May 7, 2019


Letter to Disciples No. 284: IS LOTUS LIBRARY(THU VIEN HOA SEN) A RESTROOM?(Thư gửi các trò 284: Thư viện Hoa sen là nhà xí công cộng?)

Long time ago when I was a reporter of Ho Chi Minh City’s Police Newspaper, my consort and I had a talk with Ven. Thich Chan Tinh at Hoang Phap Pagoda. During our talk, one of his attendants appeared and reminded him: “Sifu, it’s time for meditation”. This appellation surprised me! Nearly 16 years later, I had a chance to visit Huong Hai Pagoda, a monk said to us: “Sifu is out for a training course in India!”. Until now, the appellation “Sifu” is heard in any pagodas, monasteries or ashrams I went to. One day, I came to Nam Huynh Dao Martial Arts School and again, I heard a student call his master as “Sifu”. Most recently on April 23, 2019, I had a meal at Phuong Mai Vegetarian Restaurant at Alley 82, Vo Thi Sau Road, District 1, HCM City when I caught up lots of images and poems of a person with an appellation of “Sifu Tran Thanh Nghi”.

I still remember when I was young, my mother took me to pagodas where disciples used to called their teachers as “Root Master”, “Guru”, then “Monk”, “Mister”… No one said “Sifu”. May be the popularization of “Journey to the West” in Vietnam in 1986 left a strong impression on the viewers’ mind with the way Ngo Khong Monkey called his master as “Sifu”. Since then, lots of monks have called their resident monk or root Guru as “sifu” as a way to highlight the position of Buddhist Dharma. So far, many pagoda masters or heads of monasteries seem to prefer that kind of appellation!

Dear disciples!

Frankly speaking, this title is not proper. A story in Le Ky Book (禮記:Lǐ Jì) tells that:

Confucius used to talk about Kinh Thi (Shi Jīng), Kinh Thu (書經:Shū Jīng), Kinh Le (禮經:Lǐ Jīng) with delicate words. He rarely said about fortune, destiny and man, never discussed about freaky, violent, rebellous or demonic things. When Tzu-lu (子路) asked about the worshiping of demons, he replied: “How is it possible to worship demons while we have yet to know about the worshipping of man?” Tzu-Lu asked: “Would Guru please tell me about the morality of death.” Confucius said: “How is it possible to know the morality of death while we have yet to know about the morality of living?”

May be the most famous teaching of him is the “Golden Rule”:

Zi Gong asked: “Dear Guru, is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?” His master answered: “How about “Shu”()? Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?” (Analects)

 (Do not do to others what you do not wish for yourself, that is called “Shu”(恕))

The Vietnamese version of Analects shows that the appellation of great teachers in China is “Đạo sư” (Guru), not “Sifu”. The name “Sifu” originates from the “Three Moral Bonds of Man” written by Confucius which praises “King, Master, Father” as three kinds of persons deserved respect. There is no such combination of words Si (Master) and Fu (Father) (i.e Sifu = Master-Father). In this meaning, the root Guru, resident monk or martial artmaster being called “Sifu” means “Master-Father”.

The origination of appellation “Sifu” was told by students from Taoist temples on Wudang Mountain during Ming dynasty as follows: In his time, Jianwen Emperor (1399-1403) was overthrown by Zhū Dì (朱棣), a general in Northern region of China. Zhū Dì had rebelled in the name of Xuánwǔ (玄帝: God of the Northern sky) to convince people to follow his plan.

After successful rebellion, in 1412, Zhū Dì (now is 永樂: Yǒnglè) built a big temple on Wudang Mountain which had taken 11 years with over 30,000 workers and numerous treasures to worship Taishang Laojun (太上老君) and Daoism to show his gratitude for winning the battle.

Students from Daoist temples throughout China praised their masters as “Sifu”, who is positioned higher than their parents (of course they didn’t dare to compare with the Emperor!?). Later, students of T’ai Chi called their master as “Sifu” to emphasize the master’s higher status! This title was then widely used all over martial arts schools and pagodas in China which in nature is just a term that reeks of “eight worldly concerns”.

Dear disciples!

A master is called “Sifu” in Taoism (Daoism) but he will be titled as “Guru” in Buddhism. In a famous work named “Fifty verses of Guru Devotion” by Agvaghosha, there are no such words as “Sifu”, “Martial art master”, “Monk”. For instance, in verses No. 1, 2, 3, 4:

  1. Bowing down to the lotus feet of my Guru

       Who bestows upon me the boundless field of blessings

  And is the cause for me to attain enlightenment in this life

    How unconceivable merits he holds 

   That have been told in holy Tantra texts

   I shall briefly explain principle aspects 

   Then listen with due veneration



  1. All the Buddhas of the three times and ten directions

       Pay their homage to the Tantric Masters

 From whom they’ve received the highest initiation

 Like the door of liberation we are stepping   in



  1. Fromindestructible faith on Guru

    Pressing your palms together with respect

    Offering a mandala and fragrant florets

  Then bow your head to his lotus feet

  Three times each day without omission!



  1. Ordination vows one may take

   But if his Guru is a layman 

  To avoid worldly disparagement 

One should prostrate while facing scriptural texts

But in your mind prostrate to Guru.

These indicate that the appellation “Đạosư” (Guru)is officially used in Buddhism, either for bhikkhu or layman, because Maitreya asserted: “Only diligent practitioners gains spiritual achievements”. Accordingly, it should be perceived that only the kalyanamitra are honored as “Guru”, irrespective who they are. Hence, the appellation “Guru” of mine is based on and proven by the teachings of Buddha and siddhas. But some bad guys, for their jealousy and unrighteous intentions, have conspired with the Thu Vien Hoa Sen (Lotus Library) to publish articles aiming to throw discredit upon me by querying my appellation “Guru”. But after receiving 37 counter-argumentative articles from Song Nguyen Tantra House, they had to keep silent and have no more queries. This is why I want you, especially the newcomers, to look straight into the nature of fake Buddhist monks and laymen from Thu Vien Hoa Sen to see their wrong views and actions in the guise of Buddhism. May be none of Buddhist libraries are doing advertisement for “toilet paper”, “underclothes”, “hair drug” or “tea for weight loss” like Thu Vien Hoa Sen.

(Freaky advertisement of Thu Vien Hoa Sen)

Is Lotus Library a public toilet?

Their disrespectful attitude to Buddhist Dharma and Sangha is revealed through an article written by Doan Trung Thai Xuyen (Link:


Is it head office of Thu Vien Hoa Sen or a counter selling mid-autumn cakes?

Or you can read another article titled: “Is it head office of Thu Vien Hoa Sen or a counter selling mid-autumn cakes?” to get how they have gained profits and committed tax evasion from following links:  ,


Two years since Song Nguyen Tantra House sent 37 counter-argumentative articles to them, they’ve had no response so far for fear of having their despicable actions further exposed to the light such as the hosting of Buddhist literature contest in 2018. We’ve witnessed how the causality principle “fairly treated” them then.

Dear disciples!

Youshould know that I am not proud of my worldly success and spiritual achievement but rather hide myself. All I’ve done is for only one ultimate goal reached by various skillful means and for helping sentient beings to distinguish between right and wrong views which will be the shield protecting them from evil monks and superstitious traditions. Therefore, we should clarify the true nature of good and bad and expose cunning guiles of evil doers to protect Buddhist axioms as guided by Nagarjuna Bodhisattva in “Luan Phuong Tien Tam” (Upāyahṛdaya-śāstra): “This commentary is created neither for competition nor fame and profit, but for a clarification of the true nature of good and bad. Without commentary, more people will fall into delusion and wrongness, deceived or lured by cunning mundane advices or have evil thoughts which will lead them to the cycle of existence. A person who thoroughly comprehends the commentary can understand the true nature of good and bad and shall not be disturbed or impeded by evil doers and heathens.”

Now I am Director of Thanh Tri Institute of Psychology Research and Yoga Applications, Director of Center for Research, Practice and Application of Tibetan Yoga, and Chairman of UNESCO Club of Research and Application of Tibetan Yoga. Should I be called “Đao su” or “Guru”? Should only some lamas or venerable monks who were once hailed by Thu Vien Hoa Sen be named as “Guru”?  So what is “Đạo” and what is “Sư”? “Đạo” refers to a path while “Sư” means teacher or master. Anyone who points out a true path for us should be called Guru, not the one who takes advantage of Buddhism as the cover for their evil doings.

In fact, I don’t know any other appellation for me, given the fact that I have got the Government’s certificate, six spiritual inventions, two officially published books of which one book titled “One Life, One Mantra” was illegally used by Thu Vien Hoa Sen in spite of my warning. I also have my own Tantra House (, followers and disciples among whom are two persons who hold PhD Professor degree on Buddhism and they always write: “I bow before your lotus feet” before each of their comments. In addition, I wrote over 2,100 articles with a total of over 4 million words, focusing on the theme of “Engaged Dharma” that have brought back benefits to lots of readers that were told through their comments. One thing I would like you to keep in mind that we do not belong to religion, lie within religion or adhere to religion. It doesn’t matter what appellation is but what that person is doing because it will define who is a sage or kalyanamitra.

May all sentient beings have the sense of shame and fear for wrong-doing.

Om mani padme hum!

A rainy afternoon on the peak of Phu Van Mountain, April 24, 2019

Thinley – Nguyen Thanh

Translated by Mat Hue Phap

Vietnames version: Thư gửi các trò 284: Thư viện Hoa sen là nhà xí công cộng?

  1. Dear Holy Guru,

    I delighted to read your letter no 284: “Thinking about appellation”. After reading your article I understood more about the appellation. “Sifu” is an appellation from Daoist temples throughout China. It isn’t appellation in Buddhism but a lot of monks have called their resident monk as “sifu”.
    I would like to express my gratitude for your teaching. I am happy in Mat Hue Phap’s good deed of translation

    May you and your consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings.
    May Mat Hue Phap have good health and make progress on the path to enlightenment.
    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of the Buddha’s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum!

  2. Dear holy Guru,

    I am delighted to read your article. I am so thankful to know the true origin of the appellation of “shifu”. It is not the right title for the Buddhists. It is only made by the monkey “Ngo Khong” in a Chinese movie. It is so bad for Buddhists to use such a worldly and trivial appellation,  which defames the noble position of being Buddhists.

    I feel so sorry for those who are lack of knowledge use such defamatory appellation. It is their lack knowledge that makes their noble position of a Buddha’s son become a common person in the prison of Samsara. Because of being relating to the name “shifu” from monkey,  how can they free from Samsara?

    Reading your article,  I have understood the noble appellation of Guru and I have learnt that the most important thing is what a Guru does for all sentient beings,  not who he is, where he lives. The quality of a Guru is to help all sentient beings free from Samsara. If a Guru or master does not pay attention to the freedom of all beings from Samsara,  he/she is not worth being called a Guru.

    Thank you so much for your article.

    May you and your consort have a good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    I rejoice in the translation made by Mat Hue Phap. Her translation supports to spread your teachings all over the world for the benefit of all beings.

    May Mat Hue Phap’s righteous wishes come true on the path of liberation.

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of the Buddha ‘s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  3. Ahmed Khan says:

    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for sharing this article about appellations.

    In this article you explain the meaning of various titles and which titles are appropriate to use for Buddhists.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering and become enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Sagovana (Ahmed Khan)

  4. Ignacio Sanchez Gentile says:
    Dear Guru

    Nice reading. I enjoy it a lot. Thank you

  5. Mark Hamilton says:
    Dear Guru,

    I look forward to the day I can be accepted as your student and properly taught how to pray, pay respects, and prostrate. I feel there is truth in your words and intent. Thank you for helping others to find and follow the path. May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

    • Nguyên Thành says:

      You must read more 30 comments, will get Yoga name than. If you get reunion beetwin learning and practicing, you shall to be my student! Please, often comment!

  6. Dr C H Lakshminarayan says:
    Om Shri Gurubhyo namaha

    ” A rose is a rose call by any name “( proverb)

    A  ( real ) Guru is a  Guru call by any name no matter !

    Once a Brahmin scolded Buddha  at length during his Alms-rounds. Buddha did not perturb and heard patiently  till the end with out any retort and finally said” have you finished your remarks ? Now I say, I have not received your remarks. That means  when I have not received them, then they remain with you only.  There ended  the episode !

    When the Elephant walks on the ( right) path, street dogs bark ! But   the Elephant walks on and on its royal path.

    A Gem (precious stone )  wherever it may be, either in the Royal throne or in  a filthy gutter it’s Nature is to shine !

    Om Mani Padme Hum.



  7. Mật Phê Rô says:

    Kính bạch Thầy !

    Con hoan hỷ thiện hạnh huynh Mật Huệ Pháp đã chuyển ngữ bài viết: SUY GẪM VỀ DANH XƯNG của vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh ngõ hầu giúp chúng sanh hữu duyên nước ngoài được đọc .

    Con cầu nguyện cho huynh Mật Huệ Pháp luôn được hạnh phúc tự tâm, thế sự hanh thông và thành đạt xã hội .

    Con cầu nguyện Thầy Cô sức khỏe, trường thọ vì đại nghiệp phổ truyền Yoga Thanh Trí, làm lợi lạc tất cả chúng sanh .

    Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh được nương tựa bóng lành Thầy, Phật, Pháp, Tăng .

    Om Mani Padme Hum !

  8. Tantrasutradaka says:
    Reverend gurujee

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    I bow before your lotus foot

    It is really a very interesting and revealing article which informs us the proper appellation its meaning as well as its proper use of the terms, Sifu and Guru and warned us about its  ignorant practice. Secondly, he has enlightened us towards the genesis of the word Sifu that is in vogue in many Pagodas for the the Buddhist Guru. Our Guru pondered over the appellation and its proper meaning. He came to know that this word is basically a Chines word. It is Dao su there which means Guru. The term Sifu has originated from the “Three Moral Bonds of Man” written by Confucius. It means Master (Si) Father (Fu). Taken together it became Sifu meaning master-father. It is quite improper for a spiritual teacher. Taking into consideration the improper meaning of the word Guru warned us against the improper appellation. In fact this appellation may be proper for the trainer of Martial art but not for a religious guru. Secondly, the appellation Guru is also med up of two words, Gu and Ru. Gu means darkness, or ignorance and Ru means light or knowledge. The person, who drives away the darkness of ignorance and enlightens one, is the Guru. Thus the term Guru is the most suitable appellation.

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Long live our Guru


    Avinash Kumar Srivastava

  9. Aman Prakash says:
    Dear guru

    I bow my head before your lotus feet. I am very thankful for this article.

    I have seen in movies, the” sifu”title given to the person associated with marsal arts. But unfortunately it is coming to budhism also.It should not be connected with budhism. The SIFU title gives another way of understanding,far from guru in budhism. I am very fortunate to have guru like you.The vast wisdom and compassion leads me to give respect always. you gives us the opportunity to practice dhamma. It is awesome.

    May guru and dakini live long for the sake of all sensient being.May guru teachings spread all over the world for peace and happiness.

    May all sensient being attain true nature of Budha.

    Om Mani padme hum

  10. Mật Diệu Hằng says:
    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con xin phép được dịch comment của bạn đọc Aman Prakash sang tiếng Việt như sau:

    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con xin cúi đầu đảnh lễ dưới chân sen của Thầy.

    Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã viết bài.

    Con xem phim,  con thấy danh xưng sư phụ chỉ dùng cho người trong võ thuật. Nhưng thật thất vọng khi danh xưng này cũng có trong Đạo Phật. Từ sư phụ này không nên xuất hiện trong đạo Phật. Từ sư phụ này sẽ làm cho mọi người hiểu sai, hiểu khác đi,  không thể sánh bằng danh xưng Đạo sư trong đạo Phật.

    Con rất may mắn khi được học vị Đạo sư như Thầy. Con luôn ngưỡng mộ,  sùng kính trí tuệ uyên thâm và tâm bồ đề rộng lớn của Thầy. Thầy đã ban cho chúng con cơ hội được thực hành pháp. Điều này thật tuyệt vời.

    Con cầu nguyện Thầy và người phối ngẫu tâm linh của Thầy trụ thế lâu dài vì sự lợi lạc của tất cả chúng sanh.

    Con cầu nguyện những lời dạy của Thầy lan tỏa khắp muôn nơi vì sự hạnh phúc và hòa bình cho hữu tình.

    Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  11. tantra mahavita says:
    Dear Holy Guru: I bow my head at the feet of the Holy Guru. Thank you very much for this article. We are tremendously fortunate to have our Master who with his wisdom and compassion gives us the opportunity to practice the Dharma. Our respect is eternal … Deep gratitude … May the Master have a long life for the benefit of all sentient beings. May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes.OM MANI PADME HUM
  12. Mật Diệu Hằng says:

    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con xin phép được dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Mahavita sang tiếng Việt như sau:

    Kính bạch Thầy tâm linh tôn quý!

    Con xin cúi đầu đảnh lễ dưới chân sen của Thầy tôn quý!

    Con chân thành cảm tạ ơn Thầy vì đã viết bài viết này. Chúng con vô cùng may mắn khi được theo học vị Thầy trí tuệ và từ bi, người đã ban cho chúng con cơ hội được thực hành pháp. Chúng con luôn sùng kính Thầy với lòng biết ơn sâu sắc.

    Con cầu nguyện Thầy trường thọ vì sự lợi lạc của tất cả chúng sanh hữu tình.

    Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh đoạn trừ mọi khổ đau, phiền não.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  13. Vivek RS(Tantra Kasila) says:
    Dear holy Guru

    I remember a story.Once an angry drunk man came and started using abusive words to Buddha.To everyone’s surprise Buddha responded with a gentle smile.Once that man one of his disciples asked why he didn’t respond.Buddha replied,if someone gives you something and you don’t accept it who is the owner of the material.It is as simple as that.

    Let the Guru live long and all the sentinel beings have the peacefulness and calmness attained by Buddha.

  14. Neeraj Gajbhiye says:
    Respected holy  Dhamma Guru ,

    Thank you very much for this wonderful teachings. I bow my head at the feet of holy Dhamma Guru

    May Triple Gems bless all my Dhamma brother’s and sister’s


    Tantra Niwakuwa

  15. Mật Diệu Hằng says:
    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con xin phép được dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Niwakuwa (Neeraj Gajbhiye) sang tiếng Việt như sau:

    Kính bạch Thầy tôn quý!

    Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy vì đã viết bài viết tuyệt vời này.

    Con xin cúi đầu đảnh lễ dưới chân sen của Thầy tôn quý.

    Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh được thấm đẫm hồng ân Tam Bảo.

    Con – Tantra Niwakuwa.

  16. Tantra Ashihata (Simon Michael) says:
    Dear holy Guru,

    my name is Tantra Ashihata.

    I appreciate you for this wonderful article you have given to us may the time and energy which you have put to give us this article may it not go in vain.  May Guru give us the right view so that we practice according to true nature of buddah .

    May Guru live long for the seek of happiness of all sentient being and may all sentient being free from suffering.

    Om mani padme hum

  17. Tantra Sagovana says:
    Dear Guru,

    My name is Tantra Sagovana.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    In this article you explain that ‘Sifu’ is a word of Taoist origin and is containing eight worldly concerns, thus it is not a proper appellation for a spiritual master in Buddhism.

    The proper appellation for a spiritual master (kalyanamitra) in Buddhism is Guru, which is supported by Buddhist teachings and Siddhas.
    Appellation Guru is used both for bhikkhu and layman spiritual master.

    We followers should keep in mind that we do not belong to, lie in or adhere to religion as Buddhism is the science of the mind.

    It doesn’t matter what appellation is used but what that person is doing because it will define who is a sage or kalyanamitra.

    May all sentient beings be healthy and well and be free from suffering.

    May Guru be healthy and live long for the benefit of all beings.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Sagovana (Ahmed Khan)

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