Bhante Dhammadipa is a Buddhist monk (ordained in two traditions) and teacher. Its name in the Pali language means Dhamma Island. Bhante 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.
Venerable Dhammadipa, real name Tomáš 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 the Israeli University of Jerusalem, where he received his degree in 1973.
In the second half of the seventies, the Venerable 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 Venerable Dhammadipa went to Japan and studied at 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, the Venerable went to Myanmar (Burma) to practice meditation there under the guidance of the current master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. The latter 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.
Bhante’s teaching and publishing activities
Bhante Dhammadipa reads and translates Buddhist texts from Pali and Sanskrit. He 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, the Venerable has taught and led 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 developing concentration and eventually for developing wisdom. The Venerable 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.