A life tree from the EC forest

EC Blog Archive for February, 2012

A life tree from the EC forest

February 27th, 2012

Stupas are Buddhist monuments symbolizing the enlightened mind as well as the life of Buddha. They can be found all over Tibet, and many have been built in the West over the last decades, e.g. in Spain, Greece, Germany, Russia and Austria last year.

Every stupa contains relics and a “life tree” covered with mantras – the heart of a stupa. This central axis stands for different aspects of the wisdom of a Buddha. As with every element of a stupa, there are certain requirements concerning which tree is suitable to be used as a lifetree. According to the detailed traditional instructions, Lama Ole chose a tree from the EC forest during his February book retreat for the next stupa to be built in Europe this summer.

After the “tree action”, there was enough time to celebrate this special day together on the snowy hills of the Europe Center grounds.

Lama Ole in book retreat

February 23rd, 2012

Here’s an insight on what the ongoing book retreat up on the second floor of the EC villa looks like.

In book retreat for the whole month of February with the exception of two weekend courses in Prague and Heidelberg in between, Lama Ole, Caty, and Maike Weigelt are working the whole day on a new book about the main meditation practices of Diamond Way Buddhism in the West – e.g. the Foundational Practices (Tib. ngöndro) or the Meditation on the 8th Karmapa. They are an experienced book-writing team: Maike types in the remarks and additions which Lama Ole is writing by hand into the explanations he wrote many years ago, while Caty is editing. This way it is possible to work on several chapters at the same time. The outcome will be a modern elaboration on all our main meditations, fit especially for lay practitioners in the Western world.

From time to time, Lama Ole takes a short break from writing to guide the morning meditation, to help with the work outside, or to answer his students’ questions in the evenings.

We are often asked about the differences of book retreats and project days. On project days, Lama Ole usually has many different activities during the day. He writes articles, makes phone calls, answers emails, gives interviews, or meets with teams working on different projects worldwide. Writing a book requires more one-pointed focus and uninterrupted working atmosphere for days or even weeks. Other work then slows down to minimum, reserved usually to late night after-hours.

Meditation retreat

February 18th, 2012

Halfway through Lama Ole’s book February book retreat , here’s a glimpse of some the activity that has been going on and continues to go on.

To get the most out of these weeks for everyone visiting the EC, traveling teachers are guiding a meditation retreat in the Lama’s power field, with four meditation sessions per day. At the same time, Lama Ole has enough uninterrupted time to focus on writing the book together with Caty. The book will be about the different meditation practices of Diamond Way Buddhism. Before Lama Ole started to write, he gave a lecture about the meditation on the 16th Karmapa and spontaneously guided the morning meditation. The transcript of the lecture is now being used for the book.

In between the meditation sessions and meals everyone participating helps with the housekeeping, outside work, or restoring the villa for an hour; and of course there is also time to enjoy the EC winter wonderland.

In the evenings there is time to chat with friends from all across the globe, ask questions and listen to Dharma teachings. Guido and Florinda from Austria talked about Love and Partnership from a Buddhist perspective. The following night, Lama Ole decided to leave his desk for a few hours to join his old friends Pedro and Dorrit, recalling how the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje came to the West as a child. There was so much to tell and so many memories to share that Pedro spontaneously gave a second lecture the following afternoon.

The meditation retreat will continue for the duration of Lama Ole’s book retreat.

A kind of state of emergency happened at the EC lasting about 36 hours: During the book-retreat a heavy gale swept through the Allgäu region and brought more than one meter of fresh snow.

Despite four meditation sessions a day and the intense bookwork, friends from all parts of the world tirelessly shoveled the masses of snow  from morning until night. Lama Ole joyfully insisted on taking part, interrupting his bookwork several times and ploughed through the snowdrifts in his familiar powerful manner.

Supported by a snowplough and a wheel loader that kept the road free and pushed the piled up snow heaps to the sides, most of the visitors could arrive or depart without too big problems, also without getting stuck. Regardless the heavy storm which whipped into one’s face, made the clothes white and the neighboring shoveler disappear behind swirled up snow clouds, everybody’s mood was excellent – and for many a unique experience! As a nice close to the day, Lama Ole guided the evening meditation and then watched an exciting movie together into the night.

— by Pit Weigelt

“This place will never stop inspiring and touching people.”

Lama Ole Nydahl at the Summer Course team meeting, Feb 4, 2012

At the beginning of February the teams preparing the International Summer Course at the EC met for the first time this year. They updated each other about the current state of the planning. To many participants it did not even feel like an organizational meeting though. The experience of our Summer course “veterans” from previous years provides a solid basis of knowledge that makes it possible to focus on fresh ideas and more detailed questions concerning e.g. the kitchen area, child care or site-management already now.

By working together over the last four years, we developed further individually and as teams. We got to know each other and our complementary qualities and skills, learned how things work best, and improved in different areas and on many levels. So the organization of this year’s Summer Course is already well underway and we had a relaxed and joyful weekend together.

Inspired by the growing joy and friendship, we just took the time to chat and meditate together and enjoyed the sunny weather outside as well as the friendly atmosphere of an inspiring weekend.

A walk in the snow

February 13th, 2012

Taking a short break from writing a new book about meditation in Diamond Way Buddhism, Lama Ole and Caty went for a walk up the mountain with the guests at the EC – enjoying the sunshine and the view across Allgäu at Siberian temperatures around -25° Celsius.

Ski & Meditate

February 5th, 2012

Recognizing one’s friends last weekend was not so easy – funky shiny people wearing thick layers of neon-colored clothes, funny glasses and helmets met for our 2nd “Ski & Meditate” weekend.

It started with teachings about meditation by Patricia Press-Schaffrick and meditating together. Another dharma lecture by Sax Camarata from Italy rounded off the weekend later on.

On the mountain, we worked our way through bumpy ski-slopes and powdered through deep-snow hills. Since the sun was in hiding, some decided to spend more time on meditation in the EC gompa, while others were putting their luck and the stability of their bones to a test at what pilots call “zero sight” conditions – foggy -8 °C. A pure view was helpful to enjoy bumps suddenly appearing out of nowhere and sometimes making on end up in the snow with the nose first. ;-)

The EC is situated in between more than 15 ski resorts of every kind of level that snowboarders, alpine and nordic skiers and sledge drivers like to enjoy. Beautiful mountain hikes are easily accessible for walks in winter from here. So the name of the weekend kept what it promised: skiing & meditating… plus sharing laughs with friends and enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful EC surroundings.

Let´s do it again next year!
– by Tom