A weekend of deep teachings we did not expect…

EC Blog News & Reports

In Diamond Way Buddhism, we learn and develop not only by listening to lectures or reading books, but we apply what we have learned in everyday life. We learn from the examples given by our Lamas and our friends on the way – in life and also in death.

This week, two men showed deeply touching examples of how dying in Buddhism is a chance and not the end of everything that would have to be feared.

For the first time, someone died in the Europe Center. The 90-year old father of one of the co-founders of Diamond Way Buddhism in Russia had spontaneously cancelled the preparations for his birthday party with 100 people in Russia. Instead, he insisted on his daughter and granddaughter (and great-grandchildren) to take him to the EC for the first time. After a few relaxed days with us, he went back to bed after having breakfast and peacefully passed away. For decades he had accumulated great merit, giving his children the freedom and support (and his office with a telephone) to choose Buddhism and spread it in the world’s largest country. He took part in a Phowa course with Lama Ole Nydahl, who visited the family in their flat several times.

Only two days later, one of our beloved Summer course core team and EC sangha members passed away equally peacefully on Sunday morning. For the past months after having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Peter showed us a deeply impressive example of how many years of meditation practice and the unshakable trust in one’s Lama and the Buddhist teachings of death and rebirth take the fear of dying away, showing confidence and humor until he apparently consciously passed into the Pure Lands applying the Phowa teachings. We will keep Peter dear in our hearts, and we trust that his next life will be even more powerful, joyful and shining, as Lama Ole said.

The atmosphere at the EC was very special this weekend – we lack the words to describe this appropriately. But we can share with you the auspicious rainbow around the sun that showed this weekend – leaving us assured that the minds of our friends went straight to the Pure Lands of the Buddhas!

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Yes, even we Buddhists like to embrace traditional Western culture: decorating a tree in the living room, having lots of good food together and exchanging presents!

However, we even go lots on top this Christmas: Diamond Way teacher Amadeo Rosenheim from Mexico came to give lectures (and to deliver a brilliant performance in the pantomime challenge on christmas eve). Amadeo met Lama Ole Nydahl in 2005 in London. In 2008, he moved to Cancún, Mexico where he has lived since. Lama Ole asked him to teach in 2013 and he now spends as much time as possible at the EC,  following a wish of Lama Ole.

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Not only did our friends who cleaned the 400 sqm meditation hall surely accumulate lots of merit, they also had an awesome time climbing under the massive roof in order to clean the ventilation pipes! :)

The meditation cushions obviously have been used a lot since the inauguration of our precious big gompa, so all of them got new spelt husk paddings in the cleaning frenzy as well. We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of these cushions soon and to enjoy our now even more shiny gompa together!

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You think we’re done with building at the EC? Think again! :)

The first of four field barns on the Summer course premises built in the style of the Allgäu region was properly inaugurated by our carpenters and many friends who came to celebrate in (semi-)traditional style.

Edwin pulled out his Sunday best carpenter’s outfit to read a traditional poem thanking everyone involved in the construction and including good wishes for the benefit of the new building. And the inauguration would be neither complete nor auspicious without three toasts together as well! Homemade burgers for everyone on top – a wonderful little party celebrating the amazing work of our voluntary EC architects and carpenters.

The field barns will be used to store the Summer course stuff like kitchen equipment and building material for the tents. So on the long run, they will save us quite a bit of money that would otherwise be spent on renting lots of storage space.

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The Europe Center is located in the Allgäu region of Bavaria, which historically belongs to the area of Swabia.

The friends from the local centers surrounding and supporting the Europe Center with their man power and surplus spent a weekend together practicing, sharing and listening to teachings by Diamond Way teacher Klaus Neukirchen. Klaus recently moved to the EC from Munich with his wife, following Lama Ole’s wish for several of his teaching long term students to engage in the EC as much as possible.

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Full moon is traditionally considered to be an excellent time for meditation, increasing the intensity and multiplying the good impressions. So with those who have completed a Phowa course with Lama Ole Nydahl, we practice this precious meditation on full moon nights.

Lama Ole has taught this transference of consciousness meditation to more than 80,000 people worldwide over many years. In the meditation practice one learns to transfer consciousness at the moment of death into a state of highest bliss.

Through the meditation on “conscious dying” you get the opportunity to work intensively with the process of your 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.

Those that have learnt the Phowa practice also learn how to actively help others at the moment of death. Lama Ole Nydahl received the transmission of the Phowa teachings from different Tibetan Lamas and is today the most significant teacher of this practice in the Western world. Those that wish to take part in the 5 day course can find the important information and necessary preparation meditation in every Diamond Way Buddhist center.

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Bavarian Centers Meeting

November 13th, 2016

This year the Bavarian Diamond Way Buddhist centers took to the Europe Center for their annual meeting. The Sanghas from the centers all over Bavaria have been helping a lot at the EC from the beginning on.

There are 31 Diamond Way Buddhist Centers in Bavaria, Germany’s largest federal state by area and second largest by population. To connect these sanghas and to bring out the most benefit for people interested in Buddhism, it takes quite a bit of organization and coordination. This is why the sangha members come together: to meditate together, to brainstorm, to find ways to share the work on bigger projects like the upcoming statue exhibition in Regensburg and to get to know each other better.

On top, all these sanghas do their best not only to run their own center, but also to support the Europe Center as much as possible. We loved to host their annual meeting this year and look forward to seeing many of them again very soon!

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The best things come when you least expect them! With only ten day notice beforehand, we had the wonderful chance to host a long weekend with Lama Toensang of Montchardon in France at the Europe Center.

Lama Toensang spent his youth in Tibet, under the guidance of H.H. the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Through his tireless efforts and his exceptional personality, he built up a flourishing Buddhist center in Montchardon, welcoming many visitors from all over Europe each year. The many international visitors are not the only similarity of Montchardon and the Europe Center. Both are lay Buddhist centers of the Karma Kagyu lineage under the spiritual guidance of the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje.

Originally from the region of Kham in Eastern Tibet, Lama Toensang was born in 1934 into a family of lay Lamas. Drawn to spiritual practice already in his early years, he spent eight years of his youth traveling the holy places of Tibet. At the age of 17 he was ordained at the monastery of the Karmapa in Tsurphu. In 1959, he fled from the Chinese invasion and spent time in Rumtek, Gyalwa Karmapa’s main monastery in India.

After many years of retreat in Sonada, he became the spiritual director of Montchardon at the request of the 16th Karmapa in 1976.

Like his old friends Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl, Lama Toensang was also a student of Kalu Rinpoche. Since 2011 he has been a frequently invited special guest of Lama Ole at the EC.

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Lama Toensang came to the EC to give us the precious empowerment into Milarepa – and so much more… Despite the short notice, 700 people made it for the weekend with empowerment, lecture and spontaneous storytelling in sunny and warm autumn weather. A truly memorable weekend!

This was the fourth empowerment Lama Toensang has given at the Europe Center: A Milarepa empowerment in 2011 was the first. He also gave the first ever empowerment on the grounds of today’s gompa into 1000armed Loving Eyes, when it was still the old barn, in 2012. One year later, we put up a tent to host the many students receiving the empowerment into Medicine Buddha. This time, however, not “only” the empowerment but also many of the inspiring stories shared by Lama Toensang were all about the impressive life of Tibet’s great yogi, Milarepa.

Milarepa (1052-1135) had a dark childhood, and used black magic to wreak revenge on many people who had oppressed his family. Having repented, he turned to Buddhism to purify his past misdeeds. Milarepa built several towers for his teacher Marpa with his bare hands, which Marpa would cruelly tell him to tear down again. In this way, Marpa skilfully removed many karmic obstacles for his student. Milarepa spent years in retreat, and reached enlightenment. He is best known for his spontaneous songs of realization.

Gampopa was Milarepa’s most renowned student. The “doctor from Dhagpo” lost his wife to illness. On her deathbed she made him promise not to take another wife, and so Gampopa became a monk. Gampopa trained with Milarepa, achieved realization, and accumulated perhaps 50,000 students. Four of Gampopa’s students founded four major branches of the Kagyu lineage: Barom Kagyu, Karma Kagyu, Phagdru Kagyu, and Tshalpa Kagyu.

Another of Milarepa’s students, the yogi Rechungpa, brought several important transmissions into the Karma Kagyu lineage, and, along with Gampopa, was a teacher of the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193).

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As if the Milarepa empowerment, high teachings and a long story-telling evening had not already been such a great gift, Lama Toensang left it up to the EC sangha to get the most out of spending one more day with us on Monday!

Lama Toensang had breakfast, lunch and dinner together with us in the pub. Each meal took hours. Not because we ate so much, but because he patiently answered all our questions and continued Sunday night’s spontaneous storytelling-session as well. Lama Toensang is full of highly inspiring stories from over 80 years of life experience in Dharma – lots of highly inspiring memories.

All his life Lama Toensang was building up different centers and monasteries for Karmapa including Rumtek. With 17 years he was ordained as a monk in Tsurphu under the guidance of the 16th Karmapa. He was a strong man and because of that, he often was sent to help the carpenters, painters and other craftsmen. He has been living and working in Montchardon already for 42 years. When he came there, it was only a farm house in the middle of the mountains… very similary to the EC.

Despite his high age, the very hands-on Lama had a look at everything new on the premises. A lot has changed in and around the EC since Lama Toensang visited us last in 2013!

On top of all this, Lama Toensang made time for personal interviews and blessing the families and children as well.

We would very much like to thank Lama Toensang for these amazing days! Wishing him many more healthy and fulfilled years, we are very much hoping to welcome him back at the EC next year for more teachings!

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