|Hoà thượng Thích Thiện Trì|
THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE MOST VENERABLE
THICH THIEN TRI
The Most Venerable Thich Thien Tri, named Nguyen Duy Hien, belonged to the Lam Te Chanh Tong lineage of the forty-second generation. He was born on February 19, 1934 in Nhon Khanh commune, An Nhon District, Binh Dinh Province.
He came from a purely Buddhist family. His father was Mr. Nguyen Han and his mother was Mrs. Bui Thi Thiep. He has 10 siblings, 5 brothers and 5 sisters. Of which, there were 3 sons who have dedicated their life as Buddhist monks, Himself, Venerable Thich Thien Huu, and Venerable Thich Vien Man.
When he was just 17 years old, awared of the impermanence of death and the reality of suffering in his life, he began his journey to pursue ‘enlightenment’. In the beginning, he practiced at Thap Thap Temple in Binh Dinh, and then at Son Long Temple, Tuy Phuoc. After his Venerable Master passed away in 1965, he studied at Hai Duc Buddhist Institute in Nha Trang. He graduated at a Buddhist School in Hue in 1971, after which he was appointed as Dharma Teachers for many Buddhist Schools in the Central and Southern Provinces. He taught widely in the southern part of Vietnam and because of his virtuous conduct, he was also invited to be the abbot of Kim Quang Pagoda in Phan Thiet. Even with his busy schedule, he still invested his time and energy in translating and composing.
He translated quite a few Buddhist texts in his lifetime that included:
- Kim Quang Minh Sutra
- Medicine Sutra
- Amitabha Sutra
- Maitreya Sutra
- The Sutra of Eight Awakenings of Great Beings
- Prajna Heart Sutra
He was also a writer and a poet.
In 1980, after a difficult time under the Communist regime and for the sake of spreading Buddhism, the Venerable escaped Vietnam as a Boat person, to find freedom and to continue the ideal of serving the Dharma and the nation. During his stay at the Galang Refugee Camp, Indonesia, he founded Kim Quang Temple, Quan Am Pagoda and devoted himself to the cultivation of the monastic discipline and became a symbol of brightness as the direction of the people. After resettling in the United States in 1981, he was the first Abbot of our Kim Quang Temple and he held many great leadership positions. To name a few:
· President of Vietnamese Buddhist Association in Sacramento and Abbot of Kim Quang Pagoda
· Vice President of United Vietnamese Buddhist Association in the United States
· Director of the General Department of Sangha of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam in the United States.
He also found the following centers:
· Van Hanh Pagoda, Rochester, NY.
· Tu Hieu Temple, Buffalo, NY.
· Quan Âm Temple, Binghamton, NY.
· Pho Quang Pagoda, Salt Lake City, UT.
In addition to promoting the Dharma as the salvation of sentient beings, he stood side by side with the Unified Buddhist Church and actively advocated for freedom, equality, democracy and human rights in Vietnam.
He was a special teacher in love who was devoted to supporting, educating and building the Blueprint of the Buddhist Family in Vietnam.
His life is a shining example and a lesson that is invaluable in many respects. For example, the time the Venerable Master was ill. Despite the long period of challenging conditions, the Venerable Master retained his self-esteem, prestige and serenity, and he demonstrated the respectable virtue of a devout Buddhist monk. This was the time when the students studied in the Venerable Master's teachings which were not full of words, but experience and actions.
Venerable Thich Thien Tri passed away at 8:20 pm on July 31, 2003. He was 70 years old. Although he is no longer illuminated, his most noble teachings are his selfless acts towards the Nation and to leading by example. His devotions still live on in the hearts of many Buddhists who met him.
The lesson of impermanence is real but yet we share our sorrow and pray for his return to this earthly realm to continue his vows of spreading the Dharma.
Translated by Tâm Thường Định