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Childhood Joy at the Meditation Gate

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Simple, peaceful, meditative, and serene – these are the feelings anyone will discover, even just by looking at photos of children playing and learning at Tường Vân Temple, Thanh Hạ village, Ninh Hòa commune, Hoa Lư district, Ninh Bình province.

The Joy of Childhood

Without words or captions, photos capturing moments of children at the temple playing, practicing meditation, celebrating Buddha’s birthday amidst nature, and learning lessons of love and compassion radiate the diligent practice and happiness seen in their eyes.

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Sister Thường Minh, the guiding monk for the children, explains the secret to their joy and close bond with the monks: “It’s all about love and closeness, with the monks both playing with and teaching the children.”

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At Tường Vân Temple, the children’s activities are full every Sunday. Sister Thường Minh accompanies and plays with them. Her method of teaching brings them closer to nature, nurturing a compassionate heart and gratitude in every corner of the temple’s grounds. A blooming flower or a falling leaf becomes a lively lesson about cherishing life and love.

“The Buddha is close to the children; they play with their Buddha, spending all day in the garden without boredom,” says Sister Thường Minh.

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The “Creation” of the Monks

During the Buddha’s birthday season, the temple’s garden blossoms with flowers, and Sister Thường Minh organizes small Buddha bathing ceremonies. Here, the children learn about Buddha’s life, the significance of his birthday, and practice gratitude in a relaxed and cool environment.

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During special events, the children joyfully participate in Buddha’s birthday processions, engage in Buddha bathing rituals in the garden, and join in temple activities like ringing bells, drawing, singing, storytelling, short meditation retreats, and traditional costume contests. Through these programs, Buddhism becomes approachable and joyful for the children.

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Philosophical Insights: chùa Tường Vân

Reflecting on the images of Sister Thường Minh and the children at Tường Vân Temple, Professor Dr. Thái Kim Lan expresses her emotion, saying: “I am deeply moved and joyful. The serene smile of the Buddha on the lotus pedestal, the warm and natural closeness of the monks and nuns, the innocent equality of the young boys and girls, and perhaps the purity of the temple’s atmosphere create a protective world, bringing bright peace to the children.”

“Early memories of ‘going to the temple’ to worship Buddha are the most beautiful and cherished. The image of children with folded hands before the Buddha, alongside a monk or nun, is the most beautiful in the world, as it beautifies and purifies our surroundings. The simplest memories of ‘standing with hands folded under the lotus pedestal beside our teacher’ are the most beautiful early life memories, teaching us later the meaning of Zen Master Mãn Giác’s poem, ‘The temple’s roof shelters the soul of the nation.'”

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“To me, as a child, the temple was the largest playground. ‘Large’ not just in size but in a sense of spaciousness, surpassing all strict rules yet still filled with peaceful trust. ‘Large’ means freedom and transcendence, beyond the suffocating four walls, where children play in a safe space, a ‘relaxed’ playground filled with silent trust. This playground is essential for today’s children, surrounded by pervasive ‘stress.'”

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The author wishes that the monks and nuns, following in the Buddha’s footsteps, practice his teachings of “bringing peace to the world” with “a heart of compassion for all beings.” This is the prerequisite for beautifying the world with the image of the Tathāgata’s followers.

(Source: Giác Ngộ Newspaper)

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