Meditation retreat impressions

EC Blog Archive for February, 2013

Meditation retreat impressions

February 27th, 2013

Surrounded by almost a meter of snow, the meditation retreat going on while Lama Ole is writing on his book at the EC has been attracting people from around the world.

Friends have been coming and going to meditate, meet old and new friends and listen to lectures by Lama Ole and other buddhist teachers in the evenings. We hope you enjoy these pictures taken during the last 4 weeks as much as we have been enjoying this exceptional time and great gift!

Last week was the first time ever that Lama Ole Nydahl asked his present students here at the EC to join him in his regular Phowa practice for the deceased. Lama Ole practices the transference of consciousness meditation for thousands of people every year.

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.

In the meditation practice one learns to transfer consciousness at the moment of death into a state of highest bliss. Lama Ole has taught more than 80,000 people Phowa, which takes place about 10 times a year worldwide and includes an explanation about death and rebirth.

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.


As on a few earlier occasions, Lama Ole helped to cut so-called “life tree” for a new stupa project. This time it was for Tenovice, where the Czech Diamond Way Buddhist sangha will build their very first stupa under the guidance of Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

The life tree is an essential part of every stupa. Already its cutting is a precisely planned and a conscious act – Rinpoche has set the exact date, time and several conditions to be fullfiled at the time of the tree cutting. When cut, the tree will be let to dry slowly and later it will be treated in a very specific way – carved to a certain shape, painted and filled at certain points etc. Lamas always pay extra attention to the life tree process, as it creates a living axis of a stupa – representing the Buddha’s body.

Many friends came for this event, especially from the Czech Republic. Friday morning greeted everyone with thick slow-falling snow. We took the narrow path made in the deep snow up to the hill above our meadows together. There, up in the forest, we all gathered at a respectful distance around the chosen tree. Lama Ole arrived a few moments later. A professional lumberjack from our sangha prepared the tree for him and Lama Ole then made the cut. Before he did that, he explained the significance of a stupa and asked everybody to make good wishes for all beings while cutting. The tree fell veeeery slowly, majestically, and exactly in the right direction. Afterwards, the crowd cheered and we all made a toast to the Tenovice stupa and enjoyed traditional Czech snacks. We finished by singing the invocation of our protectors before rolling down the hill to the EC again.

 

It has already become a tradition that when Lama Ole comes to the EC for a book retreat, we join the power field by meditating and listening to teachings. This time we are hosting friends from all over the world and the atmosphere is really pumping with energy.

Covered up by snow and chilly winter weather, we are enjoying four meditation sessions per day and in the evenings listening to lectures by different teachers, explanations for meditation practices or sessions of questions and answers.

The daily program starts at 8 p.m. with breakfast, followed by a 16th Karmapa meditation at 9 a.m.. From 11 until 1 p.m. there is a longer session for individual meditation practices as well as a second one in the afternoon from 4 until 6 p.m.. In between, we are all joining the EC activities and the work to support this retreat and round off the day with another 16th Karmapa meditation at 8 p.m.

Although Lama and Caty are busy with writing the book, from time to time they find the space to join the morning meditation. Yesterday morning, Lama Ole even surprised us with a Q&A session.

On Friday morning we expect many friends mostly from the Czech Republic to join a “tree cutting” ceremony when we cut the “life tree” for a stupa which is to be built next year in Tenovice. So as you see the EC buzz is tempting…

The 4th of February was the long-awaited day of Lama Ole’s arrival to the Europe Center for his annual month-long book retreat. The EC-Villa was already packed with friends and anticipation and joy were in the air.

It was also our designated “card-signing evening”. As every year, we wanted to send New Year’s greetings and the EC event calendar to every single one of the over 650 Diamond Way Buddhist Centers, as well as to our Buddhist teachers and good friends worldwide. This year they were supposed to reach their recipients for the Tibetan New Year (Tib.: “Losar”) on February 11.

We brought in benches and tables earlier to be able to seat everybody. After all, over 100 friends needed a place to be able to speed-sign approximately 650 cards.

As soon as Lama Ole and Caty arrived everybody found a seat and we started with the card-signing. The cards were circulated through the greater part of the villa, passing a lot of hands and pens. Lama Ole left his Gau on the stack of freshly signed cards overnight to bless them. We hope you enjoy your EC New Year’s card even more, knowing how it was signed by more than 100 happy friends in just about 2 very joyful hours.

If you look up the word “basement” in the dictionary you might find a definition like the following: “the floor of a building partly or entirely below ground level”. This does not even begin to describe what the basement of the EC villa was transformed into over the last couple of months.

Abel, our dedicated Dane and professional yacht designer, and his wonderful team started working on this project last year and finally celebrated the conclusion of the main work with a glass of well-deserved champagne.

You have already seen the new, cosy bedrooms finished last July and the kick-off phase of the basement’s main room last November here on the blog. The project picked up pace when they tried to put every piece of wood and the last screws into place this January to be ready for the book retreat in February. Whenever you ventured into the basement you would be greeted by a joyfully working team, be it early in the morning or late at night. They really put their hearts’ blood into this project.

To round off the renovation of the basement, Beate, Leonie, Britta from Denmark and more helpers renovated the basement’s restroom with great diligence – and beautifully painted flowers on the walls!

After weeks of sawdust and woodchips the EC was rewarded with a space looking like in a 5 star hotel or from an architectural magazine. Oak from our own forest gives the room a warm and welcoming feeling and is a common line, recognisable in all the rooms and the public space. A lot of white plywood creates the space and clarity of our usual style and antic incandescent light bulbs from the attic of the EC round it all of and give our new living room its magic touch.

Shortly after his arrival, Lama Ole took a look at all the hard work’s result and shared news from around the world over a coffee with all the friends present.

We are looking forward to having a tea or coffee with you in our new favourite coffee place soon!

It is not so easy to leave the Europe Center – but the many ski slopes in and around the Allgäu area are definitely worth doing so from time to time.

So some EC sangha members and guests visiting even from hot and sunny Australia hit the slopes a few days ago – some on skis, some on snowboards, some on a sledge for the first time in 30 years – but definitely everyone no matter which age had an excellent time, rounded off with Bavarian delicacies in the ski hut, of course!