Summer Course Impressions, Part II

EC Blog Archive for August, 2013

Once again, we would like to let the pictures do the talking and thank everyone who made this year’s Summer Course an event that is going to be remembered and treasured for a long time.

See you again next year, and hopefully even earlier – needless to mention you are welcome at the Europe Center all year around!

Following the lectures about the new refuge tree, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche gave teachings about the invocation of the main protector of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism, Black Coat (tib. Bernagchen, skt. Mahakala) and offered an empowerment into this Buddha aspect on the final weekend of the course.

Word by word, Rinpoche amazed everyone with the most detailed explanations about this sung meditation practiced daily in over 600 Diamond Way Centers around the world. The invocation is sung in Tibetan after public meditation sessions. This particular text was composed by the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje (1507–1554) and is part of the daily longer Mahakala Puja practiced in all Karma Kagyu monasteries.

Black Coat embodies the love and protective activity of mind. A powerfully-protective emanation of Loving Eyes, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, he may look scary to some – but the wisdom eye in is forehead shows that he is completely free of anger. He protects the Buddhist teachings with his powerful expression, defends the Dharma, guides and protects Buddhist practitioners from all kinds of inner and outer obstacles and gives them the power to overcome life’s challenges.

We would like to thank Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl for sharing their deep wisdom with us once again during the whole course, which for sure is going to strengthen our meditation practice and inspired us deeply on many levels!

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, we do not. The whole course organisation is based on the voluntary work of hundreds of 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 to help. 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, selling at the cafeteria or the mini supermarket, scrubbing the old bricks of the barn so we can use them in the future brasserie… and many many more. Over the two weeks of the summer course, more than 5000 helpers are involved in making it happen.

Thank you so much for your joyful effort!

One of the highlights of this year’s Summer Course were Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche‘s explanations about the new refuge tree.

The refuge tree is a traditional way of depicting the Buddhist refuge. This particular refuge is specific to the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism: It shows the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma (the teachings), Sangha (the realized Bodhisattvas) as well as the Three Roots: Lamas, Yidams and Protectors. It is very detailed and shows not only the most important aspects of the refuge but also the whole transmission lineage of the Karma Kagyu lineage.

For three consecutive days, Rinpoche patiently elaborated on each of the many buddha aspects, including minute details. Based on these deep teachings, renowned Thangka painter Dawa from Nepal is going to start painting the final version of the new refuge tree right after the Summer course at the Europe Center. The painting work is going to take several months and we will keep you updated about the progress. Once done, the new refuge tree thangka is going to be used for meditation both in the East and in the West.

 ”The difference between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist is whether one has taken refuge or not. Whoever has taken refuge—that means has confidence in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—is a Buddhist.”

— Lopön Tsechu Rinpoche —

Be part of it!

August 17th, 2013

moreEC: more space for meditation, teachings and friends at the Europe Center! To help us raise the required funds for the new buildings, the moreEC stand at the Summer Course helps everyone to be part of it! :)

This year’s Phowa course was followed by an initation into the main buddha aspect of the Phowa meditation practice: Amitabha (tib: Öpame), the red Buddha of Limitless Light.

We were very happy one of the greatest Lamas in the East gave us this great gift – Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche from Nepal. Rinpoche carries the title of a Maniwa, one who has recited more than a billion mantras of the Buddha “Loving Eyes”: OM MANI PEME HUNG. Actually, he has been accumulating more than 14 billion mantras over the years. It is always a great honour and joy to welcome him back to the Europe Center. Combined with practical advice, stories and warm humor, his teachings leave a lasting impression on all who are fortunate enough to hear them.


As every year, our photographers are taking so many great pictures of the course that we simply would like to let the pictures do the talking…

As is tradition every year, the 6th International Summer Course at the EC started with the Phowa mediation course.

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 giving Buddhist refuge to the new ones and days of meditation on the Buddha of Limitless Light in three sessions per day, the Conscious dying meditation course finished after Lama Ole checked successful outer signs of the practice of over 600 first-time Phowa practitioners – who were all smiles after the signs were found on their heads. In the lecture after checking the signs, Lama Ole explained how to use the practice to help others at the moment of death.

During the final days of the Summer Course build-up we asked one of our American friends, Christina, to share her experience on the technical team with us. So here is here report, along with some pictures of the last days before the course, including the “International Family Meeting” with Lama Ole Nydahl and Caty Hartung in a seminar house down at the lake.

Sneaking into the technical team meeting Friday night, I heard Sven, the build-up coordinator, lay out the plan for the summer course build up. He said the point was to make sure that every person was having fun, and developed a connection with the place and friends from all around the world. I had expected to hear details of how to build a tent floor and other “technical” information, but it made perfect sense after he said it. Building friendships and connections is exactly what the build-up weekends are all about. Nonetheless, the massive meditation, dining, kitchen and welcome area tents were all put up as well.

Saturday brought more friends from around the world. There was a buzz of excitement and tangible joy all around. In line with trying to ensure that everyone had fun, around noon we loaded up the yellow truck with a cooler full of ice cream. There was a Czech guitarist and dancers from Ukraine, Russia, the United States and Lithuania to bring a musical ice cream break to the almost 200 joyful volunteers.

Connections between friends were strengthened through an after-lunch swim in the picturesque Alpsee. Saturday night there was a lecture with Buddhist teachers Karolina from the Czech Republic, Ken from Finland and Matt from Australia. Karolina gave a short talk first about meditation. When the boys joined for a question and answer panel my cheeks hurt from smiling so much and my abs hurt from laughing. We continued the celebration in the Baucafe, where we used the excuse of friends’ birthdays to dance and connect the whole night.

Sunday the EC calmed, friendships were cemented with hugs and wishes to work and meditate together again soon. A few brave ones continued building the floors. Exhausted and joyful – the EC had another successful Summer Course build-up weekend.

Three more ECTV episodes from the Summer Course, this time from the Job Center, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s arrival at the EC, and the beautiful Buddhas for Centers exhibition.