By Tenzin Dharpo
Photo: Norbu Wangyal
DHARAMSHALA, Sep. 24: The 50-year anniversary celebration of the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Europe, the Rikon monastery known officially as the Tibet institute Rikon (TIR) in Zurich, Switzerland was attended by its patron, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on Saturday. The day before he visited the institute marking his fifteenth visit there.
At the official function at Eulachhalle, Winterthur, the Tibetan leader said, “I’m very happy to be here. I have a special connection with both Rikon Monastery and with Winterthur.”
“Rikon Monastery was set up as a temple, but also as a place that could become a centre of learning, a place where people could study Buddhist philosophy,” he said urging a culture of learning Tibetan Buddhism at the institute.
Acknowledging the unique Swiss-Tibetan relationship, he said, “At a time when Tibetans’ only friends were the sky above and the earth below, we received help in the form of the Swiss Red Cross’s invitation to 1000 Tibetans to Switzerland.”
The institute established in 1968 under the patronage of the Dalai Lama and the help of Kuhn brothers serves as a religious hub and a centre for learning Tibetan culture in Switzerland where there is the largest concentration of Tibetans in Europe.
President of the Tibetan Institute Rikon (TIR), Dr Karma Dolma Lobsang, recounted that despite protest from the Chinese government, the Swiss government allowed the institute to be built back in 1967. She said that the institute which has representatives from various Buddhist traditions serves as a bridge between communities.
The current Abbot of Rikon monastery, Khenpo Thupten Legmon, said that the institute would like to thank the Swiss authorities for their continued generosity and support over the years.
The 83-year-old Tibetan leader also said that he considers attending the proceedings at TIR is his “duty” adding “both my tutors were involved with Rikon Monastery, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Europe.” On 9 November 1968 the Institute was consecrated by the Dalai Lama's two principal teachers, Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche.
Mayor of Winterthur, Michael Kunzle and Member of the Council of the Canton of Zurich and a long time friend of Tibet Mario Fehr attended the proceedings.
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama gave a religious teaching at Zurich’s Hallenstadion to a 9000 strong congregation on the Four Noble Truths
and the perfection of Wisdom
teachings and also met with over 6000 Tibetans and Tibet-supporters.