December 2018 / January 2019 – End of the year in our Swiss center
A new winter retreat in meditation? We were all waiting for it. For five days, the center will bring together all cultures, languages and continents. A happy reunion that confirms this feeling of belonging to a large family without borders.
Away from the hurly burly comotion and nicely seated on one`s cushion
Our ordinary mind is constantly agitated, disturbed, and full of uncertainty and emotion. Troubled, confused, it opens the door to uncertainty, stress, sadness, anguish. And this leads us straight to suffering. Intuitively, we know this and we are looking for a solution. That is why more than one hundred and fifty of us are here this winter with Rinpoche, sitting on our cushion, ready for adventure.
Rinpoche explains: “During these few days, we will try to be totally present here, free from all the inhibitions, the preoccupations of life, and its turbulence, and we will try to be totally open, receptive, and comfortable.” Then, before we get into our first practice, he says : “Imagine a cushion, just a cushion that needs a body, someone to sit on it. This body needs to breathe. And this breathing body needs to be in a state of alertness, vigilance, attention, and the spirit of awakening. We all have a body, we all breathe, and we all possess this potential of the spirit of full awareness. Meditation is therefore accessible to each of us at all times.“
Session after session, we train to feel the right position of our body, sitting cross-legged, back straight, shoulders wide open … Then we focus our attention on the breath, the breathing, in order to finally enter into meditative practice… And it works! As the days go by, the eyes light up, the smiles become more generous, more open, and an atmosphere of beneficial softness settles in. It seems that we receive Rinpoche’s message when he urges us to : “develop a positive attitude, and generate joy in our heart, so that the benefit of our meditation is addressed to all beings and not only to ourselves.”
And all this in total silence … Such rest, such peace and such relief!
Photo captions: Rinpoche is about arrive, and we are waiting for him, with katas deployed and hearts open… whole days in the room that is full like eggs in a carton … During the breaks, everyone takes advantage in his own way in order to relax and in so doing presents to our view surprising positions… Funny … Tender … Baroque … Vipassana Walking Meditation with vintage slippers! … Total silence yes, but with tenderness, smiles and joy … Last day: the questions waiting for Rinpoche fill the cardboard box … Impossible to answer everything!
The future RIPA instructors are getting ready
How can the benefits of R.A.M. (Ripa Awareness Meditation) and its depth be made available to the widest possible audience? How can it be opened to all, including totally secular people who do not feel drawn towards Buddhism? This is precisely what Jigme Rinpoche is gradually putting in place by expanding the training of future instructors for this very special meditation, because it combines the ancient tradition of Buddhism with the additional link to our unique lineage and its blessings.
Why are the Buddha’s teachings, 2600 years old, still alive? Why do they touch us and help us so much? This is simply because they are universal and their transmission has never been interrupted. Moreover, through the current generation of our RIPA lineage, this living transmission is ensured by authentic realized Masters and the lineage.
It is therefore a great opportunity for future instructors – and a great responsibility as well – to receive these teachings to transmit them. This winter, the training of meditation instructors was attended by a good thirty participants, many of whom were new. Rinpoche particularly emphasized several points: personal and daily practice is essential. He warned of the risks of ego “trips” that could arise, and of the importance of being sincere and authentic in one’s practice, motivation and intentions. He insisted on the importance of this emerging community of instructors, on the mutual respect that all must have amongst themselves, and on a sense of shared benevolence because, he said : “these aspects will one day be felt by the future beneficiaries.” Before the participants can in the future guide meditations on behalf of our lineage, they will have received a certificate (which will validate that common criteria have been established, such as academic training, theoretical training, and personal competency, including: validation of practice quality, time spent in training, personal practice hours accomplished, etc.). All this is will be complemented by an ethical charter currently being developed.
The opinion of several participants: “Rinpoche has given us a treasure that we will have to nourish and grow, while preserving it, but also without appropriating it.“
At the same time, Rinpoche commissioned Lama Tenzin to provide training and instruction in all aspects of Sadhana Practice (Dharmaseva). This time, the training focused on Umze training for certain practices, learning the musical accompaniement (drums, rolmos etc.), and chupin training, including the making of several kinds of tormas.
(*) Ripa. Awareness. Meditation.
Photo captions: Rinpoche opens the session for the instructors … The atmosphere is studious … With moments of relaxation … Geneviève, in charge of the R.A.M. training under Rinpoche’s guidance … Family photo at the end of the session …On the Dharmaseva side, Lama Tenzin is in charge of the training … He explains … Gives instructions … and listens to help everyone to improve … And another family photo to close the session.
Supported by an international team, our center flourishes
A veritable ship launched on the open sea just a few years ago, our center is confirmed in its vocation of openness. In addition to the RIPA students from all over the world, who come together for our summer and winter retreats, the “outside” groups are more and more numerous in “choosing” us to organize their activities. They appreciate the atmosphere of the place, its peace and the serenity that emerges from being there. They say that the energy they feel helps them in the activities for which they came. The coming of famous personalities like Mathieu Ricard or Alan Wallace attracts a new and greater public who in turn discover this site “where one feels so well” and “where one is so well received.” So much so that some participants at our last retreat met Rinpoche for the first time this winter. They first discovered the center through another activity.
To cope with the growing number of associations and user groups installed for a few days or weeks, the center team is here! Dynamic, effective, it is the image of our RIPA community: open, diverse and international. Begoña the director, and Lluis the chef, are Spanish. Antje, head of the hospitality sector is German but comes from France where she lived for many years, Helen who attends Begoña in Marketing is Swiss. Alongside the permanent staff: Gabriela, Swiss too, comes four days a week and supports everything concerning accommodation … And it is a huge job! Finally, let us not forget Vladimir and Sasha, two volunteers who come periodically from Russia and help out … with anything! From breakfast and meal preparation, to the layout and transformation of the rooms according to the activities of the groups that follow one after the other, you can see them everywhere! All without exception are students of our RIPA teachers and bring warmth, friendship and openness in their contact and associations with others.
Gently, the center builds its image and its renown, in a few years the liner will reach its cruising speed.
Photo captions : This great warm ocean liner that illuminates the winter nights is Our Center… Begoña, its director, ensures with dynamism and determination its expansion and radiance… Antje and Helen, right and left arm of Begoña… All three are non-stop on the bridge… Lluis, great master of our meals with Marie who regularly helps … Gabriela, pillar of laundry and bedding and all that concerns accommodation … Vladimir and Sacha faithful intermittent volunteers from RIPA Russia. Without them, nothing can run smoothly! … The entire team does an incredible amount of work, down to the last detail… So much so that we even find a festive table on 1st of January… And for 150 people!
Photo captions: The younger generations always follow retreat in their own way… And participate in common daily tasks if they wish… Always faithful to the post, Laurent, “sound memory” of the teachings… Dharma cat, nice cat!… The future instructors finish their training with a “party.” We sing, we drink a little, but good wine, we laugh … And we say to one another “see you soon,” under the mischievous eye of Lama Tenzin, and the kind smile of the Ripa teachers and the Dalai Lama.