Two Years in the Kingdom- Tran Quoc Pagoda

October 26, 2018

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

I’m not an expert on Buddhism so please forgive me if there are any inaccuracies in the post. My understanding is that there are three sects in Buddhism which are Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. I suspect they are much like denominations as in Christianity. The Dalai Lama is of the Mahayana sect otherwise known as Tibetan. Theravada is the sect that is practiced throughout most of SE Asia including Cambodia. I was surprised when I found out that Cambodians had never heard of the Dalai Lama. I knew there were different sects of Buddhism but I was confused when I realized that they did not know of him. I sorta viewed it as me knowing who the Pope is even though I’m not Catholic. So perhaps these sects have distinct differences but I don’t really know.

A pagoda is a Buddhist temple. Pagodas, more commonly referred to as Wats in Cambodia, are all over Cambodia which did not appear to be the case in Vietnam. There were some but I didn’t see them to the degree of prevalence as Cambodia. These pictures are of the Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi. Tran Quoc Pagoda was built during the 6th century, which is about 1500 years ago, by King Ly Nam De (541-547). It was relocated to its present location on a lake in Hanoi in the 1600’s. There are many former monks and Buddhist masters that are buried here. One of the more notable monks that is buried here is Zen Master Tinh Tri Giac Quan who, according to the Tran Quoc Pagoda, founded  Zen  Buddhism at this pagoda during the second Le Dynasty. If I understand it, Zen Buddhism is considered one of the branches of Mahayana Buddhism.  One of the more recognizable Zen Buddhists today is Thich Nhat Hanh who is originally from Vietnam but now living in France. At the pagoda is a graft of the Bhodi tree, the tree that Buddha sat under when he became enlightened, that is thriving. This is apparently a very old tree considering Buddha lived somewhere between 400-600 BCE. It’s truly a beautiful place. Walking around this pagoda, the reverence is palpable. It’s been a sacred place for a very long time.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

This is a book review I had received from my one of my young adult novels “The Gift of Phineas Lake”. Kirkus is well known for their high standards in regards to book reviews since the 1930’s. Needless to say, I was very pleased with their review. Please take a moment and read this review. All ordering information is on this website.

A quick, compelling historical novel with a magical touch.

Rizzo uses historical figures and facts as the foundation for this suspenseful story within a story about the Underground Railroad and racial tension in antebellum industrial Pennsylvania. The book begins in 1897, when Jake and Gordy, two boys, get curious about an abandoned house in town—the former home of the titular Phineas Lake, who disappeared 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Though most adults discourage the boys from inquiring further, Gordy’s grandfather Cooper reveals that he was Phineas’ childhood best friend, and he’s just the first of many who begin to tell the boys about Phineas as they piece together the true story of what happened. Phineas had been blessed with a miraculous healing touch—able to cure any wound or illness with his hands alone—but he did his best to keep his gift a secret, since Rev. Davis, the village preacher, was quick to condemn such a thing as witchcraft. During the night,

however, Phineas would heal the freed slaves—the closest doctor refused to treat them—who worked at the iron furnace in town. After a nearby Underground Railroad conductor realized how Phineas’ skills could be used to help the exhausted and sick fugitives, Phineas (along with young Cooper) became a fugitive himself, only returning to town after a terrible storm brings on a deadly fever among the locals. The racist, magic-fearing Rev. Davis, however, hardly gives

him a warm homecoming; it isn’t long before he’s calling for Phineas to be killed. Rizzo’s story has plenty of momentum, and the boys’ eagerness to listen to each of Cooper’s tales works well, keeping the reader as enthralled as Jake and Gordy are. Though there’s not much historical nuance here, the book has an unassailable moral message that would be a great choice for YA readers with an interest in the history of American slavery.

A well-paced, engaging reimagining of antebellum Pennsylvania.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: