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Compassion: Where Does It Come From?

Ven. Kusala Bhikshu (Thich Tam-Thien) is an American born Bhikshu (monk) ordained in the Zen Tradition of Vietnam.

In 1979 Kusala 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, feeds the cats and Koi fish, 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 International Buddhist Meditation Center, as well as his own site UrbanDharma.org

In addition to his other duties Kusala Bhikshu has given presentations in the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall on Buddhism and meditation, and taught blues harmonica at a juvenile probation camp in Malibu, CA.  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. Before his work in juvenile hall and the probation camp, he was a volunteer at the Los Angeles County State Prison for men.

Kusala is a member of the Buddhist- Roman Catholic Dialogue of Los Angeles,and was Buddhist Chaplain for the University Religious Conference at U.C.L.A and director of the University Buddhist Association at U.C.L.A. from 2000 to September of 2011. Ven. Kusala is the Buddhist advisor and member of the UCLA and Santa Monica Medical Centers Spiritual Care Committee and has been since 2000.

Kusala was 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 Buddhism."

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.

In August of 2010 Ven. Kusala was featured on Public Radio and in July of 2011 on "Voice of America."

"Suffering is not found in the world, only in the way we experience the world."

kusala Kusala Bhikshu
International Buddhist Meditation Center
928 S. New Hampshire Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90006


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The Walter Trout Blues Band & Kusala Bhikshu at the 'Irvine Lake Blues Festival'
Rick Knapp (Bass), Walter Trout (guitar), Kusala Bhikshu (Guest),
Sammy Avila (Organ), Michael Leasure ((Drums)

- 6/30/2012 -

Watch Slide Show (1.5 min) / Click Here