vietnam: perfume pagoda

the second day we were there, we decided to go see this place called the perfume pagoda. apparently, it's quite the big deal, and hundreds of thousands of people in vietnam and other countries make a pilgrimage there yearly.

this place is breath-taking. the only way to get in or out is through the river, and these sweet vietnamese people row you there and back. it is the most peaceful thing to experience, as it's pretty dead silent and all you can hear is the water going. it was definitely a great way to spend our first day there because we learned so much!

we had the CUTEST little vietnamese guy as our tour guide named tuan. he was so happy, and explained so much to us about the vietnamese culture, and more specifically about vietnamese buddhism (mahayana, or renovated buddhism).

i LOVED the ideology behind mahayana and there were two things that totally stuck out to me about it:

1. it allows women to practice the faith, and in the end allows them to become Gods.
2. the literal meaning behind the indian word is "bigger boat" or bigger vehicle. in the end, it just means that more people can be saved, and there's room for more. how amazing is that?

some other gems i learned about buddhism:
  • you have to do 10,000 good things before becoming a buddah, which is why everyone is so kind, and always trying to serve
  • each living thing has a soul and a cycle, all the way from a stone to a buddah. that's why they don't kill anything (including fierce looking bugs)
  • in order to get reincarnated as the next best thing, you have to help someone. they believe that in helping others, you lift yourself
  • everything is in odd numbers (when they pray they shake their hands, or the number of statues, etc.) to represent balance in their lives
tuan taught us that the mantra of a vietnamese person is: 
"the thing you can't forget, forgive, and the things you can't forgive, forget it"

i found many similarities between what i believe, the way in which i believe we should treat others, and buddhists/overall vietnamese ideologies.

ps. check out kate's most recent post about vietnam...and mostly how we met. how i love that girl.


austin said...

wait--how do odd numbers = balance? They seem to be off balance to me

Blanca said...

Your trip sounds amazing!

brook said...

ha, biggins i never thought of that. i've always liked odd numbers way more, and they've always symbolized balance to me too. tuan was explaining to us that with everything there is always one so if you think of the one as the middle, and then adding one on each side, so 3, 5, etc.

thanks!! my trip was phenomenal