Network Buddhism in Bonn – A conversation with Barbelies Wiegmann
Sometimes you think about something for years, you reject the idea again and again until someone takes the initiative at the right time. Barbelie Wiegmann , Zen practitioners since a time when sitting in silence was still something very exotic, has set out to establish a network Buddhism in Bonn . Time for an interview …
3 treasures: Dear Barbelies, I am pleased to have this little interview. Do you like to tell something about your person?
Barbelies Wiegmann : I am a lawyer specializing in family law. But for almost 20 years I have worked as a lawyer mediator in family conflicts.
3 treasures : Although we both walk the Zen path and live here in beautiful Bonn, we only really met each other just over a year ago, when you launched the “Buddhism Network in Bonn”. What was the motivation for such a network?
Barbelies Wiegmann : Little by little I learned that in Bonn there are many Buddhist communities that know little or nothing about each other. I wanted to change that, because even with the traditionally different practice of the groups, all are basically on the path of the Buddha. In addition to my little sangha, I also wanted a big sangha Bonn, so that we could get to know each other, talk about similarities and differences and plan joint projects – but also so that Buddhism in Bonn can have face and voice.
3 treasures : Are all or at least most of the Buddhist groups in Bonn participating?
Barbelies Wiegmann : As far as I can see, almost all groups are interested in the network and also participate, of course some more and some less.
3 treasures : What ideas is the network pursuing? Are there any joint projects?
Barbelies Wiegmann : So far, there are two joint projects: Since 2016, a film series in the Bonner Kinemathek (bread factory) was created in which every fourth. Wednesdays a month a film with Buddhist theme is shown.
The second joint project is the joint celebration of the Vesakh Festival. For the first time in May of this year, we celebrated this festival, traditionally, very beautifully and dignified. For 2018, we are planning such a celebration, perhaps on a larger scale. Further projects are possible.
3 guess : What is your role as coordinator?
Barbelies Wiegmann : First of all, I organized a first meeting in April 2016, after I was finally successful in finding all addresses. Since then, I have been picking up all the messages, suggestions and suggestions from individuals or groups, and passing them on to everyone else, sometimes putting them up for discussion.
For 2017, I had already invited to a meeting in March. A new meeting is scheduled for the fall, especially to prepare for the 2018 Vesakh Festival.
3 treasures : Are there any plans how the Vesakh festival will be designed next year?
Barbelies Wiegmann : There are only a few suggestions so far. Some would like to celebrate this festival outdoors in public, others still have concerns. Just take a look…
3 treasures : How long have you practiced zazen? Do you see yourself in a certain tradition?
Barbelies Wiegmann : I have practiced zazen for over 30 years. At the beginning of the eighties I was looking for and found a yoga teacher, because I wanted to do something for my body because of bad sleep problems. He in turn told with shining eyes of – at that time unknown – retreats in zazen and recommended getting to know Rütte, a small village in the Black Forest near Todtmoos. There, Karlfried Graf Dürckheim had settled down and founded a kind of therapy village with a spiritual orientation. With him I learned to sit in zazen and to handle my breath. Some time later, through friends of Gundula Meyer near Braunschweig, I became a former Protestant pastor and – after much study in Japan – Zen Master. With her, I spent many years at the “Ohof”, in extremely strict retreats (12 seats per day.) I had a lot of knee pain and wondered secretly if that was the case.
At a retreat in the “Waldhaus” in the Eifel, by Fumon Nakagawa Roshi (iron book), – about 1994 – I discovered the books of Thich Nhat Hanh and knew very soon that he would be my teacher. So I went to “Plum Village” in southern France in his local center, twice in total. A center full of sun and joy. There was no knee pain, because you stretched or stopped when it hurt.
To my personal delight, since 2010, Thich Nhat Hanh has come once a year to the summer retreat in the Center he founded in Waldbröl EIAB (European Institute of Applied Buddhism), ended by his illness in 2015. At the center of his teaching is not only love and compassion, but above all joy and happiness. I especially remember: “Parents need to be role models for their children. A role model in happiness. “I try.
3 treasures: Do you also practice together with others in a group?
Barbelies Wiegmann : Yes, every two weeks we come together in our Sangha, which my husband, Werner Wiegmann, founded and manages. We practice zazen (2 rounds of 30 minutes with Kinhin), recite the Heart Sutra, hear a good text and talk about this text after the tea ceremony. Finally, we stand hand in hand in the circle, and I say goodbye to the sangha with the Tibetan blessing: “May all beings be fortunate and the causes of happiness …”
3 treasures : Do you spontaneously come across an anecdote from old Zen days?
Barbelies Wiegmann : Right away I can not think of an own anecdote. One well-known anecdote that I particularly appreciate is, ” A disciple asks his master,” What comes after death? “Master answers,” I do not know. ” Then the student, somewhat irritated: “Why do not you know that, you’re a master!” Then the master: “But no dead “.
3 treasures : For me personally, it is very nice to see you and Werner as a couple, which has kept its openness to life even in advanced age. As a lawyer for family law, in 1980 you wrote the book “End of the Housewife Eve” (Rowohlt, out of print). Would you say that your attitude is based on the common Zen practice and / or on your experiences from your time as a lawyer? Are there any “recipes” that have come out of this, things that you have just tackled differently?
Barbelies Wiegmann : We fought a lot against each other, especially in the seventies and eighties, where monogamy was out. But we stayed in conversation , sometimes in self-experience groups, each for themselves or in common groups or with friends. I believe that the hardest part of a partnership is to increasingly perceive the other’s otherness , to accept it, to live well with it and to enjoy the commonalities.
Certainly, the common path of Buddha helped us with love and compassion; but also my experience as a family lawyer, by employment of both not too great dependencies arise. I was also very active in the New Women’s Movement, which wanted and wants to end patriarchy.
3 treasures : In your life today not only meditation has its place, but also mediation. Can you still talk in a few words about your job or vocation?
Barbelies Wiegmann : As a lawyer in family law, I was in the midst of horrible marriage and divorce wars , in which the last perfect porcelain was smashed. As a rule, the children then pay the bill. So I was happy when, in the early 1990s, a new way of resolving conflicts came out of the US, mediation, where a neutral third person helps the conflicting parties achieve a fair and satisfactory resolution to the conflict. I trained immediately – then with great American teachers – and since then I have worked exclusively as a mediator. I regard my work as a piece of peace work, for the society, but especially for the children.
3 treasures : Thank you very much for this interview …