On this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Radan Kuča from the Czech Republic who has kickstarted interest in Buddhism by setting up the channel Ajahn Brahm Cesky to translate teachings into the Czech language. As you’ll find out this effort...
On this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Radan Kuča from the Czech Republic who has kickstarted interest in Buddhism by setting up the channel Ajahn Brahm Cesky to translate teachings into the Czech language. As you’ll find out this effort has already had a big impact and may already be spilling over into similar efforts for Ukrainian translations.
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Welcome to Treasure Mountain the podcast that inspires and guides people to find the treasure within human experience before we get started on this interview I wanted to thank all our listeners for joining and remind everyone that you can find out more about treasure mountain by going to the treasure mountain dot info website. You can find all previous episodes and information about all our guests if you enjoy this podcast. You can subscribe by searching for the term treasure mountain in your favorite podcast app or you can go to treasuremountain dot info then go to one of the talks below each of the talks is a number of buttons which correspond with a podcast application. Like Apple Podcasts for instance from there, you be prompted to listen on your favorite app or you can just listen in your web browser. Don't forget to tell your friends about treasure mountain two I'll have more inspiring guests and topics in the coming weeks and months on this episode of spirit stories we have as our guest. Radam Kucha from the czech republic who has set up a channel Arjum Bram chesky to translate teachings into the czech language as you find out this effort has already had a big impact and may already be spilling over into similar efforts in for ukrainian translations. Find hearing these stories of volunteers working to share the dhamer in new places really inspiring and I hope you do too so join us for this episode as we find out about the unfolding of Buddhism in Eastern Europe
Welcome to the treasure Man Podcast Radan How are you today.
I'm fine. Thank you. Ah, nice to see you so and thank you very much for inviting me to this ah inspiring Podcast. It's a great honor for me to be with you and I must say that I'm doing very well at the moment because I'm in a reasonably. Safe country I'm reasonably healthy and it's a summer time. So everything. Everything's fine.
Well thank you very much for coming on and and a very good point. We yeah should be counting our blessings I suppose living in peaceful countries. Let's get started um radar I'd like to find out. Um, how you first came to start practicing dumber and meditation.
Well my case was so I think pretty much ah, an ordinary case. So I ah came through a lot of suffering in my life because ah in the past I used to live the life like a full speed ahead. Life. Like ah life in a racing car and so I had a very successful business I did lots of sports and lots of entertainment and parties and this kind of stuff but suddenly my body told me stop so actually. Ah. I go to severe back pain and I was paralyzed for a few months and so suddenly I had a lot of time to reflect to think about the the reason and also to read and to search for some other way for some information how to solve this problem. So I was reading a lot of books and actually I was reading an article written by a famous czech banker and he was recommending a book and this book was a mattia ricard book on happiness and this was very very. Ah, inspiring for me. It absolutely matched my life experience and it resonated with me so much and so I started to read more and more buddhist books and later on I was very lucky because Ajam Bram's ah, book opening the. Opening the door of your heart was just translated into check. So I could read also his book. It was not only wise but it was also a great fun. So I gradually got attached to Aja Brown and then things just continued.
That's really interesting I've also read that book by Matthew Rickard and of course Aja Brahm um I'm curious to know were there any teachers in Prague or was it just books that were your None point of contact.
It was books in the beginning I wasn't aware of any buddhist community in The Czech Republic because buddhism is very little very few buddhists in the czech republic so actually I didn't search for any teacher.
Ah, either in Prague or in any other place in the czech republic so as I was reading many books and there were quite a few on the market. So I started to to ah watch online videos from. BsW a ajam Bram's talks and meditation and psta classes and I got involved more and more and so later on I started to search. Ah, if there is any possibility to practice buddhism in the czech republic. And I was quite lucky I came across a buddhist nun who was ordained in Sri Lanka she was theravada none and she practiced ah in a place in a small town which was about 1 hour drive from my town. So I started to to come. For Soa classes and with my kids also for dama school and so gradually she introduced me to reading suitas and ah then it just ah ah my interest was deepened. I got more and more attached more and more addicted to Buddhism and also I continued listening I watching Ajam Bram and I think his ah way of teaching was the most inspiring and the most appropriate for my personality. So I just I just stick with ajam bra for ah for many years
Okay, yeah, and okay, so in the czech republic it sounds like Buddhism is really quite new and there's not a lot of people yet. Who are actively practicing is that correct or am I wrong about that.
Yes, you're right? Ah, it's growing slowly but I would say that there is ah less than 0.1 ah percent ah of ah the population is ah kind of buddhist and there are many little groups mainly tibetan. Buddhists I think the most popular is the diamond way buddhism ah from the Lama Ole and there are also some mahayana buddhists from the vietnamese community because in the czech republic there is a huge vietnamese community from vietnamese immigrants from the past. And concerning theravada I think there are very very few ah groups or or even people practicing terravada buddhism in the czech republic but I think slowly little by little it's growing so we will see in the future. Maybe with our channel we can. Create a little bit larger community of people interested in Terabvada Buddhism and maybe we can get such a like success like in Poland where at the moment there is a huge buddhist community also because of their. Ah, Youtube channel which was started many years ago maybe fifteen years ago and now they are thinking of even establishing a terravada buddhist monastery in Poland because the community is huge. So maybe it will happen one day in the czech republic as well.
Well, let's hope so and I think with people like you there in Czech Republic I think there's a much greater chance of that happening. Let's move on to the work. You've been doing as a volunteer. Um you've set up. Ah website and you've got a Youtube channel our John Bra Chesky none of all what inspired you to start these channels up with check language translations. What inspired you to do that.
Actually the thing was that I was attending Ajam Bram's reads and talks and teachings for so many years more than 10 years and I got so much inspired and I thought. That's a really shame that people in the czech republic cannot watch Ajam Brahm live they could read some of his books but I thought that to see him live is ah even ah, more ah powerful. And you can feel much more emotions much more kindness and you can see what your teacher is actually ah, not only saying but how he's behaving and I think this is very important to actually see your teacher not only at the time. When he's like performing but also sometimes when the talk finishes and you see his immense kindness and this is what the the people who just read his books cannot cannot see so I thought it might be a good idea to start to. Ah, translate some of his videos into czech ah language and it became like my hobby I enjoyed very much. It was like an exciting puzzle game for me because ah for example to translate his bad jokes. It's a real.
Challenge because he usually uses double meaning of english words which are totally different from the words in the czech language. So sometimes I have to like keep ah this sentence in my mind for many days and ah work it out little by little What's the most appropriate. Way how to translate it because ah it's it's really difficult to express his sense of humor in a different language so it became my hobby and I started ah slowly to translate ah subtitles none but it appeared that people are not interested in reading subtitles at all because people are just ah, too comfortable and they are used to ah quality ah dubbing or voiceovers and sometimes people. Listen before they go to sleep sometimes they listen when they are driving a car or doing some cooking or something so they are not interested to ah to read subtitles. So ah. I had to like put more effort and resources and start to build a team of people who could produce quality voiceovers and. Ah, and we discovered that we really want to do a quality work. We don't want to do like fast ah translations because ah first ah as a respect to our teacher as a respect to Dhamma. It's ah important to produce ah quality stuff. Quality videos. And also it's very important that to get the right emotional impact on the audience. It has to be a quality video with a very comfortable voice. Very nice. Nice pronunciation. Very ah, good translation with ah, really. The right synonyms the right expressions because ah it's actually translating buddhism it's not only translating words or or concepts it's so translating emotions. Ah this is what Ajam Brown often says that. Meditation is not an intellectual state. It's an emotional state so we are trying hard to translate emotions and now on the feedback we can see that we were really successful because people can feel these emotions and they they say it in the feedback and we are so happy about that.
Ah, that brings me to my next question. Actually what? what is the feedback that you've been receiving so far and how much traffic are you getting.
There is so much feedback at the moment and quite a lot of traffic actually when we started for a few months ah it looked a little bit frustrating because we had maybe 20 or thirty views a day and almost no no feedback. But the the thing was that I enjoyed the work I wasn't focused on the success or on the publicity on on the fame I was so really enjoying to translate and to listen to a brown and to translate the bad jokes and and so on so i. Kept working and the views were going up little by little like every month but then suddenly I think it was so this april. Ah, we saw a few thousand views a day and suddenly we saw 15000 views a day and there was so much traffic traffic suddenly and we couldn't believe what happened. So actually what happened was that ah the Youtube algorithm. Ah. So that these videos are attractive for people and they started to place these videos on the homepage and so more and more people started to click on it and to watch it and then the feedback was the feedback was ah. Ah, really running from every corner of Youtube and there was lots of ah positive feedback. We have ah more than 95% of positive feedback mainly from women. This is interesting that it's some mainly women who. Write ah very very positive feedback when we have some negative feedback. It's ah usually man who got ah hurt or whose ah ego was challenged so sometimes there is like quite ah some frustration but it's very few very few. Most of the feedback is feedback is very positive and people are saying I think similar. Ah, ah, comments as you can see on the bsw a ah channel that these teachings so changed their life. They can feel a peace they can feel ah ah, more relaxed, comfortable. Some people asked. Ah, where is the nearest cave they want to run away from the world and start to meditate straight away. Ah and.
We also get the listeners from Slovakia which is interesting because so slovakia is a different country with a different language but the languages are not ah, very different. They are slightly similar. And the the slovakan people started to listen to our videos and they understand it and they they like it so it was a big surprise and we got lots of positive feedback from from Slovakia and people are saying that they really appreciate the. Quality translation and the quality voiceover. So it's a simple easy to understand. It's ah comfortable. It's ah, peaceful and None lady she wrote to us that even her. 80 year old son can understand and can watch these videos with with her so we are really delighted that the the goal which we set up to spread these teachings to everybody and to make it accessible to really everybody. It's ah it's really happening now.
And congratulations to you for that and I do want to say I was listening to one of your videos earlier on and even though I don't understand the check language I could really appreciate the quality of the production and ah the the speaker I'm not sure who the speaker was who was doing the voiceover. Did have a very soothing voice I was quite impressed so congratulations on that. Um, how long have you been running this channel now.
We started last year in January so it's ah like one year and a half and we've got to more none views since then and concerning the the voiceovers so we are hiring professional actors because this is not an easy. Work to do and ah ah, we couldn't do this with the volunteers. So the volunteering work is mainly translating and proofreading editing and and this ah ah work which concerns. Ah the text but the voiceover. Ah, recordings are done by professional actors because it's quite demanding and ah it's very important and it has a huge effect on the audience. Ah if the actor has a good feeling for the text has a good voice. Ah. Knows how to express the emotions. This is a slightly ah different approach than the polish Youtube channel has because in Poland the voiceovers are ah almost without any emotions because the polish audience is used to this kind of voiceover recordings. But in the czech republic is different. The czech audience is very spoiled from the past with a ah high quality dubbing and voiceovers. So they expect that there will be emotions. So ah, again, it's very difficult to put the right emotions in all these. Ah. Parts of the video or these parts of sentences and the actors which we are using. They are highly professional and they are getting. Ah. Better and better with each new video I can see their progress and I can see that they really enjoy it. They understand the teachings more probably they are becoming buddhist as well because of course they they were not buddhist in the past. So ah, ah this is what we are trying trying to to do. And we would like to continue this way. We don't want to ah ah, put a lower quality in these videos because then it would it wouldn't make us happy. We want to produce good stuff and I feel so. Ah delight it sometimes when I sit down and I meditate and I listen to the czech ah, ah, commentary with the czech actor and I can see his beautiful voice I can see this beautiful translation and it has so much impact on my meditation as well. So I like actually listening to.
These videos which which we produce.
Well I have to congratulate you because it was a big decision to get professional actors in and to do a really professional quality dubbing and None which required I guess a big investment and it must have been a little bit frightening to make that investment initially. But I think it's really paying off and um I've noticed that you've got over none views already and the recent videos are doing really well so congratulations for that. Um I want to turn now to something that's very topical for people in eastern europe which is the russian invasion of Ukraine and I want to get a check perspective on that. How listeners may well be aware that the czech republic is not far from the Ukraine. In fact, neighboring Slovakia shares a border radan could you. Tell us how the russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted life in the czech republic.
Well, of course this has hugely impacted life of everybody here in the czech republic and nobody was expecting this kind of war in this century. Ah. But I was really surprised about the reaction of the czech society mainly like the ordinary people because in the past the the czech society was not very much in favor of welcoming any immigrants, especially during the syrian crisis but when the war in Ukraine started. There was a huge huge solidarity of everybody in the czech republic and people just started to help all possible ways. Ah to relieve the suffering and stress ah of the ukrainian refugees. So there were. So many so many volunteers helping ah even at the border in Poland or in Slovakia welcoming the refugees helping them to get into. Into the right bus or train or sometimes even driving their own cars to the border and bringing these people to the czech republic and a thousand kilometers and ah in the ccheb czech republic it became quite normal that many families. Ah welcome. These refugees to stay in their homes. They hosted these families for many weeks and sometimes even months in their flats in their houses even before government ah provided any ah sort of compensation. So it was just for free. And everybody got involved like the ngos were the first and the fastest but also ordinary people and and businesses businesses were offering their hotels for accommodating people or sometimes transportation free transportation for these people. And you could see the volunteers everywhere on the bus stations railway stations in in the centers for for the refugees and also the atmosphere. In media and in the politics change. The people suddenly realized that we have to help and we want to help and we are trying our our best and so until now I think czech republic is one of the like.
Biggest supporters of ukrainian nation in the war. Ah not only humanitarian aid but also in in the way of ah military support because ah for example, it's interesting thing. A ukrainian embassy. In ah Prac ah started a fundraising for purchasing ah military equipment. Ah ah for Ukraine and people ordinary people in the czech republic they collected ah over a billion crowns in this ah fund raising activity. So. There is a huge huge of of support of everybody and the the thing is that the ukrainians are maybe culturally not so different from the checks. So their language is ah ah slightly ah similar. We we can't exactly understand their language. But if you get used to it for a few weeks or months then you can understand slightly more and more because and because ah, sorry ah because it's all the group of slavic languages and another thing is that people in this country have. Still the memory of the russian troops russian tanks ah invading prague in 68 and of course there is a fear that this war can continue and that we can see the russian tanks in Prague again. So ah, there is ah. Really strong support for for ukrainians in any possible way humanitarian and ah business and also military and I have to say that. Ah, also the maybe you know the none ah. Important visit of the prime ministers of ah western countries in Tuki in the middle into the capital of ukraine kiif in the middle of March was actually the czech prime minister slovenian prime minister and the polish prime minister so they were like the none to visit Kiev. At the time when it was not safe at all. It was really dangerous. It was still like bombing going on and so this was also a great expression of ah solidarity of support and it's continuing. It's it's going on. And also my family we hosted a ukrainian family of ah, 2 ladies and None little boys and and a dog and they stayed for a couple of months and then they returned to to Kiev after it seemed that it's a little bit safer in Kiev.
And so this is what the the check people do they just help ah every every possible way.
Ah, that's really fantastic and that people have been helping out so much I did want to ask Actually what have you been doing personally obviously you've had a Ukrainian family stay with you have you done anything else. At this time.
Well in the beginning everybody was thinking. Ah what is the best to do so usually people who are collecting money. There was lots of fundraising and the ngos were collecting none and none of checkouts. It's like hundreds of millions of dollars and so also we we gave some money to some ngos in the beginning then we hosted this ah ukrainian family but still I thought that I could do a little bit more and then it ah i. Got this idea that the the gift of dharma excels all other gifts. So I thought well I'm translating these? ah amazing talks ah into the ah czech language and now in Ukraine these people with these ah incredible suffering. They will definitely. Need lots of mental support lots of psychological support and maybe even lots of spiritual support. So there was an idea coming into my mind I thought why not to try to translate these talks ah into Ukrainian because not only ah we will. Produce something which can be used in Ukraine by the people for many many years maybe sometimes decades and it's well known that this kind of mental suffering it stays in the society for sometimes many decades so this is so. None side of this help and the other side is of course that we can give some some work to some of the ukrainians who are displaced ah from their homes or who lost the jobs and so we can. Actually practically support a few of of these people with doing just ah, good work. So we decided to we decided to start a ukrainian channel of ukrainian translations and we had to adjust a little bit. The ukrainian conditions. Ah, ah, for example, we are not expecting ukrainians to work as a volunteers on this program because they are in such a desperate situation with ah ah, no income sometimes and so we have to actually pay for all these. Ah. Translators editors and and editors for the voiceovers but we are very happy to do that because this is ah money very well spent and ah so we ah.
Published a few adverts on Facebook and on other media and and got a team of ah around None people working on this on this ukrainian ah project and we got people from all around around the globe some of them are. Ah, still located in Ukraine in the cities like Kiev Leviv Sumi oh yes ah Ivano frankifs but some are overseas like ah in the Uk in ah Italy Czech Republic and we we got also a guy who is in Brazil in the rio de Janeiro. So. It's a really global community of ukrainians ah working on on this program.
I think that's really great. It's None thing to give aid but to give people a job as well is also a really great way of supporting them and I want to follow up on what you said about? Um, how the channel could potentially be useful for a long time in in the future. Because of the nature of trauma just this week I had a contact from one of treasure mountains listeners. It was a woman she is from um, ah she was from ah Bosnia ah from Croatia sorry of course that the former Yugoslavia. And she was um ah she was a teenager during the war in the 1990 s and the trauma of that really gave her many years of of suffering until she found her way. Um to start practicing meditation and practicing buddhism and now lives in the u k. Um, but she said how ah the the practice and hearing the teachings of the practice was so valuable and it was such a long time after the trauma of having lived through war and some terror she did say some horrible things happened to her. Um, so I really hope that this. Ukrainian project is around for quite some time and that it can benefit people. Um, really? yeah, could be a really valuable project.
Um, I wanted to say yeah this ahjambram chesky project is a really great project that is introducing an all new audience to meditation practice and Dhamma teachings. How can people. Um, who are listening to this podcast support the arjambram chesky project.
Well, mainly by ah, listening and sharing of these videos to other people. Ah but it seems now that the check project is ah quite a. Ah, well-known in the czech republic so we don't need so much like sharing support in the czech republic but what we need is sharing of the Ukrainian channel because this is just starting and there is ah very very little traffic and. I can see that it will be a little bit of a struggle to share all these videos in Ukraine because maybe the society is not used to these kind of teachings. So ah, if anybody wants to share or even sometimes ah. Find some volunteers. Yeah ukrainian volunteers who like to do some simple help like ah proof listening or proof reading of ah of these talks so that would help a lot. We also ah opened a Patreon account so people can send us some money. Ah, but at the moment we are still quite ah, okay, with the ah funds which we collected by a little charity. A little family foundation. So this is the money which is like funding all these projects but in the future if ah. It grows if we produce more and more of these videos. Definitely we will probably need ah more resources so then ah the money will be appreciated as well. But what I wanted to say. Ah um, something else. Ah concerning the. The ukrainians and the impact on the on their ah psychology on their mental health I can see ah on the team members how this work is changing their own lives. Ah. Go to None lady who is displaced in the U K and she told us that before she joined this project. She was like crying for all the month nonstop. She was crying and crying and crying and she didn't know. Ah what to do because so she was filled guilt. She was feeling guilty that she's in a safe place. Whereas others are in the dangerous suffering ah cities in Ukraine so she didn't know what to do and suddenly she ah started to work. Ah for this ukrainian project and she found a meaning of her.
Of her life. She found a meaning of ah why she is in a safe place. Why she can work to help ah others relieve their stress and also I got feedback from from the actor vchislav costicoev who is ah ah well. Known actor in Ukraine and he's telling me that this work ah works like a psychotherapy for him because there is so much stress so much fear so much uncertainty every day. And focusing on this on this work on this project on these talks is helping him so much so I can see that it's helping these people at the moment and I would wish that it will help ah many more in the future.
Thank you Vadan for sharing those stories I really appreciate it often. You know some of the work that I've done in the past has been sharing teachings online and I get very focused on statistics. But what you've just told me is that behind some of these statistics are really powerful stories of. Personal transformation and I guess that really motivates you and hopefully other people to to keep doing these kinds of really great projects I do want to take this opportunity to remind listeners that there are going to be links to Arja Bra chesky both and also the ukrainian channel. Ah, will be in the description below if you could take Radan's advice or his his plea to share talks from the ukrainian channel if you know anyone who's ukrainian or speaks Ukrainian that would really be appreciated. That's one very easy way. People can help help out. Um before finishing off our little chat Radan could you tell us where next where do you want to go next with the project watch your dream for the projects that you're working on.
Well I'm trying not to have a big dreams I'm trying to focus on the tiny work and to have ah little dreams so my next little dream is ah to see the feedback on the ukrainian channel saying ajam bra you you saved my life. Something like we can see on the check channel at the moment so this would be ah my next dream to see a lot of ah positive feedback and many people saying that even though the war has taken so much from them. Ah they found a new. Meaning of life. Ah new purpose and it helped them to survive to change their life. So this will be like my little dream. Maybe my bigger dream would be ah later on to try to start also russian channel. Because ah Russia is a huge country. The population is ah really huge and maybe if we convert a little bit of the russian population even some soldiers maybe one day even Vladimir Putin who knows maybe then all the problems are over.
That is a beautiful sentiment and a lovely sentiment to end on I think that it was a very good answer that you gave because your none part saying you focus on what's in front of us do what's achievable and small but I got to say from that some very amazing and big things can can result. Thank you for all your efforts Radan and I wish you and all the volunteers in the czech republic and Ukraine I wish you all the very best with the project that you're working on.
Thank you very much. So thank you for inviting me and also all the best ah to your inspiring podcast. Thank you very much.
I came across Ajahn Brahm in 2009 when I was recovering from a severe back pain for several months. Ajahn Brahm's teachings resonated with me straight away. It was not only wise, but a great fun as well! So, I kept listening to his talks more and more, started to attend retreats worldwide and gradually became devoted Buddhist and BSWA member.
In 2009 we put a few friends together and established a family charity and started to support various projects helping children, ranging from children hospice in Czech Republic to Czech Hospital in Karakoram mountains in Pakistan.
Gradually as my spiritual practice grew, I started translating Ajahn Brahm's talks into Czech language:
When the war in Ukraine started, I thought that people in Ukraine would need not only a material aid, but also a lot of psychological and spiritual support for many many years even after the war is over. So, I have set up a team of Ukrainian translators, editors, and actors worldwide and we are creating Ukrainian translations of inspiring Ajahn Brahm's talks:
What a great joy, great fun, and a great spiritual practice!
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