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.

My activities

Guiding individual practice and retreats

My prime con­cern and re­sponsa­bi­li­ty from 1994 to 2011 has be­en to gui­de the two cy­cles of three ye­ar group retre­ats for men in France, in the mo­nas­te­ry of Dhagpo Kundreul Ling (Auvergne). This re­spon­si­bi­li­ty has co­me to an end, but I con­ti­nue to ta­ke ca­re of dhar­ma stu­dents in Europe and Brazil. I main­ly teach Mahamudra me­di­ta­ti­on and the es­sen­ti­als of dhar­ma, and not so much the va­jra­ya­na prac­tices as I did the last 20 ye­ars. I help with in­di­vi­du­al or group retre­ats whe­ree­ver nee­ded. However I on­ly ta­ke ca­re of retre­ats which last for a month or lon­ger. A group of four prac­ti­tio­ners un­der my gui­d­ance has star­ted a con­ti­nuous li­fe in retre­at in a house in the Auvergne. Their retre­at in­clu­des ta­king ca­re of their par­ents, cul­ti­vat­ing ve­ge­ta­bles and do­ing their own shop­ping. The retre­at is not li­mi­ted in time. I vi­sit them every three mon­ths to spend an in­ten­si­ve week of tea­ching and prac­tice with them.

Meditation days

From 1997 to 2012 I of­fe­red one Saturday per month a me­di­ta­ti­on day (pre­vious­ly tog­e­ther with  L. Seunam Dorje now with Trinlé-Carlo) whe­re we worked through the me­di­ta­ti­on in­st­ruc­tions in the Ninth Karmapa's “Mahamudra – Ocean of True Meaning”. Transcripts of so­me of the tea­chings are avail­ab­le in French un­der dhar­ma tex­tes. The au­dio re­cord­ings are avail­ab­le as well. Now I in­tend to con­ti­nue the me­di­ta­ti­on days in Freiburg, but on­ly fi­ve time a ye­ar.


I still need to fi­nish so­me trans­la­ti­ons of dhar­ma texts be­gun in the past ye­ars, most­ly from Tibetan to German, and to make them avail­ab­le. That is one of the rea­sons why I wish to  con­se­cra­te so­me of my time to se­mi-retre­ats. During the­se work retre­ats I am not ea­si­ly avail­ab­le to out­si­de prac­ti­tio­ners. The trans­la­ti­ons are pu­blished in our Norbu Verlag in Germany.

Research and Writing

Time will show whe­ther my wis­hes co­me true. I feel a strong in­spi­ra­ti­on to wri­te on dhar­ma prac­tice as so­me­thing that could be com­ple­te­ly in­te­gra­ted and na­tu­ral in our Western cul­tu­re in­clu­dinng es­pe­ci­al­ly all the know­ledge co­m­ing from psy­cho­the­ra­py. I wish to re­mo­ve bar­ri­ers to un­der­stan­ding that are of a cul­tu­ral na­tu­re and es­tab­lish brid­ges from the Buddhadharma to our Western spi­ri­tu­al tra­di­ti­on, phi­lo­so­phy and psy­cho­lo­gy. In or­der to do this I will need to do re­se­arch on cer­tain the­mes, dis­cuss with others and learn a gre­at deal. Then I ho­pe to ex­press this gro­wing un­der­stan­ding in wri­ting. Let's see. For now I have star­ted to wri­te the let­ters of the “Blue Book” which ap­pe­ar rough­ly on­ce every two weeks.

France: the Dharma house in Croizet and the Summer meditation course

Since 1998 one of my joys has be­en to build up tog­e­ther with other prac­ti­tio­ners the dhar­ma house “Maison du Dharma, Croizet”. In 2011 I li­ved in Croizet du­ring the pe­ri­od of tran­si­ti­on from mo­nastic to lay li­fe. The place of­fers so­me plan­ned and a lot of spon­ta­ne­ous ac­tivi­ty all around the ye­ar with dif­fe­rent tea­chers par­ti­ci­pa­ting. I mys­elf shall con­ti­nue to gi­ve the an­nu­al me­di­ta­ti­on cour­se in the first ten days of August whe­re we ap­p­ly the in­st­ruc­tions on Mahamudra to va­rious as­pec­ts of our li­fe and prac­tice, fo­cu­sing on Insight me­di­ta­ti­on ba­sed on the Ninth Karmapa’s ma­nu­al “Mahamudra – Ocean of true Meaning”. I teach in French and German, and trans­la­ti­ons in­to English, Russian and other lan­guages are pos­si­ble.

Germany: Dharma and Psychotherapy

Another ac­tivi­ty the­se past ye­ars has be­en to or­ga­ni­ze an­nu­al se­mi­nars on “Dharma and Psychotherapy” in Germany and France. They we­re a uni­que plat­form of ex­chan­ge bet­ween Dharma tea­chers and Buddhist psy­cho­the­ra­pists. Out of this grew the German Institut für Essentielle Psychotherapie whe­re the se­cond cy­cle of a three-ye­ar-trai­ning in psy­cho­the­ra­py ba­sed on Buddhist princi­ples is to start in November 2012. Due to this new com­mit­ment and li­mi­ted time I could un­for­tu­n­a­te­ly not con­ti­nue with the pre­vious ex­ch­an­ges.


I went four times to Brazil and other la­mas have con­ti­nued sin­ce, es­pe­ci­al­ly la­ma Gelek-Dirk who in­spi­res ma­ny prac­ti­tio­ners over the­re. It is plan­ned that in the se­cond half of January I shall con­ti­nue every ye­ar with the trans­mis­si­on of the Mahamudra tea­chings to a group in Goyas. My tea­ching in Brasil is usual­ly in English, of cour­se trans­la­ted in­to Portuguese.


Also I teach every ye­ar an English-Greek sum­mer cour­se on Mahamudra and mind trai­ning, usual­ly in July in the moun­tain retre­at cent­re Karma Rigdröl Ling ne­ar Thessaloniki. Participants from other coun­tries are who­lehe­ar­ted­ly in­vi­ted. See the mo­re de­tail­ed de­scrip­ti­on on the blog

Germany: Freiburg

In re­cent ye­ars I have be­co­me qui­te in­vol­ved with Karmapa's cent­re in the town of Freiburg, in Germany. My aging mo­ther lives on­ly half an hour away and that’s whe­re I stay when not tra­vel­ling.

The an­nu­al 6 day win­ter cour­se in Freiburg fo­cus­ses on de­epe­ning com­pas­si­on with the me­thods of mind trai­ning (Lojong). We prac­tice the fi­ve steps of Working with Emotions taught by Karma Chakme Rinpoche. A German trans­la­ti­on of the text taught by Gendun Rinpoche is avail­ab­le in the Norbu Verlag as "Der Große Pfau". The tea­ching is in German and French in or­der to fa­vour ex­chan­ge with French prac­ti­tio­ners.

In 2009 we star­ted a three-ye­ar-cur­ri­cu­lum in 12 wee­kends whe­re we went through each li­ne of Gampopa’s “Jewel Ornament”, stu­dy­ing it qui­te in­ten­si­ve­ly. The new cur­ri­cu­lum now fo­cus­ses on put­ting in­to prac­tice the va­rious as­pec­ts of dhar­ma that we have stu­di­ed. For de­tails of our pro­gram see Dharmagruppe Freiburg.

Germany: Möhra

Invited by the la­mas of our cent­re in Möhra, Germany, I try to spend every ye­ar a few days of tea­ching the­re. The me­di­ta­ti­on cour­se in 2011 was ba­sed on the Third Karmapa’s "Mahamudra Prayer" and from 2012 on­wards I teach the text "Eliminating the darkness of igno­ran­ce", by the Ninth Karmapa. The tea­ching is in German, trans­la­ti­ons in other lan­guages can be or­ga­ni­zed, if we know the need ear­ly en­ough.

Thus you have a litt­le over­view, a few glim­p­ses of my re­gu­lar ac­tivi­ties. For pho­tos or fur­ther de­tails plea­se fol­low the links, wri­te to the coor­di­na­tors, and see the ca­len­dar he­re on the English part of the web­site.

Please re­cei­ve all my best wis­hes, Tilmann Lhündrup.