Netherlands Update
Posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I just returned from the annual Spring Retreat in the Netherlands. They specifically asked for Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa's initiation - not the long life empowerment. I gave the rig sum chig drupe, "three activities of all enlightened beings in one." It is not really a secret initiation but it’s also not commonly given. We did that followed by Ganden Lha Gyema teachings. We did the secret Ganden Lha Gyema teaching. They requested that and then what happened is that they had new people attending. They probably thought it would be the usual Ganden Lha Gyema, but somehow the new people were quite lucky and they got this teaching. Then we had one weekend of Karma workshop.

They do very well in Holland and we had a meeting of their Board and Dharma Coordinating Team (DCT) together, which has a little difficulty sometimes in Holland because these two strong committees function side by side. The Board has a rule to change members every four years but the DCT doesn’t, so the DCT has become very strong because the members function for a number of years together. This time we were able to meet together and we almost talked about merging into one group. They function slightly different than from here in the U.S. Here we have dedicated wonderful people on the Board but they only meet occasionally. In Holland each Board member takes responsibility for something. One is finance, another the building, another the facilities, etc., so they literally work totally differently. They made a decision not to merge but instead to meet four times a year and at the beginning of the year have a retreat and almost every season meet together so that the work is coordinated.

They have a beautiful building in Nijmegen but they have been having a little difficulty lately. The idea was to build apartments on the top of the building. They have a big nice building - two different old factory buildings joined together. It’s very spacious like here [in Ann Arbor]. Overall it is maybe a little bigger than here because they have three stories. What the Dutch decided to do is to not borrow money from a bank but instead from individual members without interest. They want to pay the money back by building apartments and sell with priority to Jewel Heart members. But some neighbors have been objecting because when they joined the buildings together with a glass wall on one side (and then added a glass wall on the other side) we did not know that was illegal. There was no issue unless the neighbors objected, but they have and now they are sorting it out. We can meet the neighbors’ objections reasonably. They are worried we will be looking in their home! But some of their objections are very genuine, like lights coming into their house. Probably these things can be resolved.

Everybody is doing OK. Some of the older members are not well (are sick) but they are my age and above so we do have that. That is about it for the news from Holland. Everybody admires the American sangha and they warmly welcomed Jill and Heather and the rest of the Americans, Malaysians and Singaporeans who visited.