Enjoy Space: Impressions from the Course

EC Blog News & Reports

This year’s motto of the International Summer course at the Europe Center was “Enjoy Space!”.

This was pointing at the grand opening of our spacious new gompa, the flexible program with lots of open space for spontaneity – and first and foremost at the enlightened, joyful, compassionate and fearless nature of mind experienced in lots of meditation sessions – which is like space!

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Explanations for meditation practices and meditating together afterwards are an important part of the summer course. Twice in two weeks, the Diamond Way Teachers gave introductory explanations for the beginners’ Refuge Meditation, the Four Preliminary Practices (tib. Ngöndro) and Guru Yoga on the 8th Karmapa.

The meditations used in the Diamond Way Buddhist centers are traditional meditation practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. They were transmitted to Lama Ole Nydahl by various masters of the Lineage, notably by the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and translated to Western languages to give a direct access and understanding to Buddhist students in the West. Lama Ole has entitled more than a hundred of his experienced students, the Diamond Way Teachers, to pass on the practice explanations for Ngöndro.

If you would like to know more about the respective meditation practices and their origin and transmission within the Karma Kagyu Lineage, please visit www.diamondway-buddhism.org.

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After so much work and eager anticipation, on August 10th 2014, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl (and a few thousand friends) unveiled the unique Buddha statue and opened the new gompa at the Europe Center.

Beautifully decorated with 16 thangkas depicting the lineage of the Karmapas, pictures of the 5 Dhyani Buddhas indicating the 5 directions according to Buddhist cosmology on the walls and the ceiling of the new mediation hall and a beautiful altar in front of the still to be unveiled new Buddha statue, Rinpoche and Lama Ole guided the inauguration ceremonies.

V  his introductory speech before the consecration ceremony (tib. Rabne), Rinpoche pointed at the significance of this place connecting Diamond Way Buddhist practitioners from all over the world and at the very auspicious circumstances of this event, bringing together a very special full moon day, the 16th Karmapa’s birthday, the inauguration of the meditation hall as well as the unveiling and blessing of the 1,70 high, shiny new Buddha statue.

Since the new gompa fits nearly one-thousand, but of course not several thousand people, Lama Ole repeated the inaugural meditation of the gompa all day long in order to enable everyone present at the course to participate in the inauguration.

As if the touching ceremonies were not more than enough for a day to remember already, everyone was presented with a Tsatsa (Tibetan half-relief) of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, relics and blessing strings after passing through the new dining hall of the EC on the way out. Looking at the many hundreds leaving our new gompa, one could only see shining eyes and bright smiles.

May the Europe Center’s new gompa benefit countless beings on their way to enlightenment!

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The night before the long-awaited inauguration of our new EC gompa, all kinds of activity went on all through the night.

The 1,70 meter high Buddha Statue manufactured in Switzerland and Germany arrived the day before and had to be carefully carried up to the gompa in his huge and heavy box, in order to be filled there by an international statue filling team under the guidance of Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche. In order for the box to be lifted, turned and moved around, a steel construction with wheels was constructed throughout the night.

The 400 new meditation cushions were filled, barn and dining hall on the ground floor were tidied and thoroughly cleaned, auspicious symbols were painted in sand and on curtains and torma offerings were prepared for the full-moon day of the gompa inauguration.

Thangka painting master Dawa Lhadripa opened the eyes of the Buddha statues and a beautiful picture of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje on the wall behind them. The story behind this painting is this: Karmapa passed away in China. The emperor, Karmapa’s student, was very sad about it . When the full moon rose, everybody could see the clear image of Karmapa on the moon disc. This famous image is called the Rangjung Dashalma in Tibetan and was later painted and used a lot in the Karma Ghadri painting tradition.

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Friends from all over the world were patiently waiting their turn to deliver the mantra rolls from their country or center for the filling of the EC Buddha during the first days of the Summer course.

After days of sorting, cleaning and preparing precious substances and mantra rolls, our international team of experienced statue fillers filled the new EC gompa’s main statue of Buddha Shakyamuni under the guidance of Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche. This took place only a day after the statue had been delivered from its place of creation in Switzerland and only a night before the gompa’s inauguration.

Statue filling is an ancient Buddhist discipline with its own very special transmissions and knowledge. Tibetan Buddhist statues embody a profound symbolism that goes far beyond purely artistic expression. The statues serve as inspiration for meditation practice and thereby function as a key opening deep layers in the meditator’s subconscious.

The freshly filled, shiny EC Buddha unveiled the next day by Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl at the gompa’s inauguration weighs in at 700 kg and surely will inspire countless meditators coming to the Europe Center!

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The Europe Center is there to unite and connect students of Diamond Way Buddhism around the world. So filling the big Buddha statue for the new EC gompa with mantras and precious substances and items given by the international Diamond Way Sangha was the obvious thing to do…

Weeks before the filling of the statue just a day before the gompa inauguration, we asked the Buddhist centers on five continents to come together with their members to roll mantras for the filling of our EC statue and send them to us. So they did – and the result piled on the filling table in our new gompa was very impressive!

The mantra-rolling process begins with the mantras being printed on special yellow paper dyed with saffron water and carefully dried afterwards. The printed mantras are then cut into long strips, rolled very tightly into a variety of sizes and are then sealed. The different sizes make it possible to later place as many mantras as possible inside the statue, with little or no space left empty. The act of rolling mantras in itself is a great mind training: one needs to be very focused, precise, quiet and patient, and it brings the members of a Buddhist sangha close together for a very meaningful activity with lasting result.

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After two months of recovery from his successful neck surgery, we are not sure who was more happy to be back at a Mahamudra course – Lama Ole Nydahl or his students.

With Lama Ole opening the 5-day Mahamudra course instead of the originally scheduled Phowa course in excellent health, the applause did not want to stop and and very happy and relieved faces were all around.

The next days, Lama Ole took lots of time to answer overflowing boxes of questions and explain the Mahamudra Wishes of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, the Ganges Mahamudra by Tilopa, and an ancient Mahamudra text by Lama Shang.

Lama Ole received initiations and teachings directly from the 16th Karmapa and other masters of the Karma Kagyü School. He also received initiations from other Tibetan Buddhist Schools including Mahamudra (“The Great Seal” – tib. Chag Chen, the highest Buddhist view of the nature of mind) from His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. He has been passing on these highest teachings for over 40 years in the West.

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The dining tent is definitely not just for having breakfast, lunch and dinner or having coffee and cake it between – it is the place at the summer course to meet and connect with friends from all over the world.

There are lots of choices how to spend the breaks in between the meditation sessions and the lectures: getting updates on the construction or giving a donation to support it at the moreEC stand – always coming along with a beautiful new “Enjoy Space!” T-Shirt or hoody as a thank you. Or you can go on a shopping spree at the Dharma Shop, find lifts on the pinboard, ask questions at the info point, sit down in the Meet & Connect area and listen to teachers and friends passing on their experiences on different topics while you’re having your meal, or look at the “Gompas of the World” photo exhibition. And of course, you stop by the job center to grab a mini-job for an hour or two to support the course, which is solely run on the work of voluntary helpers.

Even standing in line for food outside the dining tent is a great opportunity either to connect with new friends or to learn about the history of the summer course by checking out the exhibition on the outside walls of the dining tent.

And of course at night after the evening lectures, the dining tent turns into a dance floor to round off another day of countless good impressions shared with friends from across the globe.

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Appointed by Lama Ole Nydahl, more than 100 of his most experienced students are teaching Diamond Way Buddhism worldwide. All of them have been meditating for many years and are able to share their profound knowledge of the Dharma as well as their practical life experience and view with others.

During the past weeks of Lama Ole’s recovery from his surgery, the meditation courses around the world went on guided by these teachers. Also at the EC summer course, a significant part of the program is with the Diamond Way teachers: lectures on different topics, panels, Q&A sessions and introductory explanations for meditation practices are given.

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To make sure that also parents can enjoy the meditation sessions and lectures in the gompa tent and their youngsters are having great fun in the meantime, child care at the Summer course is being improved every year.

In separate tents for four groups of age – “Tigers and Lions”, “Sharky Island”, “Dragon Island” and “Black Pearl”, the little pirates are entertained with many different activities – and obviously enjoying it a lot! The special activities taking place in the newly arranged tent areas are carried out by parents and voluntary friends. Dancing sessions, boxing lessons, artistic projects like painting the much-needed rubber boots, sports and many more activities are offered.

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