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The mere mention of Vietnam immediately brings to mind its troubled past and a brutal war that was fought there for nearly three decades But in reality Vietnam is a beautiful country covered by tall mountains open plains deep valleys and cultivated green fields The country is also home to dense jungles and rainforests filled with exotic plants and animals It is also a place of unique customs traditions and superstitions that are still practiced in the urban cities and simple villages The lack of understanding of these customs and culture has occasionally cause friction between the Vietnamese and Americans To understand the culture of Vietnam is to understand the Vietnamese people RELIGION Vietnam is a country that guarantees religious freedom in its constitution Religion has a deep influence on Vietnamese culture and the Vietnamese concept of life The attitude towards life death and the world beyond is greatly affected by the religions of the Vietnamese people There are three traditional religions among the Vietnamese people Buddhism Confucianism and Taoism All three have existed for centuries in Vietnam The predominant religion in Vietnam is Buddhism It is practiced by 55 of the population Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam under the Chinese domination and can be traced back to the second century BC It has since remained the dominant religion in Vietnam and a major cultural force The great majority of Vietnamese people regard themselves as Buddhists but not all of them actively participate in Buddhist rituals at the pagoda Buddhism originated in India and means the Enlightened One According to Buddha man was born into this world to suffer The cause of suffering is the craving for wealth fame and power that brings about frustration and disappointment In order for man to be free from suffering he must suppress its ultimate cause the cravings Man must not become attached to anything and live a life full of virtue according to the Eightfold Path The
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