Regardless of how many "letters of confirmation" and "references" from Kagyu teachers Ole's been able to put up on his website, he just isn't a qualified Buddhist lama in the traditional sense. For anyone wishing to argue, it'be good to examin his spiritual background described in his autobiographies Entering the Diamond Way
and Riding the Tiger
. I've compiled a short summary of the events presented in his first book. For clarity I've kept the term "blessing empowerment" here:
• On drugs from 1961 (age of 20) to 1970, on LSD since March 1966.
• First went to Nepal in 1968: took drugs, traveled around, smuggled gold and drugs back to Europe. No spiritual teachings received.
• Late summer – early fall 1968: second trip to Nepal. In the book: “half a year after the Prague Spring” and “shortly after Armstrong’s Moon landing “(inconsistent dates: first event took place in 1968, whereas the second one in 1969). First brief encounter with Tsechu Rinpoche, no teachings or meditation instructions received
• Early 1969: Ole convicted of drug smuggling, spent 4 months in jail in Copenhagen, released mid-summer. First meditative experiences with some help of books
• Fall 1969: travel to India and Nepal. No encounters with Tsechu Rinpoche.
• December 22, 1969, Katmandu, Nepal: met 16th Karmapa and Tsechu Rinpoche, took part in blessing empowerments and in Black Crown ceremonies while following Karmapa for two months. No teachings or meditation instructions received.
• Spring 1970: Karmapa and Tsechu Rinpoche leave. Ole and Hannah go on two trips through Himalaya Mountains, taking drugs incl LSD. A vision of Chenrezig. Met several monks and nuns, no teachings or meditation instructions received.
• 6 months, up to September 1970: teaching English for living in Nepal. Continued taking drugs, incl LSD. Receive blessings from Tsechu Rinpoche yet no teachings or meditation instructions.
• September 1970: gave up drugs, by that time Ole had been on drugs for nine years, including on LSD for 4.5 years. Went to Sikkim, encountered 16th Karmapa in Rumtek for the second time, took refuge. Asked Karmapa for a formal practice, received mantras of 2nd Karmapa Karma Pakshi, Dorje Phamo and Mahakala. Spent a few days in Rumtek, had to leave as his permit expired
• Fall 1970, Sonada: met Kalu Rinpoche. During one week attended basic teachings on Samsaric existence. Did not accept Kalu Rinpoches teachings about hell realms. Till today Ole has been offering his own interpretation of this traditional teaching: “paranoia state of mind in the human world” rather than a separate realm of existence. Went on to receive teachings on impermanence and suffering. Started with Ngondro. Met Ningma lamas, however no teachings or instructions received.
• Short trip to Bhutan disguised in Karmapa’s truck. Spent a few days next to Karmapa. Asked for instructions. Karmapa sent them back to Sonada to continue studies with Kalu Rinpoche.
• Went back to Sonada, continued with prostrations.
• January 1, 1971: finished 111 111 prostrations.
• During 10 days took several blessing empowerments with Karmapa. Karmapa left for Bhutan.
• Took the Bodhisattva vow with young Shamar Rinpoche
• Fall 1971: Kalu Rinpoche leaves for the US. Ole and Hannah go to Sikkim to receive several blessing empowerments from Karmapa.
• Fall 1971: 16th Karmapa sends Ole and Hannah back to Europe. Ole’s commentary: “Now we were ready to teach others what we have learned ourselves.“
• February 1972: Ole and Hannah return to India. Ole receives a Phowa transmission from Ayang Tulku.
• 6 weeks of Dream-yoga with Tsechu Rinpoche.
• A few days in Rumtek of “exchanging ideas” with Karmapa on running centers in the West: a very brief description though, no quotes on any details or instructions given by Karmapa. On the contrary, in a book by Gendun Rinpoche Heart Advice From a Mahamudra Master
you will find a detailed story of how the 16th Karmapa sent him to the West and the instructions he received on spreading Buddha-Dharma there.
• October 1972: went back to Copenhagen to teach and establish a first center with a supporting letter of the 16th Karmapa to the Queen of Denmark.
What followed can be found in his book Riding the Tiger
. However one thing you’ll never find there is any reference to how Ole has ever taken any study courses or dedicated any significant time to meditation.
There are different types of teachers out there. It's all very well described in the article The qualifications of an authentic Buddhist teacher
on Shamarpas website. A teacher, in order to be able to guide you to enlightenment, must have: 1) a solid philosophical basis (complete profound studies and have a thorough understanding of Buddha’s teachings and commentaries), 2) key instructions on a Yidam practice, and 3) profound experience in meditation. Ole certainly does not have the first two, and his experience in meditation is extremely limited. To confirm the latter, just go on a tour with him (as I did many times during my 10+ years at DW). Himself, Ole admits that he “doesn’t sit to meditate” in one of his earlier videos about meditation. He says he is constantly resting in the Mahamudra experience. I won't argue whether or not one can reach this advanced state without any profound experience in meditation. What's more important for his followers to consider is, if this is the case, whether he is able to pass his "spiritual achievments" to anyone.