Confucianism is often mentioned in the works of Huỳnh Phú Sổ. For instance, he suggested:
· To urge boys and girls to learn from Confucius and Mencius,
· The classical books teach how to become a human being. Khuyên trai gái học theo Khổng Mạnh, Sách thánh hiền dạy đạo làm người - cf. Huỳnh Giáo Chủ. Sấm giảng thi thơ toàn bộ. Gíao Hội Phật Giáo Hòa Hảo, 1965. Santa Fe Spring, CA: Văn Phòng Phật Giáo Hòa Hảo Hải Ngoại, 1982, p.55.
· The works of Huỳnh Phú Sổ cite a number of Confucian concepts, notably Trung Dung or Chung Yun, a sort of ideal center of all beings. Ibid, p.245. Hòa Hảo Buddhist texts also mention legendary Chinese rulers, Emperor Yao of the Tang dynasty and Shun of the Yu Dynasty. In the Sino-Vietnamese tradition these rulers have symbolized ideal kings, a sort of Golden Age lost.
However, Huỳnh Phú Sổs interpretation of Confucianism is very limited at the empirical level. Arguably, when the founder of Hòa Hảo Buddhism cited Confucian concepts and symbols he aimed at delivering a general moral message of Hòa Hảo Buddhism. Moreover, it has been understood that in the south, Confucian ideas were transmitted verbally and not via any established scholarly tradition. Therefore, Confucian doctrines became subject to a process of domestication. Hence a phenomenon that might be tentatively described as “Vietnamese Plebeian Confucianism,” or Việt Nho Dân Gian, emerged in the south. Hòa Hảo Buddhism relied on this phenomenon in order to secure delivery of its moral message, notably, the communications relative to family values and communal ties.
In short, the texts of Huỳnh Phú Sổ view some selected Confucian concepts as an initial step in the process of adhering to the moral values of Hòa Hảo Buddhism.
While Confucianism advocated socially pro-active, this worldly attitudes, Daoism highlighted introverted and escapist worldviews. In traditional Vietnam, Daoist concepts of non-exertion became an integral part of the countrys ideological and religious amalgam. Lao-Tzus book, the Tao Te Ching, as well as Chuang Tzus book, the Huai Nan Ching, affected the development of Vietnamese ideology.
Not surprisingly, the works of Huỳnh Phú Sổ mentioned Daoist concepts, notably the belief in Immortals or Tiên. Ibid, p.93. And Daoism played a role of secondary importance within the frame of Hòa Hảo Buddhist teaching. Daoist escapist concepts were supposed to prepare adepts for a better understanding of the Buddhist doctrines of liberation from karmic ties.
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