A walk with Lama Ole – to Siberia!

EC Blog News & Reports

Did you know that Siberia is actually a place in Allgäu?

Well, okay, it is not quite as vast as the region in Russia with its world-famous endless railway, which Lama Ole travels on during his Russian Tour every winter. The other Siberia is on the Europe Center’s very own grounds, around 3.5 hectars of beautiful landscape-protected forest and meadows and an old wooden hut in typical Allgäu style.

In order to check out the land and plan how to use it, Lama Ole and our voluntary arborists went for a walk up the mountain to Siberia in beautifully sunny autumn weather, and many of the people present for the meditation retreat came along spontaneously.

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Returning home to the Europe Center for the first time after the gompa inauguration in August, Lama Ole Nydahl did not waste any time, making the most of our new space immediately…

He had dinner with everyone who came for the ongoing meditation days and answered questions, inspected every corner of our new building, guided the evening meditation on the 16th Karmapa, gave blessing to everyone and continued the evening answering even more questions for hours – and did prostrations in the gompa the next morning, together with many of his students.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Lama Ole for his blessing and tireless work for the benefit of all – without him, we would not be here today. In his own words, here is what Lama Ole said about the Europe Center on this occasion:

»The buildings which last are the ones built with devotion, by people who were really open to something of great importance, greater than their own lives, and at the same time they were doing it for the benefit of everybody.

And this is what we have here now. We can really be proud of this place. What I have seen today and how it is functioning goes beyond anything I could have imagined. It is because there is a deeper meaning behind it, a deeper openness, the idea of benefiting others, today and also into the future.

This is why this here is standing today so nicely and fitting so well. I am very happy and deeply impressed. It is a new dimension and will give depth, quantity and quality to our work. It shows that we really know what the Dharma is worth. When we put so much into creating something like this, it shows how important it is.

So thank you, all of you who did something, all of you who plan to do something, all of you who support – thank you very, very much!

We here have the finest of frames for developing our countless enlightened qualities. May waves of human development radiate from our hundreds of centers and inspire the world. Above all, may we be torches of freedom and bless our societies in every way.«

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These guys know no rest… with impressive diligence and energy, our team from the EC and Bulgaria managed to re-erect what they dismantled as the Baucafe at the EC in September within two weeks – now as the Bau-Gompa at the Vinica Retreat Center near the Black Sea in Bulgaria.

The winter in Bulgaria can come early with tough comditions, so it was advisable to be fast with the reconstruction of the solid wooden framework. At already quite chilly temperatures, our voluntary carpenters and helpers managed to build the future meditation hall and get it winterproof within only fourteen days.

The transformation of the EC’s Baucafe into a gompa for a retreat center at the Black Sea is another beautiful example of what’s possible thanks to international friendship and team work and based on the idealism to benefit others. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project and best wishes to Bulgaria!

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Another day, another special premiere in our new building. On this week’s beautiful and clear full moon night and Buddha Amitabha day, we came together to practice the meditation of Conscious Dying.

Through this meditation one gets the opportunity to work intensively with the process of one’s own death. Buddhist teachings contain very precise descriptions on the process of dying, death and the stages between death and rebirth. Many teachers and meditation masters have also had a lot of experience with the process of dying. In this meditation practice, which Lama Ole Nydahl has taught to more than 80,000 people, one learns to transfer consciousness at the moment of death into a state of highest bliss. Those that have learnt the Phowa practice also learn how to actively help others at the moment of death.

The full moon also illuminated the EC’s old and new buildings beautifully this night – we hope you enjoy the impressions!

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Conquering our new home

October 7th, 2014

It’s done! After years of building and the busy weeks of summer course, we have finally moved the main Europe Center activities (and equipment!) from the old buildings to our brand-new beautiful gompa and dining area. And meditation by meditation, meal by meal and chat by chat, it is feeling more like home every day already!

Autumn traditionally is a rather calm time at the EC – so there are not so many people here in all this vast new space. Anyway, we are having a great time conquering the new building that used to be the old barn one corner after the other. Starting a bit before sunrise, the first meditators make their way to the huge gompa, breakfast is prepared in the big new kitchen by our kitchen managers from Venezuela and Poland along with many voluntary helpers. During daytime, the “Pub” aka our dining area in front of the open kitchen is the new heart of the EC – whenever you come by, for sure there’s someone to have a chat with or work together with.

Latest for evening meditation, the space fills up with the sangha coming together for dinner, common meditation on the 16th Karmapa, sometimes a meeting or two and one thing for sure: catching up with friends from all over the world and conquering our new EC home together!

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More than 1,200 guests from the surrounding Allgäu towns came up last Sunday to celebrate a true milestone in the history of the Europe Center: the public presentation of our beautiful new gompa and the ground floor with dining area and shop.

The amount of interested guests by far exceeded our most optimistic expectations and apparently, everyone got the most out of the different offers: short introductory talks about Buddhism and meditation in the new meditation hall, yummy cake or Leberkässemmel, an Allgäu specialty, in the new cafeteria that used to be the cow stable, as well as guided tours across the land and the construction site and of course tours of our beautiful “old lady”, the EC Villa.

The most frequent question of the day with the answer causing great surprise and astonishment: “How was all this financed and how is it run and maintained?”

So it cannot be said or written often enough: At the Europe Center, no one involved in its running is being paid, everyone has their own income, job, family etc. The EC has been purchased, extended and maintained based on voluntary work, generous donations from all over the world, small membership fees and revenues from lectures and courses, as well as by the Diamond Way Buddhist Foundation (Buddhismus Stiftung Diamantweg). The foundation is an international non-profit organization preserving Buddha’s timeless wisdom in the West and making it available to modern people in their everyday lives.

This open house day touched us very much – once again it became so visible what can be achieved solely based on friendship and idealism.

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Since the construction work went on more or less until one minute before our Open House day on Sunday, Saturday had everyone giving their very best to get everything shiny in time for the guests to arrive the next morning. It seemed to be mission impossible, but we even managed without the night shift we were all expecting!

We did not count how many square meters we hoovered or how many square meters of windows we polished (so well that people ran into the glass afterwards because they thought it was an open door, luckily without getting hurt…), or how many bottles of detergent we used to clean the kitchen or how many times we walked across the courtyard to carry everything over from the Villa to the new heart of the Europe Center – but we definitely proved how powerful, fun and creative last minute tidying up-cleaning-decorating-action can be, and got some cake and especially the next day as the greatest reward we could have imagined.

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In June 2009, we inaugurated our Baucafé (german for “construction café”). For more than five years of building up the Europe Center, it served us as a meeting point, evening lounge, movie theater, office, club, bar, dance floor, table soccer hall, team care area for the Summer course… and so much more. Now, with the new EC buildings almost finished, the Baucafé will get a new function – in Bulgaria.

Within two weeks, our friends from Bulgaria under the guidance of Achim and Alexander, who were part of the Baucafé building team in 2009, now dismantled the complex wooden construction – only to drive all the wood to Bulgaria on two huge trucks in order to rebuild it as a meditation hall at the Vinica Retreat Center.

The construction merged modern, light-flooded glass architecture with traditional german half-timbered woodwork filled with a mixture of clay and straw. Very carefully, every single beam was numbered in order to make sure it can be put back together again. Braving weather conditions from thunderstorms and pouring rain for days to sunny 30 degrees, our Bulgarian “Baucafé taskforce” was one thing only: a shining example of joyful effort and unending diligence for the benefit of others.

We have to admit that we are a little bit sentimental about saying goodbye to our Baucafé. However, at the same time, we are very much looking forward to seeing it built up as a gompa very soon and send the best wishes to all EC friends in Bulgaria, may your work and meditation in the new Baugompa benefit countless beings!

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The Allgäu Triathlon is an annual and internationally renowned event with more than 1,000 participants from around the world. Many voluntary helpers make it possible, and we were honored to be asked if the Europe Center would like to run one of the refreshment stands directly at the Alpsee lake.

More than 20 friends from Immenstadt and from different countries still present for the dismantling of the Summer Course infrastructure were more than happy to supply the triathletes with drinks, snacks and music – and of course cheering them on! The athletes thank you’s and praise during and after the event was a very nice reward for the helpers holding out in the pouring rain since the early morning hours – and even the sun came out after all!

For sure the 32nd Allgäu Triathlon was not the last time we were able to enjoy cheering on the runners. We would like to thank the organizers and participants for their impressive achievements and are looking forward to next year’s event already!

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