It’s some time since this was over, so a long description would be silly now. Here is a short one:
Vienna. A typical central-European city. I know that because, having once lived in Hamburg for several years, I can say that while they are at opposite sides of Europe, while Vienna is not a port and doesn’t have a harbour (though it does have the Danube), while the accent is a bit different and while the Viennese weather is better than you expect in a Hamburg, if you half-close your eyes you could hardly tell the difference. The same late 19th, early 20th century apartment blocks, each with a panel of 20 or 30 bell-pushes…
… the same major stores with plateglass frontages snuggled against the old metropolitan buildings…
… the open spaces; the old church buildings; the wide, tree-lined semi-residential streets…
… the vibrant cultural life; the trams, the underground and the buses at affordable prices; the same sprawling semi-industrial suburbs. With eyes wide open, of course, you will soon see plenty of tell-tale differences, but they are cities of the same species.
I had rented a tiny apartment for the week:
It was only three minutes walk away from the venue where Karma Lhundup, my “Ngagpa lama”, would give teachings, empowerments, explanations and transmissions for some of the practices in which he specialises: mantra practices with visualizations, yogic exercises and much more.
15 or so people were present for most of this, but a larger number for a few special events. The people were great. The organisers of Yeshe Khorlo Austria worked hard to make everything go as smoothly as possible and to make everyone feel welcome.
As usual, a lot of us got our own picture with Rinpoche:
The final event was in the Buddhist zone of the Vienna Central Cemetery, which you will see is one of the largest cemeteries in the world.
After the main performance (with a lot, lot, lot of smoke to accompany the bell-ringing and drumming) came what for me was a special moment.
I had learnt that a couple of days before, when I had nipped back to my nearby apartment for a shower during an afternoon break, Karma Lhundup had given an explanation and demonstration of a very short but important technique in dzogchen practice. I mentioned to him that I had made an unlucky choice there, and straightaway he repeated the teaching for me there and then under the blue sky in the cemetery. Not everybody, of course, will appreciate how nice that was, but if you are one of those, please don’t worry about it. Tibetan Buddhism does get a bit technical at times.
And then it was over.