Welcome back to the EC, Lama Toensang!

EC Blog Archive for the ‘Lamas at the EC’ Category

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.

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).

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!

Rinpoche kept his promise: after a week of traveling in Europe, he returned to the EC to give us the initation into the Buddha of Limitless Life (Skt. Amitayus, Tib. Tsepame).

Amitayus is an emanation of the Buddha of Limitless Light, embodying a long life and health. His hands in meditation posture hold a vase with long life nectar with a flowering ashoka branch. Meditating on him enables one to realize the immortality of mind.

We would like to thank Lopon Dorji Rinpoche so much for giving us three precious empowerments and teachings at this year’s Summer course. We wish him all the best for his vast activity in and beyond Bhutan and are looking forward to hopefully welcoming him back to the EC soon!

After the departure of Lopon Dorji Rinchen Rinpoche and Jigme Rinpoche, Lama Ole continued his teachings on the Great Seal (Skt. Mahamudra, Tib. Chag Chen). The pith instructions on Mahamudra, also referred to as the Ganges-Mahamudra, by the Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa is an unending dwell of inspiration for practitioners of Diamond Way Buddhism and its view.

Tilopa [988 - 1069] condensed the essence of the different teachings in four streams of teachings that were later collected into one set by his main student Naropa under the name of the
„Six Teachings of Naropa“. Tilopa lived in desert places und had a number of disciples. Among them Naropa became the next forefather of the Kagyu Lineage. On the completion of the twelve hardships, Tilopa taught these instructions on the banks of the river Ganges to the Kashmiri pandit, the wise and learned Naropa. Naropa taught The Twenty-Eight Vajra Verses to the great interpreter, the king of translators, Marpa Chökyi Lodrö. Marpa finalized his translation at Pulahari in the north of India.

And who is making it possible for all of us to get these precious teachings? All the voluntary helpers making the course work around the clock. The ladies from the Joy Center (formally knows as the Job Center ;) are running around in the course recruiting helpers for the hundreds of mini jobs per day. Many of the course participants also come by their stand in the dining tent by themselves to grab a job in the kitchen, in the cleaning team or somewhere else.

Goodbye, Jigme Rinpoche!

August 9th, 2016

After almost a week packed with Dharma lectures, empowerments and blessings, we had to let Lama Jigmela go – he is off to his home center Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in France’s Dordogne for now.

The day anyway had a full program of course – Lama Ole Nydahl gave precious Mahamudra teachings based on the Great Seal wishes by the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje and answered questions.

In the evening, several Dharma projects and Diamond Way Buddhist centers from around the globe, like New Zealand, Spain, Poland or Israel, shared what’s going on at home with inspiring and often enough highly entertaining presentations.

… as usual made the most of their days, giving lectures and empowerments, meditating, getting to know the Europe Center and meeting their students.

On Monday we said goodbye to Lopon Dorji Rinchen Rinpoche. However, the goodbye was kind of easier than expected because Rinpoche had generously accepted Lama Ole’s invitation to come back to the EC as soon as possible – which is actually already next weekend. Lopon will then give the empowerment of the Buddha of Long Life (Skt. Amitayus, Tib. Tsepame) and the Buddha of Limitless Light (Skt. Amitabha, Tib. Öpame) to us.

Lama Jigme Rinpoche took the time to check out the course’s Dharma shops as well the beautiful new statues and thangkas (tibetan scroll paintings) on offer for the Buddhist center’s altars.

On Sunday, Lama Jigme Rinpoche gave the third of three consecutive empowerments to more than 3000 people present at the Europe Center, this time into the first consciously reborn Lama of Tibet, the 2nd Karmapa Karma Pakshi (1204 – 1283).

At the age of 6 Karmapa was able to read and write even though he had not been taught. Later on, he only needed to read a text once in order to fully understand and remember its content. He was a famous Siddha with extraordinary powers and abilities. He had students across Tibet, Mongolia and China.

The Guru Yoga practice of the 2nd Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, was envisioned by the Great Tertön, Mingyur Dorje (1645-1667). When Mingyur Dorje was meditating on the protector Black Coat (Tib. Mahakala Bernakchen), in a pure vision the mandala of Karma Pakshi vividly appeared. From this vision, Karma Pakshi transmitted to Mingyur Dorje all the instructions and blessings of this mandala’s practice – a type of “Meditation on the Lama” (Skt. Guru Yoga). Since then, the Karma Pakshi practice became very important to the Karma Kagyu lineage.

In his mandala, Karmapa is shown in the center, surrounded by representations of the “Three Roots” – the Lamas (the root of blessing), the Yidams (the root of accomplishment) and the Protectors (the root of activity). As such, Karmapa embodies or unites these Three Roots. To “establish the mandala” of Karmapa means that we invoke – and then identify with – the Karmapa’s enlightened body, speech and mind. This is what happens in all the methods of Guru Yoga on the Karmapa, such as those associated with the 2nd, 8th, and 16th Karmapas. By opening up to the Karmapa as the essence of all Buddhas, we increasingly recognize the true nature of own awareness, and accomplish Buddhahood.

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Lopon Dorji Rinchen Rinpoche kindly offered to give us the empowerment into the Buddha of Limitless Light (Skt. Amitabha, Tib. Öpame) and the Buddha of Limitless Life (Skt. Amitayus, Tib. Tsepame) next Saturday, August 13, 2016 at 1pm.

You are warmly invited to come also spontaneously in case you are not here for the ongoing Summer Course program anyway, of course! More information and registration at http://www.summercourse.ec

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Lama Jigme Rinpoche gave the second of three consecutive empowerments at this year’s Summer Course today, that into one of the most important meditation aspects for practitioners of Diamond Way Buddhism – Diamond Mind (Skt. Vajrasattva; Tib. Dorje Sempa), united with his consort Vajragarvi (Tib. Dorje Nyema).

The meditation on Diamond Mind is one of the most powerful methods for purifying imprints in the subconscious that were caused by harmful actions in this and former lives. Through this method, karmic seeds can be purified before they ripen in the form of negative experiences.

Karma means cause and effect, not fate. Everyone is responsible for his or her own life and shapes it through thoughts, words and actions. This understanding makes it possible to consciously generate positive impressions in mind, which lead to happiness and help avoid future suffering.

This meditation practice is part of the Four Preliminary Practices in Vajrayana Buddhism. It is said that a practitioner can achieve enlightenment solely by practicing and completing these meditations. They are the preparation for the following Mahamudra or Guru Yoga practices.