Cruising the Great Alpsee lake with the Captains again!

EC Blog News & Reports

It’s summer – it’s Alpsee lake cruising time again!

On invitation of our friends, the captains of the schooner taking tourists (and locals as well!) across the Great Alpsee Lake below the EC grounds invited the EC team to set sails with them again, as we did last year. After a warm welcome by our hosts Claudius and Ottmar, some of us went for  a round of Minigolf, some went for a guided tour of a well-known local painter’s exhibition, and the majority of course took the opportunity to enjoy the view of our Europe Center from the lake.

Since the construction site is well-visible from the ship and many people taking a turn on the ship are interested in the details of the new building, we gave the captains some additional information – e.g. that the barn, which has temporarily been reduced to the ground walls, will be built-up again in accordance with the monument protection, or that the summer course plateau’s terraces are being reshaped in the way  suggested by the city of Immenstadt.

Soon the captains are going to return the visit at the EC, we are looking forward to having them up here on the hill with us again!

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The “Yellow Salon” on the ground floor of the Europe Center Villa also serves as an official wedding location for the city of Immenstadt. If couples want to tie the knot in a beautiful and festive surrounding, this Art Noveau room is one of the most fitting locations in Immenstadt.

Mirja, a doctor in Blaichach, was one of the first Buddhists who ever moved to Immenstadt – actually even a year before the Europe Center aka Gut Hochreute was found. One can imagine how happy she was when Gut Hochreute was purchased to be built up as the Europe Center connecting the over 630 Diamond Way Buddhist Centers worldwide, and she has been taking part in the activities at the center ever since. Michael is a physiotherapist and one of the several Hamburgers who exchanged there Northern german home for Allgäu (and have not been regretting it until today!). Together with their little son Malte they live in a beautiful farmhouse in Knottenried, close to the EC. With another addition to the young family well underway, the two decided to make their love official – in the place they met at and have been an active part of together for years now.

After the official ceremony and signing the legal documents with the lady from the civil registry office in the yellow room, Pit Weigelt guided a festive ceremony in the meditation room, pointing out the meaning and value  of a partnership in Buddhism, much to the interest and entertainment of everyone present – buddhist or non-buddhist.

The whole EC team would like to wish Mirja and Michael all the best for their family future in Allgäu and thank them for being such an inspiring part of the Europe Center activities!

If you would like to get married at the Europe Center, please contact the civil registry office of Immenstadt. You do not need to be Buddhist to get married here – but you should definitely be in love! :)

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Yes, we can! Statue fillers from Austria to Australia met for the annual International Statue Filling Weekend in order to finish the filling of the big Diamond Mind statue in the EC villa’s meditation room.

The preparations for filling the statue have been underway for a year already. Friends from around the world brought mantra rolls, semi-precious stones and other preciosities like rose petals, dried herbs, and lot of joyful effort to finally make it happen.

Starting on Friday with a session of questions and answers with four experienced statue fillers, statue fillers and helpers were busy with rolling the last mantras, preparing the life tree and making the final arrangements over the weekend. As the highlight, friends from all around Immenstadt gathered to take part in the filling of the lotus flower the Diamond Mind statue sits on. And they did it in best style: with lots of joy and, as we always do, patiently standing in a long line! Now the statue is sitting in its place again, ready to get blessed by our Lamas during the Summer course. We think that it is even smiling a bit more than before… ;-)

Why do we fill statues?
Statue filling is an ancient discipline with its own special transmissions and knowledge.

Buddhist statues work as a mirror for the enlightened qualities inherent in all sentient beings. As representations of the body, speech, and mind of the Buddha, statues enrich the space around them on a profound energetic level. While the outer form of the statue represents the enlightened body of the Buddha, the mantra rolls and precious materials filling the statue represent his speech. Finally, the blessing by a Buddhist master represents the mind aspect, bringing the statue to perfection and making it a precious object of meditation.

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Joyful effort in the summer heat!

More than 200 Diamond Way Buddhist volunteers come to the Europe Center for the weekend to help prepare for the International Summer Course at the Europe Center.

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How our annual classical concert – the Summer Matinee – started out as a cultural event for the local guests from Immenstadt and the surrounding area, and turned out to be a weekend of special moments and friendship…

To avoid the unpredictable Allgaeu weather we moved the matinee into the rooms of our beautiful mansion this year. A red carpet, elegant chairs and a grand piano transformed our familiar areas, where the friends usually come together to eat and meet, into a classical music hall.

Around 200 guests could then enjoy almost unknown treasures from Rossini, Thalberg, Massenet and Saint-Saëns, played by Stefan Irmer on the grand piano. Although Sibylle Wolf’s beautiful voice was missing this year, one got lost in the delicate sound of the piano and Stefan’s charming commentary, so no expectations were disappointed in the end.

To round off the event, most of the guests used the chance to go on one of the last guided tours of this year’s statue exhibition, and later enjoyed the reappearing sun and excellent Danish cakes on the beautifully arranged Bau Café terrace.

And behind the scenes…?

Whilst a lot of helpful friends were busy rearranging furniture, cleaning and decorating the public rooms of the EC, at the same time a cake-miracle happened from the hands of our Danish cake-wonder-women in the basement.

Johanne, Birthe and Brigitte appeared on Friday evening and turned the kitchen into a place of great interest to everybody. Not only were they creating delicious and beautiful cakes for the matinee, on top they fed hungry helpers with cake deserts, integrated the sangha’s “sweet tooth” into the baking process and managed to turn kitchen cleaning on Saturday evening into a great party… Thank you for sharing your joy and surplus with us, Ladies!


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[ECTV] The barn is gone!

June 26th, 2013

Here’s a time lapse video of the construction progress over the last weeks.

It shows the dismantling of the old barn, which is to become our new meditation hall, dining area and kitchen. It is going to be re-built according to the monument protection requirements. After this, the excavation for the new building started.

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At the Europe Center, we try to take every occasion to connect with the area and make the beautiful Gut Hochreute buildings open for visitors. The popular „Cultural Weeks“ with the statue exhibition and the classical music concert are a great opportunity for that – many from Immenstadt and the Allgäu area take the chance and visit us every Sunday afternoon. This year people can learn not only about the meaning of Buddhist statues and their profound symbolism, but get as well an update on the Europe Center project and especially its  just started construction.

The heart of the annual statue exhibition is made of the collection of statues residing at the Europe Center. Many of them are used in the center’s daily life for Buddhist meditation practices. On top, there are always some „hidden treasures“ displayed, chosen specifically for the occasion. It might come as a surprise for people not familiar with Buddhism that Buddhist statues actually do not depict any gods—Buddha is not a god but rather reference to a perfect state of mind. The different forms, with precisely prescribed proportions, attributes and expressions, are thus symbolizing and reflecting various enlightened qualities of one’s own mind.

At the opening on June 2, around 30 visitors joined the first guided tour of the exhibition. Caty Hartung and Pit Weigelt gave explanations on the meaning of Buddhist statues. While the first-time guests from Immenstadt and surroundings were gaining insights into the topic, the inspiration was no smaller for the many Buddhist friends who joined the event.

Rare 16th Karmapa exhibit

This year we are excited to display for the first time a new statue of the 16th Karmapa, a rarely-made form of a teacher dear to all Diamond Way Buddhists. He was one of the greatest yogis of Tibet in the 20th century and the main teacher of Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl who later brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West.  This particular statue is even more unique because it was made by a western statue maker. Learning the art of Buddhist statue-making is a long and demanding process, not easily accessible in the West. Given its excellent quality, it is suitable for use in meditation.

Musical finale

As every year, the exhibition will be traditionally rounded off by the Classical Music Summer Matinee. The open-air concert will take place on June 30th, 2013, at 11:00 and promises to bring us some less-known pieces of classical music. In case of bad weather the concert is held indoors.

We are now entering the last week of this year’s exhibition, so you still have a chance to see what the EC has to offer in Buddhist art. And after you’re done, come to digest and share your impressions to our Baucafé. It has become a lively meeting place on Sunday afternoons since the exhibition has started and as several of our fine ladies adopted a delicious habit of baking cakes for the occasion, your stay at the EC will surely be enjoyable.

 

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Now that the construction has started, things are moving very quickly! What you see on the pictures below is what is left of our barn at the moment, not even three weeks after the first truck arrived.

The carpenters completely dismantled the roof, and another company demolished a good part of the barn. Taking down so much of the building is necessary for several reasons. This way it is possible to dig a basement underneath the ground floor for the sanitary areas saving both time and money. Rotten parts of the wood will be replaced to make sure that our new gompa building is really going to last for a hundred years. Visually, the new barn is very much going to resemble the old one according to the monument protection requirements.

Much of the demolished material is being recycled, e.g. the old roof tiles have already been used to create a street for the construction vehicles, and the wood not suitable for the construction anymore will be transformed into garden furniture and other things.

The next big thing is the earthworks for the new building, starting this week. Despite the main construction being in professional hands in order to manage the tight time frame in between the snowy periods, voluntary helpers are welcome, especially during the next weekends.

If you would like to come and help with supporting the construction work with whatever action is needed, please let us know at join@europe-center.org.

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No way to deny it any longer – the EC team is now officially addicted to construction sites! As if we did not have enough building works going on at home, eleven of us happily followed the invitation to help with the renovation of the new London Diamond Way Buddhist Center.

Last Friday we flew over to England for a “power-weekend” full of joyful activity together with the London Sangha. Instructed by professional restorer Beate, who as an EC resident is also in charge of the Europe Center Villa’s restauration, some of us enthusiastically scraped, plastered, and painted in the new meditation room for many hours. Layers of old wall coverings this way transformed magically into a brandnew bright white wall as a background for the beautiful Buddha statues.

Others worked on the interiors of the smaller rooms, preparing them for the first residents to move in. In the evenings, we listened to Dharma lectures by Buddhist teachers from London and from the EC, and enjoyed the city at night.

The Diamond Way Buddhist Center in London has been in a small house in the Holborn area of London for more than a decade. Now a wonderful building called the Beaufoy Institute in the Lambeth area in south London has been purchased and is being transformed into the new center. To learn more about the history of the Beaufoy, its cultural and future functions as London’s biggest buddhist center, and ways to support the project, please click here.

We would like to thank our friends in London for inviting us for this very inspiring and joyful weekend, and for taking such good care of us. Many new connections evolved and many old friendships deepened. If you would also like to come to enjoy London and help with restoring the Beaufoy, on your own or with your home sangha, please send a message for more information.

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The new old furniture

May 30th, 2013

Why would we blog about furniture? After all we are Buddhists and not collectors of antique furniture. What does the Europe Center have to do with furniture and what is it all about anyway?

On the one hand it is about friendship, internationality, about connections. It is a melting pot of all our condensed center experience and it is a place where friends from different cultures meet and learn from each other. On the other hand the Europe Center is a beautiful more than 100 year old building. Every little last detail in the house was given great attention while designing and building it. We keep alive the awareness and the care that the original architect put into this house. We make it our everyday awareness training and thus into living Buddhism. The care that was put into the planning itself clearly shows in the way the rooms on the ground floor are designed: the architect’s original idea was to connect the different rooms by repeating colors and picking up design elements.

In the early days of the EC the yellow room was the place for transmission and long nights with many friends but after many decades of use the yellow furniture was finally due for restoration.

After years of searching we found very skilled craftsmen to restore the furniture in the traditional way it was done a hundred years ago. As it is under monumental protection they used original materials like horse hair and shellac finish. It was a blessing to find Max in Graz for the restoration of the wood and Hendrik in Kiel for the upholstery, using fabric from a sangha friend in Munich. On top even friends from Budapest helped out with the transport.

Today, the new fabric is shiny grey in color and is of modern make. In this way we pick up the original design idea with a modern twist. We are very thankful to Hendrik and Max for all the countless hours of work and we will hopefully use the furniture for another hundred years.

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