Zen poems are the party at Buddha Birthday

VNA, May 10, 2008

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- Ho Chi Minh City’s Buddhist Sangha handed over last Tuesday 1,800 copies of a collection of Ly-Tran Zen poems to organisers of Vesak, celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, to be held in Ha Noi from May 13 to 17.

"The collection in Chinese characters, Vietnamese, and English is the city’s gift to guests coming from nearly 100 countries for the Vesak celebrations to be organised in Viet Nam for the first time, " Most Venerable Thich Giac Toan of the Sangha said.

The Most Venerable Professor Le Manh That, deputy director of the Viet Nam Buddhism University, received the gift on behalf of the organisers.

The collection features 30 popular verses written between the 10th and the 14th centuries, during the rule of the Ly and Tran dynasties, an era widely thought to represent the zenith of Vietnamese literature.

Zen verses were written mainly by Zen Buddhists to extol nature, altruism, virtue, morality, and human dignity.

Nguyen Duy, an ardent Zen poet himself, spent several years translating the poems written in Chinese characters into Vietnamese.

With the assistance of two American poets, Nguyen Ba Chung and Kevin Bowen, the collection was then translated into English.

Published by HCM City’s Sai Gon Culture Publishing House in 2005, the collection was displayed at several exhibitions organised in HCM City and Ha Noi the same year and in Boston, the US, in 2007.

Vesak, the most important festival in the Buddhist calendar, also marks the Buddha’s attainment of Nirvana or enlightenment.