Thomas Gutmann was a Buddhist monk (ordained in two traditions) and is still a teacher. Its name in the Pali language means Dhamma Island. Thomas teaches that there is only one Buddhism. All differences are only different means to achieve the same. In his person, both extensive theoretical knowledge and deep practical experience with meditation in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions, including Zen, are combined.
Formerly Dhammadipa, real name Thomas Petr Gutman, was born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1949. He studied Chinese literature and philosophy at Charles University, graduating in 1969, and then studied Russian literature at Israel's University of Jerusalem, where he earned a degree in 1973.
In the second half of the seventies, Thomas began studying Buddhism in Berlin, where he emigrated after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1977, he received a master's degree in Chinese literature and philosophy from the University of Paris. In 1979 he enrolled at Nalanda University in India (where he also taught French and German) and studied Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy. After obtaining his degree from Nalanda University in 1984, he returned to the University of Berlin where he worked as head librarian.
In 1986, Thomas went to Japan and studied there at the Caodong school with Zen master Harada Serrei Roshi. He was given the monastic name Xing-Kong (meaning Natural Nature of Emptiness).
In 1987, with the support of Venerable Athurugiriya Nyanavimala Mahathera, Venerable Wijayasom Mahathera, and Venerable Dikwelle Mahinda, he was ordained as a monk at Meetirigala Monastery and given the monastic name Dhammadipa (Island of Buddhism or Dhamma). In Sri Lanka, where he practiced meditation under the guidance of his teacher Venerable Nanaram Mahathera, he received full Theravada Bhikkhu ordination. In 1989, he received his third ordination as a Mahayana monk at Hsi Lai Temple, Los Angeles, and began teaching the Dhamma in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan.
In 1996, Thomas went to Myanmar (Burma) to practice meditation there under the guidance of the current master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. He recognized him as his first Western student qualified to teach meditation. Since then, he has been teaching samatha (meditation of calmness and concentration - calm states of mind) and vipassana (insight meditation - seeing the Dhamma directly) in monasteries and universities around the world.
Thomas's teaching and publishing activities
Thomas Gutmann reads and translates Buddhist texts from Pali and Sanskrit. He has translated French and Czech works including the treatise Awakening of Mahayana Faith (Mahayanasraddhotpada-sastra), Introduction to the Path of Awakening (Bodhicharyavatara) and Selections from Han-San's Poems. A compilation of his Taiwanese teachings has been published in Chinese.
Over the years he has taught and conducted meditation courses in Europe, North America, Taiwan and China, India and Southeast Asia. In person, he is characterized by a gentle and relaxed demeanor. His teachings are based on the classic Theravada Buddhist commentary The Path of Purification (Pali: Visuddhimagga): it begins with the practice of resolutions (virtues), which lays the foundation for the development of concentration and eventually for the development of wisdom. Thomas teaches that knowledge of the Buddhist path should be applied in practical life and verified above all by immediate personal experience. A practitioner should take a vow to follow the path and realize the Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings.