Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Buddhist Camp

As the summer holiday begins, families in Hanoi, Ha Giang, Thai Nguyen, Nam Dinh and other northern provinces are sending their kids to the Truc Lam Tay Thien Monastery in Vinh Phuc province to practice the life of monks and nuns.

The monastery began offering its free classes last year, and attracted about 50 trainees. After the good reputation of this class spread everywhere, this year the number of trainees has soared to 600.

Senior monk Thich Kien Nguyet said that Truc Lam Tay Thien Monastery can’t welcome 600 kids at once. At present, all its 90 monks are doing their best to manage and teach the kids, who come for two week sessions.

The monk said “Scientists have proved that kids who practice Zen meditation are more intelligent and persevering than others. Many countries have made Zen meditation part of their school curricula.”

Monks teach the youngsters to wake up at 3 am, tidy up their own beds, enjoy vegetarian food, to look at the world with love, to know right from wrong, to know the meaning and the value of rice or potatoes, and to learn how to do simple housework.

The youngsters finish the day by reviewing their activities to realize wrong and right and mend their manners.

Families have sent their children to the monastery for a number of reasons. Some think they need a different experience, free of online games. Some wish their children to learn Buddhism to understand the meaning and value of life. Some parents think it’s important that their children learn how to do household chores like cooking and cleaning.

A homesick boy calling home

The opening ceremony

Heading down the mountain to beg for food

It's eating time

A monk and a nun leading the boys and girls back to the dorms after lunch

The children studying Dhamma together