Kusala Bhikshu


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Kusala Bhikshu (Thich Tam-Thien) is an American born Bhikshu (monk) ordained in the Zen

Tradition of Vietnam. In 1980 he became interested in Meditation, and found his way to

the International Buddhist Meditation Center. In 1981 he took refuge, and accepted the five

precepts of a lay Buddhist, and was given the name Kusala (skillful). In 1983 with a growing

interest in Early Buddhism he began his studies with the Ven. Dr. H. Ratanasara at the College of

Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles.

In 1994 Kusala took novice vows, and was given the Dharma name Kusala Ratana Karuna (skillful

jewel of compassion). In 1996 he received full ordination as a Bhikshu, and was given the name

Thich Tam-Thien (heavenly heart mind) with the Ven. Dr. H. Ratanasara, and the Ven. Karuna

Dharma as two of his ordaining masters. Along with Kusala's Bhikshu ordination he received a B.A.

in Buddhist Studies, from the College of Buddhist Studies in Los Angeles.

Rev. Kusala lives and works at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in the Korea town

section of Los Angeles. He cares for the grounds with the Vice Abbot Ven. Shanti, and facilitates

meditation, and discussion groups. He continues to give presentations at local high schools,

colleges, and local churches on Buddhism and social action. Kusala is the web-master for the

International Buddhist Meditation Center, as well as his own site UrbanDharma.org.

Kusala is a member of the Buddhist- Roman Catholic Dialogue of Los Angeles, the Wilshire Center

Interfatih Council of Los Angeles, and the Interfaith Council of Garden Grove, Stanton, and Westminster. Kusala is

Buddhist Chaplain for the University Religious Conference at U.C.L.A and director of the University Buddhist

Association at UCLA. In 2000 Kusala was invited to join the UCLA Medical Center Spiritual Care Committee, and

the Juvenile Justice Committee of Faith Communities for Families and Children.

In November of 1998 Kusala was a delegate to the World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in Sydney Australia.

In June of 1999 he assisted the Ven. Tenzin Kacho, and Rev. Meido with the 5th Annual Western Buddhist

Monastic Gathering held at Shasta Abbey. August of 2000 Kusala, and Dr. Michael Kerze gave presentations

detailing the Los Angeles Buddhist- Catholic Dialogue, at the international conference of The Society of Buddhist-

Christian Studies in Tacoma Washington.

Kusala has been featured in several Los Angeles Times articles: "Zen, USA" (2/18/1997), "Soul Searching" (6/2/

1998), "Biding our Time" (11/15/2001), and "Monks Get the Joke Too" (4/29/2003). In December of 1997

Kusala and his motorcycle were on the cover of the U.C.L.A. publication, Pacific Ties. In June of 1998 he appeared

on the television show "Vibe" with Sinbad (UPN network), and spoke about his work in Juvenile Hall. In 1999,

2001, and May 2002 he was a guest on the show "Life and Times" (KCET... public television). In April of 2000

Kusala was featured in a report on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" (KCET... public television) entitled...

"Teaching Religion in Schools." The UCLA Bruin in Jauuary, 2003 featured Kusala in "Students Resurrect Campus


In addition to his other duties Kusala Bhikshu gave presentations in the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall

on Buddhism and meditation for four years, and for a year taught blues harmonica at a juvenile probation camp in

Malibu, CA. Before his work in juvenile hall and the probation camp, he spent one year as a volunteer at the Los

Angeles County State Prison for men. In December of 1998 Kusala was given the "Good Samaritan of the Year"

award for his work in juvenile hall by the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

In March of 2000 Kusala ended his volunteer work at Central Juvenile Hall, and accepted an invitation from the

Garden Grove Police Department to become a police chaplain. Meditation, and yoga are still being taught at

Central Juvenile hall thanks to the dedicated effort of various Buddhist volunteers and yoga teachers.

November of 2000 marked the beginning of his new position as the first Buddhist ride-along volunteer police

chaplain in Garden Grove. On November 16, 2001 Kusala received a certificate of recognition from the California

State Assembly, and a certificate of special congressional recognition from the United States Congress for his

work with the Garden Grove Police Department.

March of 2003 found Kusala in Los Angeles as a guest speaker at; "A Spirituality and End-of-Life Care

Conference," sponsored by Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center's Palliative Care and Spiritual Care Departments,

and in Indianapolis, Indiana as a guest presenter at the "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine: A Multi-Cultural

Approach" conference, sponsored by Harvard Medical School and the "Mind/Body Medical Institute" and The

George Washington University and the "The George Washington University Institute for Spirituality and Health".

In April Sr. Mary Margaret Funk OSB, executive director of MID (Monastic Interreligious Dialogue) joined with Kusala

in historic New Harmony, Indiana to lead 40 participants through a week-long Benedictine Experience "Benedict's

Dharma 2" based on the book "Benedict's Dharma".

October brought Kusala together with other clergy on an interreligious panel to discuss "Pain & Suffering at the

End of Life," at the '5th Annual Pain Management & Palliative Care Conference' sponsored by the City of Hope

and held in Huntington Beach, California.

In November of 2003 Kusala gave a presentation and workshop on 'Forgiveness in Buddhism' at the "Spirituality &

Healing in Medicine: The Importance of Forgiveness" conference in Boston, sponsored by Harvard Medical School

and The George Washington University.

October of 2004 found Rev. Kusala at the first 'Monks in the West' gathering of Buddhist and Catholic monastic

men. In December of 2004 Kusala gave a presentation and workshop on 'A Buddhist Approach to Patient Health

Care' at the "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine: "The Integration of Mind/Body Practices and Prayer" conference in

Boston, sponsored by Harvard Medical School and The George Washington University.

In January of 2005 Kusala Bhikshu was awarded the Mayor's Certificate of Appreciation for his work with the

Wilshire Center Interfaith Council of Los Angeles.

Kusala was in Santa Fe, New Mexico in April of 2005 giving a workshop and participating on a religious panel for

the "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine: "The Integration of Mind/Body Practices and Prayer" conference. May found

Rev. Kusala at the 'City of Hope' speaking to seminary students on "Buddhism and Patient Health Care."  In June

Kusala Bhikshu was invited to speak as part of a religious panel to the UCLA Department of Social Welfare Field

Instructors  on "The Interface of Spirituality and Social Justice." In December of 2005 Kusala was again part of

the  "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine: "The Integration of Mind/Body Practices and Prayer" conference, this time

in Boston.

In November of 2005 Kusala's first Podcast "Urban Dharma" became available on iTunes and his web site at:

www.DharmaTalks.info. In April of 2006 Rev. Kusala was featured in a 'History Channel' documentary titled

"Heaven, Beyond the Grave," Kusala spoke on Buddhist heaven and nirvana.

Rev. Kusala Bhikshu

International Buddhist Meditation Center

928 S. New Hampshire Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90006


Dharma Talks - by Kusala Bhikshu

* It's a Monk Thing

* The Five Precepts

* How I Became a Buddhist

* Do Buddhists Go to Heaven

* Do Buddhists Believe in God

* The Problem with Sex in Buddhism

* Buddhist Enlightenment vs Nirvana

* An Overview of Buddhist Meditation

* Was the Tsunami Caused by Karma

* A Buddhist Approach to Patient Health Care


* The Zen of Guitar

* A Motorcycle Road Trip

* The Blues Harmonica and Buddhism

Chanting Practice: Kusala's Morning Practice

Photo Album: Kusala's Trip To The Abbey of Gethsemani - May, 2003

'Urban Dharma' the Podcast with Kusala Bhikshu is now available on iTunes, to subscribe:

(iTunes- Music Store- Podcasts- Spirituality & Religion- Buddhism- Urban Dharma)

...you can listen/download the Urban Dharma podcasts at: www.DharmaTalks.info