EC Blog News & Reports
We took advantage of the latest meetings with the architects at the EC in April to get an update from Caty and Ronald about the current status of the moreEC project and a peek behind-the-scenes of the construction in preparation. Project status – awaiting building permission. When we launched the moreEC project, we wanted to [...]
The Spanish-Ukrainian country weekend at the EC started with sunny Spanish weather and ended with rather typical Ukrainian weather…
Many friends not only from the hosting countries gathered to share experiences from both countries and to get to know each other and the Europe Center better.
One of the youngest Ukrainian representatives in a traditional embroidered shirt welcomed guests and residents with a refreshing drink (smoked dried fruits and water) and tiny chocolates with Ukrainian landmarks. Soon after, the Spanish sangha joined the opening event.
Saturday started with a typical Ukrainian breakfast and meditating together. The Ukrainian sangha presented their projects and milestones of Buddhist activity in their country. As the Spanish friends put it: “Everyone knows Spain: “We have sun, wine and Karma Guen. Ukraine has to show the map first.” So, we started with the map.
After lunch, Traveling teachers from both countries shared their wisdom about Buddhist refuge and answered questions. The Spanish sangha’s presentation before common the meditation wrapped up our exchange of information about the two countries.
Late at night, the Baucafé became a melting pot: traditional Ukrainian and Spanish dances, songs and a quiz about both countries, snacks and talking.
On Sunday, the Spanish sangha took over the kitchen and later on waved good-bye to leaving guests.
We learned that we have much more in common than we thought (in addition to Buddha nature, football, “mañana” and pork… ).
It is always a joy to work, to meditate, and to have fun together!
— by the Spanish and Ukrainian Sangha —
Caty Hartung and Tomek Lehnert took the time to share their experiences, from their many years on the road and in the air with Lama Ole.
We started off with a lecture about the student and teacher relationship by Tomek, followed by questions and answers with both he & Caty. We got to know how Caty and Tomek became students of Lama Ole, and how and why they started to travel with him around the world until today.
During the lectures on Saturday we talked about fearlessness, highest joy and active compassion and heard exciting stories about trust in the Lama. In the evening we squeezed Caty and Tomek with more questions and were inspired by a selection of pictures that were taken over the last 20 years. On Sunday morning they shared some of the challenges they had on their way and how they dealt with them.
Rounding up every session with a meditation on the 16th Karmapa was very fitting!
Thanks to the Czech cooking crew and the joyful activity of all the friends who helped here and there, the atmosphere was very relaxed and on top there was time to get to know each other better. Caty and Tomek let us take part in their lives and gave us great inspiration, by showing how a student can identify with the Lamas’ qualities and out of this identification, the hard work can be full of joy and fun.
This week was all about clearing the Attic and archiving our precious goodies. Friends from Hungary, Austria, Venezuela, the US and Germany participated in restructuring the entire Attic, which is quite a spacious room above Lama Ole’s flat.
All the furniture, picture frames and other things which we did not immediately use after having bought the Villa where stored up there almost four years ago. Now, it was time to reorganise the space in order to protect the precious treasuries from possible rain because the southern part of the roof will be renewed soon.
Eighty. Exactly eighty steps from the cellar up to the attic of the Villa. Not a very symbolic number, but quite impressive when carrying heavy furniture, wooden skis, a doll house, a stylish but unfortunately broken Puck bicycle or other goodies downstairs – for the tenth time! Throughout this week, the back of the Diamond Room was enriched with a wooden box containing army blankets, the Lotus Room got a wardrobe for the clothes of our visiting friends and other rooms received the most beautiful old mirrors you can imagine. If it was not for fire regulations, we would have a fantastic space for an entire loft for Karmapa, as you can see on the pictures.
— by Johanna from Graz
The Schwarzenberger invasion of the EC took place from March 9th to 11th. The first troops ;-) rolled in on Friday evening and cooked a sumptuous dinner. By Saturday afternoon our numbers had swelled to 20 and together we spent two wonderful “Mandala” days there.
First, all members of the Schwarzenberg sangha gave an update on their current situation. Then, individually and in groups, we sought and found our points of contact with the EC. We started from our Lama’s wish that we support the EC – the basis for our visit – and considered our connections with the EC in the areas of communication, inspiration and activity. In groups we decided what we wanted to share with the EC team about Schwarzenberg and its history and constructed a timeline containing historical dates and our personal memories connected to the EC.
Together with the EC-Team we spent a wonderful evening exchanging information and telling stories, for example, of the first fundraising action for the EC. This started in Schwarzenberg and a glass of wine and ended with 1000 German Marks per person in cash on the table. We thanked the EC-Team for their important work and invited them to relax at our Schwarzenberg Retreat Center. The evening continued with a hilarious pub quiz led by Cristina and Henkjan and ended with dancing and talking until late in the night.
Sunday morning was dedicated to Schwarzenberg and our visions for the center’s future. Many wishes for meditation, exchange, inspiration and growth were expressed. We will present these ideas to Lama Ole during his next visit.
Conclusion: “We have the roots, you have the roof” – this is written on our tile for the new EC roof. Caty emphasized our close connection already years ago; we have actually been one sangha and one family since the very beginning. We support the EC not only with our experience and joyful effort before, during and after each summer course but also with our “simple” visits in which we meet friends, maintain and strengthen our connections and inspire each other.
This Friday Caty surprised us with a spontaneous return visit. She led the meditation and stayed for a chat before returning to the Country Weekend at the EC.
— by Ulrike Limper & Andrea Maichele from Schwarzenberg
One evening of the February book retreat, Lama Ole and Caty met the teams working for and contributing to the Munich Buddhist Center as well as the smaller meditation groups situated close to Munich: Dachau, Munich South-East and Murnau.
It was Caty’s idea to get together in the Diamond Room in order to see the smart and often also new faces of the people who are right now active in the sangha. Plenty of teams with fresh and motivated members reported about their main activities and tasks, e.g. the centers’ program, the Dharma shop, library, translation, cleaning and maintenance of the house or finances and many other voluntary activities.
Everyone got a chance to ask questions related to their work in the teams. Furthermore, Lama Ole and Caty got to know the people guiding the meditation and giving introductory talks, supported by the 13 traveling teachers asked by Lama Ole to teach Buddhism who live in Munich. This also illustrates the beneficial and well-functioning mixture of experienced Buddhists and new sangha members which can be found in all the teams.
Finally and with great joy, the Munich Sangha presented to Lama Ole a check for moreEC from the financial surplus of the center’s activities before Lama Ole gave blessing to everyone present to round of a very inspiring evening.
by the Munich Sangha
Stupas are Buddhist monuments symbolizing the enlightened mind as well as the life of Buddha. They can be found all over Tibet, and many have been built in the West over the last decades, e.g. in Spain, Greece, Germany, Russia and Austria last year.
Every stupa contains relics and a “life tree” covered with mantras – the heart of a stupa. This central axis stands for different aspects of the wisdom of a Buddha. As with every element of a stupa, there are certain requirements concerning which tree is suitable to be used as a lifetree. According to the detailed traditional instructions, Lama Ole chose a tree from the EC forest during his February book retreat for the next stupa to be built in Europe this summer.
After the “tree action”, there was enough time to celebrate this special day together on the snowy hills of the Europe Center grounds.
Here’s an insight on what the ongoing book retreat up on the second floor of the EC villa looks like.
In book retreat for the whole month of February with the exception of two weekend courses in Prague and Heidelberg in between, Lama Ole, Caty, and Maike Weigelt are working the whole day on a new book about the main meditation practices of Diamond Way Buddhism in the West – e.g. the Foundational Practices (Tib. ngöndro) or the Meditation on the 8th Karmapa. They are an experienced book-writing team: Maike types in the remarks and additions which Lama Ole is writing by hand into the explanations he wrote many years ago, while Caty is editing. This way it is possible to work on several chapters at the same time. The outcome will be a modern elaboration on all our main meditations, fit especially for lay practitioners in the Western world.
From time to time, Lama Ole takes a short break from writing to guide the morning meditation, to help with the work outside, or to answer his students’ questions in the evenings.
We are often asked about the differences of book retreats and project days. On project days, Lama Ole usually has many different activities during the day. He writes articles, makes phone calls, answers emails, gives interviews, or meets with teams working on different projects worldwide. Writing a book requires more one-pointed focus and uninterrupted working atmosphere for days or even weeks. Other work then slows down to minimum, reserved usually to late night after-hours.