Jul 14, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 8 Comments

A MYTHICAL STORY ABOUT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: PART 2: A JOURNEY OF OBSTACLES AND HARDSHIPS (Huyền hoặc chuyện tu hành linh căn: Kỳ 2 – Dọc đường trắc trở, lăn lóc ven rừng..)

Dear Mat Dieu Duc,

As I mentioned in the first part of the story, every trip to the Seven Mountains was used to be a great and divine joy to each member of the group. Before going deeper into describing their sincerity and happiness, I am going to tell you the hardships we had to bear along the road.

The pilgrimage journey was not easy at all. It was even a dangerous one with many obstacles. Normally it takes four to five hours to get there. Travelling by car or bus with many seats was safer than travelling by motorbike, in which two people had to take turns driving along the way. As we normally departed at midnight, there were too many risks waiting for us in the darkness. There was once a bus which carried a big group of practitioners and encountered a catastrophic accident because of a falling rocks incident. There were plenty of motorbike accidents which resulted in life, health and property damages. Not to mention a ton of troubles such as car sickness, traffic jam, ferry delay, and unexpected incidents on the way, etc.

It was just the beginning. The group of faithful spiritual practitioners started to conquer the real challenge: those precipitous and dangerous rocky cliffs: Sam mountain, Dai mountain, Cam mountain, CoTo mountain, etc. During three to four days, all the members had to walk through all the mountains and visited each and every “worshipping place” that were considered to be “sacred”. There were many people who had been treated in those places. To name a few can be seen as spotlights: Bo Hong bay, Nam Hai temple, Cay Que temple, Ba Co shrine, Ngoc Hoang temple, Tam Thanh temple, Vo hoi, Phat Lon pagoda, Phat Nho pagoda, etc. The compositions of the group were diverse including minors, youth, middle age and elderly: from a 70 year-old person who lived alone in a poor neighborhood, to those babies who were just three or four years old, even several infants. The majority are youth, minors and middle age. A small group was around five to ten people, a medium group was 20 to 30 and a big one was normally around 80. Sometimes, there was an extra-large one with 200 people.

We climbed as a long line and each person held a stick (which was sold a lot along the way). All the men who had better health carried the clunky luggage like pots and pans, cookers, bowls, dishes, and vegetarian food which was prepared beforehand. The girls and women took care of bouquets of tuberose or daisy flowers (they volunteered eagerly to carry the flowers because it was believed that carrying offering flowers would guarantee them fruitful results like modest appearance or beautiful faces). The kids handled the candles and incense. One thing that we had to carry a lot was water. There were different sizes of water bottles such as 21 liter, 5 liter, 1 liter, 0.5 liter. Sometimes we had to buy more water at some worshipping places (of course it was sold at an exorbitant cost because the mountain residents’ pure nature had gradually faded by the business environment. They even showed some extraordinary talents in doing business). You may wonder why we should bring so much water? Firstly, of course, we used it to satisfy our thirst. Secondly, more importantly, we used it to serve the purpose of “treatment” by Ms. H. and her assistants. I mentioned briefly about this in the previous part, I will go into details later.

Back to the days that I used to go on a pilgrimage, the traffic was just rugged terrain and it was much more difficult to travel than it is now. The roads were not even built. There were stable ladders, however, they were so rough, hilly and curvy. We had to walk under sunstroke-hot and dry wind weather regularly, we got stuck in the mountain rains and soaked wet whether it was thunderstorm or drizzle. It was even more adventurous while we could easily stumble on those slippery slopes and could end up falling into the cliff where only sharp-edged rocks and trees were waiting for us. For those who were exhausted from walking, there was professional service from a team of “motorcycle taxi”, their scope of service was providing shuttle transportation up and down the mountain. I am not sure about those brave people, but for me, I promised myself I would never go back to the service after experiencing it twice. I felt like my soul stayed somewhere in the middle of the mountain and my heart was about to explode many times. While sitting in the back seat, I witnessed a “circus performance” of the driver along the lines that were narrow and crooked like a snake. One side was the cliff, the other side was an abyss. I almost forgot all those principle rules about keeping a proper distance to the opposite sex, I only knew that I must hold the driver tightly (the first time was a young man with a messy beard of hair and the second time was a middle age man who was very thin). I kept praying that I would be lucky enough to be alive afterward. Getting off the bike, my face turned green, the sweat ran down my face, and my feet trembled. I trudged out to search for a flat surface to fall down, gasped for breath and tried to pinch my body to see if it was still sensible.

You must wonder if it was that thrilling, I should have stopped using the motorbike taxi after the first time. Why did I use it twice? Because I had no choice the second time. It was dark and everyone had to move quickly to the next destination so we all agreed to travel by that kind of transportation. There was another person accompanying me that time in the same motorbike. Driving up the mountain was such a nightmare, but driving down the mountain was definitely… indescribable. I had no words to describe it. The motorbike’s machine was literally dead, we were basically plunging ourselves along the high inclination of the mountain (you have no idea about how high inclination it was). The driver’s only mission was controlling the speed by using his feet and holding the brakes. It means the lives of three people on that motorbike depended totally on the brake’s quality which we all did not know when was the last time he checked and renovated. Now that I am thinking back, every time that we used motorbike taxis, the group always waited patiently until all the members arrived safely then the money would be paid afterward. That might be because we wanted to guarantee the number of people staying alive before and after using the service. My mother told me that the team has been renovated lately in a way that the key component has not been limited by only men but also women, and they are just as bold and brave as other men.

I felt sorry and respectful for those women at the same time. I felt sorry that they had to temporarily put aside the household work and their children to earn money desperately under the burden of sustaining livelihood. It makes me feel sad to refer to the sufferings of sentient beings who were born in the samsara and had no choice but endure their own retribution of karma. The sufferings come in a variety of shapes, beyond our comprehension. I felt respectful for them as they did seize the opportunities to make a good business. They had seen the high demand and responded with the service supply. Most of the customers are female, children and people who were sick or weak. Normally, it is not mandatory to hold the driver tightly while sitting on a motorbike, however, in this case, it was a must. You should not only hold them tight but also squeezed, clung, grasped their clothes, etc. to guarantee your firm seat. There were a number of customers whose tolerance was a bit low ended up screaming and crying out loud. So it reveals disadvantages for choosing male drivers. Firstly, the customers may feel uncomfortable with the drivers and choose to walk on their own. Then the drivers will lose potential customers. Secondly, overacting behaviors could easily cause disturbance to the driver, not to mention there are cases in which the female customers are pretty, then the drivers would be distracted and even try to show off his “circus performance” while driving which may end up a tragedy. Therefore, a female driver contributes to satisfy the customer’s demand and solve the psychological matter for both the drivers and the customers. It is genius! I even pay more respect to them that they had been doing a good business without any economics degree.

Dear Dharma brother Mat Dieu Duc,

The difficulties had not finished. I just mentioned the travelling matter which was a small part, there were so many troubles I had encountered in every living activity such as sleeping, eating, personal hygiene standards, etc., such a catastrophic scene to reminisce. The food that we brought with us was not enough, as we could not stand eating just pepper salt, chilly pepper, dried tofu, sometimes there were some simple meaty foods like roasted shrimp, salted vegetables. My favorite was fruits such as green guava, mango, banana, water melon, etc. which we could eat without feeling tired, but unfortunately they were so heavy that we could not carry too much. So we had no choice to eat in whichever pull-up places along the way. Those places of course embraced many hidden risks like high prices, or even food poisoning. I remembered the feeling when I was so hungry and my eyes suddenly spotted a hot plate of delicious Vietnamese crepe with an amazing smell. Additionally, it was even more beautiful with a plate of fresh vegetables and a small pretty bowl of fish sauce. Who could resist that sight? If you are not convinced yet, there was a hot pot of noodles just standing beside. Its alluring smell went perfectly with beautiful ingredients such as fresh bamboo shoot and mushroom, tomato, and tofu. Those were two of my most favorites, among so many delicious foods like rice with different choices of dishes, dumpling, stuffed buns, etc., such a plenty of choices.

But (I would like to stress I just said BUT), whoever had eaten several times (even only once) would learn that we should not believe in our eyes, as they might accordingly seduce our mouth to eat those foods and we ended up torturing our body. The foods looked and smelled so delicious, but you would discover their true selves after eating. My mother had experienced food poisoning several times because of the “ bamboo shoot” which was advertised as freshly picked. I myself was a victim once as well. There was once all members of the group engaged in food poisoning at the same time. Of course, it was not that all the food stores there were the same. However, in order to keep it safe, we decided to bring along our foods, ingredients and tools to cook by ourselves. It was complicated but it was safer. Those kinds of food stores cannot be seen nowadays anymore.

Sleeping was also a matter. In the Seven Mountains, we could find many rooming accommodations along the way specially designed for pilgrimage groups. Most of them were built poorly. It was just a large cement floor with several wooden poles for us to hang the mosquito net. There were different sizes of nets that we had to rent depending on the number of people. The big one could make space for five to ten people. The accommodation owner turned off the light around nine or ten o’clock to save electricity. But normally it was very difficult to sleep because people kept chatting and laughing until midnight. Moreover, we could not take a good rest because we were worried over our personal property that could be robbed anytime. Just in case we slept like a child, we woke up being a broke adult.

It was not the end. The public toilet was terrible. I think it would be easy for you to imagine an old and miserable place being used by a large amount of people. It was dirty and nosey, the moss and mildew were all over the place. Those clean and disciplined people would have a chance to challenge their tolerance to the highest extent, but they had no choice but accept the reality. It was much better than using an “open” or “close to the nature” toilet along the road. I also had one memorable experience. It was my first time and at that time I was inexperienced when it came to this kind of trouble. In the middle of the trip, I realized I had something to solve with the toilet. However, it was difficult for me in the midst of nature. In that situation, they said I should keep in mind being in a hallowed ground surrounded by “someone who is sacred”. They said as we were mundane people, we had no choice but I had to otherwise find a hidden place, bowed towards the god of mountain and god of earth and explained to them and prayed for being forgiven. To be honest, I was really anxious. It was in the middle of a mountainous area and there was no one, what if someone came to say hi (or the fear of encountering scary mountainous monsters such as worms, giant millipede, snakes, etc.). Not to mention I felt so sorry and guilty to “someone who is sacred” because of the stain I left.

Dear Dharma brother,

The above mentioned difficulties were just those general matters that happened along the road. Besides, there were particular matters to every individual in the group as well. There were people who ran out of money, there were people who got stuck with their own lives’ matters because of the trip, there were people whose family tried to prevent them from the trip or even doubted them, etc.

Then the question is, why were they able to overcome all those obstacles to keep going till the end of the journey? And why did such a huge package of difficulties not dissuade them; on the contrary, the difficulties seemed to encourage their faith and made them even more excited?

Was it because of the compassionate blessing that they had received from the “supernatural power” objects, as they were taught from those they met in the mountain and kept being implanted in their mind?

For me, at this moment, I have found the exact answer : That is because they were captured in the demons’ trap.

However, who are demons? Where are they? What are their “demonic powers” that they used to trick human beings? What are the exact demonic scenes they had made? And what had those human beings taken advantage under demonic pretext?

See you in the next chapters.

Can Tho, 22 August 2014.

Best regards,

Mat Giac Dang.

Translated by Mat Tu.


Related articles:

A MYTHICAL STORY ABOUT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: PART 1 – THE JOURNEY TO CAM MOUNTAIN (Huyền hoặc chuyện tu hành linh căn: Kỳ 1 – Hành trình lên núi Cấm)

A MYTHICAL STORY ABOUT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: PART 2: A JOURNEY OF OBSTACLES AND HARDSHIPS (Huyền hoặc chuyện tu hành linh căn: Kỳ 2 – Dọc đường trắc trở, lăn lóc ven rừng..)

  1. Mật Tấn Sơn (Đỗ Trường Giang) says:

    Dear Guru,
    I read this article.
    Thank you so much.
    May Guru have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.
    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    May Covid-19 pandemic soon be over.
    Om mani padme hum.

  2. Mật Huệ Bích (8 tuổi) says:

    Dear Guru,

    I have read the whole article,

    Thank you Guru,

    Thank you,dharma brother Mat Giac Dang for writing,thank you, dharma brother Mat Tu for translating,

    I pray for the health and longevity of Guru for the sake of all sentient beings,

    I pray for the Coronavirus disease soon to be eradicated,

    I pray that all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha nature,

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  3. Mật Thúy says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy .
    Con đã đọc xong bài này rồi ạ.
    Mật Thúy hoan hỉ với bài chia sẻ của huynh Mật Giác Đang , con cầu nguyện sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh con cầu nguyện cho vi khuẩn corona xóm ngày được tiêu trừ Om Ah Hùm.

  4. Phan thị Bạch Tuyết says:

    Kính bạch Thầy!
    Con Mật Phong Tuyết đã đọc bài viết này rồi.Pháp đệ cảm ơn đạo huynh Mật Giác Đăng đã chia sẻ bài viêt phản ánh khátrung thực cảnh chúng sanh lũ lượt kéo nhau “đi hành hương” ,”cúng” ,”vía “bất chấp nhũng hiểm nguy đang rình rập,nhằm mục đích cầu lợi lộc cho bản thân.Đây là hoạt động mê tín đáng lên án.Bài viết cũng đã giải đáp được lý do vì sao họ lại dám bất chấp những hiểm nguy như vậy,đó là do họ bị mắc trong “cái bẩy của quỷ”.Cảm ơn đạo huynh Mật Từ đã việt dịch bài viết thật dễ hiểu.
    Con cầu nguyệncho vị Thầy luôn mạnh khỏe,thân tâm an tịnh và trụ thế lâu dài vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh.
    Cầu nguyện cho tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của phật tánh.
    Cầu nguyện cho đại dịch covid 19 được tiêu trừ.
    Om mani padme hum.

  5. FerneHef says:

    Hello my friend.
    Our employees wrote to you yesterday maybe…
    Can I offer paid advertising on your site?

  6. Tantra Amashuta says:

    Dear holy guru,
    Than you for sharing part 2 of this story/,letter. May you be well fitter there sake of all sentient beings and may no sentient being remain in suffering. Om mani Padme hum

  7. Tantra Pramitdhita (Josh Hacker) says:

    Mat Giac Dang,

    Thank you Dharma brother for sharing this article entitled “A MYTHICAL STORY ABOUT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: PART 2: A JOURNEY OF OBSTACLES AND HARDSHIPS.” I am very sorry to learn about the difficulties you had along your journey but I am happy that you have overcame them. May you have a blessed and peaceful day.

    Mat Tu,

    Thank you so much for translating articles into English. Your great deed helps to spread Dharma to all corners of the globe. May all of your legitimate wishes be granted within the right orbit of Dharma.

    May Guru live a long and healthy life for the sake of all sentient beings

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature

    May the global pandemic caused by the corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme Hum

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