The summer course in pictures…

EC Blog News & Reports

Pretty much all the pictures of the summer course you see here on the EC blog were taken by our international team of photographers.

For more than two weeks, they were constantly running up and down the hill and in and out of the tents in order to share as many impressions as possible from the course. Whenever they were not outside shooting, they were sitting in their improvised office space in the old barn to edit and sort out the pictures – or sleeping from time to time. ;-)

So here are some more beautiful mixed impressions they caught with their cameras, and a big “Thank you!” from all of us to Volen from Bulgaria, Hania from Poland/Italy, Matt from Australia, Ginger from Germany, Jana from Austria, Jan from the Czech Republic, Andrey and Dasha from Ukraine, Marek from Slovakia and Thule from Austria (http://karmapa-news.org).

 

 

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When H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje tells about his time as an adolescent, he points out that he was mainly surrounded by adults due to his position. He had missed an important part of experience, learning and socialization. That’s why he wanted to meet young people between the age of 16 and 30 on his tour through Europe, and because he will be more beneficial if he gets to know their views and needs.

Twice within one month he had conversations with both non-Buddhist teenagers and our own young generation at the EC. He patiently and honestly replied to all questions about his enlightenment, his memories of past lives and if he has ever regretted being in the role of Karmapa.

He explained that people in the West live in exceedingly fortunate times if one only has a look at the democracies, social systems, education, science and all the more our outer conditions. The inner values, however, increasingly do not keep pace with the outer conditions anymore. From Karmapa’s perspective the world is starting to shrink. Therefore, after having always gently responded to the young people’s attitudes and opinions, he directed them to what they can really rely on: all their inner qualities that they should improve in order to be prepared for upcoming outer negativities like the euro-crisis, breakdown of systems or the quick climate change with its subsequent catastrophes.

The way Karmapa showed his interest and he talked to the young people, straight from eye to eye and never from up to down, left a deep impression on them. One of the school teachers e.g. asked: “Where can I start to meditate?”, whereas most of the youths simply thought, Karmapa was “cool.”

 

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On the evening of HH 17th Karmapa’s arrival to the Europe Center, a special event was planned – a dinner with all the 3000+ students present with the lamas. What Lama Ole didn’t know was that HH 17th Karmapa asked for such an evening to commemorate 40 years of Lama Ole Nydahl’s work of spreading Buddha’s timeless wisdom in the West.

Thus, shortly into the evening, HH 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje stood up, and to the big surprise of Lama Ole delivered a speech thanking him for his and Hannah’s activity and wishing him a very long and strong life. Lama Ole Nydahl then replied: ”I’ll tell you what Hannah and I always did when we got so much praise from a noble quarter, which we didn’t often get, but which is very nice to have, thank you. We said: ‘We promise to work harder.’ Is that useful? Will you accept that? Thank you.”

Listen to the speech and enjoy the touching moments in the video recording of the evening and pictures below.

Video of HH 17th Gyalwa Karmapa’s speech thanking Lama Ole Nydahl for forty years of his work

Pictures of HH 17th Karmapa and Lama Ole Nydahl at the dinner

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This year there was no childcare at the EC! Not because we don’t care about children anymore but quite contrary because we realized that attending “childcare” really isn’t as attractive as exploring being a “Tiger and a Lion”, getting to know fellow “Captain Sharkies”, fooling around on “Dragon’s Island” or manoeuvring the “Black Pearl” at the “PIRATES BAY”…!

It was to everyone’s delight: the 540 kids (ages 2-12) were happy meeting each other, the parents were happy to be able to meditate without interruption and the 24 ‘pirates”, who made all this possible, enjoyed the possibility to keep their own childhood dreams coming true! We did it all, from guitar singing, cuddling and tickling (Tigers and Lions), creating a barefoot path, exploring the Alm (Captain Sharkies) over to a scavenger hunt, or testing one’s courage at the 3 meter stepping stone into the nearby Alpsee (dragons) or actually building a flying fox for the rejoice of the others (Black Pearl)!

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It is a tradition at the EC to celebrate the completion of the Phowa course with a special evening. This year, Lama Ole had dinner together with over 2000 friends in the large dining tent. Together they enjoyed presentations of many Buddhist centers and projects from around the world.

One of the presentations that stood out of the crowd was from the Munich sangha, who is going to host the New Year’ Course this year – and found a very entertaining way of making this known to the rest of the world. Dressed in dirndl dresses for the ladies and short leather pants for the gentleman, they invited for some traditionally Bavarian competitions like at the Oktoberfest.

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One of the questions asked frequently by people visiting for the first time when they see the impressive infrastructure and coordination of the Summer Course is “And you really don’t pay anyone here?!?”.

Actually not, the whole course organization is based on voluntary work of many hundred people. Whenever the course participants like, they can go to the job center in the dining tent, check where helpers are needed for which activities and sign up for some work shifts. At the same time, for instance, the kitchen team tells the job center how many people they need at which time for e.g. vegetable chopping for lunch.

Just to give you an idea how many different activities are going on throughout the course, here are a few of them: food serving, meal preparations, cleaning after the meals, cleaning bathrooms and toilets many times per day, emptying the garbage bins, babysitting, preparing the meditation tent for the next session, translating, shuttling hundreds of visitors up and down the hill, selling at the cafeteria or the mini supermarket… and many many more. Over the two weeks of the summer course, more than 5000 helpers are involved in making it happen.

The helpers seem to enjoy whatever they do, thus exploring their generosity, meaningful behavior, patience, and joyful effort – the first four Paramitas or liberating actions of a Bodhisattva. And the last two – meditation and wisdom – come naturally through the course program. Many new friendships are made as well on the occasion that for sure will last longer than this course!

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The 5th International Summer Course started with the fulfillment of Lama Ole’s wish to take two more days than usual for the Phowa mediation course instead of the usual 4 or 5 days.

The goal of the Phowa practice is to learn how to die consciously, and transfer the consciousness at the moment of death to a state of highest bliss. The practice is the last of the Six Yogas (energy teachings) of Naropa, and one of the most profound teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Ole is one of the few Buddhist Lamas empowered to teach it. Since 1987, he has taught Phowa to over 80,000 people at several hundred meditation courses around the world.

After days of meditation on the Buddha of Limitless Light in 3 sessions per day, the Conscious dying meditation course finished after Lama Ole checked successful outer signs of the practice of approx. 700 first-time Phowa practitioners – who were all smiles after the signs were found on their heads. In two consecutive lectures, Lama Ole afterwards explained how to use the practice to help oneself and the others at the moment of death.

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After his arrival at the EC, it did not take long until Lama Ole went for a walk across the summer course site to check out the results of five weeks of intense build-up work.

Followed around by a team of TV journalists and a group of friends, he took the time to chat with students, visit the kids on their “pirate ship” playground and the team of voluntary helpers cooking for a few thousand course participants three times a day. Not only the “next generation” of Buddhists in the youth tent was quite surprised and happy about the unexpected visitor!

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More than 60 representatives from 25 countries and 4 continents gathered in the Europe Center on July 28-29, 2012, two days before the International Summer Course, to exchange about recent developments in their countries and discuss about what brings us together as one Diamond Way family of Buddhist practitioners. Trust, friendship, practice, transmission and good style were among the terms coming up again and again in various contexts during the weekend.

The first part of Saturday’s gathering took everyone around the globe and on the same page with so-called “World Tour” – an introduction by Caty Hartung into the major developments in the Diamond Way world over the last 24 months plus a briefing by all representatives on what’s the main focus in their countries at the moment commented by Lama Ole.

The afternoon was dedicated to “World Café” workshop on important topics about our work and style. The emerging collective wisdom and the richness of many different cultures and viewpoints turned the afternoon into a creative 3-hour exchange.

The first day of the meeting then finished with a common meditation and storytelling long into the night while munching on Italian tapas and other goodies brought by many from their countries.

On Sunday the exchange went on and was rounded off by a Q&A session with Lama Ole and Caty. Many questions were asked and points clarified and everyone left inspired, with lots of ideas and material to pass on at home.

The two days were definitely a time well-spent with new connections being made and old strengthened. The big picture just got a lot bigger.

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The Summer Course started!

August 1st, 2012

[ECtv] The Summer Course has started and we have already over 2300 friends here!

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