The origin of Dhagpo Kundreul Ling's retreat centres is the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa's second wish for the Dharma's implantation in Europe : the construction of traditional structures which give men and women practitioners the possibility to deepen their integration of the Karma Kagyu teachings.
Gendun Rinpoche was able to set up the first two three-year retreat centres in 1983 thanks to acquired of property at Le Bost in the Auvergne region of France. In early 1984 the first group of retreatants went into retreat in the building that was already there.
In 1987, a second group was also preparing to go into retreat. Due to a growing number of candidates wishing to do the three-year retreat and the first group's desire to continue their practice with a second retreat, to construct new buildings rapidly. Since 1984 there have been five generations of three-year retreats. This has allowed a large number of practitioners to have access to the tradition's highest teachings and to put them into practice for the benefit of all. In Le Bost's five retreat centres and the five centres at Laussedat there is currently a total of more than 120 people in retreat. Having accomplished two three-year retreats certain practitioners have gone on to continue their practice for another twelve years. A small number have dedicated their whole life to retreat.
In 2007, a new program has been established by the Gyalwa Karmapa and the drupöns ( the lamas who are guiding the retreat). The aim of the first three year retreat, or foundation retreat, is to offer a thorough grounding in the Dharma practice. Then, the suitable candidate can go on with the traditional Vajrayana practices: the yidams and the six Dharmas of Naropa.