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October 15, 2017 - "Life, Death and All the In-Between." A Buddhist View


Ven. Kusala Bhikshu

Photo of Ven. Kusala Bhikshu

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

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. 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 spent one year as 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 Buddhist Chaplain for the University Religious Conference at U.C.L.A and director of the University Buddhist Association at U.C.L.A.. In 2000 Kusala was invited to join the UCLA Medical Center Spiritual Care Committee.

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 Buddhism." For more information, please see www.urbandharma.org.


Margaret Owens

Photo of Margaret Owens

Margaret Owens, a Los Angeles-based inspirational singer/songwriter, has seven full-length CD's to her credit, one of which features a duet with Grammy winner Rick Springfield (whom she acted with for two years in his Las Vegas show "EFX"). A native Californian, Margaret and her music have been praised by the many ministers who have shared the stage with her as "unparalleled; a sermon unto itself; the perfect vehicle through which to deliver the most important of messages". Most recently, she collaborated with two-time Emmy-winning writer/producer Erik Bork in her acclaimed one-woman musical "SEEKING MY GOOD," now available for viewing at www.youtube.com/66maggie.

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