Just another packed week at the EC…

EC Blog Archive for April, 2011

Sometimes one week at the Europe Center feels like a whole month. Like the last one. It’s not even over yet, still already it was full of nice little spontaneous events. It started on Sunday with a sangha brunch and easteregg hunt for the kids, followed by at least two BBQs during the week. Some of us worked or meditated outside, others enjoyed the garden with their children under blossoming apple trees.

Tuesday night was packed with presentations. A report about Lama Ole’s recent 4 week tour through Australia and New Zealand gave impressions not only of the breathtaking scenery but also on the different development stages of Buddhism there compared to Europe. Just as an example – a Mahamudra course with Lama Ole teaching about the nature of mind that would probably attract at least 1.000 people in Germany would hardly exceed a number of 250 listeners in Australia at this point in time. Also in Australia and New Zealand there is definitely a growing interest in the Buddha’s teachings and meditation. However due to different conditions historically, culturally and practically, Buddhism is not yet as much the focus of interest as on this side of the globe – but well on its way for sure!

Caty and our resident architect Támas introduced us to the plans for the renovation of the Shri Karma Raja Maha Vihar Monastery at Swayambuh, which is located right next to the world’s oldest stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. To Diamond Way Buddhism, this is a very special and historical place – not only is it the main residence for H.H. the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje when he is in Nepal, but it is the place where Hannah and Ole Nydahl met the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje for the very first time. A few years later, he asked them to bring Buddhism to the West and carry on his activity there…

… and today Buddhism in the West is so big that we need a new building for the Europe Center in order to accomodate more friends from all over the world! On paper, it is already taking on quite precise form. We got a peek at the architects’ updated plans during our center meeting. A blog with frequently updated information about the progress of the plans will be online soon.

On Friday evening we could hardly believe our eyes – a bright double rainbow stretched across the Alpsee lake for 15 minutes, right outside our windows. Afterwards, Pit Weigelt gave an inspiring lecture about the “Actions of Bodhisattvas”. A Bodhisattva is a fully realized being taking on rebirths in order to help others on their way to liberation and enlightenment – or someone with the wish to become enlightened for the benefit of all. A Bodhisattva works tirelessly out of active, respectful and loving compassion for everyone else’s well-being instead of his or her own.

“Doing the right thing in the right place at the right time for the maximum benefit of others – and therefore acting in a way that all people you meet will afterwards always feel it was worth their time that they met with you!”

Spring and Robin are here!

April 20th, 2011

Temperatures are already suitable for summer these days – some fearless ones are even considering to jump into the lake in order to cool down already… ;) However, for now we decided to stick to cake and coffee in the garden and lunch on the terrace overviewing the lake.

Spring in Allgäu is short but immensely colourful. The meadows are all green and yellow, the little cherry trees we planted last year around the parking space are in full bloom for the first time, and the kids are very busy making flower garlands.

Talk about the EC kids – our youngest resident Robin was born last week and went for his first walk in the sun with mommy Verena today. Judging from his name, he is determined to follow in his dad’s footsteps in taking good care of our forest! Well, okay… maybe we give him a few years to grow into them first! ;)

Congratulations and best wishes to Verena and Jürgen on their beautiful offspring!

The Polish Country Weekend

April 17th, 2011

A couple of days that were supposed to be the Polish Country Weekend at the EC turned out to be a weekend course with Lama Ole – organised by Poles!

Polish friends step by step were taking over the Europe Center many days ahead of the planned weekend. Due to the registration process, we knew that there would be plenty of friends arriving not only from every part of Poland but also from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, England, Ireland, France and Germany. On Friday evening, after a wonderful welcome at the EC, we had a chance to taste a delicious Polish dinner. Afterwards everybody gathered in the big gompa tent for presentations of some Polish retreat centers, city centers and buddhist projects. To the great astonishment of many, Lama Ole, who was in book retreat at this time, joined us and made memorable comments during the Kuchary retreat center presentation: “It was from here where all the Buddhism in Eastern Europe and Russia started.” After greeting everybody and wishing us a very good evening, the Lama left and Tomek Lehnert started a lecture: “Teacher-Student-Relationship – my 20 years on the road with Lama Ole and Hannah”. Late at night, after the lecture, many friends joined the „Take It Easy” Kick-off party featuring a beatbox concert by Blady Kris and we enjoyed it to great extent.

Saturday morning started with a common meditation on the 16th Karmapa. After that everybody enjoyed having breakfast outside, since the weather was unusually sunny and warm. Later on we listened to the inspiring Caty who was telling about the Europe Center and the plans for its development. After a traditionally Polish cuisine lunch everybody gathered in the tent because the most important part of the weekend was about to start: „The History of Diamond Way Buddhism in Poland” Part 1. Polish travelling teachers: Mira Boboli, Maggie Lehnert, Wojtek Lehnert, Wojtek Tracewski, Rafał Olech, Włodek Wiszka and Marcin Barański together with Wojtek Kossowski and special guest Ania Czapnik were describing the very beginning of Buddhism in Poland. Another great surprise happened – our wonderful Lama Ole decided to spend more time with all of us. He joined us not only during the afternoon session but also he gave a lecture in the evening. Wonderful! Spontaneity is one of Polish distinctive features – therefore the whole day schedule was immediately changed. It was not the only time, as we all were to find out later. During the Lama’s evening lecture we had many friends here and Lama Ole’s last sentence that night was: “So what do I have in the program tomorrow? Bodhisattva promise and blessings?”. We couldn’t believe it :) We finished the day with a great party and an auction where many friends shared their generosity and donated some money to support the EC. The party powered by DJ Romero went on until early Sunday morning :)

After a late breakfast on Sunday morning there was a presentation of a great exhibition “Buddha Travelling West”, which we prepared especially for the EC. Afterwards all of us gave the Boddhisatva promise. It was very touching experience for all of us. Lama Ole gave a short speech. What made the strongest impression was one of the Lama’s sentences: “The active patience means to travel very far away to meet your teacher”. The blessing afterwards lasted till 6 p.m. Everybody who was visiting the Europe Center for the first time got a great gift – a set of relics from many European initiations – which were given out in 2008 during the first International EC Summer Course.

All of us were totally amazed by everything that happened this weekend and now the EC is a familiar place for all of us. We would like to visit the Europe Center as often as possible. It is much closer then we thought. See you soon! :)

The Polish Sangha

What a welcome!

April 6th, 2011

The further and longer the journey, the greater and even more heartfelt the welcome back home!?! Apparently! ;)

Close to 100 friends came to greet the Lama and Caty early last night. The two might have been jet-lagged after long flights home from New Zealand via San Francisco – however, it did not stop them from sharing some news and stories of the exciting past weeks in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand later on in the Baucafé.

Lama Ole will spend a week in work retreat at the Europe Center before traveling on to the Czech Republic, Denmark, Warsaw and Berlin – mainly working on books, writing articles and answering his students’ letters and requests.

On the last weekend in March, the Europe Center hosted a unique cross-field event, mapping the exciting intersection between Buddhism and Science. Within the frame of the 7th Transmission weekend, these two ways of understanding reality were presented by Traveling Teachers who are also scientists, supported by a few dharma friends, themselves working in different fields of science. We started off with a look on how both Buddhism and Science use reasoning and evidence to support their explanations. The Buddhist philosophy and logic has developed continuously over the 2450 years of its existence, often being directly confronted with other world views and religions. Science evolves through its never-ending self-disproving cycle, where each generation of scientists replaces the existing theories with their new, more accurate models and concepts.

Over the weekend, we then explored neuroscience and psychology—especially in relation to meditation—with Dr Peter Malinowski (UK), Jean Paul Pozuelos (Spain) and Michael Fuchs (Germany), physics and mathematics with Dr Matt Huddleston (UK), Mag. Guido Czeija (Austria), Dr Nick Neshev (Bulgaria) and Dr Rene Staritzbichler (Germany). Over 20 researchers also presented their work at Saturday’s “market place” with their posters filling most of the Diamond room walls. At the end of the event we even touched the exponentially growing world of computer science and artificial intelligence with a brief contribution by Prof Dr Jörg Siekmann (Germany).

And as heaps of papers were filled with dense notes and heads with fascinating facts, new friendships and bonds were formed while meditating and socializing together.

PS: Thanks Daniel & the Frankfurters for keeping the whole crowd well nurtured the whole time!

Photos by Simon Pruciak

EC support from Down Under

April 5th, 2011

During Lama Ole’s 4 week tour of Australia and New Zealand, we were deeply impressed how much the Europe Center is in the hearts of the friends there. Many already made the long journey from the other side of the globe at least once, some are planning to come, and over 25 are already supporting the project with regular donations as an I Grow EC member – sometimes even though they have not been here themselves yet!

The interest in what’s been going on at the EC and what the plans for the new building are is so great that we did three presentations to keep everyone in the loop – in Perth, Canberra and Christchurch.

So what motivates the Aussie and Kiwi EC growers to give their support?

“Without question, the No. 1 function for me is that the EC is the hub where connections are made and experiences are exchanged.”

“I loved it, and had a very hard time leaving. I met so many wonderful people, reestablished numerous old, old connections, fell in love, and worked my head off in a whirlwind that tested boundaries and proved conclusively that most of them are purely concepts.”

“Transmission!!!”

“Memories? Taking breaks with Markus, sitting on the table in front of the barn also always brings a smile to my face. And working behind the bar in the Baucafe. And and and…”

“I was blown away by the scenery. For an Australian it was quite amazing – a picture postcard come to life.”

“I understand that the EC will be the center of information, inspiration and coordination for Diamond Way buddhist activity all around the world. And if we want to see buddhism growing – we need to grow the EC!”

Yep, agree! And by the way – you don’t have to live in Australia or New Zealand to grow our Europe Center, of course. ;-)