Just over an hour behind the cab, from the inner of Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling urban city, you will set foot in a completely opposite scene. In a quiet space with the sound of birds singing, the rustling of a cool green garden in the morning, coming here, naturally, you will feel your heart calm. The mind becomes open and dissolves into the natural landscape. Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu or Thuong Chieu Zen Buddhist Temple is the place to really let you relax.
Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu is located between 76 – 77 Highway 51, 44km from Bien Hoa and 14 km from the center of Long Thanh town. The Temple is named after a famous Vietnamese Zen master in the Ly Dynasty (1009 -1225). Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu is of the system of Trúc Lâm Yên Tử Zen Buddhist temples. The Temple was founded 1974 by Super Buddhist Monk Thích Thanh Từ.
At the time of 1973-1974, two Buddhists in Cat Lo made a donation of 52-hectare land in Phuoc Thai commune, Long Thanh district, for the Super Buddhist Thich Thanh Tu. The land was a large area of grass that was high up to the chest, in the middle of the land, there was a swampy stream with the pineapple and bamboo trees growing interwoven. In October 1974, a shrine having thatch roofs and clay wall grew next to the Bodhi tree, which was Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu. The first leader of the temple was Super Buddhist Monk Dac Huyen. On April 15, 1986, The Temple was completed and inaugurated. In 1998, Temple was renovated. After 44 years of establishment and development, Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu today, has changed into the peaceful and shady temple.
Coming to Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu, hitting visitors’ eyes is a three-entrance arched gate. The gate is designed according to the ancient shape – bent roofs and red tiles, but the material is mainly reinforced concrete. The central entrance has the word line “Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu”.
Passing the gate, we see a large road leading Chánh Điện (the main building). The two sides have 2 lines trees spreading shades. On the left of Chánh Điện is the bell tower and on the right is the drum tower. The structure of Chánh Điện was built firmly with large pillars. The roof is built in three-story style, the upper floor is narrower than the lower floor. The roof is bent and covered with red tiles. Buddha Hall is a place put few statues. The central area has Buddha Shakyamuni statue with the right holding a lotus. On the right has Bodhisattva Samantabhadra statue sitting on an elephant. On the left has Bodhisattva Manjushri statue sitting on a lion. On the pillars and the wall have parallel sentences, versus aiming to teach people to become good. Besides the main building, there are other works such as Lecture Hall, Guest House, Library, Oriental Medicine Room. Especially, surrounding the building is a cool green wide garden. Among the garden, there are statues of gods and stones having sentences full of meaning.
Today, Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu has become a popular tourist destination, the stopping place for many visitors on the way to visit Vung Tau. Especially, on the great Buddhist festival days, the temple is honored to receive thousands of monks, nuns, and Buddhists from everywhere gathering back. Coming to Thiền Viện Thường Chiếu, in addition to being relaxed, visitors have a chance to look back at themselves to Know that they have done something good and done something not good so that they become better and better.