Viên Thông Tự

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About us

altar at Viên Thông Pagoda

Viên Thông Pagoda's altar

Through observation, study, research, and practice, Venerable Thích Nữ Thanh Lương carries deep in her heart the aspiration to harmonize the grace and beauty shared by all religions, the interdependence of mind and body, and the value of exercise. In essence, it is her humble desire to impart her acquired knowledge to those who wish to live a happy life in this world of suffering. The result of this inspiration is overwhelmingly positive. 

SC Minh Lien and SC Thanh Luong 
SC Minh Lien and SC Thanh Luong

In Việt Nam, together with her Dharma sister, Venerable Thích Nữ Minh Liên, who was teaching Buddhist principles to newly ordained monks and nuns, they shared their views about Buddhism and spent considerable time and effort with charity work. At first, they both wanted to lead a reclusive monastic life, a kind of practice that will highly cultivate one’s innate nature. This life style is very personal and does not demand constant public contact. However, this is not their innermost aspiration; they have a passionate desire to share their way of living a healthy and peaceful life. Their perception is that inner peace may be found, if the practice of various Buddhist denominations, in conjunction with other religions, with the right conditions, can be tastefully harmonized. To them there is goodness in every one; all they need is to help bring it out. And if their perceived view may bring happiness to just one person, they felt it is worth trying. That was how Viên Thông Pagoda was founded. 

Remodeling temporary home of Vien Thong Pagoda
warehouse remodeled into the Viên Thông Pagoda's temporary santuary

Penniless and armed with only a far-reaching dream, with the blessing of the divinity, and support of the congregation, the nuns built Viên Thông Pagoda in a warehouse behind a welding shop. Starting in August 2003 with one thousand dollars, the nuns, with the help of their small congregation and the workers, rolled up their sleeves and turned a an old warehouse into a charming place of worship. 

weekly Mantra
SC Thanh Luong and SC Minh Lien leading the mantra and dharma discourse

Within only one year, the main sanctuary became too small to accommodate the ever-increasing congregation. In all practicality, Viên Thông has positively assisted, to some extent, in the improvement of mental and physical health of many worshippers. 

weekly Mantra
borrowed warehouse space for special events 
(image of recent Ullambana celebration 2006)

Recognizing the need, and encouraged by the passionate support from the congregation and the enthusiastic endorsement from many well-respected Buddhist Masters, Viên Thông Pagoda acquired a four-acre tract of land in Northwest Houston to further the path for love and compassion. Northwest Houston was chosen because this sector offers all the conditions necessary to build a Buddhist nunnery. This santuary will convey the characteristics of reservation and propagation of the noble qualities of the traditional Vietnamese culture in a foreign land. 

SC Thanh Luong leading exercise and meditation

The current limited space allows Viên Thông to offer only the following activities: 

  1. Chanting the sutra (Buddhist scriptures).

  2. Meditation. Sitting and walking meditation.

  3. Group Exercise:

    • “Bat Doan Cam”, an eight-movement exercise: originated by the First and Foremost Zen Master Bodhidarma, designed for the Buddhist monks at Shao Lin Temple in China. This exercise promotes and maintains the monks’ mental and physical strength, so as to be mindful in their cultivation, and to protect themselves from constant outside threats of violence.

    • Staff exercise: this exercise requires the maneuvering of a staff to ease muscle tension and improves one’s body heat to enhance the immune system. 

      Mindfulness is the key to these exercises.

  4. Group singing of Buddhist songs: learning the Buddhist principles while enjoying the warmth and grace of music.

  5. Vegetarian dinners: a time to share one’s reflections with fellow practitioners.

  6. Field trips: Using Buddhist principles to enjoy nature.

  7. Mind and Body healing. Using the Buddhist teachings of harmonizing mind and body, as well as psychotherapeutic application to help people with social and contemporary psychological problems. Once conditions are favorable to complete the new place of worship, additional activities will be offered.

  8. Retreat sessions both in Vietnamese and in English.

  9. Classes: Vietnamese language, martial art, and traditional Vietnamese music.

  10. Inner Peace Center: if conditions permit, Viên Thông Pagoda will create a facility for those who have retired from the busy life, and wish to spend their leisure time researching and contemplating the teachings of the Buddha.

  11. A cultivation residence for future nuns. The construction of the new Viên Thông is being carefully and economically planned. It started in early 2005 with the architectural drawings.