Yin and Yang numbers (Âm Dương: Part 3)

Version française

Yin and Yang numbers (Con số Âm Dương)

One is accustomed to say in Vietnamese: sống chết đều có số cả (Everyone has his D day  for life  and death). Ði buôn có số, ăn cỗ có phần   (One has his vocation in trade as one has his part in feast). In daily life, everyone a his size for his clothing and his shoes. Contrary to the Chinese, the Vietnamese emphasize odd numbers (số dương) rather than  even numbers (sô’ âm). 

One frequently  finds the use of even numbers in the Vietnamese phrases: ba mặt một lời (One needs to be in front of someone with the presence of a witness),  ba hồn bảy vía ( three souls and 7 vital supports for men i.e one is terrified), Ba chìm bảy nổi chín lênh đênh ( very  hectic), năm thê bảy thiếp ( to have  5 spouses and 7 concubines i.e. to have many  women ), năm lần bảy lượt ( many times), năm cha ba mẹ ( heterogenuos), ba chóp bảy nhoáng ( with precipitation and  no care ), Môt lời nói dối , sám hối 7 ngày (A  speech deceitful amounts to  seven days of  repentance), Một câu nhịn chín câu lành (To avoid an offensive sentence is having kind sentences ) etc …or that of integral  multiples of the number 9:18 (9×2) đời Hùng Vương ( 18 legendary kings Hùng Vương ), 27 (9×3) đại tang 3 năm (27 tháng)(or a beareavement endured  on three years or 27 months only), 36 (9×4) phố phường Hànội (Hànội with 36 neighbourhoods) etc …One don’t forget to mention the numbers 5 and 9, having each of them a role very important.   The figure 5 is the  number the most mysterious because all starts from this number. Heaven and Earth have the five elements  or agents giving birth to thousand things and objects. It is placed in the center of the River map and Writings of Luo which are the basis for the mutation of five elements (Thủy, Hỏa, Mộc, Kim, Thổ)( Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Earth). It is associated to the element Earth in the central position that the peasant needs to  known for the  management of cardinal points.  This goes to the man to have the centre in the management of things and species and four  cardinals.  That is why, in the feudal society, this place is reserved to the king because it is he who  has govern  the people. Consequently, the number 5 belonged to him as well as the yellow colour symbolizing the Earth. This  explains the colour choosen by Vietnamese  and Chinese emperors for their clothes.

Ho Tou Lo Chou

(Hà Đồ Lạc Thư)

In the addition to the centre occupied by man, an symbolic animal is associated to the each of four cardinal points: the North by the turtle, the South by the phoenix, the West by the dragon and the East by the tiger. One is’nt surprised to see at least in this attribution the presence of three animals living in the region where the agricultural life plays a notable role and water is vital. It is the land of Bai Yue group. Even the dragon very mean in others cultures becomes a kind and noble animal imagined by  peaceful peoples  Bai Yue. The number 5 is yet known  under the name « Tham Thiên Lưỡng Đia » (or  three Heaven two  Earth or 3 Yang 2 Yin) in the Yin and Yang theory because the acquisition of the number 5 coming from the union of  numbers 3 and 2 corresponds better to the reasonable percentage of Yin and Yang than that of the association of numbers 4 and 1. In this latter, the number Yang 1 very dominated by the number 4. It is’nt the case of the union of the numbers 3 and 2 because the number Yang 3 slightly overpowers the number Yin 2. This encourages the universe development in an almost perfect harmony. In ancient times, the fifth day, the fourteen en day (1+4=5) and the twenty-third  (2+3=5) day in the month were reserved for the way out of the king. It is’nt allowed to subjects  for trading during his travel and disturbing his walk. It is  perhaps the reason for which a great number of the Vietnamese continue to avoid these days for the home construction, the trip and major purchases. One is accustomed to say: 

Chớ đi ngày bảy chớ về ngày ba
Mồng năm, mười bốn hai ba
Đi chơi cũng lỗ nữa là đi buôn
Mồng năm mười bốn hai ba
Trồng cây cây đỗ, làm nhà nhà xiêu

You  avoid going  out the 7th day and coming back the 3th in the month. For the 15th, 14th and 23th days in the month, you  will be losing if you go out or you trade.  Likewise, you will see the failing tree or the tilting of your home if you make the planting tree or the house construction.

The number 5 is frequently mentioned in the Vietnamese culinary art. The most typical sauce remains the fish brine (nước mắm). In the preparation of this national sauce, one mentiones the presence of 5 flavours classified according to the 5 elements of Yin and Yang:mặn ( salty ) with the fish juice  (nước mắm), đắng (bitter)  with the lemon zest (vỏ chanh), chua (acidulous) with the lemon juice, cay (spicy) with pigments crushed  in powder or chopped  in strips and ngọt (sweet ) with sugar in powder. These  5 flavours ( mặn, đắng, chua, cay, ngọt ) combined and found in the Vietnamese national sauce  correspond to 5 elements defined in the Yin and Yang theory (Thủy, Hỏa , Mộc , Kim Thổ ) ( Water, Fire,  Wood, Metal and Earth ).

Likewise, one rediscovers these 5 flavours in the bittersweet soup (canch chua) prepared from fish: acidulous with tamarin seeds or vinegar, sweet with slices of ananas, spicy with pigments chopped in strips,  salty with fish juice and bitter with some okras  (đậu bắp)  or flowers of « fayotier in French »  (bông so đũa). When the soup is served, one will add some fragrant herbs like the panicaut (ngò gai), rau om (herb having  the  flavor  of coriander with  a  lemony   taste in addition). It is a characteristic trait of the bittersweet soup of Sud Vietnam which  is different from those found in others regions of Vietnam.

One cannot forget to mentione the sweet rice cake that the Proto-Vietnamese had succeeded to bequeath to descendants over millennia of their civilization.  This  sweet rice cake is the intangible proof of Yin and Yang theory and 5 elements belonging to Bai Yue group (Hundred Yue), the Proto-Vietnamese of which formed part  because there is  the generation cycle (Ngũ hành tương sinh)  in its composition. 

(Fire->Earth->Metal->Water->Wood)

Inside the cake, one finds a piece of porkmeat in red color ( Fire ) around which there is  a kind of paste made with broad beans in yellow color ( Earth ). The whole thing is wrapped by the sticky rice in white color ( Metal ) to be cooked with boiling water ( Water ) before having a green colouring on its surface thanks to the latanier leaves (Wood).

An other cake is not missing th weddings. This is the cake susê or phu thê (husband-spouse) having inside a round form  and enveloped by banana leaves (green colour) in order to give it the  well-tied cube appearance  with a red ribbon (red color).  The circle is  thus placed within the square (Dương trong âm)(Yang in Yin). This cake is made from tapioca flour,  perfumed in pandan and strewn with  black sesame seeds (black color). One finds in the hearth of this cake a paste made of steamed soybeans  (yellow color) and jam of lotus seeds and grated coconut.(white color). This paste is very similar to the  frangipane found in « galettes des rois ». Its sticky texture reminds the link that one can represent in the union. This cake is the symbol of the perfection in conjugal love and loyalty responding the perfect agreement with the Heaven and the Earth and 5 elements symbolized by 5 colors (red, green, black, yellow and white).

This cake is related by the following tale: in the past, there was a merchant engaged in debauchery and doing not like to go home although before his departure, his spouse gave him the cake susê  and promised to remain cordial and sweet like the cake. That is why, when she has heard this story, she did send others cakes phu thê accompagnied by two following verses: 

Từ ngày chàng bước xuống ghe
Sóng bao nhiêu đợt bánh phu thê rầu bấy nhiêu

Since your departure, waves were encountered by your boat as much as afflictions were known by the cake susê  
Lầu Ngũ Phụng

 

In architecture, the number 5 is not forgetten either. It is the case of Ngọ Môn gate (noon gate) in the forbidden city (Huế). This gate is  a powerful  masonry  foundation drilled with five passages and surmonted by an elegant wooden structure with two levels, the Belvedere of five Phoenixes (Lầu Ngủ Phụng). Viewed from the sky, this latter  with two additional wings, seems to form five phoenix in flight with intertwined beaks. This belvedere possesses 100 wood columns(gỗ lim)(ironwood) painted and tinted in yellow for allowing  to carry its nine roofs. This number 100 was well examinated  by Vietnamese specialists. According to renowned  archeologist  Phan Thuận An, it exactly corresponds to the total number obtained by adding two numbers found respectively  in the River map (Hà Đồ)  and Writings of Luo  (Lạc thư cửu tinh đồ) symbolizing the perfect harmony of the union Yin and Yang.  It is not the Liễu Thượng Văn advice.  According to this latter, this represents the strength of 100 families or people (bách tính) and reflects the notion dân vi bản (consider people as basis) in the Nguyễn dynasty’s governance.  The roof of the central pavilion is covered by yellow tiles « lưu ly », the rest being with blue tiles « lưu ly ». Being  just in the middle,  the main gate  (or noon gate) is reserved to the king and  paved with stones   « Thanh » tinted in yellow color. From both sides, one finds  left and right doors (Tả, Hữu, Giáp Môn) reserved to civilian and military mandarins.  Then two others lateral  gates Tả Dịch MônHữu Dịch Môn are intended to soldiers and horses. One is accustomed to say in Vietnamese: 

tucam

Ngọ Môn năm cửa chín lầu
Một lầu vàng, tám lầu xanh, ba cửa thẳng, hai cửa quanh »

The noon gate  possesses 5 passages and 9 roofs the one of which is varnished in yellow and the 8 others in blue.  There are  three main  doors  and two side entries.

In the east and west of the citadel, ones finds Humanty and Virtue gates which are reserved respectively for men and women. 

The number 9 is a Yang number (or odd number). It representes the Yang strength at the maximum.  It is difficult to reach it.  That is why, in the past, the emperor often uses for showing his power and supremacy. He climbs 9 stairs symbolizing the ascent of sacred mountain in which there was his throne. It is said that the forbidden city like that of Pékin possessed 9999 rooms. It is useful to recall that the forbidden city of Pékin was supervised by  Nguyễn An, a Vietnamese exiled  still  young at the time of the Ming. As his palaces, the emperor turns towards the South in Yang energy in order to receive the vital breath of Sky because he is the Heaven son. In Vietnam, one finds nine dynastic urns of Huế citadel, nine branchs of Mekon river, nine roofs of  Belvedere of five Phoenixes etc … In the tale intituled   « The God of Mountains and the God of Rivers « (Sơn Tinh Thủy Tinh) », 18th (2×9) Hùng Vương king, proposed for the dowry marriage of his daughter Mị Nương: an elephant with nine tusks, a rooster with nine spurs and a horse with nine red manes.  The number 9 symbolizes the Heaven,  the birthday of which is the ninth (9th) day of February month.

Being less important than 5 and 9, the number 3 (or Ba and Tam in Vietnamese) isclosely tied to the daily life of the Vietnamese.  They do not hesitate to evoke it in a large number of popular expressions. For meaning a certain limit, a certain degree, they have the habit of saying: 

Không ai giàu ba họ, không ai khó ba đời:
No person can claim to be rich  to three generations as  no one is  more  stringent to three successive lives. 

It goes to the Vietnamese to often  accomplish this certain thing at once, this obliges them to do many times this operation. It is the following expression that they uses frequently: Nhất quá tam.  It is the number 3, a limit they don’t like to exceed  in the accomplishment of this task. For saying that someone is irresponsible,  they designate him under the term “Ba trợn“.  Someone who is opportunistic is called « Ba phải » . The expression  « Ba đá » is reserved to vulgar people while those who continue to be entangled in minor matters or endless difficulties  receive the title « Ba lăng nhăng« . For weighing his words, the Vietnamese needs to bend three inches of his  tongue. (Uốn ba tấc lưỡi). 

The number 3 also is synonymous with insignificant and unimportant something.It is what one finds in following popular expressions: 

Ăn sơ sài ba hột: To eat a little bit.
Ăn ba miếng: idem
Sách ba xu: book without values. (the book costs only three  pennies).
Ba món ăn chơi: Some  dishes  for tasting. 

Analogous to number 3, the number 7 is often mentioned in Vietnamese literature. One cannot ignore either the expression Bảy nỗi ba chìm với nước non  (I  float 7 times  and I descend thee times if this  expression is translated in verbatim) that Hồ Xuân Hương poetess  has used and immortalized in her poem intituled « Bánh trôi nước” :

Thân em vừa trắng lại vừa tròn
Bây nỗi ba chìm với nước non
………. 

for describing difficulties encountered by the Vietnamese woman in a feudal and Confucian society. This one did not spare either those having an independent mind, freedom and justice.   It is the case of  Cao Bá Quát , an active scholar who was degusted from the scholastica of his time and dreamed of replacing the Nguyễn authoritarian monarchy by an enlightened monarchy. Accused of being the actor of the grasshoppers insurrection  (Giặc Châu Chấu) in 1854, he was condemned to death and he did no hesitate his reflection on the fate reserved to those who dared to criticize  the despotism and feudal society in his poem before his death: 

Ba hồi trống giục đù cha kiếp
Một nhát gươm đưa, đéo mẹ đời. 

Three gongs are reserved to the miserable fate
A sabre slice finishes this dog’s life. 

If the Yin and Yang theory continues to haunt their mind for its mystical and impenetrable character, it remains however a way of thinking and living to which a good number  of the Vietnamese continue to refer daily for common practices and respect of ancestral traditions.


Bibliography

-Xu Zhao Long : Chôkô bunmei no hakken, Chûgoku kodai no nazo in semaru (Découverte de la civilisation du Yanzi. A la recherche des mystères de l’antiquité chinoise, Tokyo, Kadokawa-shoten 1998).
-Yasuda Yoshinori : Taiga bunmei no tanjô, Chôkô bunmei no tankyû (Naissance des civilisations des grands fleuves. Recherche sur la civilisation du Yanzi), Tôkyô, Kadokawa-shoten, 2000).
-Richard Wilhelm : Histoire de la civilisation chinoise 1931
-Nguyên Nguyên: Thử đọc lại truyền thuyết Hùng Vương
– Léonard Rousseau: La première conquête chinoise des pays annamites (IIIe siècle avant notre ère). BEFO, année 1923, Vol 23, no 1
-Paul Pozner : Le problème des chroniques vietnamiennes., origines et influences étrangères. BEFO, année 1980, vol 67, no 67, p 275-302
-Dich Quốc Tã : Văn Học sữ Trung Quốc, traduit en vietnamien par Hoàng Minh Ðức 1975.
-Norman Jerry- Mei tsulin (1976) : The Austro asiatic in south China : some lexical evidence, Monumenta Serica 32 :274-301
-Henri Maspero : Chine Antique : 1927.
-Jacques Lemoine : Mythes d’origine, mythes d’identification. L’homme 101, paris, 1987 XXVII pp 58-85
-Fung Yu Lan: A History of Chinese Philosophy ( traduction vietnamienne Đại cương triết học sử Trung Quốc” (SG, 1968).68, tr. 140-151)).
-Alain Thote: Origine et premiers développements de l’épée en Chine.
-Cung Ðình Thanh: Trống đồng Ðồng Sơn : Sự tranh luận về chủ quyền trống
đồng giữa h ọc giã Việt và Hoa.Tập San Tư Tưởng Tháng 3 năm 2002 số 18.
-Brigitte Baptandier : En guise d’introduction. Chine et anthropologie. Ateliers 24 (2001). Journée d’étude de l’APRAS sur les ethnologies régionales à Paris en 1993.
-Nguyễn Từ Thức : Tãn Mạn về Âm Dương, chẳn lẻ (www.anviettoancau.net)
-Trần Ngọc Thêm: Tìm về bản sắc văn hóa Việt-Nam. NXB : Tp Hồ Chí Minh Tp HCM 2001.
-Nguyễn Xuân Quang: Bản sắc văn hóa việt qua ngôn ngữ việt (www.dunglac.org)
-Georges Condominas : La guérilla viêt. Trait culturel majeur et pérenne de l’espace social vietnamien, L’Homme 2002/4, N° 164, p. 17-36.
-Louis Bezacier: Sur la datation d’une représentation primitive de la charrue. (BEFO, année 1967, volume 53, pages 551-556)
-Ballinger S.W. & all: Southeast Asian mitochondrial DNA Analysis reveals genetic continuity of ancient Mongoloid migration, Genetics 1992 vol 130 p.139-152….

Edouard Hocquard

Le regard d’un homme au destin exceptionnel

English version

 
Charles Edouard Hocquard, médecin militaire et  reporter correspondant pour l’agence Havas au Tonkin de 1884 à 1886 nous a légué en héritage une collection d’images de beauté de la première guerre coloniale du Vietnam. Il a rapporté plus de 200 clichés composant une porte-folio de 80 planches en photoglyptie (1) publié en 1887. Il a relaté avec acuité et humour dans « Une expédition au Tonkin », les anecdotes pittoresques avec les paysans de la région, la connaissance de la flore locale, les souvenirs  de la guerre du Tonkin et du peuple vietnamien etc..

Il n’a pas obtenu le succès commercial escompté avec la publication de ses reportages photographiques.  Mais il a réussi à montrer qu’il est possible de trouver dans le conflit franco-vietnamien un autre regard plus objectif, celui d’un homme de science à la rencontre d’une autre culture à l’aube du  XXème siècle. Il est décédé d’une grippe infectieuse le 11 Janvier 1911 à l’âge de cinquante huit ans.

 

Galerie des photos

Version anglaise

The look of a man with  extraordinary destiny

Being a medical officer and reporter for the Havas agency in Tonkin from 1884 to 1886,  Charles Edouard Hocquard  has bequeathed us as heritage a collection of  beautiful digital pictures  coming from the first colonial war in Vietnam. He brougth  back more than 200 clichés composing a portfolio of 80 boards in  « photoglyptie« (1)  and published in 1887. He related picturesque anecdotes with  local peasants, knowledge  of local flora,  memories of war and Vietnamese people with acuity and humor in the book « Une expédition au Tonkin (An expedition in Tonkin) » etc…

The commercial success was not obtained  with the publication of its  photographic articles. But he succeeded in showing that it is possible to find in the franco-vietnamese conflict an other look very impartial, that of a scientific man going out to meet with an other culture at the dawn of the twenty century. He died from an infectious influenza on 11 January 1911 when he was fifty-eight years old.


(1) photoglyptie: un procédé d’impression photomécanique inaltérable destiné à remplacer les tirages argentiques.

      An immutable  photomechanical printing process is  intended to replace silver printings.

In Search of the Origin of the Vietnamese People: Part 2 (Đi tìm nguồn gốc dân tộc Việt)

 

Đi tìm nguồn gốc dân tộc Việt (Phần 2)

French version

In search of the Origin of the Vietnamese people

This remark has been confirmed by what was discovered in the tombs at the Guigi site of Jiangxi: The weapons found bore a symbolic characteristic because they were all made of wood. They did not have an important place in people’s life or after-live. This led to the conclusion that contrary to the society of the folks from the North, that of the Yue was rather more peaceful. That is why they were not able to resist better every time there was an encroachment by the neighbors from the North, the Yi who did not stop at nibbling away their territory and pushing them a little farther south at each confrontation. The Yi distinguished themselves by their art of making bows and arrows. They were formidable warriors talented in arching and horse riding. Hardened by the roughness of nature, they were used to wrestling with wild animals and other tribes. That gave them at the start a gene of a conqueror and a fighter in their blood.

It was not the case of the folks from the South, the Bai Yue. The wise Confucius had the occasion to compare the forces that the folks from the North and from the South possessed respectively: Courage and power ( Dũng ) for the former and kindness and generosity ( Nhân từ ) for the latter. Again, the word Yi having for origin the picture of a man holding a bow gives us a pretty good idea on the particularity of the folks from the North. Under the direction of , Houang Di ( Hoàng Ðế ) they have succeeded in pushing back the first tribes of Bai Yue in the territory delimited by the yellow river Huang He and the YangTse river led by Chiyou ( Xi Bưu ) ( or Ðế Lai in Vietnamese ) in alliance with king Lôc Tục ( ou Kinh Dương Vương ) who reigned south of the blue River on a vast country of Xích Qủi ( Country of red demons ). According to a Chinese legend, this confrontation took place at Trác Lộc ( Zhuolu ) in the presently province of Hebei and has permitted the folks from the North to start progressively their expansion to the Blue River. The death of Chiyou marked the first victory of the folks from the North over the Bai Yue people some 3000 years B.C.

At the Shang period, none of the Chinese or Vietnamese historic documents talked about the relationship between the Bai Yue and the Shang besides the Vietnamese legend about « Phù Ðổng Thiên Vương » ( or the heavenly hero of Phù Ðổng village ) which reported a confrontation between the Shang and the Văn Lang kingdom of the Luo Yue. However it was noted that contact was established later between the Zhou dynasty and the king of the Luo Yue ( Hùng Vương ). A silver pheasant ( bach trĩ ) was offered by the latter to the king of Zhou according to the book Linh Nam Chích Quái. At the time of Spring and Autumn, a state of East Yue was known in the Mémoires Historiques by the historiographer of Han empire Si Ma Qian ( Tư Mã Thiên ) . It was the kingdom of the famous lord Gou Jian ( Câu Tiễn ). At the death of this one, his descendants did not succeed in maintaining hegemony. At the middle course of the Blue River, another kingdom, founded also by one of the Bai Yue tribes ( Bộc Lão ) and known as Chu ( Sở Quốc), took over at the time of Fighting Kingdoms and became one of the seven rival principalities ( Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan, Qi, Qin and Chu ).(Hàn, Triệu, Ngụy, Yên, Tề, Tần và Sỡ).

Terracotta warrior of Qin Shi Huang Di

Before being defeated by the army of Qin, the Chu kingdom has indirectly brought its undeniable contribution in favor of the future formation and unity of the Chinese nation that the Yi had begun to put in place by eliminating in 332 the state of East Yue of Goujian and starting to give a new impulsion to the development of a large state with the reforms of Wu Qi (Ngô Khởi).

The Gou Yue ( or East Yue ) began to take refuge in the southern territory of Bai Ye after the annexation of their land by the Chu kingdom. According to Léonnard Aurousseau, after their defeat, The Gou Yue or Ðông Âu (or East Âu ) found asylum in large number in the following regions: Foujian ( Phúc Kiến ), Guangdon ( Quảng Ðông ), Guangxi ( Quảng Tây ) and Jiaozhi ( Giao Chỉ ) and thus became the Man Yue ( Foujian ), Nan Yue (Jiangsu, Jiangxi) and Luo Yue (Quangxi, Jiaozhi). All were « sinisized » as centuries went by except the Luo Yue who were the legitimes descendants of Gou Yue at the Au branch and were known often as Tây Âu ( Xi Ou or West Âu ).

« There was no doubts on the origin of the Luo Yue », wrote the French scholar Leonard Aurousseau in his work « Notes sur les origines du peuple annamite ( Ghi chép nguồn gốc dân tộc An Nam ) » ( BEFEO, T XXIII, 1923, p.254 ). The other Yue peoples, particularly those living in the Chu kingdom were fast to follow them at the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang Di. This one did not hesitate to banish whoever dare resist his policy of assimilation, particularly the Yue and the Miao to forced labor on the construction of the Great Wall, to burn not only all the works of learned confucianists but also those of other unsubdued people and to maintain his policy of aggression against the Bai Yue as far as Ling Nan ( Linh Nam ). The conquest of the Xi Ou and Luo Yue (Tay Au) territory of Thục An Dương Vương that marked the second confrontation between the Chinese and the Bai Yue, was achieved in 207 with the nomination of two famous governors to the conquered territory: Nhâm Hiếu ( Jen Hiao ) and his assistant Triệu Ðà ( Zhao Tuo ).

In spite of the policy of terror and pacification, the Yue continued to run their resistance heroically. They hid in the bush and lived with the animals. No one agreed to become slave of the Chinese. The Yue picked their chiefs among their men of value. Then they attacked the Chinese at night and inflicted them with a great defeat…, that was reported in the translation of Huainan zi (Hoài nam tử) of L. Aurousseau, B.E.F.E.O. XXIII, 1923, p. 176.

At the death of Nhâm Hiếu, taking advantage of consecutive troubles following the fall of the Qin empire in 207, Triệu Ðà. ( Zhao Tuo ) became allied with other Yue to declare independence fo the Nan Yue kingdom for which he took control of Guilin and Xiang then in 184 B.C., he attacked the Chang Sha region ( Hunan ( Hồ Nam )) . This kingdom was short-lived and fell back in the hands of the folks from the North, the Han in 111 B.C. despite the heroic resistance of Prime Minister Lục Gia. This confrontation, the third one with the people of Bai Yue took away not only their land but also their cultural identity. The sinization began its full steam on the conquered territory ( Foujian (Phuc Kien), Guizhou ( Qui Chau ), Guangdong ( Quảng Ðông ), Guangxi ( Quảng Tây ), Yunnan ( Vân Nam ), Tonkin ( Giao Chỉ ). Many revolts and insurrections broke out during this long period of Chinese domination. But the most dazzling revolt remained the one run heroically by the sisters Trưng Trắc, Trưng Nhị. On appeal of the sisters in 39 A.D., the Yue living in the South of China and a large part of Tonkin joined them. That helped them to stand up with the Han army until 43 A.D. But they were finally defeated by Ma Yuan ( Mã Viện ) a great Chinese marshal at the time. Ma Yuan ( Mã Viện ) assigned by the Han emperor , Guang Wu (Quang Võ) decided to destroy all bronze drums found on the land of the Luo Yue because he knew at the confrontation that those objects had the value as an emblem of power for them. According to what people said, to move back the frontier down to the Nam Quan border gate, he did not hesitate to erect a pillar several meters high made of bronze collected from the drums and bearing this sign:

Ðồng trụ triệt , Giao Chỉ diệt
Ðồng trụ ngã, Giao Chỉ bị diệt.
Bronze pillar falls, Giao Chi disappears

But that did not upset the will and ardor for independence of the Luo Yue ( the Viet ). They decided to consolidate the pillar by throwing a piece of earth around it when they went by, which progressively helped in building up a mound and made disappear the mythical pillar. To deal with any eventuality of revolt, there was also an order from empress Kao (Lữ Hậu) in 179 B.C. providing a ban on delivery of not only plowing and metal instruments but also horses, oxen and sheep to the Barbarians and the Yue. This has been reported by E. Gaspardone in his work titled  » Matériaux pour servir à l’histoire de l’Annam » ( BEFEO, 1929 ). Because of this policy, it is not surprising to discover recently a large number of bronze drums burried in Vietnam and in neighboring areas ( Yunnan, Hunan ). The Ðồng Sơn civilization came to an end during the Chinese occupation.

Forced enlistment of the Yue into the army of the conquerors and the contacts they had with the Chinese as the years went by allowed them to know more about warfare technique ( Sunzi (Tôn Tử) for example ) and to improve their weapons in the struggle against the invaders in the years to come. On the other hand, the Chinese appropriated what belonged to the Yue during their long occupation. The Yue continued to be treated as barbarians despite their undeniable contribution to the radiance of Chinese culture. Those folks from the North could pretend from then on to be the legitimate holders of the Writing of Luo, the theory of Ying and Yang and the 5 elements, even though there exists a large number of incoherence in their mythical made up stories.

 Reconstructed model found at the Banpo site

They modified the dragon, the preferred mythical animal of the Bai Yue, which had a start with an alligator’s head and a snake’s body, to fit their temperament of a warrior and their taste by giving it the wings and a horse’s trunk and definitely adopted it as their own symbolic animal even though they had the white tiger in their Turco – Mongol traditions. Their round form house whose model has been reconstructed and found at the Banpo site has been replaced by a spacious house with a roof largely « hollow-back » and overflowing in canopy, that of the Bai Yue. In the turmoil of history, there was no more room for the Bai Yue.

Except the Luo Yue, other peoples of Bai Yue continued to be « sinized » in a way that at the end of 10th century, on their land there were only two peoples face to face, a conquering people (the Han) and the rebellious people ( the Viet ) looking for independence. The states of Gou Yue, Nan Yue, Man Yue etc…thereafter took part in Southern China. Taking advantage of the breaking up of the Tang empire, the Luo Yue declared independence with Ngô Quyền. The Vietnamese nation began to see the day. One should not believe that everything went really smoothly and harmoniously. It cost such sacrifices in order for the folks from the North to accept the reality. That is how the history page of the Bai Yue was mixed up with that of the Luo Yue.

Have recent scientific discoveries radically changed the view about the Bai Yue and particularly their history? They have called into question he idea of cultural diffusionism originated from the North. More ancient vestiges than those at Hemudu have been discovered recently in the middle Blue river at Pentoushan ( Hunan ) . Could one continue to consider the Miao , the Bai Yue as « barbarian » folks? Nevertheless the word Miao (or Miêu in Vietnamese) which is made of a ricefield picture ( Ðiền ) added on its top the pictogram « Thảo » (cỏ) ( herb ) provides evidence how the Chinese depict in their language people knowing how to grow rice. Could we continue to maintain a traditional and obsolete version written by the conquerors to the detriment of the search for historic truth? It turns out indispensable to put the train back on the tracks knowing for sure that the Chinese civilization does not need made up stories because it deserved to appear for a long time among the great civilizations of humanity. It is the ancestors of the Luo Yue that taught the folks from the North the culture of rice and not the other way around as has been written in a large number of Chinese and Vietnamese historic documents. The time has come to give the homage to our ancestors, the Yue, who because of their peaceful nature were forced to be wiped off in front of the use of force in the turmoil of history.

 


Heirs of a glorious past, tangled up successively in fraticide and colonial wars and deep in corruption, Vietnam of the Luo Yue needs to recover because it does not deserve to be part of the poorest countries in the world. The time has come for it to follow the path drawn by its ancestors and do better than them….

 

Papyrus vietnamien (Giấy dó)

 

English version

Papier dó

Celles-ci sont proposées souvent dans les kiosques réservés aux touristes étrangers. Le papier dó (papier de rhamnomeuron) est utilisé dans l’impression de ces imageries. Selon certains chercheurs vietnamiens, ce papier fut apparu vers le IIIème siècle et connût son apogée du VIIIème au XIVème siècles. Hồ Qúi Ly s’en servit à la fin du XIVème  siècle pour l’impression des monnaies fiduciaires.

La production de ce papier nécessite une préparation minutieuse. Il est fabriqué avec l’écorce de l’arbre do. Après la récolte de celle-ci entre les 8è et 10è mois lunaires, on a besoin de l’immerger dans l’eau pendant un ou deux jours. On la traite ensuite en la macérant dans une solution de chaux condensée durant 5 heures. Puis on la fait bouillir

L’enfant et le coq

durant une vingtaine d’heures avant de la piler pendant 5 heures. La farine obtenue par le pilage est diluée dans une bassine remplie d’un mélange d’eau et de résine de la plante mò ( clerodendron ). Le papier est obtenu grâce à un moule après avoir été pressé et séché.

Papyrus vietnamien

Galerie des photos

Pour cent kilos d’écorce, on obtient seulement 5 ou 6 kilos de papier. Cela explique la raison pour laquelle le marché est très limité. De plus le papyrus vietnamien do ne pousse que dans les hautes régions au Nord. Connus pour la fabrication des imageries populaires sur papier do, les villageois de Dương Ô et de Ðông Hồ ont subi le même sort. Le prix de revient  dans  la production du papier recyclé est supérieur à celui de vente  du papier dó. C’est pourquoi peu de gens continuent à s’intéresser encore à ce métier ancestral qui se perd au fil des années.

Version anglaise

Those are often proposed in the kiosks reserved to  foreign tourists. Paper dó (rhamnomeuron paper) is used in the printing of these images. According to certain Vietnamese researchers, this paper had appeared around the 3rd century and knews its apogee from the 8th to the 14th century. Hồ Qúi Ly made use of it at the end of  14th century for the printing of  fiduciary currencies. The production of this paper requires a meticulous preparation.

It is manufactured with the bark of the tree dó. After the harvest of this one between the 8th and 10th lunar months, one needs to immerse it in water during one or two days. After one treats it by macerating it in a lime solution condensed during 5 hours. Then one makes it by boiling  during about twenty hours before crushing it during 5 hours. The flour obtained by crushing is diluted in a basin filled with a mixture of water and resin of the plant mò (clerodendron). Paper is obtained thanks to a mould after being pressed and  dried.

For two hundred kilos of bark, one  gets only 5 or 6 kilos of paper. That explains why the market is very limited. In addition, the Vietnamese papyrus dó grows only in the northern  highlands. Known for making popular imagery on paper dó,  villagers of Dương Ô and Đông Hồ suffered the same fate. The cost price in the production of recycled paper is higher than the selling  price  of dó paper. That is why a few people still continue to be interesting to this ancient craft that is lost over the years.

Ceramic (Gốm Vietnam)

French version

gom

 

It is greatly surprising to see that, despite the everlasting domination of China on Viet-Nam, the latter was able to distinguish brilliantly starting from 14th century in the domain of ceramics. It became thus an active participant in the flourishing trade of South-East Asia in this domain with its junks and its compass known since 11th century. Tome Pires in his Suma Oriental (1515) summarized all these exchanges and foot-noted even the existence of a Vietnamese ceramic production intended for sale in China. At that time, there was even the counterfeit of Vietnamese blue and white in the Chinese furnaces of Snatow.

Its success was mainly due to the cobalt blue that blew into Vietnamese ceramic art a spirit which will have lasted for two centuries and enabled it to capture a foreign market as far as even the most remote corners of Asia.

It is the case of large a vase-bottle found at the Topkapi palace of Istanbul, carrying an inscription in Chinese characters, in blue under glaze that one can read in Vietnamese: Painted for pleasure by Pei de Nam Sách in the 8th year of Thái Hoà, or of a dish with blue and white floral decoration at the Treasury of Ardebil (Museum of Teheran)

If the cobalt blue was known in Vietnam for a long time even before the Chinese invasion of Ming, it appears that it was used only around the years 1430-1450. It is from this time that the blue and white definitively replace monochromic ceramics. 

Gốm

Vase (Lê dynasty)

It is thanks to the perfect control of manufacturing, decorating and baking techniques that the Vietnamese potter can improve his imagination. Even though constraints of painting under glaze do not prevent any repentance, there appear on the sandstone not only more and more sophisticated drawings but also a variety of pigments, an eruption of form s and original decorations, which made him an artist. If he does borrow a good number of decorative drawings from China ( peonies, lotus, flowers, foliated scrolls etc..), he has on the other hand the idea to create an autonomous style which is less hieratic and more vivacious than his Chinese homologous by the liveliness of his feature and his spontaneity. He can adapt these decorative elements to the Vietnamese style: the Chinese red fish becomes thus the Cá Bông, a Vietnamese freshwater fish.

It is no longer the case of China since China discovers the perspective starting from the reign of Jiajing (1522-1566). On the other hand, the quality of the central motif found on the plates, is definitely higher than that of the surrounding ones. This proves there is an intervention of several craftsmen in the realization of these plates. Because of the war, Viêt-Nam did not set up a systematic program of archaeological excavations. Few sites were exhumed so far. On the other hand one knows that the areas of Tam Tố north of Thanh Hoá, Nam Sách in the province of Hải Dương, Bát Tràng north of Hanoi to name a few sites, are surely witnesses of the manufacture of these Vietnamese ceramic pieces.

Jarres , verseuses et bols en grès à l’époque des dynasties Lý et Trần.

Pictures gallery of Vương Hồn g Sển collection

 

La céramique vietnamienne (Philippe Colomban CNRS)

Des céramiques vietnamiennes chargées d’histoire  (Philippe Colomban CNRS)

 

Art vietnamien (Nghệ thuật)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Confucianist (English version)

French version

Being confucianist

Vietnamese society is profoundly influenced by Confucianism that was introduced to Vietnam in the era of a long Chinese domination (111 B.C. – 939 A.D.). Therefore Vietnamese people have absorbed more or less the concepts prescribed by the wise Confucius in « The Canonical Book« . Must be done what appears on a moral viewpoint just and appropriate taking into account the Five Relations ( Ngũ Luân ) upon which rests the Vietnamese society: relation between the king and subjects, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brothers, friend and friend.

Thanks to this doctrine, a Vietnamese bestows great importance to his family that he always considers as a moral training ground and strongly attaches himself to the forces of the land and his ancestors.

This allows the Vietnamese society to find not only a cohesion but also a consolidation, deep roots and an efficiency to overcome foreign powers in the most difficult and crucial moments of the history of Vietnam. Society is considered on a large scale by Vietnamese as an extension of the family circle. A confucianist Vietnamese never neglects his filial piety, respect of elderly people, ideal of loyalty, friendship and honor.

In order to understand the Vietnamese soul, gentleness should be taken. Generally speaking, a Vietnamese is stripped of his aggressiveness except when someone makes him lose face, in particular his honor. Forgiveness is something very Vietnamese. Those are quintessential traits of the Vietnamese people depicted by the Vietnamese Bob Dylan Trịnh Công Sơn. Honor is one of the qualities a confucianist Vietnamese tries to conserve until the end of his life. The jade that melts can conserve its whiteness, the consumed bamboo still keeps its stem straight. Individual existence is very light compared to that of honor. Those are the sentences that sum up the state of mind of the confucianist Vietnamese.

Pictures gallery

It is the case of general Võ Tánh who, despite the recommendations of his brother-in-law Gia Long to flee, preferred to take sacrifice in 1801 by jumping in a building full of gun powder to defend not only is honor but also the lives of his soldiers facing the powerfully equipped Tây Sơn army immobilized because of the siege at Qui Nhơn, which allowed emperor Gia Long to claim at Phú Xuân (Huế) a thunderous and decisive victory. But the one who illustrated well the confucianist Vietnamese remains the hero Trần Hưng Ðạo. One finds in this general all the qualities of a man of ren (ren includes all virtues prescribed by Confucius in the Canonical Book.

His father, Trần Liễu was the brother of King Trần Thái Tôn. The latter had no children. To consolidate and perpetuate the dynasty, the prime minister Trần Thủ Ðộ did not hesitate to force the Princess Thuận Thiên, the concubine of Trần Hung Ðạo’s father, pregnant for three months, to marry the King. Outraged, his father Trần Liễu told him at the time of agony:

If you couldn’t avenge this offense and to take the throne, I wouldn’t never happy in the land of Sources.

It challenged not the words but never took into account the recommendations of his father. However, one day, to determine the intentions of his children, he asked again their opinion about it. His younger son encouraged him to usurp the throne. He prohibited his son from seeing him until the end of his life after failing to kill this latter on the field. Very pious, he learned that his father had told him, but he tried to leave aside the personal interests to act in accordance with the interests of the nation.

His loyalty toward the king was without failure . On a beautiful day, during an excursion with the king in a jonc, having in his hand a baton whose end bore a sharp piece of metal, he did not hesitate to take it off to show the king his loyalty. It was he who reassured the king to continue the struggle against the Mongols and not to surrender by telling him: « If you want to surrender, you must first behead me« . Thanks to his courage, determination, tenacity and magnanimity, Vietnam succeeded in getting out victor two times in a row against the Mongolian army of Kubilai Khan in 1257 and 1267.

He never took advantage of his military command to grant favor to anybody. He left it to the king to take care of when he was commander in chief of the Vietnamese army. He exerted his power with equal fairness on everyone, big or small. He is perfectly close to the man of ren. It is also thanks to him that Confucianism at his time reached its highest point and thus became the sole model of organization of state and of the Vietnamese society.

In spite of that, Confucianism is blamed for keeping the people in particular women in permanent status of submissiveness and for being one of the causing factors of inertia that works largely to the advantage of the leading class and stifles enterprise spirit and any reforms needed for progress, which provoked at the beginning of 20th century serious and catastrophic consequences for Vietnam with the fall of the Nguyễn empire followed by regrettable events during the last decades.

It is not surprising to see that a man coming from this Confucian society, in particular the Vietnamese intelligentsia of today is confronted often with an insurmountable dilemma. He is always pulled between social progress and moral values of Confucianism which continues to exert a noticeable influence on his heart and mind at the moment when Vietnamese society needs reforms to be able to better adapt with economic and social mutations that are necessary for Vietnam after so many years of war. It is difficult to know today in what way socialism erected on the dogma of state, has really played a role in the current social transformation. But it is also impossible to evaluate the degree of influence of Confucianism at this time.

Today, it is up to us, as Vietnamese to find the right way and to behave with dignity so that we are not ashamed of being the « Children and Nephews of the Dragon and the Immortal », in particular those who live abroad.

 

Being Caodaïst (Tôi là người Cao Đài)

French version

 

We, the Caodaïsts, we must know to perfect ourselves. It is not essential for us to fast and call upon Buddha by prayers or to enter a pagoda in order to be able to attain perfection. We have the possibility of attaining it if we always have in us the three following qualities: Love, Wisdom and Will.

At birth, we already had kindness. This is why, our Ancestors were accustomed to saying:

Nhân chi sơ, tính bản thiện. Mankind is naturally good at birth.

But because of the hazards of life, the unjustified competitions and the immoderate desires which continue to monopolize us sempiternally, we thus became dishonest people, perfidious, egoistic, which makes us lose the kindness that we acquired at birth. All the Wise ones of Antiquity had had these three qualities evoked above.

To have an idea on what the individual has or not in terms of kindness, it is enough for us to observe his behavior towards his close relations. It is by this observation that we are able to know him, which had said the Chinese philosopher Jou Mencius.

Love is a quality necessary to the perfection but it cannot be complete because we need wisdom to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, good from evil. There are plenty of generous people who, in spite of their gifts offered to the construction of the pagodas in a considerable way, continue to be entangled in an inauspicious behavior because they do not manage to distinguish right from wrong. It happens that they may be badly considered sometimes compared to those who never have the occasion to take part in this generous contribution.

In Vietnam, the Lý dynasty was famous for its irreproachable enthusiasm towards Buddhism by the bias of a great number of constructions of pagodas. That unrelentingly led the people to misery because of the too high taxes and ineluctably caused the popular discontent which was the principal cause of its fall.

Whatever his educational level, man always has in him Wisdom because when we act badly or not, we will know it thanks to our own conscience. For example, when one tries to lie, one feels ashamed towards oneself although the person to whom one lied does not know it. It is the wisdom which helps us make this distinction. The French philosopher Blaise Pascal had the occasion to stress that man is a thinking reed.

To continue to lie or act badly or not, we need Will. It is easy to evoke this quality but it appears difficult for us to have it because we are obliged to go sometimes against our own interests or to be losers at times also. Sometimes it happens to us not to have a safe life. I refer to some Chinese or Vietnamese historical facts with an aim of enabling us to be together to reflect and respectfully admire the people whom I regard as knowing how to perfect themselves because they had the three qualities evoked above. They became famous characters in the history of China and Vietnam.

Initially, it was the case of Zhuge Liang ( or Gia Cát Lượng in Vietnamese). He was at the same time Prime Minister and adviser to Liu Bei, the last survivor of the Han dynasty ( Lưu Hoài Ðức ) in China. The Barbarians coming from the steppes of the North of China and directed by Manh Hoạch often liked to raid the territory of his kingdom. Zhuge Liang managed to capture Manh Hoạch 7 times but this latter was released immediately on the order of Zhuge Liang at each capture. He was very generous. He was equipped with an extraordinary wisdom because he found that it was necessary to convince Manh Hoach by the means of love and feelings. If Manh Hoạch had been killed, there would be probably another Manh Hoạch. That obliged him to frequently assemble punitive expeditions and did not allow him to have the free hand to restore the Han dynasty and to bring back peace and happiness to its citizens.

It was why he continued to release impassively Manh Hoach at the time of each capture. He had an incommensurable will because he knew that to prevent Manh Hoach from betraying later, he was to waste much time, to forget the personal interests and to give himself many concerns with his rather advanced age. It would be less tiring for him if he decided to kill Manh Hoach because he was not obliged to assemble up to 7 times the punitive expedition. At the time of the last capture, when he was about to usually release Manh Hoach, this latter started to cry and to surrender definitively. Zhuge Liang had these three qualities evoked above. Although he is not a monk, we can affirm that with the three qualities found in him ( Love, Wisdom and Will ), he knew how to perfect himself and he was already regarded as a Wise one at the time of the Three Kingdoms.

In Vietnam, there are also kings whom we can regard as the Wise ones. It is the case of king Lý Thánh Tôn which had these 3 qualities quoted above. This is why he was known in the history of Vietnam as an intelligent king, distinguished, charitable and valiant. The revolt of the king of Champa, Chế Cũ obliged him to assemble a punitive expedition while leaving regency to his concubine Ỷ Lan. Faced with the determination of Chế Cũ, he was not able to capture him after several months of expedition. Disappointed, he was obliged to return to the country. On his return, he learned that his people did not cease praising the talent of his concubine Ỷ Lan in the art of governing the country. He felt ashamed and decided to return to the front. When he succeeded to capture Chế Cũ, he could have killed this one to alleviate his anger but he preferred to let him return to his country.

It was why Viet-Nam knew a period of peace, prosperity and happiness. He was very charitable because he let the one who had humiliated him in front of his people leave. He lost much time in order to be able to capture him. Are we capable of acting as he did if we were in his place? One fine day, during one period when the winter was hard, he addressed his mandarins in the following terms:

By dressing myself in this manner, I continue to be stiff with cold. How do people manage to resist this rigorous cold especially the poor when it is known that they do not have enough money to feed themselves?. It is necessary to give them as of now additional food and clothes.

Another time, while holding company with his daughter, the princess Ðông Thiên, at the time of an audience, he turned to his mandarins in saying to them:

I have a deep love for my people as that which I always have for my daughter. Unfortunately, the people is so little informed that it does not cease to make mistakes. It is for that that I have so much pity for it. I kindly request you to decrease the punishments and the pains inflicted.

His wisdom was incommensurable. To conquer Champa, he knew that it was necessary to convince and calm Chế Cũ although he was humiliated and upset to compare what he had undergone to what his concubine had done, a woman coming from a rural environment, Y? Lan for his people during his absence. He could kill Chế Cũ to alleviate his anger and to wash this momentary insult. But he was a courageous man who could put the interests of his people before his personal interests. He was really the person having the three evoked qualities.

 
Whatever the situation we are in, we, Caodaïsts, we must try to improve ourselves. That sometimes happened to me to want to continue this step. It is necessary to recognize that it is not easy to concretize it. I do not hide either that I had also the daily difficulties but I feel relieved enormously when I succeeded in concretizing it a little. I am delighted because I realize that I start to improve myself even if that appears negligible.

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A young Caodaïst

That reminds me of the sentence that Ung Giả Vi wrote in the Conversations of Wise Confucius:

Nhân viên hồ tai! Ngã dục nhân, Tư Nhân chi hỷ!
Nhân có xa đâu! Ta muốn nhân thì nhân đến vậy!

The virtue is not far! One will be able to have it if one really wants it.

that enables me to be convinced that GOOD or EVIL exists well in each one of us. I understand that it is not necessary to go to the pagoda or the church to be able to improve oneself. I am able to do it if I do not forget what God in the bible of the Caodaïsts said that I had the occasion to read:

If you want to be a true Caodaïst, it is necessary that you have Love and the moral principle. It is absolutely necessary for you to improve yourself.

You merit to thus wear this white tunic, symbol of purity. You feel more than ever proud to be a Caodaïst.

Être Caodaïste (Tôi là người Cao Đài)

English version

Nous, les Caodaïstes, nous devons savoir nous perfectionner. Il n’est pas indispensable pour nous de jeûner et d’invoquer Bouddha par des prières ou d’être cloîtrés dans la pagode afin de pouvoir être à la perfection. Nous avons la possibilité de le faire si nous avons toujours en nous les trois qualités suivantes: l’Amour, la Sagesse et la Volonté. À la naissance, nous avons eu déjà la bonté. C’est pourquoi, nos Aïeux ont eu l’habitude de dire:

Nhân chi sơ, tính bản thiện. Le genre humain est naturellement bon à la naissance.

Mais à cause des aléas de la vie, des rivalités injustifiées et des désirs immodérés qui continuent à nous accaparer sempiternellement, nous sommes devenus ainsi des gens malhonnêtes, perfides, égoïstes, ce qui nous fait perdre la bonté que nous avons acquise à la naissance. Tous les Sages de l’Antiquité avaient eu ces trois qualités évoquées ci-dessus.

Pour avoir l’idée sur ce que l’individu possède en termes de bonté ou non, il nous suffit d’observer sa conduite envers ses proches. C’est par cette observation que nous arrivons à le connaître, ce qu’avait dit le philosophe chinois  Jou Mencius.

L’Amour est une qualité nécessaire à la perfection mais elle ne peut pas être parfaite car nous avons besoin de la sagesse pour distinguer le vrai du faux, la raison du tort , le bien du mal. Il n’ y a pas mal des gens généreux qui, malgré leurs dons offerts à la construction des pagodes d’une manière non négligeable, continuent à être empêtrés dans un comportement néfaste car ils n’arrivent pas à discerner la raison du tort. Il leur arrive d’être mal considérés quelquefois par rapport à ceux qui n’ont jamais l’occasion de participer à cette contribution généreuse.

Au Vietnam, la dynastie des Lý était réputée pour sa ferveur irréprochable envers le bouddhisme par le biais d’un grand nombre de constructions de pagodes. Cela conduisit inexorablement le peuple à la misère à cause des impôts trop élevés et provoqua inéluctablement le mécontentement populaire qui était la cause principale de sa chute.

Quel que soit son niveau d’instruction, l’homme a toujours en lui la Sagesse car quand nous agissons mal ou non , nous le saurons grâce à notre propre conscience. Par exemple, quand on essaie de mentir, on se sent honteux envers soi-même bien que la personne à qui on a menti ne le sache pas. C’est la sagesse qui nous aide à faire cette distinction. Le philosophe français Blaise Pascal a eu l’occasion de souligner que l’homme est un roseau pensant.

Pour continuer à mentir ou à agir mal ou non, nous avons besoin de la Volonté. Il est facile d’évoquer cette qualité mais il nous parait difficile de la posséder car nous sommes obligés d’aller quelquefois à l’encontre de nos propres intérêts ou d’être perdants des fois aussi. Il nous arrive quelquefois de ne pas avoir la vie sauve. Je me réfère à quelques faits historiques chinois ou vietnamiens dans le but de nous permettre d’être ensemble à réfléchir et à admirer respectueusement les personnes que je considère comme sachant se perfectionner car elles ont eu les trois qualités évoquées ci-dessus. Elles devenaient des personnages célèbres dans l’histoire de la Chine et du Vietnam.

D’abord, c’était le cas de Zhuge Liang ( ou Gia Cát Lượng en vietnamien). Il fut à la fois premier ministre et conseiller de Liu Bei, le dernier survivant de la dynastie des Han ( Lưu Hoài Ðức) .en Chine. Les Barbares venant des steppes du Nord de la Chine et dirigés par Manh Hoạch aimaient à faire souvent des razzias sur le territoire de son royaume. Zhuge Liang arriva à capturer Manh Hoạch 7 fois mais ce dernier fut libéré immédiatement sur l’ordre de Zhuge Liang à chaque capture. Il était très généreux. Il était doté d’une sagesse extraordinaire car il trouva qu’il était nécessaire de convaincre Manh Hoạch par le biais de l’amour et des sentiments. Si Manh Hoạch avait été tué, il y aurait probablement un autre Manh Hoạch. Cela l’obligea à monter fréquemment des expéditions punitives et ne lui permit pas d’avoir la main libre pour restaurer la dynastie des Han et ramener la paix et le bonheur à ses citoyens.

C’était pourquoi il continua à libérer impassiblement Manh Hoạch lors de chaque capture. Il avait une volonté incommensurable car il savait que pour empêcher Manh Hoach de trahir plus tard, il devait perdre beaucoup de temps, laisser tomber les intérêts personnels et se donner beaucoup de soucis avec son âge assez élevé. Ce serait moins fatigant pour lui s’il décidait de tuer Manh Hoạch car il n’était pas obligé de monter jusqu’à 7 fois l’expédition punitive. Lors de la dernière capture, lorsqu’il était sur le point de libérer habituellement Manh Hoạch, ce dernier commença à pleurer et à se rendre définitivement. Zhuge Liang a eu ces trois qualités évoquées ci-dessus. Bien qu’il ne soit pas religieux, nous pouvons affirmer qu’avec les trois qualités trouvées en lui ( l’Amour, la Sagesse et la Volonté ), il a su se perfectionner et il était considéré déjà comme un Sage à l’époque des Trois Royaumes.

Au Vietnam, il y a aussi des rois que nous pouvons considérer comme des Sages. C’est le cas du roi Lý Thánh Tôn qui a eu ces 3 qualités citées ci-dessus. C’est pourquoi il a été connu dans l’histoire du Vietnam comme un roi intelligent, distingué, charitable et vaillant. La révolte du roi du Champa, Chế Cũ l’obligea à monter une expédition punitive tout en laissant à sa concubine Ỷ Lan la régence. Face à la détermination de Chế Cũ, il n’arriva pas à le capturer après plusieurs mois d’expédition. Déçu, il fut obligé de rentrer au pays. Sur le chemin de retour, il apprit que son peuple ne cessait pas de vanter le talent de sa concubine Ỷ Lan dans l’art de gouverner le pays. Il se sentit honteux et décida de revenir au front. Lorsqu’il réussît de capturer Chế Cũ, il aurait pu tuer celui-ci pour apaiser sa colère mais il préféra le laisser rentrer dans son pays.

C’était pourquoi le Vietnam connut une période de paix, de prospérité et de bonheur. Il était très charitable car il laissa partir celui qui l’avait humilié devant son peuple. Il perdit beaucoup de temps pour arriver à le capturer. Sommes-nous capables de le faire comme lui si nous étions à sa place? Un beau jour, durant une période où l’hiver était rude, il s’adressa à ses mandarins dans les termes suivants :

En m’habillant de cette manière, je continue à être transi de froid. Comment arrivent-ils les gens à résister à ce froid rigoureux surtout les pauvres lorsqu’on sait qu’ils n’ont pas assez d’argent pour se nourrir?. Il faut leur donner dès maintenant de la nourriture et des habits supplémentaires.

Une autre fois, en tenant compagnie à sa fille, la princesse Ðông Thiên, lors d’une audience, il se tourna vers ses mandarins en leur disant :

J’ai un amour profond pour mon peuple comme celui que j’ai toujours pour ma fille. Malheureusement, le peuple est si peu instruit qu’il ne cesse pas de commettre des fautes. C’est pour cela que j’en ai tellement pitié. Je vous demande de bien vouloir diminuer les châtiments et les peines infligés.

Sa sagesse était incommensurable. Pour conquérir le Champa, il sut qu’il fallait convaincre et calmer Chế Cũ bien qu’il fût humilié et vexé de comparer ce qu’il avait subi par rapport à ce qu’avait fait sa concubine, une femme issue d’un milieu rural, Ỷ Lan pour son peuple durant son absence. Il pourrait tuer Chê’ Cũ pour apaiser sa colère et laver cet outrage passager. Mais c’était un homme courageux qui savait mettre les intérêts de son peuple devant ses intérêts personnels. C’était bien la personne ayant les trois qualités évoquées.

Quelle que soit la situation où nous sommes, nous, les Caodaïstes, nous devons essayer de nous perfectionner. Cela m’est arrivé de vouloir poursuivre cette démarche. Il faut reconnaître que ce n’est pas facile de la concrétiser. Je ne cache pas non plus que j’ai eu aussi les difficultés journalières mais je me sens soulagé énormément quand j’ai réussi à la concrétiser un peu. J’en suis ravi car je me rends compte que je commence à me perfectionner un peu même si cela parait infime.

 Un jeune caodaïste
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Cela me rappelle la phrase que Ung Giả Vi a écrite dans les Entretiens du Sage Confucius:

Nhân viên hồ tai! Ngã dục nhân, Tư Nhân chi hỷ!
Nhân có xa đâu! Ta muốn nhân thì nhân đến vậy!
La vertu n’est pas loin! On pourra l’avoir si on la veut vraiment.

ce qui me permet d’être convaincu que le BIEN ou le MAL existe bien en chacun de nous. Je comprends qu’il n’est pas nécessaire d’aller à la pagode ou à l’église pour pouvoir se perfectionner. Je suis capable de le faire si je n’oublie pas ce qu’a dit Maître (Thầy) ( Dieu ) dans la bible des Caodaïstes que j’ai eu l’occasion de lire:

Si tu veux être un vrai Caodaïste, il faut que tu aies l’Amour et le principe moral. Il est absolument nécessaire pour toi de te perfectionner.

Tu mérites de porter ainsi cette tunique blanche, symbole de la pureté. Tu te sens fier plus que jamais d’être un Caodaïste.

The Caodaïsm ( Cao Đài Giáo)

French version

 
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Caodaism is the third important religion in Vietnam after Buddhism and Christianity. Cao means « High » and Ðài means « Palace« . Cao Đài is the supreme palace where reigns God. Caodaism is a religion which encompasses, combines and is in harmony with several elements from other principal religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism while taking into account Vietnamese traditions. The Holy Seat is located at Tây Ninh, 90km northwest of Saigon. The number of its followers amounts to 7 million in Vietnam and 30,000 abroad, in particular in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States.

 One finds in the history of this religion three important episodes of revelations. The first and second took place in 6th century before our era. During the first manifestation, God appeared under the three forms of Jewish leader in the Middle East, Buddha in India and Fou-Hi symbolizing the cult of humanity in China. During the second manifestation, Buddhism reappeared in the form of Sakiamuni, Confucianism in that of Confucius, Christianity in that of Jesus-Christ, Taoism in that of Lao-Tseu and Islam in that of MohammedAs for the third manifestation, God has decided to reveal himself. This third manifestation based on Buddhism is often called « Ðại  Ðạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Ðộ« . All the religions that have preceded the revelation of Caodaism are only the different forms of the same reality in different manner according to the period,  habits and traditions,  places of revelations with the view to educating the humanity and leading it on the path of good  according to the God guide.

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The philosophy and profession of faith found in  Caodaism are of a disconcerting simplicity, closer to morals than to mystical transcendence.

  • Respect of the cult of ancestors.
  • Practice of meditation.
  • Practice of vegetarism.
  • Suppression of violence.
  • Respect of all religious forms.
  • Searching for liberation from reincarnation cycle.
  • Respect of the following five prohibitions:
  • Kill no lives
  • Be not dishonest
  • Drink no alcohol
  • Commit no adultery
  • Use no offensive words
  • Pray at least once a day and practice a vegetarian diet at least 10 days per month. The service is held at the Holy Seat of Tay Ninh everyday and takes place at precise hours:

    6:00 am, 12:00 PM (noon), 6:00 PM and 12:00 AM (midnight)