Vietnam’s religions: What do you believe in the land of smiles?

Vietnamese monks

Many assume that Vietnam is a Buddhist country. However, it is rather a society of “freedom of belief” – Buddhism is the largest religion with just 15 percent. In contrast, 75 percent of the locals do not have any faith. Instead, the family is, so to speak, the main religion in Vietnam – life and everyday life are dominated by an ancestral cult.

Considering that around 95.5 million people live in Vietnam, a considerable number still believe in the philosophical-logical considerations. This article deals with “Vietnam’s religion” and introduces it in more detail.

Good to know: The Vietnamese religious sites are Buddhist pagodas.

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Tam giao as the main religion in Vietnam

When one speaks of Buddhism as the most widespread belief in the Southeast Asian country, one usually means the principle of Tam giao. This is a religion that, in addition to Buddhism, consists of two other parts: Confucianism and Daoism (also: Taoism). These individual components of the special “Vietnam religion” are explained below.

“Life is characterized by suffering”

Buddhism is not a so-called revelation religion in which God sends a prophet to spread his message. Rather, as already indicated, the belief is based on philosophical-logical considerations. These were founded by Siddhartha Gautama. That is why it is also called the historical Buddha.

Note: In addition to the historical Buddha, there is also the mystical Buddha. This occurs in the form of different shapes and can be found in every Vietnamese temple.

Vietnam’s “main religion” is based on four noble truths. By insight into this in combination with the exercise of noble deeds, the person can be enlightened. Good deeds include, for example, developing compassion and behavior generally referred to as ethical. The four truths are again:

  1. Life is characterized by suffering. In the form of birth, work, old age, death etc.
  2. However, this suffering only arises when a person is ignorant, greedy and blinded.
  3. Accordingly, suffering can be overcome by avoiding these things.
  4. This is achieved in particular by doing good deeds (see above, keyword: Noble Eightfold Path).

Vietnam religion: The goal is harmony with the world

The second major religion in Vietnam is Confucianism. Its founder Confucius was a Chinese philosopher, who lived from 551 BC to 479 BC. The thinker considered harmony with the whole world to be the central theme of life. This can be achieved through ancestral worship and through full respect for other people.

  • Wise Confucius: The life of the philosopher was a model for his followers. They saw him as a model for a perfect person.

The faith was introduced in Vietnam during the millennial Chinese occupation. It is the starting point for the principles that are still very important to society today: education, authority, obedience and respect. This is also one of the reasons why education and teachers enjoy a much higher reputation in the country than in the western world.

  • A changing society: The values of this Vietnamese religion are becoming less and less important – in order to be able to become an emerging country, a developing country must “show” openness and flexibility.

The principles of religion in Vietnam

In Confucianism, people as part of society strive for moral and moral perfection. Achieved by:

  • Charity or humanity
  • decency (morality)
  • justice
  • sincerity
  • wisdom

These virtues are the starting point for the three duties of man:

  1. Loyalty
  2. respect for ancestors and parents
  3. Maintaining decency and custom.

These three main religion duties in Vietnam shape practical life in the country. Since ancestral worship is to be continued by every generation, childlessness is considered bad luck for a family.

The teaching of the way as a main religion in Vietnam

Taoism spread in Vietnam parallel to Confucianism. Together with this and Buddhism, it represents the “life guideline” for many locals. At its center is the teaching of the Taos. This means something like “teaching the way”, which is why the faith is also called teaching the way. It encompasses various theories and practices, such as the concept of Qi and the knowledge of Ying and Yang. Likewise, various physical and mental exercises make up the main religion in Vietnam.

Since the idea of the Tao unites all opposites in order to better understand the world, it is impossible to define this term firmly. A definition would be a definition and would therefore contradict the principle.

  • The founder of Daoism is a Chinese philosopher named Laozi. According to tradition, this was 604 BC.

Noble truths, respect for people and the teaching of the way

As explained in this article, the family is the real “main religion” in Vietnam. The most widespread belief, however, is the principle of Tam giao: a symbiosis of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. It is the virtues and wisdom of these three directions that shape the lives of many Vietnamese.

All in all it is something one should definitely experience while travelling to Vietnam, so apply now for a Vietnam visa and prepare yourself for a trip to a temple of buddha.

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