WHY I BECAME A HOA HAO BUDDHIST
Dear Brothers and Sister, and Honored Guests
Thank you for the Honor of Addressing You:
Today is indeed a very special occasion for me, for although I have attended this Anniversary Celebration previously as a welcomed guest, today marks my first attendance as a member of the Hoa Hao Buddhist faith, as one of the family; it is a family that I am most proud to be part of.
It can be asked why a man raised in a Western culture with predominantly Judeo-Chistianic moral and theological influences would seek acceptance into the Hoa Hao religion, a religion whose cultural influences are Eastern; I think it most appropriate for me to elaborate on the answer to this query of this day, the Anniversary of the Founding of the Hoa Hao religion.
All religion is the culmination of the efforts of humanity to comprehend the complexities and mystery of life - of the natural and supernatural, and of our relationship in the order of these things. Like a mirror that once was whole, but has been broken into many pieces, mankind's religions all reflect essentially the same concept of relationship- between the individual, his fellow living creatures, his world, and hisGod - but the size, shape and shade of these reflections are all different. Like many roads to the same city, but through varying terrain, each traveler arrives at the same destination, but each has different memories of the journey. I have been fortunate to live my life in a country that tolerates freedom of all religions expression, so the development of my personal beliefs could benefit from numerous influences. It was not until my introduction to Hoa Hao Buddhism, however, that I had discovered an established faith which so exactly mirrored my own, and in which I felt that I truly belonged.
The faith of Prophet Huynh Phu So appealed to me mainly because of its simple purity _it concentrates on the essence of our spiritual and physical relationships rather than depending upon
exhibitive manifestations or elaborate structures - it is a faith that is to be worshipped in the heart more than in church or temple. The Prophet's faith is a guiding - of - the - way as opposed to a rigid dogma, emphasizing our great gifts of freedom, and responsibility. It is a faith built upon respect for our fellow living creatures just as well as for God and Buddha, for the past and future as well as for the present, for our nation as such as for our family. It is a faith to live by instead of just to worship by.
Another great appeal to me of Hoa Hao Buddhism is the Hoa Hao people themselves. When first meeting with them, I was most impressed by the unpretentious sincerity, graciousness, and humility, qualities which are a reflection of their faith. In their company I have always been treated with dignity and respect, and made to feel at home. They were never arrogant or demanding in the propagation of their faith - rather, their influence is overwhelming because of their quiet, reserved, exemplary way of life.
I am also drawn to the religion of the Prophet Huynh Phu So because of His appreciation of the reality of the human manifestation of evil, oppression, and inhumanity that sadly exists in our world, and of our important responsibility to resist, and to end, this threat to the spirit and existence of humanity. To para-phrase a saying of the Prophet,"While the Nation is under oppression, the doors to the temple should be closed, until our duty is done and evil oppression driven from the land." This perspective is most pertinent to those of us here who knew first-hand the result of such inhumane oppression to one's country. For the followers of Prophet Huynh Phu So, there is special incentive to dedicate our lives to the ending of communist misery. There is no greater homage we could show to Him than the return of Freedom to Vietnam!
In conclusion, as a Hoa Hao Buddhist I enjoy a religious-philosophical harmony that I have sought for a long time, and now have found. It is for me a way-of-life that is most natural and appealing, especially in these times of egotistical selfishness. I consider myself quite lucky to have found this my cherished faith.