Aug. 16, 2022

Meditating In The Mountains And Fjords of Norway - Ajahn Nitho

Meditating In The Mountains And Fjords of Norway - Ajahn Nitho

In this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Ajahn Nitho who is coming to us from the mountains near Ørsta in western Norway.
Ajahn Nitho was born on the west coast of Norway in 1970, and after finishing high school, attended the University of...


  • In this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Ajahn Nitho who is coming to us from the mountains near Ørsta in western Norway.

Ajahn Nitho was born on the west coast of Norway in 1970, and after finishing high school, attended the University of Bergen and to The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. He then spent a few years working as a chief financial officer at various companies, and then spent two years of backpacking around the world. Having become interested in meditation, Ajahn Nitho travelled to Australia in 2007 to be ordained as a bhikkhu (a Buddhist monk), under Ajahn Brahm at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA), Perth.

After one year as an anagarika, one year as a samanera (novice), Ajahn Nitho took higher ordination as a bhikkhu (monk) in 2009. After more than 10 years of training as a bhikkhu in Perth, and a few stays with Ajahn Ganha in Thailand, he has now returned to Oslo in Norway, where he currently resides.

Together with Jon Endre Mørk, he established the Buddhist Society of Oslo and Viken (ovbf.org) in 2021, and he is now teaching retreats and Buddhism various places in Norway, while building a Buddhist community there. The goal is to establish a centre in Norway for teaching and practise.

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Thank you for listening to the Treasure Mountain Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode please share it with you friends. If you'd like to support me to produce this type of content in future, you can support my work by offering a tip via the Ko-fi payment applet.

 

 

May you be happy!

Sol

Transcript

Welcome to Treasure Mountain, the podcast that inspires and guides people to find the the treasure within human experience. I’m your host Sol Hanna.

In this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Ajahn Nitho who is coming to us from the mountains near Ørsta in western Norway.

Ajahn Nitho was born on the west coast of Norway in 1970, and after finishing high school, attended the University of Bergen and to The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. He then spent a few years working as a chief financial officer at various companies, and then spent two years of backpacking around the world. Having become interested in meditation, Ajahn Nitho travelled to Australia in 2007 to be ordained as a bhikkhu (a Buddhist monk), under Ajahn Brahm at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA), Perth.

After one year as an anagarika, one year as a samanera (novice), Ajahn Nitho took higher ordination as a bhikkhu (monk) in 2009. After more than 10 years of training as a bhikkhu in Perth, and a few stays with Ajahn Ganha in Thailand, he has now returned to Oslo in Norway, where he currently resides.

Together with Jon Endre Mørk, he established the Buddhist Society of Oslo and Viken (ovbf.org) in 2021, and he is now teaching retreats and Buddhism various places in Norway, while building a Buddhist community there. The goal is to establish a centre in Norway for teaching and practise.

I’ve had some technical problems with recording this episode, and I regret to say that I’ve lost the first five minutes, which is a shame because it was a great start. So as the you hear the interview commence, you are actually hearing it drop in at the second question that I asked. However, there’s so much more to appreciate in this interview. I really enjoyed making this episode with Ajahn Nitho. He is a great story teller in the making and has set about making a meaningful impact.

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[Note: Robot generated transcription - expect errors!]

But basically what I did was 6 hours of meditation, a walking meditation. 1s I had to be focused on my body for 6 hours continuously with good friends, with happiness, with beautiful nature. It's just like this recipe of meditation. And that made me really clear and happy in my mind, 1s but I didn't understand that before. Many, many years later in Australia. 1s Right. And you mentioned earlier there was a second part to the story 3s I did later on. Yeah, correct. Later on, my brother, he started to do backpacking and he's been all over the planet. I think he did two years of backpacking. And at one point I was back in Norway and he sent me an email and said, okay, I'm going to this weekend retreat. I think it was in Mexico, I think. 1s And I email back, say, yeah, that sounds like a good idea, and may you have a nice retreat. So he went to this retreat, and then 1s a couple of weeks after, I got a new email, 1s I'm going now on a seven days retreat. 2s And I answered back, yeah, that sounds good. That sounds like a nice idea. Maybe you have a nice retreat. 2s And a couple of weeks after I got another email, he said that he was going for one month retreat. Wow. And then I remember when I got that email, what, 2s are you actually really tired of backpacking now or 1s what's going on? And I said, well, okay, if that's what you want to do, 2s please do that. 1s And after a month and a few more weeks, I got a lost email saying, well, I'm actually going on a six month retreat. 1s Wow. There were a group of Westerners, and like, 30, 40 of them, and they decided to rent a farm up in their mountains in Peru. Close to much a picture. 1s And they're just going to live up there very simply and get local food. I stay there for half a year studying and meditating. 2s And that's when I realized, what are you going to spend half a year sitting on some kind of cushion somewhere and just look at the inside of your eyes, your eyelids? 3s And that made me really think, because my brother, he's really mature, 2s he's smart, he's well educated, and if he actually can dedicate half a year of his life to meditation, then maybe I should try as well. 2s So I started to search on Internet for 2s meditation retreats. 1s This was at a time when Google was just starting up, so we were searching for meditation retreat 1s in Norway and also globally. And there is this jungle of traditions and retreats and opinions and 1s religions. 2s But I just knew one thing. I wanted to do a Buddhist retreat. 1s And I just couldn't decide on what to do. So I ended up sending an email to 3s this organization called the 4s Buddhist Federation. It's like an umbrella organization for all the smaller societies in Norway. Buddhist societies in Norway. And I just asked, is there any organization in Norway who are going to run a retreat, 2s like a seven days or nine days retreat? And then a couple of weeks after, I got an email back 1s from a guy in Oslo saying, yes, we're going to run a retreat in six months, and there will be two monks coming from Australia, a Norwegian monk and a German monk, and they're going to run they were going to hire this place quite close to Australia. Flow out in the forests. 1s And I 1s asked to be part of that retreat. 1s And as soon as I was accepted into that retreat, I got an email from 1s this group who did that retreat with links to a webpage which probably you sold, made many years ago. Possibly, yeah. Yeah. I think it was the first web page of BSWA, because I can remember that this table, there was a web page and I was like twelve or 16. 1s And I talks MP3 talks, which you can download and then run on your computer. And I just started to download everything I could find from Bra and also other teachers, 5s mostly from this aja childhood in Europe and in Australia, in North America. 2s And after going to that retreat, 1s I actually decided to try to be tour dean. And the reason was that 2s I got really good teachings from Jam Braham. And the way he was teaching really 2s worked for me. He had a way of teaching, which I took in, 2s and I got really good meditation really quickly. Maybe it's going to beginner's luck or maybe it's because I had a fresh start. Nobody had taught me anything about meditation before that. And he came with really good instructions and I just did that and I got really good meditation. And the result of that retreat, my first week, was so positive or actually so mind blowing and so uplifting 2s that I decided that I just had to 1s try full time one year as some kind of Australian or some kind of monk to explore this development of the mind, this meditation thing. 2s Right. Can I ask, was that monk, was that Arjun Brolly who took that first retreat that you went on? Yes. 1s He was just five years as a baker and he was allowed to start teaching. So he he came to Norway and he didn't teach much. It was this German monk 1s who was the teacher, but he came and he had translated the setting in motion, the wheel of the drama, this dama chaka Wattana Sutah. And he translated into Norwegian. And so he read out that first teachings of the Buddha in Norwegian, in Norway. 1s Wow. Right. Yeah. 1s Okay, 1s so you had some good experiences with meditation, and you then decided it was time to travel to the other side of the earth, to this rather out of the way place to train with the jump round. Yeah. In fact, actually, I think pretty sure I met you for the first time. This time you weren't too long off the plane when they bumped into you. Do you remember that? 4s The thing that struck me. But at that time and you're an anaguric guy. I can't remember how long you've been in Western Australia at the time, but I remember that you're very, very enthusiastic. And he said, 1s Well, I'm going to come among one day, I'm going to go back to Norway. And you said that at that time. Did I? Yeah. Okay. 1s Going back. Because I remember it. I thought that's very nice. That's very nice. But you're just an Antagonista wearing white. At the time. 1s I didn't put too much weight on it, but it's interesting how things have turned around. So 1s you came to Australia. What was your experience? And when you this is a huge change, huge life change. You've come to a monastery. This is very different from the life you led before. What was your experience of making that transition? 8s I think for me it was a big change, of course. But for me, I was really motivated because I had really good experience before I came there. I kind of knew 1s why. 4s Why I wanted to come there. So I was very 2s energetic and I was willing to let go a lot because I knew I had to let go as much as I could 1s and get a very peaceful and calm surrounding and supporting surrounding fer meditation to continue my development of my mind. So for me, it's like after a while, you have to give up money and you have to give your girlfriend, and you don't have your own house, and you don't have much at all, but which is kind of difficult to let go. But I also had 1s an inner motivation to let it go because I knew already when I came there the benefits of following this teaching. 1s You learn to let go of so much around you. So you have very little freedom to do things, but you have so much freedom from. 2s From things. So for me, it wasn't all that difficult to let go of. All the 2s I had a girlfriend and I had a nice job and I have my family and my friends here in Norway, and I had to let go of all of that. 1s But again, I told myself, I'm going to try this for one year. So I always had that in the back of my mind. So in case this doesn't work and in case it doesn't lead the way I want, I can always just quit this and go back. 1s So 1s my perception was it wasn't that difficult, really, because I had so much motivation and inspiration to really do these things. And I also had a really nice development the first years in Australia, 2s right? You ended up spending ten years 2s monastery in Western Australia. 2s How did you find that? How did that change things for you? What was that like? 5s A lot of lay people would wonder what's it like being a monk, you know, not just spending a few months there, but this is it. I mean, by the time you decided to take full ordination and you must have had a pretty good idea that you were going to stick with this for a while. Yeah, kind of. For me, when I came to Australia, I had this decision. I wanted to try one year, and I really want to do that 100%, really put an effort and listen to a great teacher like a Jean Bram, and really try to do that and follow his teaching and his advice and also all the inspiration I could get from my John, his teacher. And after half a year, I decided, okay, one year is not enough. I have to try two years, and then you need to take this somewhere near this novice or the nation. 1s So after half a year, I went back to Norway and I told my family that I actually got 3s as a monk, as a novice, and I went back and I did that. Novice or the nation? 1s And so I decided to try for two years 2s because I had one problem. I had health problems in Australia, and I didn't know what was the problem. 1s I did have the inspiration and I knew what I wanted to do and I had a good teacher and had good progress, but I had health problems, I had digestion problems. And after two years, I decided, okay, I really have to try this for five years until I have five years as a bigger. 2s And 1s those five years, they just flew nicely. I had a really nice I started to get handling on my health problems. I'm starting getting better. And I remember after I think six or seven years as a biku in Perth that is totally like eight to nine years. One guest at this monitor came and just asked me, 1s for how long are you going to be abiku? He just asked me, is it one more year or it's like five more years or are you ready to leave now? Because the reality is that most of the people who ordain they give up after a certain amount of years. But I was asked, and that question came very surprisingly. 2s And even more surprised I was of my own answer. This answer just came out. 2s I'm going to be a big good rest of my life. It was just an it's just an honest 1s answer coming straight from my heart. So I already knew after six or seven, eight years that if I can get enough support to live as a bigger, I probably do this the rest of my life because I can't see anything better you can do with a human life than developing happiness, because that's what we're doing. 1s We're starting to examine our own minds and why happiness 1s comes up in our minds and how that can stop. And when suffering goes away, the result is happiness. And you learn to be become happy temporarily in deeper meditation. So you really learn the power of the mind. How beautiful, how fantastic your mind actually can be if you have wisdom. 1s So by meditation is like a laboratorium where you start to work on your mind and how can you be happy, how can unholy some or difficult or heavy emotions cannot disappear peer, at least temporarily. And then the result is that you get really uplifted and happy and peaceful and stable and free. 1s And when you start to get those kind of experiences in meditation, then you naturally start to develop that 1s wisdom which creates a permanent happiness in the mind, not just based on meditation, but based off wisdom. 2s I think that you've hit the nail on the head there. It's a beautiful story. In part, it shows that the monastic form like to a lot of lay people who are looking upon it and who may even respect it a great deal, it seems very hard to do, but actually it's really is set up just to protect the meditative mind. The mind relinquishing and letting go. And if you can do that, then it's a very good place to be at. And I also just wanted to comment that maybe I'm not sure whether you're aware of it at the time, but your approach was one which was, let's try it out, let's stick with this for a year, okay, let's try another two years. I think that approach is a really good approach. Rather than saying, I'm going to do this until 1s my blood dries up. 2s I see that sometimes, and it tends not to last very long. 2s That is a type of effort which is based on craving on will or wanting, 1s and it never works. 5s Absolutely. Yeah. So I think it turned out really well. I think it's quite instructive. Gradual approach, I think is really nice. 2s I have to ask you before we get move on, do you have any classic Arjun Brahm stories? 1s Yeah, actually, 3s this is one of my favorite stories for Ajan Braun, and it's very short, but I just like what he said, because 2s what I like most, at least now, after many years, 1s I've been living with Ajambra for 1314 years. I've heard all these teachings too many times, 1s and it's all been good teachings. But in the end, it's like, well, here we go again. Same story, et cetera, et cetera. So in the end, 1s what still inspires me is that when Arjun Brahm gets asked a question and he can't, it just pops out an answer out of the blue kind of thing. 2s And that's what I love going when Ajambram is teaching nine days at treats and people ask all these weird questions in evening, just coming for all kinds of directions and Arjun Brom just comes all these beautiful answers and you learn on to see things from different perspectives. And this is what happened once 2s all the monks were taking their food 2s and 3s just before Jam Brahma was going upstairs with his food, 2s I think somebody 1s was asking like everybody or asking Aisha Bram, what was the last teachings that the Buddha gave? What was his last teachings? Because they're all kind of translations and variations of interpretations of what the Buddhist last words were. And a Jambra, he just came 3s his own translation of the Buddhist last words and it was. 2s Hurry up, 7s hurry up and train hurry up and develop just hurry up life life is kind of going fast just hurry up, meditate, train and develop. 2s He has an excellent sense of timing as well. Yeah. 3s Later on, after you spent some time with Adjangbrad, you decided to travel to Thailand and you spent some time with Ajang Gunho. Could you talk a little bit about that experience? 1s Yeah, I can. 2s A lot of people in there, they actually go to some kind of Asian country. They go to Thailand or they go to Japan or they go to Sri Lanka or India somewhere. So they get their first training in Asian country, which is kind of typical because 1s it kind of makes sense because that's countries and cultures with a lot of teachers. But I went to a western country. You. 1s And I went to a Buddhist country after I become a senior monk. 3s So I came to Thailand as a terror, 1s as a senior monk. 5s Arjungana's Place there is basically nobody of the seniors speaking English 1s and of course, they don't speak Norwegian. 2s So when I came there, it wasn't possible to talk to anybody of the seniors. I always needed a translator 4s because both are Jean Gunnhai himself and he has three Mahathiras'and. None of them speak English. So I came there and 1s I couldn't do anything actually. Just but just fitting in and doing like what everybody else did and then meditating a lot. 3s So for me, it was kind of difficult. 3s In one sense, if you don't understand the language, you either have to learn the language or you basically on your own. And that was really for me because I really like this idea of being responsible for my own life and 2s figure out the way to do it myself and then get inspirations from other senior monks. 2s So I really liked going there and I was really impressed by Ajanganha. He is this an guy. His body is really big, 1s but he has 1s a mind which is extremely special in a positive sense. 4s I've heard all these stories about ajan cha. Like Ajan Braham's teacher. 2s And I stayed with a Jean ganha for a while. I had this feeling this is like a copy of our jeans. 1s He has this there is this mind which is so developed and there's so much kindness. 5s When I was there the first time, he actually did quite much teaching as well. He had a Chinese monk there who spoke both Chinese and Thai in English really well. So he translated all the teachings from Ajang. Gandhi into English so I can understand what he was teaching. So I was really happy staying there. I had a good time, and I got some advice from him as well, directly from him to me. And he was actually the one who was kind of recommending me to go back to Norway. 1s Really? Yeah. Because in Australia yeah. I had health problems, but I didn't really have any plans to go back to Norway. I didn't really. 2s But 1s it ended up, 2s after we sitting, 1s that maybe it should be a good idea for me to go back to Norway and try to create something in Norway. Did he say why? Do you have any particular reason? 10s Somehow 1s I must say that somehow he was reading my mind. 4s Especially the first time I was there. I had some questions about what to do when I came to Jangana the first time I was becoming a senior monk. And I knew that if I am to move away from Australia, for some reason or another, I should do it now. If I wait 20 more years, I'm too old to go back to Norway for ten more years. And I ended up going to Thailand. And 3s without me asking. 3s I was just sitting there behind him when he was teaching, and one day, one evening he was teaching lay people, he just suddenly stopped teaching everybody else and just turn around and look directly at me and said, well, 1s maybe you can go back to Norway. 3s That's really remarkable because actually my next question was about what prompted you to go to Norway. And bearing in mind that it's quite a difficult past the tread to go to a Western country where there's not really much Buddhism around or to a place where there's not a lot of support and there's not a Buddhist culture, and then to try and start something from scratch is a very difficult thing to undertake. And 1s of all the Western monks and nuns who do practice and get to their senior years as past the ten year mark, very few of them want to take on that role because I guess they perceive it as being quite onerous. 1s And yeah, that you've now made that choice and you're saying that Arjun ganha was a part of that. Yeah. Is that correct? Yes, you can say that, but. 4s All those years in Australia. 1s I'm not actually sure why, but I always had this feeling 1s of being in Australia is like going somewhere to take some kind of education and then go back and never manage to kind of feel at home at Wooding on it. There was always something which stopped me from kind of settling and say, okay, I can be here the rest of my life. There was always something 1s in the background which stopped me from settling and say, okay, I can be here in Australia, I can be in Woody and I can live in Perth, which I could have done and then help Ajambraam and the other Sini monks there, 1s but I never came to that place. That okay, 1s I can be here. So I always had in me this idea of wanting to go back to Norway. 2s And for many, many years, 3s he was such powerful 1s he was such an important part for me in my development. So he was able to kind of stop me from leaving earlier. 2s So he managed to keep because of his skills and his seniority and his wisdom and his kindness, he managed to keep me there quite many years. But at one point or another, there were too many things which kind of pushed me back to Norway. And then in that period when I was kind of going back and forth, what should I do now? What should I do the rest of my life? Because I had come to this conclusion that I will try. 2s Most probably, I will be a big with the rest of my life. So what should I do with this the rest of my life? Should I stay in Australia? Should I go somewhere? Should I go back to Norway? And just at that time, I actually went to visit A Jangalmah. And he was very clear. 2s Three different episodes or times. He basically was directing me back to Norway. Bye. Yeah. So interesting. Wow. Apart from that experience going to Thailand and getting that prompting from our Jung ganha, what was it in Norway that made you feel confident that you could go there? Did you have some connections there where people were saying, oh, come to Norway, we'll support you? Did you have anything like that or turned up? The problem is that maybe I should have done that. But the thing is, I was in Thailand and then my auntie died and I had to go to Norway for that funeral. And as soon as that funeral was over, Kobet camp and all the borders shut down. So I would just stop in Norway. I wasn't allowed in. Australia was very strict. It was impossible for me to go back to Australia. And Thailand is saying Thailand had a lot of problems with COVID. So I couldn't go back to Thailand. I couldn't go back to Australia. 2s And here I am, no support, just staying with my family. So what do I do now? 1s Yeah, right. And 1s in the past, before I went to Australia, and there were a few people in Oslo which I knew was quite part of our Buddhist society, but I didn't really wanted to connect with them, 1s they kind of started a project going another direction than what I wanted to do. So I just started. I said, okay, 1s I have to stay here now for a while. Maybe this is my chance to see whether it's possible to do something in Norway. And I spent a few weeks and months setting up a web page. 4s I actually made a podcast as well, but I removed it because it wasn't good enough. But I was trying to take all the teachings I have given so far in Australia and making available in Norway. 2s And I made this web page and I said that I want to try to create a Buddhist society in Norway and is there anybody interested? And then after half a year I got this email from one guy in Oslo which I didn't even know. And we started chatting on email, chatting on some kind of messenger and we are starting to make phone calls and we connected really well. He has been in Perth many times. It's been on Dutch and Brahm and knew a little bit by Dutch and Bramley, which also is Norwegian. 1s So I went to Oslo to visit him in February 2021 or last year and we decided to just start a Buddhist society. And a couple of months after we actually did. Was that John and Olga? Yes. His name is the Norwegian pronunciation is Yunandra Mark. 2s Under a mac. Okay. 2s Very interesting. So we just started. So that's that's. I can't help but feel like, you know, all the circumstances around your return to Norway, it was almost as if the universe was conspiring. 3s Universe just kind of sent me to Norway and then locked up everything. So I had to stay in Norway for two years. 3s No choice. 4s That's fascinating. I have to say. My recent guest was Ayatta tarloca from United States, and she ended up in the United States in a similar way because she was very happy practicing where she was in Korea, and then because of immigration kind of situation, she got put on a plane and sent to California. She didn't even come from California. She didn't know anybody. 1s She was stuck there. It sounds a bit similar. It's like the universe kind of has other plans for us, and those things are quite fortuitous. Yeah. 1s So what has been your experience so far in terms of finding a Buddhist community in Norway? Does it sound like it was a little bit slow getting started, but after you've made those initial connections, what's it been like since then? Yeah, just remember when I came to Norway, I was quite junior as a senior. 2s Much teaching experience. I done really well for many, many years, developing and training. 2s But I haven't had much training in actually giving speeches and teaching retreats and traveling around and inspiring other people. I didn't have much of that. I just been a couple of times to this citizen in Perth, and I think I taught one or two weekend retreats at Johnogrobe in Perth, and that's it. So when I came to Norway, I was really young. Arjun Brahm likes to call like a baby. Arjun 1s a very inexperienced teacher. A lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, but not much experience in kind of communicating this, trying to inspire and teach others. So in the beginning 3s and then another thing. I've been in Australia for almost 15 years, and those years I was thinking English. I was speaking English, I was reading English. All my development and all my studies has been in an English language. And when I came back to Norway. 2s It was really difficult to talk about Buddhism in Norwegian language because in the English language, a lot of the words from Sanskrit and Pali are kind of standardized. So we say mindfulness, it means sati 2s in English. 2s We have kind of ended up agreeing a lot of words, describing some 2s Buddhist terms, but that's not the case in Norway. 2s So when I was going to start to teach in Norwegian, Buddhism in Norwegian, I honestly didn't know what kind of words I should use. Like 3s what is mindfulness, what is the right effort in the region? So I had to start on absolutely scratch. 2s What words can you use in Norway, in the region language, to teach 1s Buddhism? 1s So it was really difficult in terms of language. And I was a young bicker, a young kind of senior monk without much teaching experience. So I had a really it was a difficult start, 3s but after a while so 1s I started to kind of find words which sounds kind of correct 2s in the region. Yeah. And I started teach retreat because 2s that's what I like the most. Actually, I have to teach retreats because there's so much interesting things to teach. And I really like to teach about the meditation experience and mindfulness and samadhi and then try to inspire people 1s to learn and to practice and get their own results. Just like I did when I went to my first retreat. I got all these door opening experiences, and I want people to have the same experiences. And that's already happening now in Norway. 1s To be honest, I'm a little bit proud of this. I'm still a quite young teacher, but I'm already starting to really help people to get really nice experiences in medical patience. 2s Oh, fantastic. But I think also, like you say, you're almost like having to develop this new language of Buddhism, which is in Norwegian. And in a lot of ways, I guess you're setting the not maybe not quite the standard, but you're creating the vocabulary and the way to communicate about these spiritual practices and spiritual experiences 1s in one sense, because for all of us to understand these things, it tends to start with someone teaching us verbally or perhaps in print. 1s You're creating that maybe the first time. I'm not sure. It sounds like 1s at least it feels like that 2s because there isn't all that much kind of established language. 2s Maybe I can maybe that's what I'm doing. 2s But for me, it's just like 2s I think it takes time, and 2s it's like a dialogue. And as you know, in English, words like samadhi, which used to get translated as concentrated. Today, 2s others, particularly John Brown, are saying, well, as you know, it's stillness, so it's always in motion, it's always moving. But to get started, it's a pretty significant kind of 2s circumstance as well. To get started. In some ways, I find that quite an exciting prospect. Yeah. 2s Every time I teach some retreat or I'm giving some talk, I'm just learning and learning and getting better and better and better, just as I told the leader of our little society, just give me a few years. 2s I think I can be pretty okay as a teacher, even in Norwegian language. But I need some time. And that's also why we haven't published that much yet on digital kind of YouTube or podcast or anything, because I need some time 1s to practice being a teacher and finding all the right words, both in English and Norwegian, and telling stories 1s in a good way and giving a lot of similes, et cetera. I also need time to become like a teacher. 1s I think it's a really important point. I mean, 1s people don't appreciate that it takes time, first of all, to really bed down the practice and get some good experiences in practice. And then also, the teaching is a skill as well. And I know that everyone likes to rave about arch, umbrum, now, but I know some of the older members of the Buddhist Society of WA would say, going back to the, 2s they thought his teachings were boring. 14s He developed and he got a whole lot better. Yeah, when you said that, I remember this short story from Bodiniana because Ajambraam got a visitor from Singapore, 2s a really good supporter of him in Singapore. And she came to visit Ajambram at Bodiniana. And she was getting curious about some older teaching Ajambra has given when he was, like, a young senior, when he was a young teacher. And so she went to the library and got some of the oldest talks that Jam Brahm gave. And he took it back to her room and starting to listen to those teachings. 1s And the day after, she went straight up to Archer and Brahm, I just told him, like, face to face, 1s I listened to one of your teachings you gave when you're a young monk. And that is the worst teaching I've heard in my whole life. 5s And now Jam is so skilled in teaching on all levels. He can teach 2s a little bit, like populistic or easy funny 2s teachings. And he can give teaching to the monks, which are deep, and can give 2s talks on retreat. So he's developed skills and teaching skills in all kinds of settings. He can teach 5000 people on a conference center. He can teach one on one to another monk. Really deep stuff. So he has the whole continuum of 1s the whole spectrum of capacity, of teaching. 3s I think he's so prolific. He just keeps teaching and teaching and teaching and of course, what better way to get to improve is just to keep trying and yes, 1s that's what I think. It's a very good idea. Yeah, absolutely. Then I don't think there should be any necessity to rush into 1s recording lots of talks, necessarily. 1s Do it when you're ready. Yeah. Do you feel that there's any pressure on you in terms of 2s being obviously a native Norwegian? Do you feel like there's pressure from the Norwegian people for you to 1s increase the amount of teachings you have available or put them online? Do you feel there's any pressure like that? Yes, but not much, because 1s our committee, they know me quite well, and they do wish to kind of set up a YouTube channel, and they do want to we are starting to play with the podcast ourselves. 2s And also I want to kind of somehow create some teachings which can be digital so we can put on some web page or some social platform somewhere. But this is a lot of work, and it's it takes time and it will come, but I just have to do this one step at a time. 1s I think the first thing we will start to do now, after 2s this, in a few months, we'll probably start working more on podcast. Maybe you can make a Norwegian language podcast, 1s see what happens. 2s See what happens? I mean, I'll be quite candid with you. I did a lot of study before I started this podcast, but there's never a point at which you're going to have it perfect when you start. You just have to start and then work on it and refine it as you go. Yeah, and I'm really glad that I started because every single guest, I feel like I've learned so much from them or heard a really inspiring story. So I have no regrets. It's been really interesting, and I really hope that the thousands of listeners who are hearing these podcasts will benefit as well. Look getting on towards wrapping the interview up, but I'd, like, wanted to just ask, could you tell us a little bit about the Buddhist society of Oslo and Vegan? 3s It's early days, of course, but what have you been doing so far? Where's it at, would you say? Yeah, where we are at, 2s we are trying we are trying to create a society, so we're trying to create a group of people who have some common interests of developing 1s spiritually in this Buddhist tradition 1s based on teachings, we call it for early Buddhism. So where we get the inspiration from the earliest teachings we have, 1s and we have done this now for a year or maybe one and a half years now, and our main effort has been to run retreats. 2s That's also because that's what I feel confident doing. I really feel that I know what I'm doing when I'm teaching retreats and 2s we get good results. And our experience so far is that, yeah, we can make hundreds of YouTube talks and podcasts, et cetera, but a lot of people, they just consume all these teachings and they don't do anything more. 2s And to be able to create a society where there are actually people who are really wish to somehow develop, and they want to help this process. 3s Our experience is that we need to get them on a retreat. When I'm teaching retreat, I'm teaching 30, 40 hours, various types, and people get a lot of experience, and then they really understand what this is about, 3s and they get really interested. So our committee now, this year, they are all people who have been to one of our retreats because they really understand what this is about. 3s Norway is really far away from traditionally Buddhist country like 1s Japan and Thailand and India and Sri Lanka, et cetera. It's really far away. It's not like Australia, which is almost neighbor to all these Buddhist countries. Norway is really far away, and there's not a big Buddhist kind of community in Norway. So you have to teach all the basics. 2s And you need to learn people what Buddhism actually is. And when they do understand, what is this actually a training of the mind? And there is no kind of creator God. It's not like Christianity. It's actually quite different. 1s They actually start to 2s get honestly interested, and they're willing to put an effort to develop a small society, and they get inspired and they can help. So what we've done so far is to run a lot of retreats 1s in various parts of the country, because we know that we get an opportunity to give a lot of information, a lot of teachings, and giving people a lot of experience and their own practice 2s that is really 2s it kind of works. 1s Building a community. 2s Well, I have to say, I think that's a fantastic way to approach it, because, really, Buddhism isn't just about ideas. It's not just accepting that you believe this or believe that. Correct. It's very much about that experience and that meditative experience where you can actually not just look at the mind, but see how it can be transformed yes. Through 1s practicing stillness. 2s That's the transformation which is not just changing your mind, it's changing your heart as well. Yeah. And I think it causes people to 2s change from within. It's quite a powerful thing. Yeah. Th. 1s Yeah, so look, I think that's amazing and keep doing that. It sounds like it's a really good place to start and to keep going for quite a while to really just focus on those quality meditation experiences. I really want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us on the Treasure Mountain podcast. And I've got to say I really wish everyone at the Buddhist Society of Oslo and Beacon all the very best. And I wish you the very best in developing your community of practice in Norway. Thank you. 3s And thank you not just to Arjun, but thank you to our listeners as well for joining us on this episode of Treasure Mountain with our John Nito, a simple monk who loves meditation and has returned to his native Norway to found a community of people that are interested in meditation. You can find out more about the Arjun Nito, including links to the Buddhist Society of Oslo and Vicin. That's the Ovbf. I'll put links below in the description so that you too can find out more about what they're doing. And it's not just in Norwegian, it also has an English version as well. You can find out more about Treasure Mountain podcasts by going to Treasuremountain Info, where you can find all the previous episodes and information about all our guests. If you enjoy this podcast, you can subscribe to Treasure Mountain using your favorite podcast app in order to get notified about future episodes. And don't forget to tell your friends about Treasure Mountain too. I'll have more inspiring guests and topics in the coming weeks, and until that time, may you find the treasure within. 

Ajahn Nitho Profile Photo

Ajahn Nitho

Spiritual leader

Ajahn Nitho was born on the west coast of Norway in 1970, and after finishing high school, a year at the University of Bergen, a Bachelor's degree at NHH (The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration), a few years working as a CFO and two years of global backpacking, Ajahn Nitho went to Australia in 2007 to be ordained as a Buddhist bhikkhu, under Ajahn Brahm at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA), Perth.

After one year as an anagarika (postulant), one year as a samanera (novice), Ajahn Nitho took higher ordination as a bhikkhu (monk) in 2009. After more than 10 years of training as a bhikkhu in Perth, a few stays with Ajahn Ganha in Thailand, he has now returned to Oslo in Norway, where he currently resides.

Togheter with Jon Endre Mørk, he established the Buddhist Society of Oslo and Viken (ovbf.org) in 2021, and he is now teaching retreats and Buddhism various places in Norway, while building a Buddhist society. The goal is to establish a centre in Norway for teaching and practise.