Every year in summer, the German town of Immenstadt im Allgäu becomes the worldwide focus of Diamond Way Buddhism. After two challenging years in which we could only meet virtually for the Summer Course, this year, spread over two weeks, around 10,000 Buddhists from more than 50 countries again flocked to the Europe Center high above the Alpsee.
The joy of reunion was huge, and for many, the break of the last two years was already forgotten within the first few seconds. Everything worked like clockwork again: Prior to the event, hundreds of volunteers from our own ranks had given everything for weeks to transform our Europe Center into a huge Buddhist tent camp.
The two large tents where we met for meditation sessions, lectures and shared meals were joined by hundreds of colorful small tents from all over the world where we spent the nights in any wind and weather to stay close to the action.
Some of us spent their whole summer vacations here, others could only join for the weekends. Some had to travel several days under difficult conditions, while others were able to commute daily. Also, every age group was present, from newborns to friends who’d already helped with the first summer courses 40 years ago.
There was a professionally organized childcare and activities for teenagers, so that parents could sit on their meditation cushions for longer than 5 minutes without a guilty conscience.
All this provided the framework for the true highlights of our annual meeting.
On August 1st, the Summer Course was opened by Lama Ole. Several thousand of his students had gathered in the big meditation tent for the kick-off and the joy of seeing each other and being together again was great for everyone.
H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Thaye Dorje has unfortunately not been able to travel to the Summer Course this year. The head of the Karma Kagyu lineage teaches regularly at the Europe Center and this year, he was nevertheless very present for everyone with a prerecorded talk.
In this message, Karmapa looked back on the extraordinary life achievements of Lama Ole and his wife Hannah and with personal memories clearly expressed the high esteem he holds for the two pioneers of Buddhism in the West.
Furthermore, Karmapa had asked his European representative, Lama Jigme Rinpoche, to visit us. We were very happy to welcome Rinpoche in the run-up to the Summer Course from June 10 to 12.
Just like in previous years, the extensive lecture program of the two-weeks course was largely provided by our traveling teachers from around the world. They also led the joint meditations and explained Buddhist basics. Especially those several hundred new Buddhists who took refuge with Lama Ole, Nedo Rinpoche or Lama Jigme Rinpoche during the Summer Course were able to quickly deepen their knowledge of meditation practice and clarify individual questions through the daily lectures and panels.
At the “peak” of the Summer Course, on the weekend of August 6 and 7, another very special highlight awaited us. Nedo Rinpoche had arrived during the week to give two Buddhist initiations from the transmission of the Karma Kagyu lineage.
Nedo Rinpoche is highly regarded as a meditation master of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He was recognized and trained by the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Other eminent teachers of Nedo Rinpoche were Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
Additionally, a special exhibition was made accessible for the first time this year. Under the sign “50 years of Diamond Way Buddhism”, visitors of the Summer Course could discover rarely shown photos from the eventful history of Diamond Way Buddhism of the last five decades and gain an understanding of the outstanding activity of Lama Ole and his wife Hannah.
We were also very happy about the lectures of Tony Karam from Casa Tibet in Mexico and Maggy Lehnert from Spain. Both hold long-standing friendships with Lama Ole and his wife Hannah and they are both regular guests at the Europe Center.
After two weeks, on August 14, we gathered for the last time for this year in the big meditation tent for a session with Lama Ole. There, thousands of hearts met him full of gratitude for all that he, together with his wife Hannah, has made possible for us.
With moving words of gratitude, we ended this wonderful course together and look forward to next year.