Feb 9, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 16 Comments

Letter from Sweden: FIKA AT A GLANCE (part 4) ( Thư Thụy Điển: MỘT THOÁNG FIKA ( Bài 4))

Letter from Sweden: FIKA AT A GLANCE (part 4) ( Thư Thụy Điển: MỘT THOÁNG FIKA ( Bài 4))


I started to travel around the city with Mark. After parking, we walked to do sightseeing. The winter here is the same as the winter in other countries, but it is colder. It is under -4 degrees to 2 degrees. Amazingly, when I came here, the weather was “hotter” by 4 degrees. The day before I arrived in Stockholm, the temperature was at – 2 degrees. In spite of 4 degrees, it is bitter cold with a stinging, biting wind like I had experienced when I was in Latvia. In spite of it being only 4 degrees, it was so wonderful to sip a cup of coffee in this weather in accordance with the spirit of the following:

“Enjoying worldly pleasure but no attachment to it.

Abandoning Saha world but the body still belongs to it

Enjoying the pleasure with pure mind

Living with five desires but no delusion.”

Taking in the scenery

The corner of the street behind me

I was sitting at Espresso House, one of famous cafés in Sweden. There were two black waitresses, who were friendly, good at English, and came to serve me. I enjoyed the espresso coffee that had a strong taste. I liked this flavor so I bought a bag of that espresso to bring back to my homeland. But for me, the best coffee was Trung Nguyen and Long Han (in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Vietnam). I happened to remember the word “FIKA” with the meaning “enjoying worldly pleasure,” but the big difference from Song Nguyen Tantra House, lied in the way that they seemed to know how to enjoy “worldly pleasure” but did not know how to enjoy “worldly pleasure hand in hand with dharma pleasure.”

Espresso House Cafe

This café is on the ground floor of a tall building. It is fairly large and arranged in the styles of the youth in Vietnam where they “order” coffee, but the tables and chairs are arranged close to each other like the type of restaurants in which I have just had breakfast. I also see some people taking their dogs into the café as their friends. One dog is as tall as a human being, which makes me hesitant to pass it to go to the restroom. In most of the places I have been, the restrooms are much smaller than the space for tables or chairs; the restrooms in the shops or restaurants in the old town are even smaller. Compared to the restrooms in the café shops in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Vietnam for instance, theirs are far behind. Therefore, we should be proud to say that the “happiness index” of the restrooms in Song Nguyen Tantra House is much higher if we make a small survey. Ms. Mat Dieu must pay special attention to the comfortable restroom for learners. But many years ago we still had many difficulties so we only focused on the main things. It has been for nearly 15 years (2005-2019) that we have solved this problem. Now, you can go for a FIKA in a place where you can pray that all sentient beings release the scum of “greed, hatred, and ignorance” and be free from the past concerns my wife and I experienced. I feel sorry for the Indian couple who came to Song Nguyen Tantra House for learning dharma when Tantra House was still in difficulties and they had an uncomfortable experience in the restroom. At present, Tantra House is equipped with a modern system, but they have no chance to come back. That’s how we know the difference between blessing and bad karma among people. Looking back at the past, my wife and I feel pain when thinking of the learners who came to Song Nguyen Tantra House to learn dharma during that hard and poor period. Now everything is better, but some of them went out forever due to their ego attachment. However, I am ready to bear their consequences and pray for their auspiciousness.

  • Excuse me, I would like to come across.
  • Please.

They are wearing drainpipe trousers, slim-fit pants against the winter cold

The voice of a man interrupted my thought stream. It was good because we should not contemplate this topic unless it is the comparison for us to feel the grace from the Three Jewels. I looked out at the street and saw the tourists or local people leisurely walking on the street on the weekend. The car line here was not rushing and busy as the one in Paris. They got dressed fashionably, and almost 70% to 80% of the local people were wearing drainpipe trousers, slim-fit pants, and jeans. I now sympathized with the way they dressed for physical protection. In the morning, the strong winds, with the low temperature of 2 degrees, were blowing into the large leg trousers like mine which brought the coldness up to my knees. This may be the reason why the local people tend to wear drainpipe trousers, slim-fit pants, and jeans. To protect themselves from the winter cold, they form this habit of getting dressed. However, in tropical countries with high humidity, like Vietnam, if you follow their trend of wearing breeches with V-shaped legs, the bow-legged appearance, I am afraid you might be doing more harm than good. By the way, I warn Mat Tat Kiem and any other learners to not wear drainpipe trousers, slim-fit pants, or jeans when coming to Song Nguyen Tantra House unless they would be invited to go out. The spiritual consequences were explained clearly in other articles.


The Swedish flag

I am standing at the corner of the old town

After enjoying coffee, I asked Mark to walk with me in the wintery street. At the age of 60, I could walk as quickly as Mark, which surprised him. He thought that I was so strong and healthy but in fact, when I stopped to take pictures, I took some rest and recovered my strength. Every angle of the picture has a different beauty depending on your own eyes, but please do not let me have the opportunity to ask you the question in which you reply in memorable words, “Yes, sure it’s true! Oh, dear.” The impressive place here is the Stockholm library where Mark often goes to study. When Mark came in, some students greeted him. I think he must be a good student. My first impression was that many readers of all ages came here. The library staff was warm and worked in the reading room for their convenience of guiding the directory. I was surprised because the structure of library was arranged in three-story spiral-circles, decorated with a lot of books (both old and modern). I took some pictures and then moved to the walking street as Mark suggested.

A corner of the library from above.

I open the book and read but I do not understand anything!


Here’s the food

Before walking around the old town, Mark and I had dinner at a restaurant. The hamburgers here were so delicious that I enjoyed it with the feeling of being blessed. I did not want to have Pho and Vietnamese noodles here because I had enjoyed them a lot for many years. The two waiters noticed me wearing the splendid clothing and were happy to take pictures with me. They crossed their arms on chests. I copied them. The picture was taken the moment we three crossed our arms over our chests. It was so interesting and unique! There also were some Indian restaurants and Muslim ones–such diversity! I did not learn the history and development of the old town. I only found out that the roads were very narrow and lined with stones like the old town in Latvia or the few roads in Paris. I stood up and left the table after paying 30 euro. I paid by Visa but I forgot the code. I was supposed to pay in cash instead, but they sympathized with me, accepted my Visa, and asked me to write down my ID number.

Hamburger Restaurant

The picture of three people with crossed arms over chest. So interesting and unique!

The roads in the old town are so narrow, lined with stones like the ones in Latvia.

To have something to remember, Mark and I went to the souvenir shop on the road. We met the owner who was a Pakistani with a long beard who was very young and handsome. He was Muslim. He persuaded me to buy his products and asked me if I was Japanese. I said no and told him that I was Vietnamese. But I thought in my mind, “Why are you so subjective? Why do you think I am Japanese? Why don’t you ask me what nationality I am? Do you think that Vietnamese people do not wear elegant clothing with pasdersur overcoats, fedoras, and shoes? Do you think only Japanese wear such splendid clothing?” That’s life! Although our Vietnamese people are poor, our style will be fashionable and elegant if we are aware of our patriotism. Looking back on the experience, I am so proud to inform you that I refused to meet the Hindi master, Shambhushivananda, when he changed the place of meeting; instead of meeting in his office, as he said, he wanted to meet me in his own department. I am a spiritual Guru. I am not his secular friend. I do not want to have a worldly meeting in temporal conditions. The true Guru is not arrogant but he must have the holy pride and the right temperament.


I am sitting in a café in the old town.

The narrow roads in the old town cannot cover me from the cold winds

I bought some souvenirs and then went to another coffee shop. I sipped on a normal espresso for a while in that café that had a small restroom and no Wi-Fi. Looking out onto the road, I saw the flow of people no longer flocking to the old town anymore but becoming fewer and fewer, signaling that the late night covered all corners with the sorrows of “travelers who are homeless in winter” (a quote by Nguyen Van Thuong). The darker it was, the colder it got, and continuously howling winds seemed to force travelers back home. Swedish draft beer and hamburger could not warm me. The narrow roads in the old town could not cover me from the cold winds. Mark and I took the car back to my place. After tearing ourselves away, we said goodbye. I may not meet Mark again because from tomorrow Mark would put forth his greatest effort toward his final and toughest graduation exam. Mark, thank you so much for your kindness and very special thanks to your uncle, Mr. Phill, for his kind support. I hope I can meet you both at Thanh Tri Institute for Psychology Research and Yoga Applications so that you can enjoy the specialness of Vietnam. Although the Vietnamese are not as rich and elegant as the Swedes, the Vietnamese, and especially the members of Song Nguyen Tantra House, are always genuine and full of humanity.

I keep smiling on my face

Goodbye Mark, see you again.

A rainy afternoon on the peak of Phu Van mountain, January, 13th 2020

Thinley – Nguyen Thanh

Vietnamese version: Thư Thụy Điển: MỘT THOÁNG FIKA (Bài 4)


Letter from Sweden: FRIENDSHIP ON THE FLIGHT (Part 1)

Letter from Sweden: HUMANITY IN A FOREIGN LAND (Part 2) ( Thư Thụy Điển: TÌNH NGƯỜI NƠI ĐẤT KHÁCH (Bài 2))

Letter from Sweden: WHAT I SAW IN EUROPEAN CORNER (Part 3) ( Thư Thụy Điển: THẤY GÌ Ở GÓC PHỐ TRỜI ÂU? (Bài 3))

Letter from Sweden: FIKA AT A GLANCE (part 4) ( Thư Thụy Điển: MỘT THOÁNG FIKA ( Bài 4))


Letter from Sweden: MANY WORDS, ONE HEART. (Part 6) (Thư Thụy Điển: NHIỀU DÒNG CHỮ, MỘT TẤM LÒNG (Bài 6))

Letter from Sweden: ON RETURNING DAY (Part 7) (Thư Thụy Điển: NGÀY TRỞ VỀ (Bài 7))




  1. Tantra Lanidha (Ralph Keating) says:

    Dear Guru,

    I’m so happy to hear about your wonderful trip to Sweden. I appreciate you sharing your letter and showing pictures of your experience.

    I found the word “fika” fascinating.  It’s wonderful that the Swedes have a word for that custom and I noticed that in English we lack such a word.  Also, I especially admired how you made a comparison to Song Nguyen Tantra House and how there one learns how to enjoy “worldly pleasure hand in hand with dharma pleasure.”  How different anything and everything is when it is also embraced by dharma!!!  In my mind I can envision the busy cafe and many beings enjoying fika but how very different Guru is in enjoying his coffee and company with:

    “…worldly pleasure but no attachment to it.

    Abandoning Saha world but the body still belongs to it

    Enjoying the pleasure with pure mind

    Living with five desires but no delusion.”

    What looks like it is the same, according to the eyes,  can be quite different in reality!

    In English, I’m very certain we do not have a single word to describe “enjoying worldly pleasure hand in hand with dharma.”  As a result, this omission from our language seems to also indicate its omission from our minds.

    Thank you, Guru, for your words that fill this void and open our eyes!!!

    May all sentient beings be able to get the favorable chance to meet a Tantric Guru in this life, and then follow him to reach the happiness of the Buddha Nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Lanidha (Ralph Keating)



  2. tantra mahavita says:

    Querido Santo Guru …Agradecidos de poder leer esta hermosa experiencia en Suecia y poder compartirla. Que interesante que los suecos tengan esta palabra ..Fika…Imaginamos a muchos seres y al Guru disfrutando su cafe …y compañia con : placer mundano pero sin apego a el .Abandonando el mundo de Saha pero el cuerpo todavia le pertenece .Disfrutando el placer con mente pura .Vivir con cinco deseos pero sin ilusiones …Parece lo mismo …pero bastante diferente …Maravilloso !!! Disfrutar del placer mundano de la mano del Dharma.Agradecidos Siempre !!! Respetado Guru por tus palabras que llenan este vacio y abren nuestros ojos!!! …Que todos los seres sintientes puedan tener la oportunidad favorable de encontrarse con un Guru tantrico en esta vida y luego seguirlo para alcanzar la felicidad de la Naturaleza de Buda .Om Mani Padme Hum

  3. Tantra Ashihata (Simon Michael) says:

    Dear holy Guru,

    My name is Tantra Ashihata.

    I appreciate you for this wonderful article which you have given to us.

    May you continue educating us on our spiritual growth by you true teaching of dharma.

    May Guru live long for the benefit of all sentient beings and may all sentient beings be free from suffering.

    Om Mani padme hum


  4. Tantraupatissa says:

    Dear Guru thanks for sharing this article. By reading this article I feel as I personally visited Sweden and had enjoyed each and every movement in Sweden, just an imagination. It’s good to enjoy the things around us with boddhichita mind rather than indulging in worldly pleasures as taught by you. Thank you again for sharing each and every movement you spent in Sweden. I feel Vietnamese people are also stylish and good looking.

    May Guru and his consort live long for sake of other beings.

    May all beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum…

  5. Mật Diệu Hằng says:

    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con xin phép được dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Lanidha (Ralph Keating) sang tiếng Việt như sau:

    Kính bạch Thầy!

    Con vô cùng hoan hỷ được  đọc về chuyến đi tuyệt vời của Thầy đến Thụy Điển. Con hoan hỷ tán thán công hạnh của Thầy đã viết bài và cho chúng con đọc bài đăng kèm những hình ảnh về những trải nghiệm của Thầy.

    Con nhận thấy ý nghĩa của từ FIKA khá hay. Con hoan hỷ với người Thụy Điển có văn hóa FIKA và con cũng nhận thấy rằng tiếng Anh đất nước con không có từ này. Đồng thời, con đặc biệt ngưỡng mộ Thầy khi Thầy dùng hình ảnh so sánh FIKA chỉ mang nghĩa “thọ lạc” với tinh thần “thọ lạc là thọ pháp” của Mật gia Song Nguyễn cho chúng con thấy được sự khác biệt và dạy  chúng con bài học hân thưởng cuộc sống trên tinh thần “thọ lạc là thọ pháp”. Mọi sự việc, mọi sự thọ lạc sẽ có kết quả hoàn toàn khác (tốt đẹp hơn nhiều) khi song hành với thọ pháp.

    Đọc bài của Thầy con có thể hình dung được, tại quán café đông đúc, sự khác biệt rõ rệt giữa người thường chỉ thọ lạc  thế tục đơn thuần và với vị Đạo sư thọ lạc cà phê và song hành thọ pháp theo tinh thần:

    “Thọ lạc tâm không chìm trong lạc.

    Ly trần thân chẳng ở ngoài trần.

    Thân thọ lạc chẳng động tâm.

    Nằm trong ngũ dục không lầm si mê”.

    Nhìn bề ngoài có vẻ giống nhau, nhưng thực chất bên trong hoàn toàn khác nhau.

    Trong tiếng Anh, con không tìm thấy một từ đơn nào thể hiện “thọ lạc là thọ pháp”. Con nghĩ rằng sự thiếu hụt trong ngôn ngữ dường như  thể hiện sự hạn chế trong tâm chúng con.

    Con chân thành cảm tạ ơn Thầy vì đã lấp đầy khoảng trống về tri kiến cho con và giúp con được mở rộng tầm mắt.

    Con nguyện tất cả chúng sanh có đủ duyên lành hạnh ngộ vị Thầy chân chính trong đời này và được theo chân Thầy đến khi thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Con – Tantra Lanidha (Ralph Keating)


  6. paul yawney says:

    Dear holy Guru, Thank you for another great article. it is nice to see and learn how others live. if we look inside we all basically the same just have a different book cover on. your teachings have helped me very much. this one shows me again to enjoy the moment whatever it is and let it go. so many good teachings thank you. OM MANI PADME HUNG.

    Tantra Himataru

  7. Petra says:

    Dear Holy Guru

    Thank you for sharing more of your visit to Sweden

    May you have a blessed and peaceful day

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      I only have writeen what I sew and understood. I hope that will be there !

  8. Petra says:

    Yes Dear Guru. It truly feels like I joined you on your journey. You describe it so wonderful

  9. Totte Nordahl
    Totte Nordahl says:

    Dear Guru

    Thank you for this article. I am sitting in the middle of the night and after some effort to sort all my different thoughts in my mind.

    I agree with Petra. It feels like I walked with you and Mark. And ofcourse it helps that I have been there before, but never thought of it like you described.

    Dera Holy Guru. You are right, the right taste of coffee is one of the most individual aspects of Fika, or mindfulness. I have asked for Vietnameese coffee beans and maybe I will be able to get it. Coffee is one of my interests.

    Dear Guru may you have a blessed and peaceful sunday.

    Kind regard

    Tantra Mitraga

    Om Mani Padme Hum


  10. Tantra Pramitdhita (Josh Hacker) says:

    Holy Guru,

    I bow my head before your lotus feet!! Thank you for sharing “Letter From Sweden: FIKA at A Glance (Part 4)”. It Is very interesting to read about your adventures along your journey in Sweden. As I read the words you write I try to envision myself standing in the cold winter on the streets in Sweden. I can almost feel the cold breeze!
    It warms my heart to know that Mark was very kind to you and acted as your guide to the city. I am very glad that you seem to be enjoying the time you are spending there. May you have a blessed and peaceful day.

    May Guru live a long and healthy life for the sake of all sentient beings

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature

    May the global pandemic caused bu the Corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      I wish you was here for talking and your correct my pronunciation!

      • Tantra Pramitdhita (Josh Hacker) says:

        Thank you Guru!! I really enjoy our talks and I am always happy to help!!

        Om Mani Padme Hum

  11. Venessa says:

    Wauw, so amazing that you been here in Sweden.
    I do live in Sweden but my parents are from Finland. So not even in Finland we use the word FIKA, it is only Sweden who do that. Also the word LAGOM.
    Fika means like taking coffee with some cake or just coffee or another drink. Lagom means like between something. Like if it is too much or too less so it is something in between.
    Finland made sauna and all other countries say Sauna but not Sweden. Sweden say “bastu”.
    So it is kinda fashinating how Sweden find out their own words.
    I am born and rased up here in Sweden though but I do still speak Finnish language.
    I am 40 years old now and only few years ago I also learned English. Sometimes is hard to understand every word but this is good way for me to practicing the English language.
    I live one hour by train from Stockholm so I use to be there a lot and I regognized the places you were in. And Espresso house is my favourite place to take “fika”.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story in Sweden and please you are welcome back here! (:

  12. Venessa says:

    By the way, I also need to say that it is very common that peoples in Sweden are very good in judging other peoples. I do not know why but thats why the odd questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

DMCA.com Protection Status