Lots of time with the Lama!

EC Blog Archive for September, 2013

Lots of time with the Lama!

September 26th, 2013

Lama Ole Nydahl made his point very clear when he arrived at the EC for two weeks of work retreat: he wanted to spend as much time with us as possible!

So within just 5 days, he gave several evening lectures including highest Vajrayana teachings based on the Ganges Mahamudra by Tilopa, had dinner with Khenpo Tsering, Dawa Lhadripa and everyone present, guided the morning meditation on the 16th Karmapa… and everyone who was there for the meditation retreat got a chance to have their personal questions answered. And if all that was not more than enough already, Lama Ole and Caty spontaneously decided to guide a little tour through the upper floor of the villa, explaining about the Buddhist paintings and statues there. During daytime, we enjoyed to meditate together in 4 sessions each day.

Whilst Lama Ole went to Italy for a meditation course over the weekend, we continued the meditation retreat, watching the teachings from Italy via live streaming together in our cosy lounge. Lama Ole, together with many friends coming from the course, will be back for another week of retreat which will include teachings and an empowerment by his friend Lama Toensang of Montchardon.

Very pregnant and even your due date has already passed? So what! Even our apparently fearless mothers-to-be decided to do what you do in Immenstadt once a year in autumn no matter what – you welcome the Allgäu cows and shepherds coming down from the alps and afterwards celebrate in the big tent together.

The “Viehscheid” (literally translated “dividing the cattle”) is the biggest festivity in the Allgäu towns. The leading cows get flower crowns indicating that everything went well on the alps during the summer. The ladies wear their typically Bavarian Dirndl dresses and the gentlemen their best white shirts and traditional leather pants. Early in the morning, everyone lines up along the streets leading down from the mountain and all the way through town to the old cattle market place – better known to most Europe Center guests as P3, the big parking area and shuttle point during the Summer courses.

Even before they are seen, the cows can be heard when they come down the mountain, because all of them wear extra-large, beautiful bells for the occasion. Lead by the farmers’ little daughters, all with beautifully braided hair and carrying signs with the name of the Alpe which the herds have been spending the summer at, they make their way through town. After hours of descent from the mountains, they then finally come to a stop on P3. There it takes a while before all the cows are divided up and returned to their home farms to spend the winter in the warm stables. Our neighbour Magnus and his cows from the farm at the beginning of our road down at the lake also returned home safe and sound.

The cow down party with brass band music, traditional Bavarian food and the famous huge beer glasses like at the Oktoberfest rounded off the sunny day – once again we had a wonderful time with our fellow Immenstädters, both on four and two legs. The EC could hardly be located in a place with more open, warm, and fun-loving people!


After two months at the Europe Center, for now we had to say good bye to thangka painting master Dawa Lhadripa, who returned to his family and painting school in Nepal.

Not only did Dawa draw the sketches for almost all the buddha aspects represented in the refuge tree he is going to paint. He also took time to instruct a small international group of thangka painting students. For weeks, there was a wonderfully relaxed and focussed working atmosphere like in an atelier on the first floor of the EC villa. As a thangka painting student, one gets to practice a looot of patience and diligence: first step in learning is to draw the same Buddha 100 times… until it is really perfect! We got a chance for a glimpse at Dawa’s work during the retreat on the last day of his stay. Well documented on these pictures here, some of us could hardly believe their eyes looking at the remarkably precise drawings.

Lama Ole Nydahl, Caty Hartung and Tomek Lehnert thanked Dawa for all his work during a goodbye dinner. We are looking forward to welcoming the painting master again next year – likely for finishing the actual painting work on the new refuge tree!

Only a few weeks after the Summer course, we had the honour of listening to even more deep and advanced Buddhist teachings. Khenpo Tsering Sambdrub visited the EC for a few days, elaborating on the “Treatise on Buddha Nature” by a Master of Mahamudra, the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje in four consecutive lectures in the Diamond Room.

Khenpo Tsering was born and raised in India. His family descends from Kham in Eastern Tibet. Khenpo Tsering studied at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Advanced Buddhist Studies in Rumtek Monastery under the guidance of Khenpo Chodrak Tenphel Rinpoche. Since 2007 he is the main instructor at K.I.B.I. (Karmapa International Buddhist Institute), appointed to this position by Shamar Rinpoche. He is also responsible for the Shri Diwakar Vihara Buddhist Institute in Kalimpong. At the beginning of the 90s, Hannah Nydahl invited Khenpo Tsering to teach in the Diamond Way Centers around the world. Currently he resides in the United States.

We were impressed with Khenpo’s way of transmitting his deep knowledge to us. He gave his teachings in excellent English, combined with humour and practical examples applicable in our modern world. Coinciding with the beginning of the meditation retreat and Lama Ole’s arrival, the atmosphere at the EC was very family-like and joyful: no matter where you looked in the houses, there were small groups of friends meditating together in the breaks and exchanging about the teachings during the mealtimes.

As a small token of our appreciation, we offered Khenpo a small statue of the Wisdom Bodhisattva Manjushri. Khenpo praised the beauty of our Europe Center and since he indicated this, we are pretty sure that he will be back to give more teachings – hopefully soon!

Buddhist art arrived at the Europe Center in a big way – for several weeks we happily hosted a master of the art of thangka painting: Dawa Lhadripa. He joined us for the Summer Course and stayed on to paint a new version of the Karma Kagyu Refuge Tree thangka (Tibetan scroll painting) ordered for our meditation centers and practitioners by the Diamond Way Buddhism Foundation.

Years ago H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje asked Dawa to bring his painting mastery to the West. Among his work in the West to date are the impressive paintings in the Thaye Dorje meditation hall in Karma Guen, Spain and the oval paintings above the doors of the Yellow Room at the Europe Center.

The Karma Kagyu Refuge Tree depicts all of the important teachers, buddha aspects, liberating teachings, bodhisattvas and protectors of the Karma Kagyu transmission lineage containing over 150 figures with numerous details and symbols. Dawa received instructions on this complex painting from H.H. 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Shamar Rinpoche, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl. The complete structure was put together over the course of several years and finalized this summer by lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche during his European tour, adding his deep knowledge about the details of the different buddha aspects.

Dawa’s current work is a great example of collaboration between East and West. Once finished, it will be not only be used  for meditation in Diamond Way Buddhist centers from Vladivostok to San Francisco, but will also be available to all Karma Kagyu practitioners around the globe who wish to have it. Thus this ancient Buddhist art produced in the West will find its way back to the East where it originated from.

The Alpsee lake network barbecue

September 13th, 2013

The network of people living and working around and on the Alpsee lake in Immenstadt is growing constantly – and we love to be part of it!

Thanks to our friend and main organizer Claudius, the Alpsee captains and diligent voluntary helpers, we spent another very nice evening with our neighbours last week. By now The network meets several times a year in different places, bringing people together and creating and deepening lots of wonderful connections. This time we had the honour of inviting everyone to come for one of our legendary barbecues run by our chefs Sonia and Laci. Our architects Philip and Tamas guided a tour of the new building’s construction site and the villa for our guests. It turned into a long and joyful night in the Baucafé overviewing the lake connecting us, with lively conversation and a lot of fun together.

Thank you, dear neighbours – looking forward to seeing you again soon!

On one of the most perfect Allgäu summer days imaginable, we were very happy to witness and celebrate the big day of yet another couple that is very close to our hearts and the EC – Alex and Patric!

The stunning bride, a second generation Buddhist and professional management consultant, moved to Allgäu three years ago and was a resident of the EC until… she fell in love with the handsome groom! He is an architect who was at that point still living in Hamburg. Even though they already met many years ago at the first Buddhist Center in Hamburg, it took Allgäu to fall in love. But then things sped up – they moved together into a beautiful flat in central Immenstadt and are both very actively supporting the Europe Center. Patric is our liaison between the building owner and the foreman – our communication channel.

The Europe Center team would like to wish the newlyweds all the best for their future together – may they joyfully develop together and inspire their surroundings even more than they have been doing over the past already!

The annual International Summer Course kept the Europe Center busy during July and August. While we were busy with the course the building site actually never stopped working so every visitor had a chance to see it in full motion. With things calming down after these two intense months, we are returning our focus to the construction.

Since our last update there has been quite some progress. The first thing that you will notice is that the concrete wall supporting the hill behind the building is almost done and it will be finished during the next couple of days. The excavation works will continue only for about two more weeks and then the full focus will be on building up instead of digging down.

The visible parts slowly start to look like an actual building. The sanitary area under the old horse stable has got walls and a ceiling and the foundation is partly connected to the original foundation of the barn. We are only days away from finishing the new ground floor concrete slab and the pillars in the brasserie (the former ground floor of the barn) and the tubing of the future kitchen is in place. One can already see two seminar rooms in the new building and a part of the future dormitory.

Things are starting to take shape and before long we will have a full fledged and finished raw build! For many more pictures and frequent updates, please visit our Construction Illustrated – the EC building site gallery.