A guest post by the Aussie-Kiwi group visiting the EC
The Antipodean “Invasion” of 2012 started with approximately 25 friends attending the Phowa course and the teachings and initiations with HH Gyalwa Karmapa. This is actually quite an impressive representation for two countries with very small Buddhist sangha numbers compared to Europe – approximately 130 members in 11 buddhist centers in Australia and 40 in New Zealand, which has 4 centers and one retreat place.
Nine of the Aussies then enjoyed the beauty of the Amden Retreat Center in Switzerland for a couple of days, which confirmed itself as the perfect place to wind down, get clean and sample some Swiss delicacies and may well become an annual pilgrimage for the Australian “tourists”.
A brave 6 then proceeded on a whirlwind 16 day tour staying at the Buddhist Centers in Salzburg, Graz, Vienna, Budapest, Brno, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen and Hamburg, with lunches along the way at Innsbruck, Bratislava, Dresden and Kiel. The pace of the tour certainly gave us a new appreciation for the work of Lama Ole Nydahl and his students in Europe. In each and every place, our intrepid travelers were warmly welcomed by the locals and treated to great food, wonderful sightseeing tours and nice evening parties. Stories from and about the centers were swapped and new and old friends meditated together.
The journey finished with the travelers returning to the Europe Center. There they were joined by several other friends from Australia and New Zealand who had been teaching, traveling or visiting relatives and the crew from downunder hosted a country weekend for a small but enthusiastic crowd. The EC was treated to the delights of “Vegemite” (concentrated yeast extract which devastated one small child when she realized it did not taste like Nutella), Aussie burgers, meat pies and BBQs. Our European friends were also taught how to speak with an Australian accent and to play cricket.
Matt Balara and Phil Carlisle, 2 of the 11 Australians asked by Lama Ole to teach Buddhism, gave inspiring talks and we even managed to link up online with a lot of friends in Australia and New Zealand in their home centres. This way, they were able to present their centers themselves online and listen to the other talks and presentations despite being on the other side of the globe.
Needless to say, our friends returned to their respective homes in the southern hemisphere inspired by their experiences and with many wonderful memories and new friendships. There are plans to put together a presentation about the journey and the stories from various centers visited, many of which have been established for longer than those in Australia and New Zealand. The inspiration provided by seeing the power of working and meditating together will no doubt open many opportunities for the Aussies and Kiwis!
And if you look carefully around the EC and the centers visited, you may see evidence of Australian wildlife and other reminders of the Antipodean Invasion strategically placed by our visitors… ;)
– The Aussie-Kiwi tour group