Trainee and center's cook Vlastik Karlik is leaving Windhorse to return to his home country of the Czech Republic. The morning before his flight, Dana Lundquist, also in a training program at Windhorse, sat down with him for an interview about his three-month stay with us.
DL: When did you first come to Windhorse?
VK: I was here for the first time in 2010. This is my second visit to Windhorse, and I came at the end of November.
How did you enjoy being the head cook?
It was great fun! It's wonderful to cook for a bigger number of people; then you can have a well-equipped kitchen and play with new food. I'll really miss some ingredients that are rare or unavailable back home: sweet potatoes, squashes, avocados.....and bananas are much more pricey.
How did you spend your free time here?
(Jokingly) Playing lots of games, cooking good food,...and a little bit of stuff in the zendo....
How has your practice grown or changed?
Thanks to my practice I dug out stuff inside that I didn't know was there...in the way I react and the root of my anger and sadness. This all really came up through having sesshin every other month and the daily practice.
It also makes all the difference to be with your teacher.
What do you hope you’re getting from working with your teacher?
I hope I get nothing from Sunya! I hope I get rid of some things. It took me a long time to establish trust with my teacher...to practice honestly. I have beyond gratitude for my teacher.
I noticed you spent a lot of time outdoors...tell me about what you enjoyed most.
Sitting at Sunrise Point. At first I was quite hesitant to go out at sunrise and sit... it didn't seem like real practice. But after trying it a few times I realized I couldn't miss any opportunity to go out there. It is another dimension of practice.
I also bought my first camera here. There are many friends back home who complained about having no pictures of America! There's also exceptional biodiversity on this property, specifically with the species of birds. It's quite an opportunity to be comfortable taking nice pictures. I would normally have to lie in wetlands for hours to see so many species!
I suffer from being a desktop environmentalist- always in front of a computer. It's moving to see nature in action.
What are you most excited about regarding going home to the Czech Republic?
Seeing friends, making potato pancakes, and going back to my job in river conservation work.
How does your practice impact your environmental work?
Practice gives me motivation and energy, but I have never tried to apply the principles of practice in my job. The environment movement in Czech is very weak and unstable. My goal is to help establish simply a mainstream environmental movement. My country isn't ready to support deep ecology philosophical ideals yet.
Do you have worries about going back home?
It's quite difficult to maintain regular practice back home with my work schedule and travel. I'm sleeping in the office one or two nights a week, and it's an over four-hour commute to the office! I usually spend two days in the main office in Prague and other days at home, but there are also lots of trips to different cities.
Windhorse has incredible views...but are there any sights back home you are looking forward to?
Yes. The mild hills are soothing...and the mosaic of forests and small fields. In Czech one can roam freely because there are no fences that cut properties up. You can walk all day wherever!
Vlastik will be staying at the Polish Zen Center in June and July. He – and everyone else at Windhorse – hopes he'll return to Windhorse next February!