Vo Vi Culture

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vovi/message/3770

Nếu các anh chị Search trên mạng “Buddha’s relics” sẽ có nhiều sites để tham khảo.  Some links I found interesting.
http://www.relicsofbuddha.com/eng/page2.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic
Fake relics for sale on Ebay

Vô Vi có coi xương, máu, thịt, da, răng, tóc, hay gì gì nữa của thể xác trần tục là quan trọng không???  Hay với chúng ta xá lợi Phật là hồn vía tương hội rồi tạo thánh thai là điểm sáng để xuất hồn lên cõi trên học đạo tiếp?

Keeping relics of our Master would only make us just like other religions. Some people might want to benefit from owning his relics, such as a cause to ask for donations to build temples storing Master’s relics, or to take his relics on tour, or sell them. You never know. That’s what have been done to Buddha over centuries when Buddha’s wish was to keep his remain in 1 piece!

Thầy trong mắt Thái là 1 vị Phật Cách Mạng — a revolutionary Buddha.  Vô Vi phải là 1 cách mạng đổi mới tâm linh chứ đừng tạo sự lệ thuộc hay mê tín.  Superstition or blind faith or slavery to old tradition should not be our lessons. Vo Vi is of a different level.

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Old Blogs @ Vo-Vi Meditation, etc.

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Blog 2  /  2005

So, the new Pope made it crystal clear that gay priests are no-no. To hundreds of millions of people, he is Christ’s representation on earth. The Church has had to shell out so much money to settle molestation cases here in the US that his decision seems to make sense. The American Catholics are quite unhappy with what’s going on. Some demand women to be considered for priesthood. Some want celibacy vow removed. But, honestly, that will be very unlikely to happen. Get out. Find another faith. God is everywhere.

Vo Vi is in transition. It is still predominantly Vietnamese. It is widely known now, but not widely followed. It has not yet defined itself as a religion. I say not yet, but according to some definition, it is a religion. (I’m taking a course in Religious Studies, and as long as you have a group of people, interacting with each other by a certain set of practice, beliefs , and you have a central figure with extraordinary power or perceived to be so, you have a religion. There’s also such a thing as civil religion, where you can consider football as a form of religion to some people.) What does Vo Vi want to accomplish, I wonder. There seems to be a conflict between vision and execution. Mr. Tám is adamant that we should not be divisive, but it is the nature of man, of any organization to be so. Different opinions. Trials and errors. Projects proposed, denied, or approved. Projects successful or not. So many voices. Yet, have we really learned to listen to one another? And agree. Or agree to disagree?

The point is: Do we have a common goal? For me personally, Vo Vi offers an alternative to organized religions. Yet, it does not always offer social support. People come in Vo Vi expecting much more than it can offer at this point. Let’s face it. It’s mostly for the retirees. I’m middle-aged, and I’m considered the Vo Vi Trẻ or Young Vo Vi. That’s just sad. We need new blood. Actually, we do have new blood. They, however, have different voices, different needs, different ways of expressing themselves. Who can hear them? Can they co-exist in the system, no matter how loosely, that Vo Vi has set up right now with the aging population of Vo Vi practitioners?

I can see it now. Vo Vi must be relevant to the needs of its people. Service with the capital S. Be it catering to the retirees, or to the non-Vietnamese speaking groups, or to unexpected groups in the future. Be it to those who attend Sunday meditation, or those who choose to stay away, or to the curious who would check us out and we are not able to keep them interested. It is, bottom line, service. With a smile and a thank – you – for – a- chance – to- serve – you. The day Vo Vi becomes irrelevant, we should have a big party and say goodbye. But that’s okay, too. God is everywhere. In Vo Vi. Out of Vo Vi. In heaven. In hell. Well, you get the picture.

Certain things one cannot change, though. Mr Tám has left more than enough instructions to make certain subjects crystal clear. Others, depending on the situations and open to interpretations. There will come a time when censorship comes into play, because some of his teachings are a little bit difficult to digest. I oppose this, but I can see it happen. There will come a time when his final words on a matter won’t be available, or matter, and Vo Vi can go on with its in-fighting. It’s better to expect the worst and hope or work for the best.

For now, my dear Vo Vi people, our master is still with us in physical form. Don’t upset him too much. Strange, but I feel for his fragility. And I see that it takes tremendous patience for him to learn from us, and vice versa. The awe aspect I used to have regarding him is gone. In its place, appreciation. Of a soul with great sacrifice and above all, SERVICE. Service with a smile. And a tear now and then.

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Blog 23  /  2006

Cẩm Hường is arguably the premier drag queen in Little Saigon. S/he just celebrated her birthday at Bleu. It was packed with regular patrons, guests, drag performers and fairies of all varieties. Also known as Hồng and a hair & make-up artist, he has gathered a lot of fans, friends, and talents around him. His celebration was colorful, fun, (and in my opinion, there’s an independent movie to be made here somehow). Lots of well-known Vietnamese performers attended. There was also TV interview. I participate with my gay friends whenever they holler, and I always have fun. I don’t have the passion for performing like them, or like I used to anymore. It comes with age, although with a magic wand, Hồng once again turned me into a beautiful creature to perform for him. I didn’t do a very good job, I’m afraid. Didn’t remember the lyrics to lipsync as Khánh Ly. And the audience was so close to the stage, with rows of them sitting on the floor of the nightclub too. Wasn’t my worst, and at least I had a chance to see quite a few old faces, to hear updates, and to reminisce… Dear friends, where will we be 10, 20 years from now? By the way, whoever that was that felt my butt, twice!, (when we performers were navigating through the crowd), at least offer me a drink, will ya?

Now and then, worlds collide. During the Vo Vi’s New Year Living Together earlier this year, the opening entertainment number was by two drag performers, who looked and sounded very familiar to me, although I couldn’t place them. Their skit ran for 20 minutes or so, totally hilarious for a gay or nightclub crowd, but wrong for the Vo Vi practitioners. It was dead silence or polite clapping, even an attempt of cutting them off by early clapping. But they did finish their number, went off stage and shook hands with Mr. Tám. Of course, when the DVD came out, their number was cut. My number as the Kitchen God with Hằng and Huyền was included. Funny, I move between this subculture and that subculture, and once in a while, they cross one another. That night, I clapped wholeheartedly for my fellow gay performers, and was probably the only person in a hotel ballroom of 500 or so people who got the joke reference about Bleu.

When you project a certain image, people may or may not perceive it. And perception is everything. So sometimes you do have to put on masks to attempt to get the desired perceptions. Is it worth it? I see more similarities in my worlds. I see the masks. I see how we define power and prestige. And I’m wondering, in the afterworld, will there still be masks, power, prestige, games, same old same old? If so, I will find somewhere with shows (dragshows?) and music and dance and laughter. There is something truly innocent, graceful, lovely about it all.

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Blog 26  /  2006

Christmas is around the corner. This time of year always brings mixed feelings in me. I love the giving spirit of Christmas and the message of Peace on Earth and so on. But I hate the materialistic side that has associated with it over the years. People fight over the latest toy in stores. People argue over the phrase “Merry Christmas”. People feel depressed being poor, without families, friends. Yes, it’s inventory time. What you have, don’t have, can’t ever have. Blue Christmas for lots of people.

Vo Vi is spending this Christmas with Master Tám for another Living Together in Southern California. Best wishes and love to my fellow practitioners. I’m taking off to Reno, all by my lonesome self. I hope there are shows there, though I doubt it. It’s good to take off once in a while to reflect in a new surrounding. I’m thankful for my good health and fine spirit. My loved ones seem to be doing just fine. Life is wonderful for the moment.

South Africa has legalized gay marriage. South Africa! How surprising is that! Well, I hope in 10 more years, USA will be next. USA, it turns out, has the most generous people on earth. Even though the US government gives much less than other countries to charity causes, our citizens donate more time and money, according to 20/20. It’s the perception that hurts America’s image — that of the aggressor, pollutor, obese, lacking of culture, etc. And perception is everything.

Vo Vi Multimedia Communication is having a perception problem. It is set up as the head of the Vo Vi organizations worldwide, with the blessing of our Master Tám (though some might argue this). The recent opinions of a few or majority (?) of the Vo Vi people reflect deep concern to say the least. There are inflammatory accusations that challenge VMC head-on. I wonder how VMC will deal with this. My guess is that while our master is still alive, VMC will prevail. As for after, who knows. It might be the Wild West of Vo Vi where different factions of Vo Vi will exert their own will and form or do whatever they please. This is the fundamental problem for Vo Vi. Since it is not a religion with a hierarchical structure, there’s room for interpretations and executions. And let’s not be naive, people want power and prestige, even in a relatively small organization such as Vo Vi.

My opinions about all the fuss? If I can afford to go to the annual Vo Vi conferences and Thiền Ca tapings, I’d love to go. If I can donate more money to the Vo Vi causes, I’d be happy to do so. I spend money on other unimportant and (sometimes) bad stuffs, so… I don’t assume that Master Tám is unaware of what’s happening due to his age. I recognize that the bottom line is this: He is our teacher who has taken on this role with all the responsibilities that it ensues. He might get it right, or he might get it wrong. But it’s his role. And he is human. Still, it’s his classroom. If you don’t agree with his teachings, drop the class.

On a more cheerful note, Christmas is here, everyone! Love. Laugh. Learn. Listen. Live! We are truly blessed to be living in the 21st century where science and spirituality are at their best. Be charitable. Be soft. Be like God. Peace out!

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Blog 27  /  2006

Two more weeks until the Vo Vi practitioners gather for Sống Chung. No doubt this time it’s going to be more lively with the recent development concerning Vo Vi Multimedia Communication. I put in my two cents with the Yahoo! Vovi Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vovi and I must say I’m impressed with their directness. No point beating around the bush, I guess. The problem, I’m afraid, is when we lose tracks of what’s important in the first place and emotions get the better of us.

So. How do you judge a situation? With all the wisdom gained from many Psychology, Sociology, Communications classes, I can boil down to this. INTENTION: Good or bad? To make money or to spread the Vo Vi message? Did President Bush Jr. really just make war with Iraq for oil? A PBS program about the Iraq War would say no. He really did listen to all good/bad advice at the time, and he did believe it was to deter terrorism. Can’t say the same thing for anyone else, but for Bush, his intention was good. EXECUTION: How do you do it? By what means? Did anyone force anyone else to do anything they don’t want to do? Who dies? RESULT: Did you achieve what you set out to accomplish? At what cost? Are you comfortable with that? Evidently, President Bush got an F on this one. Iraq is slipping into the abyss. And I don’t think we’re gonna be safe from terrorism for a long time. As for VMC, I have no opinion whatsoever about the results. It’s one of those grey areas where you can argue for both sides. Bad result: It’s been a waste of money and energy to have expensive Thien Ca. Good result: Thien Ca is a bridge to bring Vo Vi to the general public, if not now then for the future. Also, sometimes you can have good intention, good execution, but bad result. Or bad intention, bad execution, but it turns out for the best. How do you judge?

Okay. You have your own opinion and strong conviction. How do you persuade others to share your views? It pretty much depends on the strength of your MESSAGE, how effective of a MESSENGER you are, and the TIMING & AUDIENCE factor. You are more likely to succeed if you have valid, compelling message, if you look attractive and speak or write well. The tone is important. I love Joel Osteen, the very popular and powerful pastor, and young! simply because of his very soothing tone of voice. Of course I don’t agree with everything he preaches, but there’s something special about his speech. Master Tám has the same quality. His voice is so compelling whether he speaks loudly or softly. Not to mention his facial expressions, his eyes… And then, we have timing and the targeted audience. The audience is a challenge you can take on. Timing is an art in itself. Timing is everything, you can say.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll get what you want, even if you do everything right. That’s why we have to leave something to fate, or luck, or Higher Power. What shapes our characters, however, is something within our own power. Winning or losing means absolutely nothing when it comes to defining our worth as a human being. And we are just that, all of us, no more no less. With flaws, short-sightedness, pride, and whatever else. It’s okay. Make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. Cherish your failures as much as your victories.

By the way, do you think I’m a good messenger?

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old blog  /  High Expectation & Vo Vi Culture  /  January 2007

I’m thrilled that I got an A for my Cultural Foundations class . Lots of essays, that one. Dr. Heather is quite possibly the most beautiful professor I’ve had so far. I entered the class without much expectation other than to pass it. But, she made comments when she graded my paper to encourage me to participate more in class discussion and so on. And I actually learned valuable insights about how individuals and their cultures affect one another. Other classes I did okay too, but it’s strange that since she kinda raised the bar a little bit for me, I rose to the occasion.

I must say that the evaluation of the teachers at the end of every term is quite … democratic. The students are free to rate their teachers, make comments, and these reports are viewed by the school administrators. Also, there are websites to rate the teachers too. It is quite unthinkable in Asian culture to do this. Your teacher is on par with your parents. And you wouldn’t dream of rating your parents!

Many if not most Vo Vi practitioners regard Master Tám as their spiritual father. It is also no accident that quite a few Song Chung seminars and events are held during the holiday season. Vo Vi is more than an organization. It is a family, and Master Tám is the patriarch. Looking it with a more or less objective (a Cultural Foundations student’s) look, Vo Vi is truly a culture in which symbols, myths, taboos, practice, belief system, expectations, etc. are quite fascinating.

Vo Vi symbols:  number 8, the two zeros, the vo-vi practitioner in the meditating position as signified by several circles, the shaven head, the jewelry designed by Mr. Tám, so on.

Practice:    Not too complicated. It is to direct life currents to the top of the head. Scientifically speaking, certain parts of the brain are activated to let the practitioners experience certain things, not unlike other meditation techniques. The concentration between the eyebrows may also activate the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls higher brain functions. The calming effect of meditation is widely proven by research. When the psychic center of the brain is activated, you can certainly experience a variety of sights, sounds, and a sense of becoming one with the universe.

Belief System:    Reincarnation, Astral Projection or out-of-body experience, karma, among other things.

People expect certain things and different things when they join Vo Vi. Along the way, some will settle for less. Some drop out. Some will thrive and find their place in the Vo Vi scheme of things. It is a culture where you can possibly influence it and it can definitely influence you. The taboo is when you question the teacher, in this case, also a father figure. That comes to …

Vo Vi myth:    This is widely known among the practitioners, but not necessarily to the outsiders or the curious general public. Mr. Tám is believed to have the soul of Buddha Vĩ Kiên who inhabited his body when he was in his 30s. Actually, Mr. Tám revealed this himself a long time ago. The readers who are familiar with new-age occult can recognize this as a case of Walk-In, as written by Ruth Montgomery. Some practitioners also believe in Cha Kim, whose teaching is also part of the Vo Vi doctrine. She is said to have reached the level of ultimate enlightenment. Mr. Tám is also believed to attain that state as well. For the longest time, however, he maintains to be one of the practitioners, not even a teacher, and even calls himself “Baby Tám” out of humility.

Now that he’s getting older, the future of Vo Vi seems uncertain. Recent events have led some Vo Vi practitioners to question his judgments. To me, it looks like he has endorsed Vo-Vi Multimedia Communication, more specifically Miss Hoàng Vinh, aka. cô Bê , to carry on the mission when he’s gone. This has caused a controversy, which many practitioners do not wish to confront. A Vo Vi taboo, you might say.

As 2007 starts, I look forward to positive energy and thoughts and activities. And I truly wish Vo Vi stay united, spiritually focused, and clear in its mission. It can be just a practice that you can do at home, quietly. It can be your family. It is a unique culture that you can appreciate for what it is and nothing else. The question is: How high is your expectation?

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old blog  /  Environment  /  July 2007

The one-week camping trip in Olympia, Washington was — in a word — priceless! I have never meditated so regularly, and except for a cheese burger at Sol Duc Hot Spring, I ate vegetarian food provided at Nhan Hoa meditation retreat. That’s to show you having a good environment is very important. You can’t help but be influenced by the people around you, the messages you receive, the things you see. This gathering is named Lưu Luyến ( loosely translated as Attached, emotionally and/or spiritually) by our master Tám. I got to meet new Vo-Vi practitioners, heard lots of interesting stories, and joined in the fun. Looks like this is going to be a new tradition. Next year will be Hai Không retreat’s turn to host the summer event. The souvenir photo we each got before we left is now on top of my book shelf. Looking at each smiling face, I feel such love and warmth, and I thank God for giving me this experience. Of course, I should also thank the people who have put their heart and soul in making Nhan Hoa a beautiful place for us to visit, and those who have shown us the true spirit of service. Many, many thanks! Certain images are unforgettable. When I looked at the practitioners playing without a care, laughing, enjoying themselves, singing, telling jokes, etc. , I saw God’s children. No age. No names. No egos. Just sparks of Light shining with grace. It’s a bit strange too. It was as if our master was there and we were bathing in this sea of love. There were some very emotional moments, some tears shed when the final day approached… Got to go hiking at Mount Rainier. Beautiful scenery. Hope I get some of the photos taken. Wonderful, wonderful trip!

Oh yeah, I could edit my web page again, yay! My youtube.com pages have gotten so nasty lately. I choose not to block comments, spam or users. I am always for airing opposing views and stuff, but the language and profanity are so beyond comprehension. I guess anonymity allows people to be more hostile. There are some bright spots, thank God. I’ve gotten comments and encouragements from some viewers. Who knows, the various clips that I have posted, maybe they are helpful to someone out there in cyber space. Entertain them a bit. Make them laugh. Think. Change for the better. Have more empathy. More tolerance. Or not.

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