International Summer Courses | SC 2008
1st International Summer Course
The most expected International Summer course in the Europe Center.
We found it! This was heard in various languages in the Diamond Way Buddhist Centers throughout the world last year. The first steps to make the dreams of the biggest Buddhist Center in Europe come true were successful. Since May 2007, we own a beautiful fifty-hectare place in Southern Germany, with a breathtaking view. For the first time in the history of lay Buddhism in the West, all Buddhists, regardless of their nationalities, had a chance to participate in the purchase and, in particular, in the realization of this international project. The first endurance test appeared this summer, during the preparations of the biggest meditation summer course lead by the 17th Karmapa, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl.
Preparations are a small training course
A half-year process of changing the beautiful Alpine holiday resort started in February after the first snow had melted. The infrastructure of the place could only handle a few hundred friends; therefore, it was necessary to widen the road leading to the premises, to enhance electric power supply, to build a water reservoir and to surface the land so that two big tents could be erected there. The Europe Center thus turned into an ant-hill of workers from all quarters of the globe. People started moving in to the EC or coming for a couple of months, weeks or days. No matter whether they came from Russia or Uruguay, everybody felt at home and immediately after jumping out of a car felt a natural urge to do something, to help or to organize the summer course preparations. People kept coming and going with enthusiasm and a wish to come back as soon as possible. One may say that a small training course was in progress through the preparations that lasted for more than half a year.
All teams ready
The summer course itself was prepared by hundreds of people working in eight main teams. The motto was a smoothly running course with a minimum of organization. The Welcome and Shuttle Team was in charge of several parking places in the town of Immenstadt. If you came during the day or late at night, friends always welcomed you with a hot tea and necessary information on the course and its progress. Until the last moments, the Technical Team was putting the finishing touches in the eating tent and, several hours before the course, they were still preparing lighting, terraces, television screen installations and table arrangements. From the beginning, the Cleaning Team was ready for the flow of the first Buddhists in their main positions. The Service Team arranged a number of pleasant spots throughout the camp, from a cafeteria and a job center to a mini-market. The Communication Team worked on several places at a time using the internet and phones. Thus, the main office kept answering dozens of e-mails, constantly updating the website, printing indicator signs, editing documentaries and archiving data. The Financial Team was settling orders which piled up massively just before the course, while the Registration Team, equipped with a big tent and several stations, lurked for the newcomers on their way up from one of the shuttle buses. The Food Team prepared and started the kitchen which was fit to cook several thousands of meals in a couple of hours and to serve them without long waiting times. The Gompa Team took care of the stage, microphones and sound distribution. Thangkas and sculptures on the main stage were placed with millimeter accuracy. Everything was ready for the start of the first international meditation course organized on our own land.
Start with mandala offering
One of the most impressive rituals of Tibetan Buddhism is the traditional mandala offering, that is offering of the symbols of body, speech, mind, qualities and activities. For all students of Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl, it was Caty Hartung, Karola Schneider and a few children who offered Ole the ritual mandala and the whole project of the Europe Center as an expression of thanks for his work and blessing. During the following four cold and rainy days, Lama Ole guided the course of Conscious Dying (Tib. Phowa ), which ended with a check-up of sings one day earlier than originally planned. All practitioners had clearly visible outer signs, thus they could spend the night on a wild party, which did not lack the popular “stage diving” from a height of several meters.
Meditation marathon with millions of mantras
On the following day, just before midnight, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole explained meditation on Buddha Loving Eyes (Tib. Chenresig ). Rinpoche is a meditation master and holder of the “maniwa” title, as he was able to inspire his students to recite more than 1 000 000 000 of OM MANI PEME HUNG mantras. Rinpoche, who had been guiding week retreats with thousands of lay practitioners for years in his monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, started a 72-hour meditation at midnight, in which people at the course participated as well as people around the world via streaming.
Rinpoche and Lama Ole kept coming regularly to the tent for several hours a day to meditate together with friends and traveling teachers. Together with the centers, people recited more than 128 million mantras of Buddha Loving Eyes in three days and, furthermore, every of these evenings, there were short teachings on practice, meditation in general and development of compassion.
Roses from fifty five countries
“Please don’t drive your cars here now, we are preparing the road for Karmapa,” the organizers persuaded cars heading to the meditation tent on the hill. During the first rainless days, the path covered with painted lucky symbols was surrounded with a lane of parents with children who accompanied the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa as he entered the meditation tent for the first time. The head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage arrived in the company of several Lamas and was welcomed by Sherab Rinpoche, Lama Ole and Caty. During the official welcoming ceremony, fifty five representatives of fifty five countries gave him roses saying “Welcome home” in their mother tongues. Lama Ole thanked Karmapa for his role of a teacher and lineage holder and recalled strong bonds with his previous incarnation: “It is not often I am touched, but I am touched today. What is happening here it the result of the many lives of good wishes we all did. Many, many lives of focusing on you Gyalwa Karmapa, in your many lives, in your many bodies and opening up to you and your blessing stream. Bringing the clearest and finest of the teachings that Buddha gave to where ever countries we would be born in our next lives. I had been honored to be very close to your last incarnation. His blessing was like the kick of the horse we always said, he touched you and you felt his hands for a long time afterward and so many things happened. He pulled miracles out of his sleeves. Hannah and I had a great chance to meet with the teachers whose blessings are working for us here today. There were not many people at that time but the blessing they gave all over the Europe when we traveled around with them stayed in the towns, it stayed in the buildings, it stayed in the minds of many and that it what we are bringing back into life again – we are giving substance to it. Every one of us who is inspired, every one of us who is somehow touched by something in the teachings who are able to understand the meaning of it, we are letting that wisdom, that richness live on. So it is a great celebration today!” Karmapa blessed Lama Ole’s work fully, expressing support and respect to the work of all those who took part in the preparation of the course and the Europe Center project.
Empowerment for thousands of people
Every morning, dressed-up Buddhists met on a muddy path leading from the eating tent to the meditation tent to recite together in meditation postures the purifying mantras of Diamond Mind, while waiting for empowerments to be given by the 17th Karmapa. Karmapa always explained the importance of given practice and details of meditation aspects. Buddhas Loving Eyes and Limitless Light were the first empowerments for lay practitioners in the Europe Center. “It was a pleasure and it always will be a pleasure to be in such a place. And especially I was deeply touched by every individual that participated and more than that I was very much touched by the individuals that do the hard work,” Karmapa expressed his feelings about the place where the energy of White Tara – White Liberatrice is felt strongest.
For the benefit of all beings…
On the last day, the good impressions from many days of meditation, empowerments, teachings and transmission were dedicated to all sentient beings during the Bodhisattva Promise given by the 17th Karmapa. Thus, we reminded ourselves of the motivation for working with mind and the importance of bonds between us: “We are now really placing Buddhism on the map of our European countries; our centers are radiating and have a very positive influence into the world and we are all growing as human beings. I mean there really is nothing as important as good friends and good company for developing our qualities and this is what we all are to each others,” says Lama Ole often. From now on until enlightenment, everybody expressed their wish to develop for the benefit of sentient beings, no matter whether they left for various places around the world after the end of the course, or they stayed to live and work in the first international centre, where people speak English, cook under the guidance of a Swedish cook, build according to German knowledge, repair walls according to a Dutch carpenter, draw projects with a Hungarian architect, clean and tidy with Danish poise, dance with Polish vividness, manage everything with Lithuanian composure, comment on things with Czech humor, celebrate with Russian heart and meditate with all-pervading mind without limits and national borders.
Written by Klara & Roman Laus