About Tilmann Lhundrup

Short biography of Lama Tilmann (Lhundrup) Borghardt

I started practicing Buddhism in 1978 with silent sitting meditation in the style of Zen. In 1981, I met the Tibetan teacher Gendün Rinpoche and shortly after took refuge followed by three years of daily meditation practice in the Burmese Vipassana tradition. From 1984 onwards I took up practice in the Tibetan Kagyu tradition and after finishing my studies of medicine and homeopathy in 1986 I spent 3 1/2 years with my wife Irene in a forest meditation retreat under the guidance of Gendun Rinpoche. In 1990 he bestowed on both of us the monastic ordination, followed by a group meditation retreat until 1994. After that until the end of 2011, I practiced and taught in the Karma Kagyu monastery Dhagpo Kündröl Ling in France. The late Gendün Rinpoche asked me to be one of the teachers responsible for the two cycles of three year retreats.I teach meditation courses in different countries, lead individual and group retreats, train dharma teachers, translate texts from the Tibetan and have started to write in the “Blue Book” on a contemporary Buddhist approach closer to our culture. I continue to guide practitoners in long retreats, but in less formal settings.

From 1997 to 2012 I was intensely involved in the Dharma house Croizet (Guépel Ling) in France which serves as a meeting place for people interested in the dharma. Leading seminars on “Dharma and Psychotherapy” for several years has led in 2009 to the founding of the “Institut für Essentielle Psychotherapie” in Germany where I am one of the teachers of a three years curriculum. And, recently together with a group of friend we bought a former hotel, the “Grüner Baum” in the black forest, in Southern Germany. As the Ekayana Institute for contemporay Buddhism it serves as a retreat centre for people wishing to do retreat coming from all traditions.Retreats are possible from one week to several years, with continued guidance.

A more detailed account of my life

I was born in 1959. Childhood was of course a mixed experience, with suffering and happiness in a very human mixture. We are four brothers of whom I am the second, and we like each other very much, which is a wonderful gift of life. Adolescence saw me with varying length of hair and beard, warm-hearted girl friends, travelling a lot, especially hitch-hiking. Then came the medical studies, further loves, political activity, then marriage with varied experiences of “honey and salt”.

I had started meditating while I was still in high school, but it was only in spring 1981 that I met my first Buddhist master, the Ven. Gendun Rinpoche, a truly awakened person. The meeting happened in the town of my studies, Freiburg in Germany, where Lama Gendun taught a weekend on awakening the heart (Bodhicitta). I felt like meeting for the first time in my life a person whose words and being were completely in tune without any contradiction. His teaching deeply influenced my spiritual journey for the years to come; some first understanding of Buddha nature as our potential to awaken became indelibly inserted into my heart. It was my first real introduction to the “dharma”, the teaching of the truth that liberates.

A few months later I took refuge with Shamar Rinpoche in Paris. He gave me his kind permission to go and study meditation under teachers of the Burmese Vipassana tradition, Saya U Chit Tin and Mother Sayama, with whom I practised in nine retreats of ten days each for three years until my wife Irene took me to meet Kalu Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche. They introduced me into the vast vision of the Vajrayana and Mahamudra world and their kind guidance finally let us to decide for a long retreat at the end of my studies.

On the advice of Tenga Rinpoche we contacted Gendun Rinpoche to be our retreat guide. To make a long story short: he not only accepted us but gave us perfect conditions to meditate in closed forest retreat in France in the centre of Dhagpo Kagyu Ling (Dordogne). He visited us every 2-3 months and guided us himself, helped by his experienced students Henrik and Walli.

The retreat lasted from autumn 1986 to summer 1990, when my strong wish to take monastic vows set an unforeseen end to it. That very summer I took the Brahmacarya vows and then I received monastic ordination with the name of Karma Sönam Lhundrup in January 1991 (so did Irene, from then on called Dorje Drölma). We both joined the group retreat of three years in the calm hillsides of the Auvergne.

This retreat place has since become the Karma Kagyu Monastery called Dhagpo Kundreul Ling with several retreat centres attached to it. From July 1994 until December 2011 I worked in this beautiful place on the request of the late Gendun Rinpoche as one of the dharma teachers in charge of the traditional 3-year meditation retreats. Together with my colleagues I took care of five such cycles of first and second retreat, guiding practitioners in intensive individual and group practice. My work for the dharma continues now outside the monastery in a life primarily dedicated to study, teaching meditation and writing.