the reality. Once going beyond the reality, their mind parts their body, so they only think of the good for people and life, that is, their commitment.

I should further explain that to monks like me, it makes no difference whether the service Temple Stay brings us a benefit of thousands of billion dongs or nothing at all. We work when it comes to us and then forget all about it. The monks are not allowed to like anything, nor are we allowed not to like anything.

If a travel company proposes to cooperate with Truc Lam - Bach Ma Monastery to organize spiritual tours for visitors, will you agree?

Let me read a poem instead of answering your question.

Quiet scenery, stable stay and relaxed mind,

Gentle breeze swept over the shades of conifers,

A Zen mat and a Buddhist bible under the tree,

Leisure life are two words of great value.

An idea occurs in your mind on reading the verses, that is, Tam Hanh is keen on being leisurely and carefree. You are perfectly right. Yet the relaxation (leisurely and carefree state) of a monk is associated with studies under a tree with “a Zen mat and a Buddhist bible”. It doesn’t mean that we stay idle (without meditation, working, studying and thinking). This is because idleness is the Achill’s heels of human beings and of oneself, and the mind will be damaged accordingly.

Truc Lam - Bach Ma Monastery has not yet offered the Temple Stay but the monks really do temple stay [smile].

My point of view regarding the organization of Temple Stay tours is that we’ll do our best to serve the people.

Thank you very much!

Interviewed by TA THI NGOC THAO

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