Not only the cows are happy – so are we!

EC Blog Archive for September, 2012

Only three weeks after the dismantling of the summer course infrastructure, it is already hard to find traces of the two big and the many small tents that were up on the Europe Center’s meadows. These pictures were taken on Sept 7 – by now the grass is even higher due to a lot of rain and sunshine during the past week. Allgäu is green and beautiful – and so is our EC. :)

Thank you so much to the whole team who takes such good care of our beautiful estate!

A guest post by the Aussie-Kiwi group visiting the EC

The Antipodean “Invasion” of 2012 started with approximately 25 friends attending the Phowa course and the teachings and initiations with HH Gyalwa Karmapa. This is actually quite an impressive representation for two countries with very small Buddhist sangha numbers compared to Europe – approximately 130 members in 11 buddhist centers in Australia and 40 in New Zealand, which has 4 centers and one retreat place.

Nine of the Aussies then enjoyed the beauty of the Amden Retreat Center in Switzerland for a couple of days, which confirmed itself as the perfect place to wind down, get clean and sample some Swiss delicacies and may well become an annual pilgrimage for the Australian “tourists”.

A brave 6 then proceeded on a whirlwind 16 day tour staying at the Buddhist Centers in Salzburg, Graz, Vienna, Budapest, Brno, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen and Hamburg, with lunches along the way at Innsbruck, Bratislava, Dresden and Kiel. The pace of the tour certainly gave us a new appreciation for the work of Lama Ole Nydahl and his students in Europe. In each and every place, our intrepid travelers were warmly welcomed by the locals and treated to great food, wonderful sightseeing tours and nice evening parties. Stories from and about the centers were swapped and new and old friends meditated together.

The journey finished with the travelers returning to the Europe Center. There they were joined by several other friends from Australia and New Zealand who had been teaching, traveling or visiting relatives and the crew from downunder hosted a country weekend for a small but enthusiastic crowd. The EC was treated to the delights of “Vegemite” (concentrated yeast extract which devastated one small child when she realized it did not taste like Nutella), Aussie burgers, meat pies and BBQs. Our European friends were also taught how to speak with an Australian accent and to play cricket.

Matt Balara and Phil Carlisle, 2 of the 11 Australians asked by Lama Ole to teach Buddhism, gave inspiring talks and we even managed to link up online with a lot of  friends in Australia and New Zealand in their home centres. This way, they were able to present their centers themselves online and listen to the other talks and presentations despite being on the other side of the globe.

Needless to say, our friends returned to their respective homes in the southern hemisphere inspired by their experiences and with many wonderful memories and new friendships. There are plans to put together a presentation about the journey and the stories from various centers visited, many of which have been established for longer than those in Australia and New Zealand. The inspiration provided by seeing the power of working and meditating together will no doubt open many opportunities for the Aussies and Kiwis!

And if you look carefully around the EC and the centers visited, you may see evidence of Australian wildlife and other reminders of the Antipodean Invasion strategically placed by our visitors… ;)

– The Aussie-Kiwi tour group

This week we had the honor of welcoming Lama Toensang from Montchardon in France. On invitation of Lama Ole, he came for a three day visit during the ongoing book retreat. As the highlight of his visit, he gave the initiation into 1000-armed Loving Eyes, the Buddha of Compassion, to around 250 people present.

For the Europe Center team, this was not only a great gift but also a historical moment – the first ever initiation in our future 600 square meter gompa.

Every Wednesday is a center meeting day at the Europe Center. By now, probably more than 100 Buddhists live in the Immenstadt area, including the EC residents. There is always lots of everyday business, projects and events going on that need to be organized by our ”bunch of idealists and volunteers” and our open center meeting is an important tool for that. 

Everything done at the EC is based on team work. The teams and working groups are organized around different areas of work and most of them are open to all sangha members – e.g. event management, communication, site development, gastrotainment (all concerning food, cafeteria and catering for events) or finance. People who have skills in relevant areas or are simply interested in helping are always welcome to join the respective team.

At the center meetings, everyone is welcome to come up with a topic, and each team gives an overview on what is going on in their area at the moment, especially anything that affects other teams or people. We try to apply the principles of meritocracy – the friends who know and do most in a certain area have the trust to do decisions and a consensus is sought where more areas are affected.  We believe this makes the EC develop further quickly and avoids long discussions with too many involved. At the same time, all sangha members interested can stay in the loop, give input and questions to understand why things are done in a certain way.

Even though usually quite jolly and focused, our meetings with their usual attendance of 15 to 50 people can be also long and tiring. Which is why we always finish by telling at least one joke before we leave the meeting, to remember to keep our efforts always joyful.