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Vietnamese Culture Essay

2554 words - 10 pages

The mere mention of Vietnam immediately brings to mind its troubled past and a brutal war that was fought there for nearly three decades. But, in reality Vietnam is a beautiful country covered by tall mountains, open plains, deep valleys and cultivated green fields. The country is also home to dense jungles and rainforests filled with exotic plants and animals. It is also a place of unique customs, traditions and superstitions that are still practiced in the urban cities and simple villages. The lack of understanding of these customs and culture has occasionally cause friction between the Vietnamese and Americans. To understand the culture of Vietnam is to understand the Vietnamese people.RELIGIONVietnam is a country that guarantees religious freedom in its constitution. Religion has a deep influence on Vietnamese culture and the Vietnamese concept of life. The attitude towards life, death, and the world beyond is greatly affected by the religions of the Vietnamese people. There are three traditional religions among the Vietnamese people: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. All three have existed for centuries in Vietnam.The predominant religion in Vietnam is Buddhism. It is practiced by 55% of the population. Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam under the Chinese domination, and can be traced back to the second century B.C. It has since remained the dominant religion in Vietnam and a major cultural force. The great majority of Vietnamese people regard themselves as Buddhists but not all of them actively participate in Buddhist rituals at the pagoda.Buddhism originated in India and means the "Enlightened One." According to Buddha, man was born into this world to suffer. The cause of suffering is the craving for wealth, fame, and power that brings about frustration and disappointment. In order for man to be free from suffering he must suppress its ultimate cause, the cravings. Man must not become attached to anything and live a life full of virtue, according to the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path teaches that there are eight "right" ways to live a virtuous life. These "right" virtues are views, thoughts, conduct, speech, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and meditation. A man's fate in this existence is determined by what he has done in his previous existence. This is the law of Karma, or cause and effect. Accordingly, a man's soul does not perish at death, but reincarnates into another existence and this process goes on and on. The Buddhist's goal is to be freed from the circle of reincarnation and reach Nirvana, which is a state of complete redemption and supreme happiness. Theoretically, any person may become a Buddha by suppressing his cravings and following the Eightfold Path. Those who actually attain the status of Buddha are rare.Confucianism is more of a religious and social philosophy than a religion in the traditional meaning of the word. It has no church, no clergy, and no Bible. Confucianism advocates a code of social behavior that...

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