Rev. Kusula Bhikshu Explains Buddhism to a High School English Class.

March 16, 2004 - The journals of Fran aka Redondowriter

Every year the teachers of our high school Literature of the Spirit classes have a series of clergy people come to speak to the students about their religions and the sacred texts. One of my favorite visitors is a Buddhist monk named Rev. Kusala Bhikshu. I sat in on one class today and between classes he came to my office and talked to me.

An American Caucasian, Rev. Kusala became interested in Buddhism in 1980 and you can read about his life on his website. In the Southern California media I have seen stories about him teaching meditation or working on his projects as part of Urban Dharma. He is a gifted, down-to-earth guy who can synopsize complex concepts in every day terms, especially for students and those unfamiliar with Buddhism at all.

Today, among other things, he spoke about Stupidity—which Christians would probably call Original Sin, and I actually "got it." But his main topic today was The Last Great Secret - Death! He believes in personal storytelling to get across his points and the example he used was that in Garden Grove, where he is a police chaplain, all the chaplains were invited to tour the coroner's office. He asked how many had visited the coroner's office--and none of us raised our hands.

He talked about how ill-prepared most people are for death in the American culture and gave specific examples of the six corpses of varying ages and sexes that were in the morgue and that most were probably utterly surprised death had visited the night before. But then he used the visit to explain spiritual energy, trapped energy, and the importance of living life fully and understanding death. I guess the Dalai Lama says that in life death ideally sits on your shoulder as your co-pilot, but as Americans we shun death and don’t ordinarily talk about it.

He next went on to use an example of being on a speaking tour and staying as a guest in an old home that the townspeople said was haunted. He forgot to ask the Spirits for permission to stay there and found that during the night his sleep was interrupted by restless energy. He explains all this matter-of-factly and I watch the kids' faces--not a muscle moves, but no one is even remotely nodding off. During that early morning, Rev. Kusula did a meditation in the old house with the Spirits thanking them for allowing him to stay. For the next days Rev. Kusula and the "ghosts" all co-existed without problem.

When he left the old house, he thanked the Spirits for sharing space with him. He used his stories to convey the importance of awareness in every moment, of gratitude for everything, and the great truth that coming to peace with death helps one to live life more fully.

Rev. Kusala, who is a very fine blues musician, ended his talk with playing an incredible piece on his harmonica. The tension in the room was shifted immediately and the kids began to smile and laugh. He reminds me so much of Ram Dass in his earlier days--so human, so spiritual.

The - - website has a wealth of information about Buddhism available to the general public but Rev. Kusala particularly recommends the - Buddhist E-Books link. Several Buddhist texts and talks can be downloaded in PDF format and they are written so that regular folks can understand them.