INTRODUCTION

ENGLISH SANGHA

Please join the Sangha at Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple for meditation and Dharma in English.

Sundays,  2:00 – 3:30 pm      &       Wednesdays ,  7:00 – 8:30 pm 

Please arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to the start times of meditations so as to be present for the entry of Monastics, greeting the sounds of the bells and the respect of bowing.

 * For updates about meditation cancelations or changes to the schedule, please follow us on the following social media platforms:

Facebook     ,     Instagram     or join our email information list by clicking HERE.

INTRODUCING “Thầy”

When visiting Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple, you will likely be greeted with an enthusiastic welcome and a cheerful smile from Venerable Thích Chúc Thiện , the temple Abbot. The Venerable is often affectionately referred to as “Thầy” by the Sangha. A Vietnamese word, “Thầy” means “teacher.”

Venerable Thich Chuc Thien

Thầy Thiện was born in the central coast of Vietnam in the ancient and beautiful province of Quang Nam. At the age of 9, he committed to the monastic life of a novice Buddhist monk and moved into Phu Son Temple. During these early years of life, he would wake at 3:30 am to the sound of the temple bell and begin each day with morning meditation and studies, all while attending public school. At first, his parents were concerned that he was too young to make this decision but soon conceded that it was his heart’s desire and gave their permission for him to become a novice monk. His parents and siblings visited him often at the temple which quickly became his home and a place he dearly loved.

At 20 years of age Thầy Thiện became a Bhikkhu, a fully ordained Buddhist Monk. With this advancement came a move to Taiwan where he studied for 4 years at University to obtain his Master’s Degree in Mahayana Buddhism. Two important teachers that have greatly influenced Thầy are the Venerable Master Chin Kung and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh due to their tireless devotion to Buddhist education and peace.

Now a Buddhist Master, it was time for Thay to move to the United States and begin building a Sangha community. He spent time in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Biloxi, Mississippi before finding the connection he was looking for with the people of San Antonio, Texas. A true citizen of the world, Thầy has visited over 40 countries and speaks 3 languages including Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, and English. He is quick to remind that he is a simple monk, and that the practice and ways of Buddhism means all who practice are of the same heart and spirit.

When asked what makes him truly happy, he replies that gazing upon the face of the Buddha brings him deep joy and peace. When asked for a life tip that would help his English Sangha be happier humans, he says “It is very important that we live in kindness and live in the present moment. Good thoughts, good words and good actions. You do these things and you bring happiness to yourself, to your family, to society…to everyone in the world.” Sharing the Buddha’s teachings and helping others become more mindful in daily life is an offering that Master Thầy gives to all who visit Lien Hoa Temple; a beautiful oasis of peace deep in the heart of Texas.

NEWS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Updated January 16, 2024.

Please join us for the following upcoming retreat and events.

RETREATS IN ENGLISH – WELCOME, Nam mô A Di Đà Phật!

Dear Sangha,

Living in a highly developed society provides us freedom and many opportunities for advancement. Such a fast-paced lifestyle also brings about instability and imbalance to one’s emotional and physical health. This key realization has led the Abbot Venerable Thầy, Chúc Thiện to create an environment for the community to come together to practice inner peace through internal and external focus. Through the practices of Vipassana meditation and silence, we come together to explore ways to live a balanced life.

We look forward to sharing with you retreats that allow participants to re-energize, refocus, and appreciate the present moment. Please open your hearts and be present in each moment, so that together, we can practice mindfulness and truly embrace life with peace.

OBJECTIVES:

Together, at Vipassana Mindfulness Retreats, we learn to…

  • Practice mindfulness in all that we do.
  • Enrich our connections within ourselves and the community through the practices of silence and introspection.
  • Practice ways to be compassionate both to ourselves and others.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

  • What is the retreat like in general?

Retreats focus on interpersonal growth and are silent in the Vipassana approach of practice. We limit communication to dedicated sharing times that are specific to our practice of the day. Silence is also in the way we carry ourselves and the body language we present to others. The bonding within the community is found in our presence with one another in understanding that we are all here to practice in a supportive environment.

  • Can I exercise while at the retreat?

Exercise is encouraged for those wishing to do so. It is asked that you perform your exercise independently, in your assigned room. We do not have group exercises. If you are a person who walks/jogs/runs you are welcome to do so around the monastery grounds.

  • Am I allowed to leave the premises during retreat? Can I come to the retreat on a different day once it has begun? Do I have the option to miss meditations?

Once present at the retreat we ask that you commit to being present for all the scheduled days. This is for your and the community’s benefit as well as to reduce distractions from practice. If for some reason you are not able to stay for the entirety, please speak with the retreat manager, prior to signing up, to see if accommodation is possible. In general leaving the grounds or having personal guests is not permissible. If while at a retreat an emergency comes up or you find yourself struggling with the practice, please speak with the retreat manager so we can help with your situation. We do our best to accommodate the needs of the Sangha. Attending scheduled meditation times is required. We understand that you may feel tired or perhaps emotional. There is time throughout every day for rest and reflection. If you find yourself struggling, please speak with the manager so that we can help. If retreatants are late, missing meditations or continue to be a disruption, you may be asked to leave the retreat. Please be mindful that this time is for you and for those around you, to turn inward for personal development and growth. “Being present is the best present”.

  • What is the dress code for the retreat?

Casual, comfortable, and appropriate (as we will be practicing alongside the monastic Sangha). Loose-fitting, non-binding pants and tops are best. Avoid tank tops, skirts/dresses, and any clothing items that are tight, revealing or too short. If shorts are preferred, then we recommend knee-length shorts. To recap; please wear clothing that covers your shoulders, chest, abdomen and thighs.

  • What do I need to bring to the retreat?

The following is a list of suggested items to pack for your retreat:

Hygiene Necessities & Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush & paste and general hygiene products
  • Comb or Brush
  • Towel(s)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner & body soap

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Water Bottle/cup for drinks
  • Personal medications
  • A journal or books to read. You can also check out our library that offers a selection of books on Buddhism.
  • An alarm clock and/or watch
  • Gray meditation robes recommended but are optional
  • Will I be able to use electronic devices such as my cell phone or computer while at the retreat?

We encourage attendees to take the opportunity to fully live in the present moment and embrace the experience wholeheartedly. For this reason, we do not allow cellphone or laptops while at retreats. There will be a retreat manager who will have access to their phone for any emergencies. Their information will be provided to you upon request during the signup period.

  • What kind of sleeping accommodations does the retreat offer?

Rooms are shared with individual of like gender to encourage community living and mutual support in our practice. The rooms are fully equipped with beds and bedding amenities (linens, pillows, and blankets). In ensuring everyone is comfortably accommodated, two to four people are assigned per room depending on how many retreatants are present. Participants will receive their assigned rooms at check-in. Should you find yourself wanting to have your own sleeping space, there is limited availability on the grounds for participants to bring a tent and camp on the grounds. You will have to let the retreat management know if you plan to do this so they can ensure space is available.

  • Who do I tell about any dietary restrictions I have?

All our meals are provided by donations from the community and are vegetarian. If you have any dietary restrictions, please communicate this to the retreat manager in advance. While we do our very best to accommodate all dietary needs, there are some circumstances where we may not be able to. If this is the case you will be informed of what we can or cannot provide.

  • I have a medical condition / I am on medication. Do I need to tell someone about this?

If you have a medical condition or are on medication that may be affected by this event and would like us to know. There is no obligation to do this, but it will help us be prepared for any special requirements you may have during the retreat.

  • How much does the retreat cost? How can I contribute?

Retreatants are asked to submit a $30 nonrefundable donation to reserve your sign up at retreats.  The suggested donation per day is $25-$50 to cover the costs of food, water, and electricity usage. Donations of cash or check are preferred but there is also a Zelle and PayPal account available for those needing that option. Venerable Thầy Chúc Thiện does not want anyone to feel burdened by finances. If you find that the suggested donation range per day is not within your budget, please speak with retreat management so we can ensure you are able to attend. There are opportunities to volunteer while at the retreat and you can let the retreat manager know this at the time of your confirmation of attendance email. Further information will then be sent to you regarding volunteer opportunities available. It is our mission to share with all the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhist Teachings regardless of donation.

  • How can I contact you for more information?

Email is the preferred method of contact.

MindfulLotus108@gmail.com

You can also discuss in-person at our Sunday meditations or via chat on our social media pages

Facebook: Lien Hoa English Sangha Facebook

Instagram: Lien Hoa English Sangha Instagram

Photos courtesy of Natalia Sun.