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Mar 05
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What Doctor Tho Knows

Shambhalians in Vienna hear an inspiring talk by the author of a new book on happiness

by Joanna Francis

photos by Sabine Fabach

DrThoLast week the Vienna Shambhala Centre welcomed Dr. Ha Vin Tho to give a talk about Gross National Happiness and Enlightened Society. Dr. Tho was enthusiastically received, and the shrine room was packed with over a hundred participants.

Dr. Tho is the Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan. He serves as a member of the Presencing Institute, and also as a Buddhist teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, in addition to being active in numerous ecological projects in Vietnam. He has recently published a book called Grundrecht auf Glück – (The Basic Right to Happiness), and was in Vienna to meet with leaders in city planning as well as participate in the Gemeinwohl Ökonomie (Commonwealth Economy) movement’s fifth birthday celebration.  We were very fortunate to host him for an evening talk.

Sangha DrTho_2016-18He spoke very movingly of his respect for Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and of the sacredness of Bhutan where the Sadhana of Mahamudra was received in Taktsang Cave. Known as the Tiger’s Nest, this sacred site has held great significance for Tibetan practitioners, ever since Guru Rinpoche meditated there in the 7th century. From Dr. Tho’s slideshow we enjoyed a fascinating glimpse of the richness of Bhutanese culture, as well as a clear explanation of how Gross National Happiness (GNH) can be used to address the economic, ecological, leadership and spiritual crises of our time. GNH is used in Bhutan as an alternative to other more typical measures of national progress based on income and productivity.


book signingDrTho_2016-160Dr. Tho embodied both intellectual clarity and heartfelt caring as he spoke movingly about his time in the International Red Cross, where he saw first-hand what war zones and starvation meant in human terms.   He addressed questions about how we can participate in this movement and opened many networking possibilities between the Shambhala community and our visitors for the evening, many of whom were in the centre for the first time.  At the end of the evening, Dr. Tho generously stayed to sign copies of his book. His contribution to our community is greatly appreciated, and his talk will be long remembered by all who were in attendance.

AIbEiAIAAABECNy4k6n257__tgEiC3ZjYXJkX3Bob3RvKigyYWZjYWFlOTM4YTQyZmViM2QwNjRlMGZiN2E0MDk2ODIyMTAyM2U0MAGi-E02cdjib3domCmrEMr9x6G-KgJoanna Francis: After many years following other Buddhist traditions, Joanna first attended Level One in New Zealand in 2004. Since then she has followed the Shambhala path to USA, Canada, France and India before landing in Vienna where she is now Director of Practice and Education.


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2 responses to “ What Doctor Tho Knows ”
  1. Joanna Francis
    Mar 6, 2016

    He wrote this book very quickly for a publishing deadline in German and wants to spend more time re-writing it for the English speaking world.

  2. When will the book be available in English?

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