By Wolfgang Neugebauer
For more than a decade the summer course, established by Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche as a yearly summer event in Benchen Phuntsok Ling, has become an annual highlight in for many of Rinpoche’s students who attend from all over Europe. The range of participants includes those who are “veterans”, who met the XVI. Karmapa and took part in the legendary summer camps during the eighties in Füssen, but participants also include children born in the third millenium. The time period of the camp is indicated by a vibrant mixture of tents and caravans erected on the meadows for a few weeks seeking to keep cold, rain and sun away from the participants.
Our European craving for individualism is confirmed in the Gompa. You can find everything from the handknitted multicoloured sweater, to a combination of muscle-shirt and trunks and up to a dark suit. On the Asian side however, dark red robes prevail as they did 1000 years ago.
The basic Tibetan texts used for reflection, are 400 years old in the case of Tenga Rinpoche who continued to teach the Karma Chagme text. The texts taught by H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, who after an interim of five years spent a week teaching in BPL, date back more than 900 years. Nothing has changed the validity of these texts. From the context of our contemporary culture marked by banality and the golden calf with its deceitful and seducing glamour, the eight verses on mind training by Langri Tangpa act as diamond landmarks for the spiritual traveler - who spurred by the ideal of the Bodhisattva - stumbles through the fog. To the surprise of many of us, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche was teaching in English for the first time which together with his gestures and array of features produces an extraordinarily direct effect. He strongly recommends following the example of the Kadampas by directly transforming the teachings into practice, just as the Kadampas had done.
A real highlight of these three weeks was the celebration of the occasion of Tenga Rinpoches 80th birthday. We will never forget this event taking place in three tents especially erected for this purpose, thanks to the perfect preparations, the artistic performances and last but not least, the delicious food which more than 500 guests enjoyed courtesy of the kitchen crew.
May there be many birthdays still to be celebrated!
A special surprise was Chime Rinpoche’s visit, who at the last weekend of the three-week course arrived from London without any warning to participate in the Guru Rinpoche Empowerment offered by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. It was the first time in Europe that such an auspicious meeting of the three Benchen Lamas took place. Those who had the chance to be present at that “family meeting”, witnessed a historical encounter of these three special teachers. A wonderful birthday present for Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche!
We are already looking forward to the next summer course.