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About Lama Ole
Lama Ole Nydahl is a Buddhist teacher. For nearly 40 years, his life has been dedicated to conveying the Buddhist teachings in the west. He is always on the road, giving lectures, holding meditations courses. He teaches the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje.
Buddhas teaching stayed unaffected while entering the West. It hit a free, social and well educated culture which allows and enables a fast personal development.
What is Buddhism?
The best explanation of the Buddha's teachings comes from the Buddha himself. In Sanskrit the teachings are called the Dharma and in Tibetan Chö. Both mean «the way things are«.
So Buddhism can be seen as a set of tools that enable us to see things as they really are here and now. Buddhism has no dogmas and allows question marks to be placed everywhere. Buddha's teachings aim at the full development and freedom of body, speech and mind.
Buddha gave instructions for three different types of people. Those who wanted to avoid suffering received the instructions about cause and effect called the Small Way (skt. Hinayana). Those who wanted to do more for others were given the teachings on wisdom and compassion called the Great Way (skt. Mahayana). Where people had strong confidence in their own and others' Buddha nature, Buddha taught the Diamond Way (skt. Vajrayana). Here, he manifested as forms of energy and light or directly transmitted his enlightened view as a flow of awareness. On this highest level, the aim is the complete development of mind, the spontaneous effortlessness of the Great Seal (skt. Mahamudra).
The Diamond Way offers the modern world "effective methods that lead to a direct experience of mind," as explained by Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, one of the most experienced teachers of Tibetan Buddhism. One learns to experience the world from a rich and self-liberating viewpoint. Diamond Way meditations develop a deep inner richness and lead to a non-artificial and unwavering mind where every enlightened activity can unfold.
Is Buddhism a philosophy, a psychology or a religion?
Buddhism can be regarded as a philosophy insofar as its teachings represent a complete and logical view, but it is not just a philosophy. Philosophy can explain things on the formal level of words and ideas, whereas the Buddha's teachings work with one's totality. While both philosophy and Buddhist practice lead to clarity of thought, only the latter can lead to permanent transformations because it gives the practical key to inner and outer events experienced everyday.
Because of the ability of its teachings to transform those who practice them, some people consider Buddhism to be a kind of psychology. The varying schools of psychology all try to help people neither to be a burden on society nor to have too many personal difficulties. While both psychology and Buddhism can change people, the latter is for the already healthy. It can be said that Buddhism starts where psychology stops. Diamond Way Buddhism becomes relevant from the point where people are already stable, where they experience space as blissful and not threatening. From this level the teachings develop the limitless courage, joy and love, which are mind's inherent wealth.
Applying the teachings to one's life will raise a deep confidence in their skilfulness giving all situations the taste of meaning and growth. Once the awareness of the conditioned nature of all things grows, fixed concepts will fall away and the perfect qualities of body, speech and mind will naturally appear. The end result of practice - full enlightenment or Buddhahood - surpasses the intellectual or therapeutic goals of both philosophy and psychology, it is a state of perfection beyond concepts.
Combining the logical view and the transformative power with methods to obtain lasting and beyond personal mental states, Buddhism is over all a 2500 year old religion of experience.
What are the basic points in Buddhism?
There are four basic thoughts that give a lasting meaning to our life. The first thing that we appreciate is our very rare and marvelous chance to be able to meet with enlightened teachings, and to be able to work with and learn from them. All beings want happiness and want to avoid suffering. Even an ant will crawl very far to avoid being killed, and human beings will go to all lengths in order to feel good. So, meeting with teachings that bring lasting happiness is very important.
After this, we understand we will not always have this chance. Whatever was born, will die, whatever came together will fall apart, and whatever appeared will disappear. Our time is limited. It is certain that our lives will end, but we do not know when. So recognizing that we have this chance now and actually wanting to use it is also something extremely valuable.
The third thing we understand is that the world is really a matrix of causes and effects and that our present actions, words and thoughts will become our future. Whether we realise it or not, everything we do, say or think leaves impressions both inside ourselves and outside in the world. These impressions will later return to us. Negative impressions especially will manifest as suffering or unpleasant situations in the future unless we use meditations that dissolve them.
Finally, we recognise the fact that there is no alternative to using the teachings. Enlightenment is highest joy. There is nothing more fulfilling and total than this state of oneness with all things, all times, all beings, and all directions. Also, how will we benefit others if confused and suffering ourselves?
So considering these four factors gives the basis for buddhist practice and meditation. In contrast, however, if we cling to our ordinary values we cannot avoid suffering. If we keep thinking »I am my body« and »These things are mine«, old age, sickness, death and loss will be exceedingly unpleasant. Noboy can avoid pain by saying: »This stuff with enlightenment is too difficult for me«, because if we were born, we'll surely die. There is no greater purpose in life than to find values which permanently overcome suffering and death. The benefits of enlightenment are therefore immeasurable for both oneself and all other beings.
The Karma Kagyu Lineage
The Karma Kagyu lineage belongs to one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. As a lineage of direct oral transmission, it especially treasures meditation and, through interaction with a qualified teacher, can bring about the full and direct experience of the nature of mind.
The Karma Kagyu methods were taught by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni to his closest students. These methods were later passed on through the Indian Mahasiddhas, Padmasambhava, Tilopa, Naropa, Maitripa, and the famous Tibetan yogis Marpa and Milarepa. In the 12th century, the monk Gampopa gave the teachings to the first Gyalwa Karmapa whose successive conscious rebirths have kept the teachings alive and powerful to the present day. Today, great Tibetan teachers (tib. lamas) such as H.H. the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje and Shamar Rinpoche transmit this unbroken tradition when visiting the many Karma Kagyu Diamond Way Buddhist centers around the world.
The Karma Kagyu school offers practical teachings applicable to everyday life. A wealth of methods are available for lay people and yogis to develop mind's inherent richness and clarity, both through meditation and in one's daily activities. The roof of the self-liberating Great Seal (skt. Mahamudra) is supported by three pillars: verifiable non-dogmatic teachings, meditation, and the means to solidify the levels of awareness that are attained.