Big Centers Transmission Weekend

EC Blog Archive for January, 2014

The Europe Center’s primary purpose is as a place of transmission. A place where all members of the more than 640 Diamond Way Buddhist centers worldwide come together to learn from each other and meditate together, and exchange experience, knowledge and views.

For the first Transmission Weekend of 2014, representatives from some of the big centers, each with a few hundred members, including Hamburg, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw and London came together to share their stories and ideas. The Londoners came with a group of 20 people to share the experience of buying and renovating the historical Beaufoy Institute, now London’s biggest Buddhist center.

The weekend was for everyone in the worldwide sangha. So people from other centers came to get inspired by the many magical stories and memories, to find out what it actually means when the small group that has been meeting in someone’s living room to meditate together grows large enough to get its own “key center”. This is most of the time a rented space to meet and meditate at, and often grows so much that the vision of buying real estate and building a center to enable people in their city to get in touch with the timeless Buddhist teachings and meditate.

Idealistically donating one’s personal savings and fundraising creatively for years, looking for a place that fits the needs of the future meditation center, finally buying for example an old factory and then renovating it, all completely based on non-profit work and the surplus that comes with meditation practice – all this challenges everyone involved on a large scale. It means constantly working to keep a joyful, beyond personal view of things. The result: great development and growth both as an individual as well as a group, as well as a deep trust in the Dharma and the blessing and protection of our teachers that often enough becomes so obvious in these experiences.

With deeply touching honesty, some of the strongest and toughest guys spontaneously recounted their struggles to become and stay friends and keep up the idealism, to “put their egos into a corner” and keep looking at things on a beyond personal level in order to make such a huge project happen. They opened up completely in front of everyone. And why? To make it easier for other places going through a similar process. To help others to avoid making the same mistakes and learning from the sometimes admittedly hilarious mishaps or hindrances the “old dogs” encountered during four decades of pioneer work making Buddhism accessible to people in the Western world.

Because after all, what we strive for is to create the conditions to have lots of time to meditate together in order to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje once put it like this at the Europe Center: “It is precious work you are doing here for the benefit of all. With all this work, please also remember what you are building this place for: meditation!”

Summer Course Core Team Meeting

January 12th, 2014

Thanks to a highly motivated and very joyful team, a lot of experience from the summer courses in Kassel and the pioneer years of the EC Summer Course the last 6 years, the preparation and organisation of the course was smoother in 2013 than ever before.

This is why there is only one big meeting for the whole course team in May, instead of two like the years before. Instead, the core team met for a weekend of talks and planning. The international summer course core team consists of the team leaders, who are responsible for main course areas like site management, kitchen, technics, cafeteria, cleaning, shuttling, communication or gompa tent organisation.

The core team very much enjoyed meeting again, for much longer than had been possible for quite a while. At this meeting there was plenty of time to think through and discuss things thoroughly. The core team was able to take the time to figure out how to best move together in one direction, and discuss changes and responsibilities.

The plan is to do it like this again next year. So the core team meeting will take place in January and the big summer course team then picks up at the big meeting in May around the Easter course.

Now we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone who would like to join a team for the course, at the Big Summer Course Team Meeting weekend May 9th to 11th, which is always a very joyful reunion of a few hundred friends, closely connected through so many shared memories of course build-ups, event coordination and tent dismantling. Come and join the summer course team if you like!

More time with Lama Ole

January 11th, 2014

Even though he spent less than 24 hours at the Europe Center this time, Lama Ole made the most of his time with us.

Following the afternoon’s roof inauguration celebrations, we had the chance to get answers to our questions regarding meditation and dharma practice for a few hours in the evening. Lama Ole also gave Buddhist refuge to several people and took the time to bless everyone.

Lama Ole is now off to extensive tours in Russia, Australia and New Zealand for public lectures and meditation courses in many cities, until he comes back home to the Europe Center for our meditation weeks in March. Bon voyage, dear Lama!

Another day, another milestone passed for our new buildings to be finished – the traditional roof topping ceremony of our future meditation hall, the “new old” barn!

Just last September, all that was left of the barn were the foundation walls; the complete wooden construction of the upper floor had been dismantled. Now the impressive roof structure is back in place in accordance with the monument protection requirements, and it is even more beautiful than before! The 100 year old beams were numbered, inspected and sorted, and the experts were able to preserve around 70 percent of the beautiful old wood. Since our gompa is being built to last for at least another 100 years, some beams were replaced with new ones.

Lama Ole came home to the EC for this special day, and so did around 300 friends from all over the world. Lama Ole as the principal of the new EC buildings tied the traditionally decorated tree to a rope and then the team of carpenters and construction workers pulled it up to the peak of the roof. A traditional poem was read to honor and toast everyone involved in the building, including the donors who made it possible, the city and people of Immenstadt, the architects, and of course the diligent construction workers.

At the celebration inside afterwards, the future gompa was decorated with auspicious Tibetan prayer flags. Lama Ole thanked everyone involved for their great work and pointed out the importance of the Europe Center and its significance for the development of Buddhism in the West as a place of transmission and meditation. He promised that his strong wishes for its benefit will always be with the place and the people involved in the project. Lama Ole also expressed his special gratitude for the tireless work of Caty Hartung and her husband Gergely Porkolab, who have been working on the Europe Center project for more than a decade.

In traditional Bavarian style, we spent a very joyful afternoon together. We are of course very much looking forward to the inauguration of our meditation hall during the Summer Course 2014. Until then, the barn is going to get walls with heating hidden inside, a wooden floor made of solid oak beams from our own forest, lighting inspired by Tibetan prayer flags – and of course an altar with beautiful statues!

Happy 2014 to you!

January 2nd, 2014

On December 31st, the place to be for a Diamond Way Buddhist was of course the New Year’s Course in Vienna. For those who stayed at home because of the kids, their job, or other reasons, there was a very nice celebration anyway.

The kids started early in the evening, decorating the basement of the villa and then baking and eating pizza together. The youngsters’ highlight of the evening was for sure the torchlight procession across the grounds of the EC – shining bright eyes everywhere!

The adults kicked off the night by meditating together. However, something was not quite our usual evening meditation on the 16th Karmapa… many of the participants looked a little bit different and more like straight from an 80′s movie or music video – due to the theme of the night: the 1980′s!

The buffet afterwards was a festival in itself – everyone brought something tasty along and it took us the whole night to test-eat our way through all the delicacies. The sounds of very familiar 80′s hits invited us over to the Baucafe and got everyone up and dancing the calories away again in no time. Amongst the attending stars were the likes of punk star Siouxsie Sioux in double edition, tennis goddess Steffi Graf, Rubik’s Cube, Madonna, Top Gun pilot Maverick, Angus Young of AC/DC, and many disco queens and kings.

At midnight, we took a break to watch Lama Ole Nydahl via live streaming from Vienna. He read his New Year’s letter, and together we gave the promise of the Bodhisattvas: the promise to strive for enlightenment and work for the benefit of all beings, with unending diligence and strength.

Followed by fireworks and hours of dancing to the best songs of the 80′s, we welcomed 2014 in appropriate style, and would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2014, may all your wishes come true for the benefit of all!

Remember our praline action in December?

With the help of some friends, our 2500 moreEC pralines made it to the New Year’s Course with Lama Jigme Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl in Vienna. The home-made chocolate balls were our “Thank you!” to everyone supporting the project.

Following a presentation about and the state of the EC construction site, the EC team conquered the stage and, together with Lama Ole and Caty, threw the pralines into the audience. That the audience threw them back at them igniting a little “praline fight” was not planned – but obviously great fun to all parties envolved!

Afterwards, everyone was quite busy sharing the secret messages hidden inside the pralines. Or did you already know that…

7000 bricks have been recycled for the new building… or that the new building is so magical that boiling water for tea comes out of the wall… or that there will be terraces to enjoy your coffee in the sun… or that there will be a big prayer wheel to spin at the entrance of the EC… and that 200 people will be able to eat at the same time?