THE FIRST characteristic of Hoa Hao Buddhism lies in
the fact that from Buu Son Ky Huong to Hoa Hao, it has always been a peasant Buddhism, one meant for Vietnamese farmers.
During his lifetime, The Healing Buddha of Tay An used to preach Buddhism and at the same time encouraged agriculture under the slogan PRACTICING BUDDHISM WHILE FARMING YOUR LAND.
In continuing the tradition of Buu Son Ky Huong Prophet Huynh also encouraged agriculture. This is the reason why He chose the most fertile part of Vietnam to begin his evangelical mission, and why the majority of Hoa Hao faithful are farmers.
From the perspective of cultural anthropology and sociology, it is well known that the farmers, by their pure and simple nature, are predisposed to study religion and self-improvement.
THE SECOND characteristic is that both Hoa Hao Buddhism and Buu Son Ky Huong advocate the practice of Buddhism at home. The reason was that both the Healing Buddha of Tay An and Prophet Huynh Phu So shared the view that Buddhism should not only be preached in pagodas and temples, but also be a living practice observed in every family.
For this reason, Hoa Hao followers are not required to shave their heads and take refuge in pagodas. Instead they are allowed to live with their families, to lead normal lives tilling their land while trying to improve themselves by observing Shakyamuni’s (*) Teachings.
“STUDY BUDDHISM TO IMPROVE YOUR-SELVES” is the guideline of Hoa Hao Doctrine. In order to attain Nirvana and free ourselves from the cycle of reincarnation, we must follow to the letter the genuine teachings of Buddha, keep a clear mind and improve ourselves to fulfill our duty in our present life.
A Hoa Hao Buddhist practicing Buddhism for self-improvement must first of all do his best to comply with the Four Great Debts Of Gratitude:
1. Gratitude to our Ancestors and Parents.
2. Gratitude to our Country.
3. Gratitude to the Three Treasures: Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Shangha (Community of monks).
4. Gratitude to our fellow countrymen and to mankind.
(See Biography and Teachings of Prophet Huynh Phu So).
To show our thankfulness to our Country, we must be ready to sacrifice ourselves for our country when required.
(*) Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in the sixth century B.C.