One look at the travel schedule of Lama Ole Nydahl, and you know he is serious about his mission of bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. I saw him speak nearly twenty years ago in Austin, TX and the poor fellow was literally falling asleep on his feet. Despite his fatigue, his sincerity was evident.
I feel that the Tibetan Buddhists are mired in their rituals and history. My impression from Lama Ole Nydahl’s talk is that there is a formula for everyone. Follow a prescribed series of mantras, visualizations, and studies, and you are on your way to enlightenment. Perhaps that is true if enlightenment simply means peace of mind. Mantras and visions of glowing Buddhas will certainly calm an agitated mind, so will television and the stereo.
Still, I support what the Lama is preaching, just as I support what some Christians preach. It’s better to live a clean life and help your neighbor, than throw rocks at dogs. I don’t think it is a path to discovering your true nature, though.
Lama Ole Nydahl is not immune from controversy, however. A well-presented critique is here: buddhism-controversy-blog.com.
Here is the Lama Ole talking about what happens when we die:
For more about Lama Ole Nydahl, visit his website at lama-ole-nydahl.org. He has established over 600 Buddhist centers in the West.
For a complete picture of the Diamond Way Buddhist branch that Lama Ole Nydahl represents, visit:
2 thoughts on “Lama Ole Nydahl: The hardest-working Lama in Lama business”
Ole Nydahl’s so-called ‘Diamond Way’ group is basically a cult and best avoided for any serious Buddhist practitioner.
Ole Nydahl never completed the 3 year retreat to be called a Lama and instead spent the time smuggling drugs for which he spent time in prison in Denmark. He then built up this cult of personality around himself and created this group where he gets rich travelling the world for free (all paid for by his followers).
Most alarmingly, he has a long history of making racist statements (especially against Islam and Africans) during his lectures, and there have been numerous accusations against him for sexual abuse of his female followers.
Best avoided at all costs.
I once – admittedly many years ago, back in the 90’s – spent about 2 hours in one-on-one conversation with Lama Ole. In my personal experience, he manifested as a bundle of ego and self-importance. Also markedly domineering and aggressive, hardly what most people look for in a buddhist teacher. That said, maybe he’s your precious karmic connection, I’m not qualified to know; but proceed with extreme caution and be willing to ask tough questions. James’ concerns are well founded.
That’s not even to address the question of the schism in the Kagyu lineage, which Lama Ole strongly identifies with one side of. I personally don’t much care about all of that anymore, although I once cared a great deal. You are well advised however to do your research and proceed with eyes open in any engagement with either camp of the Karma Kagyu lineage. I speak from 40 years of (not very happy) experience.