Open house in the new meditation hall

EC Blog Archive for September, 2014

More than 1,200 guests from the surrounding Allgäu towns came up last Sunday to celebrate a true milestone in the history of the Europe Center: the public presentation of our beautiful new gompa and the ground floor with dining area and shop.

The amount of interested guests by far exceeded our most optimistic expectations and apparently, everyone got the most out of the different offers: short introductory talks about Buddhism and meditation in the new meditation hall, yummy cake or Leberkässemmel, an Allgäu specialty, in the new cafeteria that used to be the cow stable, as well as guided tours across the land and the construction site and of course tours of our beautiful “old lady”, the EC Villa.

The most frequent question of the day with the answer causing great surprise and astonishment: “How was all this financed and how is it run and maintained?”

So it cannot be said or written often enough: At the Europe Center, no one involved in its running is being paid, everyone has their own income, job, family etc. The EC has been purchased, extended and maintained based on voluntary work, generous donations from all over the world, small membership fees and revenues from lectures and courses, as well as by the Diamond Way Buddhist Foundation (Buddhismus Stiftung Diamantweg). The foundation is an international non-profit organization preserving Buddha’s timeless wisdom in the West and making it available to modern people in their everyday lives.

This open house day touched us very much – once again it became so visible what can be achieved solely based on friendship and idealism.

Since the construction work went on more or less until one minute before our Open House day on Sunday, Saturday had everyone giving their very best to get everything shiny in time for the guests to arrive the next morning. It seemed to be mission impossible, but we even managed without the night shift we were all expecting!

We did not count how many square meters we hoovered or how many square meters of windows we polished (so well that people ran into the glass afterwards because they thought it was an open door, luckily without getting hurt…), or how many bottles of detergent we used to clean the kitchen or how many times we walked across the courtyard to carry everything over from the Villa to the new heart of the Europe Center – but we definitely proved how powerful, fun and creative last minute tidying up-cleaning-decorating-action can be, and got some cake and especially the next day as the greatest reward we could have imagined.

In June 2009, we inaugurated our Baucafé (german for “construction café”). For more than five years of building up the Europe Center, it served us as a meeting point, evening lounge, movie theater, office, club, bar, dance floor, table soccer hall, team care area for the Summer course… and so much more. Now, with the new EC buildings almost finished, the Baucafé will get a new function – in Bulgaria.

Within two weeks, our friends from Bulgaria under the guidance of Achim and Alexander, who were part of the Baucafé building team in 2009, now dismantled the complex wooden construction – only to drive all the wood to Bulgaria on two huge trucks in order to rebuild it as a meditation hall at the Vinica Retreat Center.

The construction merged modern, light-flooded glass architecture with traditional german half-timbered woodwork filled with a mixture of clay and straw. Very carefully, every single beam was numbered in order to make sure it can be put back together again. Braving weather conditions from thunderstorms and pouring rain for days to sunny 30 degrees, our Bulgarian “Baucafé taskforce” was one thing only: a shining example of joyful effort and unending diligence for the benefit of others.

We have to admit that we are a little bit sentimental about saying goodbye to our Baucafé. However, at the same time, we are very much looking forward to seeing it built up as a gompa very soon and send the best wishes to all EC friends in Bulgaria, may your work and meditation in the new Baugompa benefit countless beings!

The Allgäu Triathlon is an annual and internationally renowned event with more than 1,000 participants from around the world. Many voluntary helpers make it possible, and we were honored to be asked if the Europe Center would like to run one of the refreshment stands directly at the Alpsee lake.

More than 20 friends from Immenstadt and from different countries still present for the dismantling of the Summer Course infrastructure were more than happy to supply the triathletes with drinks, snacks and music – and of course cheering them on! The athletes thank you’s and praise during and after the event was a very nice reward for the helpers holding out in the pouring rain since the early morning hours – and even the sun came out after all!

For sure the 32nd Allgäu Triathlon was not the last time we were able to enjoy cheering on the runners. We would like to thank the organizers and participants for their impressive achievements and are looking forward to next year’s event already!