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Nhật báo San Jose Mercury đăng tin tang lễ sư Bà
Buddhist leader’s death draws faithful Vietnamese nun Dam Luu built San Jose Temple. -
From throughout California and as far away as Europe, more than 3,000 Vietnamese Buddhists came to a temple in San Jose on Saturday morning to pay respect to the nun who built it into one of the biggest in the nation – and one of the few run by women. Thich Dam Luu, who two decades ago fled her native Vietnam on a boat and later came to San Jose to found the Chua Duc Vien, or Virtue Fulfilled Temple, died of cancer March 26 at the age of 67.
As abbess, she started the temple in a small house and over the years-raised funds to construct a magnificent temple of ancient Chinese design on McLaughlin Avenue just south of Tully Road. Opened only five years ago, it is a Vietnamese convent where nuns and novices learn the teachings of Buddha and where Dam Luu taught people in the Vietnamese community as well.
And so, on Saturday morning in the temple she built, Buddhist monks and nuns in shaved heads and brown or yellow robes prayed for Dam Luu. As hundreds of Vietnamese attended the memorial services inside, several hundred others braved gusty, cold winds to watch the prayers on closed-circuit television outside.
After the memorial, a long funeral cortege led by three pickup trucks topped with flower- bedecked scaffolding traveled two miles west on Tully Road to carry Dam Luu to Oak Hill Memorial Park.
"In Buddhism, when the master passes away, he or she will go to heaven. We’re not allowed to cry for her. We just pray for her, " said Quoc Tran of San Jose, one of Dam Luu’s students who rode on one of the flower trucks. "Today I have come to pay respect to her for all the things she taught to me,” he said.
Tran said mourners came from Sacramento, Los Angeles and as far away as France for the prayer services.
Born to poor farmers in a northern Vietnam village, she was raised by the nuns at a Buddhist temple and was educated to be a nun. She grew up to be called Dam Luu--a spiritual name meaning Mother of Buddha. After graduating from high school, she studied sociology at a college in West Germany, then returned to Vietnam in 1969 to practice Buddhism.
There she operated a home for war orphans, including children of American servicemen. But when Saigon fell in 1975, the communists "took everything away and threw everybody in the streets,” she said in a 1993 interview with the Mercury News.
Dam Luu eventually fled Vietnam in a small boat overloaded with 200 refugees with no water or food, suffering through a six-day journey to Malaysia. There she stayed, in a refugee camp, for nearly two years until she was sponsored to come to the United States by Thanh Cat, a monk at Giac Minh temple in East Palo Alto.
Assigned to practice Buddhism in San Jose, she started the new temple in a rented house in the early 1980s and began raising the money to build a permanent facility. Dam Luu save for 10 years to raise the $400,000 down payment.
About 30 percent came from recycling newspapers, cans, bottles, cardboard boxes and computer paper, while the remainder came from donations from 3,000 temple members throughout the Bay Area.
At the end of 1993, she and the other nuns presided over the new, million-dollar temple, a 9,000-square-foot building with stone pillars and iron gates. The temple has not been without controversy, however.
Last year, crowds of Vietnamese staged noisy demonstrations in front of the temple to protest the presence of a Buddhist monk whom they accused of having ties to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
But the temple’s nuns said the demonstrators were mistaken in their beliefs about the 93- year-old monk and that his visit was purely religious, coinciding with Buddha’s birthday. And Buddhist tradition dictates they must extend their welcome to any visiting Buddhist monk or nun.