Vision Grüner Baum-
What remains and what changes
What remains and what changes
The basic vision at the Green Tree remains to provide a place where interested people can practise the Buddhadharma intensively and with good supervision, at moderate prices and also with scholarships. The emphasis at this place is on intensive, all-day practice, mainly alone, but also in groups.
The practice serves the “One Way” (ekayāna), as the Buddha called it – the continuous “alignment with the essential” (sati): the cultivation of loving awareness. Or, in other words, the practice serves the One Way of bringing forth the awakened state of mind (bodhicitta) in its relative and ultimate aspect.
The Green Tree is not a public Dharma town centre, nor a seminar house where many courses are held, but (for most of the year) a place of retreat where what has already been learnt is put into contemplative practice and action with a high degree of self-responsibility over a long period of time.
The central force of the place is generosity (dāna): The Green Tree and the other activities of the Ekayana Institute (Norbu Publishing House, website, media library, audios, videos and events) are largely based on donations and volunteer work.
Life on-site, in addition to concrete assistance wherever needed and developing the liberating qualities (pāramitā) in all actions, involves studying, contemplating and meditating on Buddhist teachings and cultivates conscious, mindful living in our bodies, in the community and in nature.
The emphasis in the Green Tree, as well as in the Ekayana Institute as a whole, is on “contemporary Buddhism”, which always involves to give a go to new approaches and methods. The aim is to strike a good balance between “preservation” and “renewal”. What has proven itself is preserved! What does not prove succesfull is reconsidered!
In normal operation, the Green Tree provides a stable framework for intensive, personal Dharma practice. This consists of:
- 3×3 months of supervised intensive practice per year with 1 month break each time.
- accommodation in single rooms at affordable prices
- four daily practice sessions in the room, in the group or in nature
- daily group practice at 5 pm (silent meditation plus chenresig)
- competent Dharma support in individual and group sessions (on a dāna basis)
- 1-2x per week group classes (on a dāna basis).
- Access to reliable Dharma texts and audios in German, English and partly also in French for practice and self-study (on a dāna basis)
- fixed times for three meals (8:00, 12:30, 18:00)
- resource-conserving lifestyle with organic wholefoods
- buffet-style breakfast and dinner
- lunch is cooked for all by 1-2 participants each
- practice of noble speech in exchange
- physical exercise as part of the practice (walking, jogging, Qi Gong, etc.)
- if possible: guided yoga practice twice a week in the morning
- during full moon and on request on other days additional group practice (silent meditation, Milarepa, Chenresig, smoke offering …)
- occasional public meditation days and intensive practice weeks
- apart from this, the Green Tree remains a place of quiet retreat.
This framework has proven to be succesfull.
- There are now “residents” living in the house who stay for a longer period of time and take care of the necessary work as part of their intensive Dharma practice, for about 2-3 hours a day. Once all the necessary work is done, they return to study and meditation. They do not live in complete retreat, but are rather available to the retreat guests and the community (talks, maintenance of the house and equipment, retreat emails, telephone).
- To avoid the residents getting caught in a whirlpool of tasks, we will outsource all activities that are not directly related to the retreat house. This is already the case for the Norbu publishing house, for editing audios, videos, course transcripts and for translating, where many practitioners are involved. Other helpers can take on tasks such as course organisation, bookkeeping, financial planning, general Ekayana emails, help in the management, book sales, newsletter, website and media library, possibly for a fee.
- On an experimental basis, the duration for consecutive full retreats in the house will be limited to 4 three-month cycles. Those who do not change to resident status then but wish to continue the intensive meditation practice undisturbed can – as some have already done – find a quiet flat in the area. Retreat guidance outside continues on request, as it does for others.
- Those who wish to practise Vajrayana intensively entrust themselves to the masters of an authentic lineage and discuss the direction of their practice with them.
- During the full retreat it is strongly recommended to abstain from using the telephone and internet. Messages from outside reach us via letters or the answering machine.
- We will be silent together more often; be it in the mornings, for days or whole weeks. As before, everyone can remain silent for a week on an individual basis. This will be easier if we use the fireplace room as a separate dining room.
- It has brought more peace to raise the minimum attendance in the house to four weeks. But this does exclude everyone who cannot get out of their commitments for that long. Therefore, we will again allow 2-week intensives, with silence for the first five days.
- We have tried to make psychotherapeutic accompaniment possible in the retreat. But this is not intensive enough, as it only takes place at longer intervals and by video call, and at the same time the mind does not gather sufficiently in the vision and deep meditation of the Dharma. Psychotherapeutic guidance is very helpful, but fits better before and after an intensive practice period. So: during a full retreat, psychotherapeutic accompaniment is suspended and vice versa, the retreat is suspended when such accompaniment seems useful.
- Our roots are in the Kagyu lineage and specifically in the Dhagpo Mandala. It will be part of life in the Green Tree to participate in the teaching of teachers of the lineage live or via video link. At the same time, we at Ekayana remain open to retreat guests from all lineages.
- Over time, we will integrate the teaching content of the centres of the Dhagpo Mandala into the lessons. This includes, for example, explanations of basic knowledge (abhidharma), silent meditation (śamatha), Chenresig and Amitābha. You can find more on this under “Focus of study and practice”.
- In addition, learning takes place in interactive small groups in order to reproduce and discuss with each other what has been heard and deepened in self-study. This should contribute decisively to a flourishing Sangha.
- Encouraging sangha development wherever people are connected to us, including right here around the Green Tree, is the wish of all those involved in Ekayana. This can include meditation days, practice groups, etc.
- I myself, Lhündrup will again be increasingly available as a retreat facilitator and trainer in the Green Tree and the surrounding area. This will involve cutting back on other activities, although I will make sure that I have enough personal free time as before.
- Johann is taking a well-deserved sabbatical of several years from January 2024 after more than seven years of teaching, as discussed some time ago, in order to devote himself to practice, free of teaching responsibilities.
- For the upcoming reconstruction it seems better not to take out a bank loan, although this is a possible option. Please make wishes that we find other ways: Donations, loans as advance payment for later retreats, small loans in the name of Ekayana, membership in the Ekayana support group and the like. The aim is that the Dharma teaching and my remaining years of life remain unaffected by financial pressure. So far, thanks to the generosity of many, the Green Tree has flourished and I trust that many will continue to carry and support it in their hearts.
- Our charitable Ekayana GmbH is to be merged with the Ekayana Endowment Fund to form an independent foundation after the renovation, as has long been envisaged.
- For this process and beyond, I would like to have competent help in the management. Sharing responsibility and building a team together will enable me to concentrate on my tasks and actual competences as a Dharma teacher.
So much for the “Ekayana Vision Update 2.0”. I have already presented these thoughts at the April course – the audio and video recording of this talk should be available shortly. I hope that these remarks on the Ekayana vision will make it easier for you to sense where the journey might be going. Until the rebuilding, when we all move out for at least a year, we will continue as we are now. During the time of the rebuilding, retreats are possible in the surrounding flats. And when we move back in, we will make a new start, whereby the ideas will of course become more precise. Anyone who would like to be part of this new start and contribute to the development of the concept is cordially invited to join the newly emerging support group.
Of course there would be more to share, but this can be done in personal contact.
Please seek exchange and let us know your suggestions or ideas.