The best things come when you least expect them! With only ten day notice beforehand, we had the wonderful chance to host a long weekend with Lama Toensang of Montchardon in France at the Europe Center.
Lama Toensang spent his youth in Tibet, under the guidance of H.H. the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Through his tireless efforts and his exceptional personality, he built up a flourishing Buddhist center in Montchardon, welcoming many visitors from all over Europe each year. The many international visitors are not the only similarity of Montchardon and the Europe Center. Both are lay Buddhist centers of the Karma Kagyu lineage under the spiritual guidance of the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje.
Originally from the region of Kham in Eastern Tibet, Lama Toensang was born in 1934 into a family of lay Lamas. Drawn to spiritual practice already in his early years, he spent eight years of his youth traveling the holy places of Tibet. At the age of 17 he was ordained at the monastery of the Karmapa in Tsurphu. In 1959, he fled from the Chinese invasion and spent time in Rumtek, Gyalwa Karmapa’s main monastery in India.
After many years of retreat in Sonada, he became the spiritual director of Montchardon at the request of the 16th Karmapa in 1976.
Like his old friends Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl, Lama Toensang was also a student of Kalu Rinpoche. Since 2011 he has been a frequently invited special guest of Lama Ole at the EC.