Updated: May 11, 2019
In an early summer day 7 years ago, I went to visit a friend in Vung Tau town after a business trip in the south of Vietnam. My friend was so keen on taking me round the town to visit some must-see attractions. She gave me some options to choose where to spend the last day of my visit, I picked that Monastery option as its location sounded nice from what she had described.
The Monastery located on top of a lush hill overlooking the whole town and then unobscured view over the ocean. It was just what I expected for some good view for a sightseeing day trip.
I had visited some shrines, temples and monasteries in my hometown, in Hanoi and in some places where I went on business trips. This one might not be the biggest or most impressive, I thought, but I must agree with my friend that the view from it was spectacular.
After walking around a bit, I found the best spot to sit down for the view. With legs crossed (which had been always the most comfortable sitting posture for me naturally - even at work I always sat with crossed legs on top of office chair), I sat down right on the stone floor, under the shade of the main monastery’s temple curved tiled roofs. The heat of 35degree Celsius weather seemed to completely disappear. The stone floor beneath was so cool, and I started feeling the ocean breeze coming through. The breeze brought the fresh smell of sunshine and the ocean, mingled with the freshly produced oxygen when it went through the lush forest before reaching my senses… I started feeling so relaxed and calm. I don’t remember thinking or worrying about anything at all. It was a quiet moment, I don’t remember noticing anything else rather than the caress of the gentle breeze whilst gazing at the extended view through the lush forest, over the charming town, into the vast blue ocean and crystal clear sky.
I don’t know for how long I drifted into that complete relaxation, I couldn’t tell when it started, and how long it would last. It felt like it had always been there, for-ever.
In the midst of that moment, a sound arose gently. A sound that sounded like being played by gentle but giant pianos harmonised with the temples’ bells and wind chimes in a huge auditorium that would cover all the space including the forest, ocean, earth and the sky; it wasn’t a loud or startling sound at all, but it was so deep, vast, and so resonant, and felt like it emerged from everywhere. I could not tell where the sound came from, it felt like it was in my head, in my every cell, and also everywhere surrounded me all at once. I was stunned. I was immersed in the most beautiful sound that I ever heard. The sound that I never ever heard before, but so familiar, soothing, harmonious and loving. No word could be able to correctly describe the full beauty of the sound. If I had to find words, I would now call it: music of the spheres which I later on read in books…
Some moments after all that had settled down. I took a stroll around the temple and the gardens of the monastery. As I was walking around, I heard some body kept calling someone: Young lady! Young lady!! Wasn’t sure who calling whom, I looked round. From distance, at the entrance door of a small temple at the back of the main one, stood a Monk in his dark brown robe with warm smile in his face waving towards me and calling: young lady! I looked around to see if he was calling somebody else as there were many other people visiting the monastery that day. I didn’t see anyone else at the same corner I was at, other people including my friend were at different spots. I double checked:
- Are you asking for me, Lama?
- Yes, I am asking for you. Come on in! (-waived me in)
I was surprised as I didn’t know what to expect when coming in to meet the Monk, I waived my friend and told her to come along.
The Monk stood at the door and waiting until I came by, he led the way, took me to an Altar inside the temple. He burnt some incense, gave them to me and told me to put the incense and vow to the Venerable Gurus/ Lamas Altar (Bàn thờ Sư Tổ). I did as he requested. I never knew there was this temple at the back of the main Buddha temple where the Venerable Lamas or Gurus or Founders of the Temples/ Monastery were worshipped. I knew nothing about what I was expected to perform, so I just did the incensing and vowing as what I normally would with all my respect.
Then the Monk invited me to sit down at a bench inside that temple. I told my friend come sit by me. The Monk formally stood in front of me. With humble, gentle and calm gestures in his face and eyes, his started talking to me. Every nerve and cell in my body suddenly felt touched and wide awake when his first words reached my hearing: “Have you ever thought about: Who you are? Why you’re here? For what purpose? And where you’re going?…”
I would have fallen down on the floor if I wasn’t sitting. I tried hard to keep my body from shaking and crying by clasping my hands so tightly together and focusing all my attentions in keeping my ears, my eyes and my brain functioning at that moment… I could not say a word. The Monk must have seen through the thoughts that had been haunting me for over a decade. Would that be the reason he called me in? To talk to me about these questions? I just couldn’t believe it! If my friend wasn’t there and witnessed the whole event and later on confirmed what she saw and heard when I asked, I would have thought the event was just a dream or my imagination.
At that moment, I felt like I was going to cross the threshold where I had hit the barrier and frontier for so many times and could not find out the way to get over it. I was too nervous to fully grasp the teachings that came next in the Monk’s words:
“You are not your body, mind, nor your thoughts, emotions, nor your business, events and things that come and go in your life.”
“You are here to awaken to your True Self - Higher Self, You are here to learn and grow, to Love and for Love, rather than wasting this lifetime by living in illusions and desires of the Ego without realising that you are asleep.”
“Death might be the end of this particular life but Life does not end there. You were here before, and will be here after Death. Use this life to resolve bad karma, sow good karma, make this life worthwhile and meaningful to yourself and All Other Beings, you will be ever at peace and happy in this life and the ones to come.”
The Monk handed me 6 little books that meant to explain in more details about what he had briefly talked to me about. I vowed when receiving the precious books from his hands. Every word written in the books literally felt like something we all already knew from within, just needed to be recalled or tapped into.
Coming back from this special trip, I knew it had made a dramatic impact on me… My heart and soul had been longing for something missing in life, and I could not find it anywhere in any material conditions. I knew now that I was longing for something more authentic, something beyond this mere physical and mechanical life which we mainly live our lives out of survival and functioning tasks, and completely lost in illusions and desires of our Ego.
And now, the journey began - the journey finding my True Self - Higher Self, the journey to ever learning and pushing the frontier of wisdom and knowledge, the journey to truly experience and apply the words of the teachers into life, in which I must learn to recognise and detach myself from the illusions of the Ego, I must learn to understand and break through the past karma, make new choices - sow new karma, I must find out the purpose of my life in relations with my individual existence and all others.
It has been 7 years since I have been embarking on this journey at the time I am writing this article. During the journey, I realised that it is not a task with some specific goals to be achieved and then I would be done with it. It is a forever on-going journey of evolution and spiritual growth, of ever enhancing inner peace and happiness, through which the True Self unfold and through which the expression of Love and Wisdom revealed themselves naturally and effortlessly.