It can be said that going to pagodas at the beginning of the year is a beautiful custom in Vietnamese spiritual culture, but recently, going to pagodas or going to spiritual places is being distorted by many people.

According to Dr. Tran Trong Duong, Han Nom Research Institute, in a new year, people go to pagodas to direct people to think of the good mind, kindness, compassion, and wisdom of the Buddha.

Những điều cần lưu ý khi đi lễ chùa đầu năm

“Buddha Emperor Tran Nhan Tong and many other ancestors once said that Buddha is in the heart, meaning that every living being, every human being has inherent Buddha nature. Buddha is not sought outside, but sought within himself. Therefore, going to pagodas is just to initiate the goodwill of each person,” – Dr. Tran Trong Duong told VOV in an interview at the beginning of the year.

So, how to go to the temple at the beginning of the year?

Dr. Tran Trong Duong noted that worshiping the Buddha is important in the heart. Going to the temple, the good attitude is the most important, and the ceremony is not important. The ancients still said “eat incense and eat flowers”, implying that worshiping at pagodas, burning incense, and praying to Buddha are just symbolic actions. Light an incense stick with all sincerity, then call it “mind incense / heart incense”. Flowers or fruits are simple gifts that anyone can buy. After lighting the incense, the ceremony is performed and the blessings are received. People enjoy that fortune not because it’s luxurious, but because these small rituals are considered sacred items. Then the mind is still the most important factor!

Dr. Tran Trong Duong also frankly pointed out the “evils” surrounding going to pagodas today. People bring the “customary mind” into the temple, put real money, fake money on the three treasures, put money in the hand of the statue’s heart, (even put it in the mouth of the statue), people turn gold in the temple. Money, real or fake, is just for sentient beings. Going to the temple to worship Buddha to find peace in mind, not to pray for happiness and benefit? Then sniffing, touching the statue’s limbs to apply it to his face and nose, and then jostling each other to steal a few pieces of clear cloth during the idol worship ceremony, … are all countercultural actions.

“The more money you put in, the more vulgar it becomes, the more countercultural it becomes. Placing a ceremony with real money is already bad, putting money in the underworld is even worse. Underworld money is only used to burn the dead, who else burns for them? Buddha?!