How Berlin Bodhicharya began

In November 1993 Ringu Tulku Rinpoche visited Germany for the first time, he taught in Berlin, Hamburg and at the retreat center at Halscheid.

Every year since 1995 Rinpoche has visited and taught at the Karma Kagyu centers in Germany, as requested by HH 17th Gyalwa Karmapa and Tai Situpa Rinpoche. At the same time a small group began to meet privately in Berlin to study and practice Buddhism. A centre in Hamburg named Theksum Tashi Chöling had already been established by the HH 16th Karmapa and Tai Situpa Rinpoche and so Ringu Tulku gave the name ‘Theksum Tashi Chöling – Berlin’ to the new small study group, later the name was changed to Bodhicharya. In October 1998 the group rented a small garden house in the Koertestraße in Berlin Kreuzberg for their meetings, however as interest grew it soon became too small.

Bodhicharya Germany was founded in 2001, as a not for profit charitable organisation with tax exempt status, and the group members began to look for permanent premises.

In 2001 a property was bought in the  Kinzigstraße in the central area of Berlin- Friedrichshain. It was a dilapidated building in need of repair, however as an old building of historic importance it was (and is) protected. The property consisted of  1,800 sq  meters with stables and outbuildings, but with planning restrictions for development, and because of this the price was low enough for the group to purchase it.

In the following years volunteers cleared the new site of rubbish and began to renovate some of the buildings under the direction of architect Inka Drohn who donated countless hours of her time to plan, design and build the new Centre to Rinpoche’s specifications and then to oversee the work. The resulting blend of old and new buildings has attracted a lot of positive feedback in the local community.

During the temple building period the shrine room is housed in a small building near the entrance, which will eventually be a café.  A two story building has been transformed into six separate living spaces, rooms for Rinpoche’s visits and visiting teachers, and for permanent sangha. The stable building is now offices, and also houses a second small shrine room and shop.

One office is home to Bodhicharya Out reach Hospice Service, which was founded in 2005 by Mischa Draeger. To date there have been three full trainings for volunteer helpers in the Hospice volunteer scheme. The scheme provides help and end of life support for terminally ill people in their homes.

We also have a volunteer group in the Bodhicharya Sangha who visit prisons, and provide meditation guidance and support to prisoners throughout Berlin.

Bodhicharya Berlin has hosted many renowned Tibetan masters, from the both Nyingma and Kagyu traditions.

There is no fixed fee to attend the teachings. We keep the principle suggested by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche in the very beginning, to ask for dana, (donations) to support the centre, because, he says, it is rare in the West to be able attend teachings and courses when you have little money, so each person gives what they can.


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