1. Refuge: Finding a Purpose and a Path
2. Bodhichitta: Awakening Compassion and Wisdom I
3. Bodhichitta: Awakening Compassion and Wisdom II
4. An Introduction to Vajrayana Buddhism
These four talks, given in Chichester, UK, were originally published by Bodhicharya as a VHS video set.
Pre-Summercamp Experiments 1996-2001
As recalled by archivist Ger Reinders in January 2020
The pre-history of Bodhicharya Summercamps was like Rinpoche was very slowly experimenting with his new students to go to more quiet places, or, actually, to go on a picnic. The Tibetans like to go on a picnic, and Rinpoche, I think, was guessing that people would relax and meditate more outside of centres and the city.
As I experienced in Belgium, Rinpoche challenged his new students to organise a weekend out of the city of Brussels in the Belgian mountains. That was a challenge, because the Ardennes near Luxembourg is not really Belgian mountains, and what we found was le Tombeau du géant, “tomb of the giant”. There, in Uciment, was a hiking route and a Gites as they call it – a furnished holiday house, typically in a rural district. That’s where we went for a couple of days in 1996 in June or July. There we had some nice time, bringing the food with us and hiking in the countryside. And Rinpoche was teaching in the Gites, in the common room of the motel, you could say.
That was kind of the first experiment, that I know of, to start what later would be the Summercamp. In 1996 the picnic was organised by Anita, Ines, and Corinne, who took up the challenge to show Rinpoche the Belgian Mountains.
Then, in 1997, we started a tradition to go to a monastery in the Belgian mountains in the south, near French border. There was the Scourmont Abbey, a Trappist monastery near Chimay, that could accommodate some 40 people. It was very nice to be out of the city. There in Chimay, in May 1997, also the Bodhicharya International was founded.
These events in Chimay continued for maybe 7 years. After that, we couldn’t go there anymore and went to places in the city instead, but not in the centres. And that’s the whole point of the Summercamps: it’s meant for Rinpoche’s dedicated students to get more teachings from him and not just from the centre of another teacher.
That’s Belgium. And then in 1999, Cait Collins and Tessa King organised a bigger event in Chichester, UK. It was more international, for 40-50 students on the University of Chichester campus, and had South Downs Way and beach walks, with a big birthday party for Rinpoche on July 16. From all over Europe and maybe from even further away people came, and teachings were recorded on video. In 2000 the venue was Chichester Town Hall and teachings were part of the famous Festival of Chichester. Entrance was free or on donation, and so, many old ladies came. In 2000 some of the teachings were made into videos and made by Pat Murphy into 500 copies of VHS tapes, which were sold in the centres especially to Rinpoche’s students. The offer of bargain price for 2000 copies should have been taken, because everybody was hungry for the teachings as videos, as became clear.
The first event in Chichester in 1999 was not called Summercamp, but it was international. There the teaching topic was Dilgo Khyentse’s The Heart of the Enlightened Ones, which is also on video tape, but not yet transcoded in good quality.
In Chichester both 1999 and 2000 were kind of big international events, but then in 2001 in a hotel in Havant, it was much smaller and there were not as many international students. Later it became the Sussex Bodhicharya Buddhist Group (BBG). Cait moved away from Chichester, and the activity continued as a more local thing.
Those were the pre-Summercamp experiments of Rinpoche from 1996 to 2001. These are just some of my memories and per definition conceptual and fragmented; from one person and far from complete .