The most popular Vietnamese – American former Beauty Queen Dr. Bich Lien (Dr. Elizabeth Vo) converted as a Buddhist Bhikkhuni. In 1986, she won the Miss of Traditional Vietnamese Dress in Kansas, United States. In 1996, at a special program that honors women in Northern California, she won the First Runner. In 2004, in the city of Rosemead, Los Angeles County, she was elected as Miss Lady. In 2006 at the Recreation Center and Hollywood, she won the title of Miss Princess of Asia. In particular, she has brought the honor to all Vietnamese women when winning the Miss Asia International Competition in 2012. This is the 24th of Virgelia Production, Inc. to honor the beauty, talent, wisdom, and the traditional cultural value of thousands of Asian competitors in 58 countries around the world which is organized annually in the United States. She expresses her feeling after receiving Miss Asia in the World: “Bích Liên wants to prove the uniqueness of Vietnamese women with the world. Bích Liên is only a woman, just paving bricks in order that the next years, there will be other young Vietnamese women who are more beautiful and talented than Bích Liên, can win the triumph as Bích Liên today. It marks the radiant images of Vietnamese women in the world.”
Dr. Bich Lien (Dr. Elizabeth Vo) who was born in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam and moved to America as a child has received a PhD in Buddhist philosophy from the University of Kelaniya, becoming not just the first Vietnamese-American but also first Bhikkhuni with a doctorate in Sri Lanka. Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien always understood the important of education at any age and stage in life and that a Buddhist monk or a nun is no exception to the rule, and after some soul searching decided to go to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism at the University of Kelaniya. Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich has a strong dream about the path of development for Buddhist in the United States. Having returned to the States, she established the Lotus International Meditation Center in California, USA where among other things she teaches meditation, the dharma and Pali languages.
Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien (Dr. Elizabeth Vo), excellent daughter of Phu Quoc Island, was born in Vietnam, a shining star in the contemporary Buddhist sky. Since a successful businesswoman, a completely talented Miss, standing at the peak of her high fortune position, but she has let go of her rich life in a light way, entering the path of Buddhism way freedom freely. After going to Buddhist temple for learning and practicing, with intelligent and smart, she constantly learns, find her own direction. As a child who settled in the United States from a young age, living in a civilized society like the United States, she understood that “Education” has always played an important role in every age. Only education can enable people to go into the field of knowledge. Even a Buddhist monk or a nun is no exception, it is necessary to improve the knowledge of Buddhism and General education to combine the practice of cultivating spiritual life, on the other hand, it is possible to share and spread Dharma to everyone. Along with that dream, Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien is always concerned about how to bring Buddhist lessons for all in Western countries to meet the missionary activities of profitability; Referring to some ideas from the Most Venerable or Professors of Buddhism, she studied Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka, and made decision to go to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism.
After more than 4 years studying as a PhD student in Buddhist Philosophy at Kelaniya University, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on September 5, 2019, she received a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy. This is the 110th graduation ceremony of Kelaniya University, which she was the first Vietnamese – American Most Venerable Bhikkhuni, and also the first Bhikkhuni, Doctor of Buddhist degree in this island. It can be said that this is an extremely proud and honorable thing for Vietnamese American Buddhist Congress in the United States in general, and the Minh Dang Quang Buddhist Congress abroad in particular. Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien is talented young Bhikkhuni, who has a strong dream about the path of development for Buddhist applying to the younger generation in the United States. While still a studying student in Sri Lanka, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Highest Most Venerable of Sri Lanka because of her positive contributions to this country and Buddhist Congress of Sri Lanka. In addition, with the ability to communicate smart and delicate, she was lucky to meet Most Venerable Dr. Walpola Piyananda Thero as founder, president and abbot of Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles, California – USA, who is also the head of the Sangha in the United States and Canada, invited Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien to be an Adviser on Religious and International Affairs.
After graduating, she has just returned to the United States and has continued to establish Lotus International Meditation Center, located at 9241 Trask Street, Garden Grove, Southern California. Under the guidance of Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien, the meditation center is working, and the Sri Lankan teachers directly conduct meditation lesson, teaching Dharma and Pali language. In honor of her previous and present contributions for Buddhism society and the community in the United States, so US Congressman Mr. Alan Lowenthal had a visit the meditation center on November 6-2019 and conferred two certificates of appreciation from the US House of Representatives. Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien founded an International Bhikkhuni Congress to connect young nuns around the world, share experiences of learning and help them on practicing the Buddhism issues. Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien regardless of race nation, then how to make the younger nuns able to connect with each other, to listen and sharing the difficulties in the monastic life. The purpose is creating an opportunity to help the younger nuns standing up to the Buddhist way, to convey the inherent love, compassion and energy of the woman into this present life. This organize had the first meeting in Sri Lanka in early 2020.
Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien is really a very special person: Merit – wise completely. She entered the Buddhist way to continue her Bodhisattva mission. It can be said that the image and example of Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien have made many people respect and lovely seek about Buddha. Hopefully the image of holiness and compassionate energy of a talented young Most Venerable Bhikkhuni still spreads all over the world and always inspires young nun to follow Truthfulness-Compassion-Beauty. In 2013, Miss Bích Liên has been involved in recruiting the Miss United States with the role as the main sponsor, the judge, or the chief examiner, such as the contest “Miss & Mrs Vietnam International 2013” held in San Francisco, Miss Global 2013 in Orange County, especially the contest of “Miss Vietnam World” in Long Beach, California, in July 13, 2013 by her chief judge. In 2014, the contest “Miss Vietnam World” invited her as “Beauty Ambassador” cum Chief Judge in Las Vegas in October 31, 2014. Miss Võ Bích Liên graduated M.A. of Beauty in the United States. She also continued her professional development in the famous Beauty Institutes in France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. She was the General Manager of EV Princess Cosmetics Co., BL Miracle and Herbs EV.
Her Beauty Salon Bích Liên and Cosmetic Pharmaceutical EV Princess are founded by Miss Võ Bích Liên and has been active for more than 20 years. It is a well-known cosmetic production and presents in 15 countries including USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Vietnam, and so forth. She, who is a prestigious cosmetic specialist in the world, is an instructor in both of the beauty schools (International Beauty College) in Northern and Southern California. She was selected as an Entrepreneur (A Businesswoman of the Year) of the United States in 2005 and 2006 respectively. She, who was the only Vietnamese woman, is honored by California Small Business Association in 2010. Based on the talent and dedication of Miss Bích Liên, the US President George W. Bush honored her as the outstanding woman in the minority people who is bearing American citizenship, invited her to attend a party at the parliament in Washington, DC, in 2006. By July 2012, President Barack Obama also invited her to attend the party in the capital as an honored guest. In addition, Miss Võ Bích Liên was titled as “Miss Charity” and the “Angel of the Unfortunate,” because in 2006, she founded the Bích Liên Charity Foundation and her position as the chairman. She was willing to participate in funding organization of most Vietnamese people who encountered the difficulties in the United States, Vietnam and other countries. She said: “I have learned the hunger and poverty from life. Today, luckily, I have food and money. In recent years, I often help Vietnamese people in the US and especially I often go back to Vietnam to do charity in many places with the aim to ease a part of people’s sufferings.
On 15 February 2015 at Như Lai Thiền Tự Temple in San Diego, Southern California, USA, under the agreement of Most Venerable Thích Giác Nhiên – the leader of the Buddhist Mendicant Sangha in the world and other venerable monks, Venerable Thích Minh Hồi organized the ceremony of haircuts and prayers for a female Buddhist, Tâm Hoa, whose world name is Võ Elizabeth Bích Liên, and Dharma title is Liên Ngọc. The sangha also appointed her to return Vietnam to attend the official renunciation in Ngọc Vân Mendicant Temple. On 26 February 2015 (i.e. the 8th of the 1st lunar month, Ất Mùi year), the renouncing ceremony for Miss Bích Liên was held greatly and respectfully at Ngọc Vân Temple, Bắc Bình province, Bình Thuận county. Most Venerable Thích Giác Hoằng and Most Venerable Thích Nữ Diệu Liên, the abbess of Ngọc Vân Temple, honor attended to bless for her. After the teaching from Most Venerable Thích Giác Hoằng, Miss Bích Liên now aka Reverend Thích Nữ Liên Ngọc expressed her good reason to be a nun. Her voice was so emotional and sensitive as she reviewed her reasons for renouncing: “The nature of the world is suffering. It is the greed inside a human being which causes the world misery. The selfish desire without bottom creates the karma so that it pulls human beings to be reborn in samsara. Life is impermanent. All the glories of the world cannot compare to the wonderful Dharma which uniquely brings true happiness in our life.
I am present here in this life. That means I still engage one more step into the cycle of suffering. Previously I did not know about the importance. I thought wrongly that my presence is magic, and I have to enjoy the material world happily for a worthwhile life. From childhood, I always heard people around me who defined the meaning of happiness as having material wealth rather than inner peace. In my whole life, I have hustled to pursue this so-called “happiness,” but what does happiness mean? It is a delicious food, a beautiful dress, a luxury mansion, fame, and other needs that the impure body has desired. Engaged in the current life and covered by the ignorance, I am squirming on the way to search for happiness. During the journey to find the world happiness, many times I have reached on the highest ladder of fame, but also not few times I encountered the bitterness of failure. Running after the current life and competing with the opponents made me aware of the dangers of greed, hatred, and delusion. Many nights I wondered if I will forever hold my material possession, or if I am only a temporary visitor in life? How can I get rid of the cycle of life? What a waste a time as I have been continuously in this samsara!
Fortunately, I came to know the Three Jewels, the Jade Buddha statue for the World Peace, the wonderful Buddha Dharma teachings from sangha and good Buddhist friends. Then I realize that I am as a person who used to live in the darkness, suddenly and happily grabbing the torch to see the road. I know that the truth is here. This is the path to liberation. There is not any supreme happiness more than the stillness of the soul. If we still try to find happiness outside the mind, we will never find it. I spent a certain period of life having a good chance to know the Buddha Dharma, meet the virtue masters, and Buddhist friends. I realize that it is a right track on which I must travel in the rest of my life and the afterlife. Thanks to the Three Jewels, I have the right view, right thought, and right action. This debt is measureless because the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha guide me how to enter the path of the infinite wisdom, the eternal peace, and getting out of suffering. I promise to be diligent, support the Three Jewels, and help people to repay my parents. May the Buddhas bless for my beloved deceased’s as well as the alive relatives. May my beloved ones devote and gain merit in Buddhism. May all my relatives support my renunciation because this is for the sake of happiness not only for myself but also for many. There is much other gratitude on my shoulder; I promise to be a virtuous nun to repay worthily. Renunciation does not escape from life. It is integrated into life to bring Dharma light to sentient beings and help them understand the cause and effect doctrine and the spiritual teachings to get out of the misery. Life is inherently impermanent, relative, and temporary. The fame, fortune, and greed attract people in the world illusion. The attachment bonds human beings in suffering without being stopped. Choosing the nunnery life is the struggle for myself in this life and many next ones; to overcome these challenges on which I can consolidate my will to be a nun. I do not dare to be self-complacent, because I know my ability as a tiny water droplet in the ocean, or a dust in Thái Sơn Mountain. May I always be on the right track, take the Dharma path, and experience the selflessness and compassion nature.” After expressing her sincerely faithful words, she receives many bunches of fresh flowers as well as Buddhist affection from people at the hot sand and sea breeze city. Next program, the renouncing ceremony starts. All clergy and Buddhist followers recite loudly the ordained scripture while venerable monks shave her hair. Many relatives and Buddhist followers drop their tears as they see each segment of her hair falling down on the ground. How emotional it is! How noble and joyful in the Buddhist relationship it is!
Bich Lien has graduated in dermatology and skin care in schools of France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Graduated of Make-up artistry in Hollywood, Master of Sciences and Associated Arts in Business Management. Currently, Bich Lien is the lecturer of two beauty schools, the International Beauty College of the northern and southern California, founder and chief organizer of Mrs. Pageant of Northern California since 1999, and also the Founder and CEO of EVPRINCESS COSMETIC Inc.,”the most honoring was the selection as the Vietnamese Business woman of 2004 and the invitation to be in the gala dinner with President George W. Bush in April 2005. Above all, Bich Lien has continuing worked in professional capacity in dermatology and makeup artist for 17 years. Was selected as the best professional and specialist of beauty manufacturers such as Christian Dor and Channel at Macy’s and Nordstrom outlet. In addition, she also has been the makeup artist for many contestants in Miss Vietnamese Traditional Dress, Model, Miss International Pageant (IMVP), Miss Asian America in San Francisco and Miss Vietnamese Traditional Dress at Fairground in New Year’s Festival in San Jose.
Also, Bich Lien has been a member of the judge-ship panel and the chief judge of Miss Vietnam-USA, Miss Little Saigon-San Francisco, Mrs. Vietnam in Los Angeles, Miss Asian-America San-Francisco and Miss Vietnamese Traditional Dress in the new year’s TET festival at the county Fairground in San Jose. Those are some personal accomplishments of Princess Asian-USA 2006, Bich Lien Vo, nevertheless, when asked by Van Hoa Magazine on her conception of beauty, she responded: “well … the woman who is beautiful represents not only the beauty in a physical senses but also the gracefulness of the heart & mind. That is my visualization of the beauty. The beauty that needs to have the kindness with the elegance that would permeate a long lasting and striking of the uniqueness in the heart and mind of the admirers”. What is the inner beauty? Could it be the cultural and social activities that you have contributed for so many years? Bich Lien revealed: “In most of community events in Northern California, Bich Lien has participated and contributed in many capacities & areas as long as those activities bring about benefits to our Vietnamese Community”. With much success when asked Princess Asian-USA 2006 Bich Lien on her wish list right now, she said “as always, Bich Lien wishes that god would give her protection that makes her strong and healthy for she still has much works in her businesses as well as the desire to bring about the skincare Ev princess products to the Asian community in America and all over the world.” She believed her products are especially good for Asian skin protection & they were produced from natural elements that would make a healthy younger skin forever. He last wish is that with business success she can use the money coming in towards supporting her endeavor non-profit community events.
The World’s First International Bhikkhunis Magazine, “Bhikkhunis” International Buddhist Magazine & Website and “Mettavalokanaya” International Buddhist Magazine & Website wishing to Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Bich Lien (Dr. Elizabeth Vo), May the pure white light of your peerless wisdom shine undiminished until the end of existence. You are the Miracle of Current World’s Buddhist Society. May peace dawn on the whole world and May you all have the blessing of the Triple Gem. May you have many more years of good health to continue with the good work for the good, welfare and happiness of the many…!!
After visit to San Diego, California, USA