James: As many know, monastics in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh were forcefully removed from Bat Nha monastery in Vietnam by the communist government and local mobs. However, communist dictatorships are historically notorious for staging mob riots by secret police dressed in plain clothes to appear as peasants. The government claims the abbot of the monastery was the one who initiated the demand for expulsion, however, he has yet to say anything publicly about it. Another favorite trick of communist dictatorships is to force people into saying things via threats of violence or imprisonment if they refuse. Anyway, this expulsion took place this past October, which suspiciously came soon after Nhat Hanh called for Vietnam to be more open about religious freedoms. Following the expulsion the monastics fled to a pagoda whose abbot had invited them to take refuge within but now they are being pressured to leave there as well. This time the abbot is speaking out and confirming suspicions that the initial abbot was pressured.
Vietnamese authorities have ordered the abbot of a pagoda to evict some 190 members of an unofficial Buddhist group who had taken refuge there, the abbot said Monday. "They asked me to evict the nuns and monks from the pagoda before December 31," said abbot Thich Thai Thuan of Thuoc Hue pagoda, in the south-central province of Lam Dong. Thuan said he had met Friday with Duong Van Vien, deputy chair of the People's Committee in the town of Bao Loc, and Nguyen Thanh Tich, head of the religious committee. Last week a mob of some 100 people surrounded Phuoc Hue pagoda for three days. The mob attempted to prevent a fact-finding delegation of EU diplomats from visiting the abbot on Wednesday. "I have no choice but to sign a document saying the pagoda will ask the nuns and monks to leave," Thuan said. "If I don't ask them to leave, [the mob] will carry me away too."James: They can push Buddhism outside the confines of Vietnam but they can't push Buddhism from the hearts of the people. Nor will they ever be able to fully crush Thich Nhat Hanh's influence in that country. Their fight against spiritual freedom and freedom in general is like trying to prevent a dam from breaking by putting your finger in a crack that opened. The artificial barrier might hold up for awhile but after years of pressure they can't keep up with all the fissures and cracks forming throughout the obstacle. Change always finds a way through any barrier -- just not always in the time frame that we might desire. The time will come when the Communists will no longer be able to hold back the people. That especially goes for online access to information that is pouring through the cracks appearing in that country's internet dam. Information is power and will quite likely, eventually be the catalyst of liberation for the people of Vietnam. May it happen in our lifetime.
~Peace to all beings~