First off, let me clarify that I am not about do discredit any other religion in favor of Buddhism. In modern Vietnam, Christianity, as well as Buddhism, have been major contributors to the development of Vietnamese society. However, I am looking back, very far back, to the times of antiquity to show Buddhism’s major contribution to the strength and protection of Đại Việt.
For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the strand of Buddhism practiced in Vietnam as Vietnamese Buddhism. There are numerous teachings in the Buddhist religion that I won’t be covering here. For now, I will be pointing out the three most powerful lessons that every leader of antiquity have followed at some point in their lives. These three great teachings talk of compassion (bi), intelligence (trí), and courage (dũng).
These three great teachings paved the way for the rise of the Đại Việt nation. The Lý Dynasty, the Trần Dyansty, and the Lê Dynasty were Buddhist dynasties (though the Lê to a lesser extent). Great emperors like Lý Thái Tổ, Trần Nhân Tông, Lê Lợi, just to name a few, were Buddhists. Heroes of Vietnam, like Trần Hưng Đạo, Lý Thường Kiệt, and Nguyễn Trãi, were all well versed in the teachings of Buddha.
These heroes all learned from these teachings of bi, trí, and dũng (compassion, intelligence, and courage) to protect the country. In times of peace, they were benevolent, compassionate, and kind. In times of war, they fought fearlessly, showing no mercy to the ones who dared to invade the land. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, the nation of Đại Việt prevailed in the face of adversity and prospered in times of peace.