Balkan & Hungarian Country Weekend

EC Blog Archive for the ‘Country weekends’ Category

Country weekends already have a more than four years old tradition at the Europe Center. The idea is to bring people together on weekends which are organized by Buddhist friends from a single or several countries.

On this extra-long weekend of four days run by Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Greece and Hungary, more than 50 people took over many functions at the EC. The whole weekend had a cozy family-like atmosphere, at the same time bringing the typical Balkan-like spontaneity and power to the Europe Center.

The main focus was on the meditation and the teachings. The Diamond Way teachers of our countries gave lectures sharing their memories and some of the “old dogs” shared stories from the early times of Diamond Way on the Balkan.

The afternoon activities were divided up into different workshops: Serbian coffee-fortune telling, Bulgarian folkdances, Hungarian medieval fighting in full armor and Transylvanian survival training.
For the breaks, we also offered a library of books from the Balkan in English, movies and poems from Greece and Serbia.

Of course one of the most important places of our activity was the kitchen, where all kinds of delicious national dishes were prepared by all of us. This activity reached its peak with the Saturday dinner which really deserved its fantasy name „gala dinner”.

We finished the weekend with a nice party and promised to each other that we will come together again for such a multicultural weekend, deepening our friendships even further.

– The Balkan EC team –

The American Week at the EC

August 8th, 2013

With friends from over 14 different countries the American’s showed up in force to take over the EC for a week. In true American pioneer spirit, it was a first of its kind, a country week during the summer course build up phase.

Europe is rich with different cultures and blessed to be within close driving distance to most of them. The Americas, North, Middle and South America, similarly have the richness of different traditions, but due to distances between them and the lack of transportation infrastructure the exchange between each other and Europeans is more challenging. Although we learned that there were many differences (particularly with food), we also learned they are outer expressions masking our deep similarity. Shared idealism and playfulness were found between new friends from the Americas and also the Europeans. As a new Polish friend put it, a part of the family finally came home.

Who would have guessed that the Hungarians and Peruvians are so similar, or the the Venezuelans and Czechs? Our shared inspiration helped us discover similarities and develop from our differences. A Czech friend said she re-learned innocent enthusiasm. A Peruvian friend said he learned how to work from the Europeans. Each day the Americans made a traditional food for lunch and dinner, had a presentation about their dharma activity in the evening, followed by a cultural exchange including “Think like an American” quiz, karaoke night and Colombian national dances. It was a week of joyful exchange, which will not be forgotten soon.

— by the American Sangha

A few weeks ago (better late than never) around 60 Russians took over the EC and cooked for us, worked in the barn, meditated with us and shared their culture and wonderful music with us. Spasiba friends! Enjoy these impressions of an exciting week at the Europe Center!

Northern German Evening

January 20th, 2013

The ancient Indian meditation master Tilopa taught that leaving kin and country is half the way to enlightenment because one overcomes a lot of attachment this way. We Northern Germans who are down here in Immenstadt because of the EC like to think that this also applies to our move a little bit… 

Of the approximate 140 Buddhists living in Immenstadt by now, over 20 are from Northern Germany. This might not seem very remarkable – but to Northern Germans, moving to the Bavarian alps all the way in the very South of Germany is actually quite a big step!

Landscape and culture are indeed very different – Northern Germany’s completely flat landscape surrounded by the sea is mainly inhabited by protestants, the mountaineous South is traditionally deeply catholic. Another difference is definitely the language – Bavarian dialect is hard to understand for the “northern lights”, who traditionally even have their own language called “Low German”. Last but not least, the dry northern-german humour is definitely different to that of Southern Germany, and so is the traditional music.

So we had one evening with the 16th Karmapa meditation guided in Low German and treated our international and southern-german friends at the EC to some delicacies from the North like “Pears-Beans-Bacon” and stew of curly kale with stewed piquant sausage, with the fitting sailors’ music to sing along to and pictures from Hamburg.

A walk in the snow

December 5th, 2012

With 40 cm of finest fresh powder snow and bright skies including rainbows around the sun today, we just had to take you along for a walk around – and even to the top of the mountains on the other side of the lake – providing an impressive eagle-eye perspective of the EC grounds.

In the lands of miraculous snow mountains and bitter sweet frost, one star-lit Friday night the Czech and Lithuanian armies rolled in together for an (un)usual country weekend at the EC.

It all began with an inspiring Q&A session by Jan Matuska followed by a chill-out party in the Baucafe. No one can tell for sure, was it the enchanting Lithuanian specialties, the knock-out Czech DJ or the perfect blend of Czech and Lithuanian vibes, but eventually it all turned into a restless dance party till 4am!

The beautiful Saturday morning was promising an impressive day, full of adventures while hiking in the mountains, meditating together, eating exquisite national dishes and laughing our heads off during the presentation session. This time both of the countries decided to present each other and show how they perceive each others buddhist history, “celebrities” and national peculiarities. In the evening, Caty answered questions about the EC and its future plans, followed by talks by Czech buddhist teachers. The Lithuanian teachers unfortunately were no-shows this time, but they had their own reasons, including illnesses and even giving birth! The amusing day was rounded up as usual at the Baucafe getting together in Czech style, which included testing drinks and dancing to Czech (and some other) tunes, which lasted until another early morning…

Sunday was a chill-out day, comprised of a beautiful stormy-winter-Allgäu morning, meditating together (which is the best and most inspiring way to create bonds), cleaning and saying good-byes. The time came to leave and everyone could not help but wonder, how to get back as soon as possible to the beautiful EC.

by the Sanghas of the Czech Republic and Lithuania

It’s Been a Very Busy Year…

October 19th, 2012

More and more people come to the EC or even move to the vicinity in order to support the growing amount of work with their idealism, talents and trust. To get an idea what friends made possible to happen at the EC throughout the year 2012, have a look at this:

2 transmission weekends • 2 country weekends (2 more to come this year) • 4 building-up weekends • 2 weeks of summer course & meetings • 2 dismantling weekends • 5 weeks of book-retreat with Lama Ole Nydahl incl. meditation retreats • classical music summer matinee • open house day • statue filling weekend • 4 Sundays of statue exhibition • team meetings (summer course, finance, foundation, Online Media Group etc.) • international traveling teachers meeting • ski & meditate weekend • 108 ways for effective center meetings workshop

private visit of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje • Lama Tönsang • project days of Lama Ole Nydahl • school-classes • 3 charity clubs • Protestant bishop & company • members of the ministry of education of Bavaria • captains of the “pirate” ship of the Alpsee • architects • engineers • builders • monument protectors • foresters • road construction team …

road construction • completing the roof of the villa • new dormitories in the villa • refurbishing the windows

snow clearing • shuttling guests • preparing 3 meals per day, 365 days a year • housekeeping • wood making and selling • sanitary facility installation • tidying the barn and decorating for summer course to use it as a meeting place • apple harvesting and bringing to the apple-juice factory • collecting and sorting 2 containers of lost & found items • 3D modeling of the new building • on the flea market • registration • laundry • bed and mattress allocation • clearing out the attic • workshop and tool responsibilities • vehicle maintenance • support and coordination of international projects • administering the EC websites • writing this blog…

Many thanks to everyone involved in making this year such an enriching one!

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

The Spanish-Ukrainian country weekend at the EC started with sunny Spanish weather and ended with rather typical Ukrainian weather…

Many friends not only from the hosting countries gathered to share experiences from both countries and to get to know each other and the Europe Center better.

One of the youngest Ukrainian representatives in a traditional embroidered shirt welcomed guests and residents with a refreshing drink (smoked dried fruits and water) and tiny chocolates with Ukrainian landmarks. Soon after, the Spanish sangha joined the opening event.

Saturday started with a typical Ukrainian breakfast and meditating together.  The Ukrainian sangha presented their projects and milestones of Buddhist activity in their country. As the Spanish friends put it: “Everyone knows Spain: “We have sun, wine and Karma Guen. Ukraine has to show the map first.” So, we started with the map.

After lunch, Traveling teachers from both countries shared their wisdom about Buddhist refuge and answered questions. The Spanish sangha’s presentation before common the meditation wrapped up our exchange of information about the two countries.

Late at night, the Baucafé became a melting pot: traditional Ukrainian and Spanish dances, songs and a quiz about both countries, snacks and talking.

On Sunday, the Spanish sangha took over the kitchen and later on waved good-bye to leaving guests.

We learned that we have much more in common than we thought (in addition to Buddha nature, football, “mañana” and pork… ).
It is always a joy to work, to meditate, and to have fun together!

— by the Spanish and Ukrainian Sangha —

Only a week after Lama Ole finished a tour of the Nordic countries, many Danes, Finns, Norwegians, and Swedes made their way down to Bavaria to meet again – this time at the EC for the Nordic Country Weekend.

The weather could not have been more welcoming to the Vikings –  icy temperatures at night and warm sunshine with bright blue autumn skies all day long. The perfect setting for the Finnish “Outside adventure”, which saw brilliant performances in disciplines like wheelbarrow races. ;-)

For the sanghas of the North, it was a nice opportunity to come together, get to know each other, and focus on the exchange of experiences. Denmark is going to celebrate 40 years of Buddhism in the West next year – we learned a lot about the roots of Buddhism in Western Europe this weekend.

Following the wishes of their teacher, H.H. the 16th Karmapa, Lama Ole and his wife Hannah started one of the first Buddhist Centers in the West in their hometown of Copenhagen in the beginning of the 1970s, after returning from meditating and studying Buddhism for years in the East. Karmapa visited the North for the first time in 1974. Leif Andersen, a contemporary witness and international traveling teacher today, shared lots of inspiring memories and showed pictures from these times. Diamond Way Buddhism in the West started in Skandinavia and Graz – with over 600 centers around the world today.

Rounding up an evening of questions and answers with traveling teachers from all present Nordic countries, the Baucafé saw a very joyful party at night – viking style, of course! This did not stop anyone from showing very informative presentations and telling about the ongoings in their home sanghas on Sunday. Even the very young Icelandic sangha sent greetings and a portrait of their meditation group in Reykjavik via video.

It was certainly a weekend of many new friendships and connections – with lots of fun and tasty regional specialities in and in between the lectures and meetings. Inspired by this weekend, the next and from now on annual meeting of the Nordic sanghas was already fixed for next year in Sweden.