Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: pema ()
Date: August 12, 2008 02:35AM

Not just wealth -- as you say, power is a factor as well but these two are nearly always in sync. Ole Nydhal has never explained to many people's satisfaction why he supports the Sharmapa in this messy quarrel. Probably enough on this -- we are straying off topic. It would be good for more people to share their views about Diamondway and its controversial leader.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: davidlondon ()
Date: August 12, 2008 03:29PM

Dear readers,

I have regulary attended both the London and Readig Diamond Way Buddhist Centres for many years and I’m writing to set the record straight here. What has been written by "Emma" is totally false and deliberately misleading. I challenge whoever wrote this to report it to the police. I can make this challenge in the full knowledge that it will never be done, because I know that the person who wrote it is not called Emma, and in fact is not even female, so they couldn’t even pretend to be who they claim to be face-to-face, only through the anonymous medium of the internet.

"Emma" is in reality a very unwell young man called Jonathan Lucey who lives in Ealing, West London. He breifly attended two of the Diamond Way Centres in the UK in 2007, first in Reading (for a few months), then in London (where he made 2 visits), eventually losing interest. He suffers from depression, self-harming and suicidal ideation, for which he has undertaken counselling in the past. Now, several months after having last visited our centres, he has decided for reasons known only to himself, to start a personal internet crusade against Lama Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism. This has included sending slanderous emails, posting defamatory statements on forums and on Wikipedia, while pretending to be a woman called either "Laura" or "Emma" who has been sexually abused.

In fact, if the person posting such information was genuine, that person should go immediately to the police and report the alleged abuse because if such a thing had happened, the people responsible would need to be tried in a court of law and punished accordingly. However this will never happen, because the author of this complete fantasy is in fact a very unhappy and frustrated young man who probably needs professional assistance. If you are reading this, Jonathan Lucey, I advise you to seek psychiatric help. And on your final point about "Ex-members who admit to the group about leaving are harassed and pressured to re-join the group," I assure you no one will be upset if you never come back.

Best wishes,

David, London

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: pema ()
Date: August 12, 2008 10:43PM

Hi David,
You may be correct in your assumption re *Emma's* true identity, but it would be misleading to suggest that Ole Nydhal is innocent of all charges of serial adultery and in some cases persistent sexual pursuit. I concede that he is not in the same abusive/obsessive category as Sogyal Lakar -- but I would point out that his womansing tendency is well known throughout the western Tib Budh community. Other allegations against Ole include a white supremacist persepctive and in some cases an aggressive, bordering on bullying, teaching style. I met Ole and Hannah at Kopan in Nepal in 1970. I was intrigued by the apparent contradiction they presented -- they were in full Tibetan monastic attire and yet were clearly a highly sexualised couple. I didn't know much about Tibetan sexual mores in those days, which may account for my reaction. Later I discovered that the precept against sexual activity for monks and nuns is very loosely interpreted. I also learned that the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma traditions alllow for married lamas, who do wear robes. Ole has come in for a lot of flak over the years -- for his revisionist approach to Tibetan Buddhism, his sex life and his endorsement of the alternative Karmapa. But then so too have several other western Tib Budh teachers.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: davidlondon ()
Date: August 13, 2008 12:37AM

Dear Pema,

I'm not particularly interested in entering the discussion about Tibetan politics, I was mainly writing to refute the false and defamatory posting of "Emma" AKA Jonathan Lucey.

However, as you have mentioned the subject of Lama Ole Nydahl's private life, perhaps I could offer a note of clarification.

Firstly, Lama Ole Nydahl is a lay Buddhist teacher. He is not, and never was a monk. Secondly, I would like to introduce the concept of "open relationship" involving consenting adults. There is *no secret* that Ole and Hannah Nydahl's relationship was not monagamous. This was a decision that they took with eachother's full knowledge and consent, after their individual teaching responsibilities led to them spend several months apart each year.

Ole Nydahl is completely up-front and transparent about it, and if people have a problem with this fact they have the choice not to accept him as their teacher.

Best wishes,


Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: dr. thomas ()
Date: August 13, 2008 02:04AM


Thanks for clearing that up about Hannah and Ole. I always wondered about that and I'm very glad to hear it was a mutually concluded arrangement.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: pema ()
Date: August 13, 2008 02:15AM

Totally true David -- but it opens a can of worms nevertheless.
1. Is it appropriate for charismatic spiritual teachers to have sexual relationships with their students? There has been much debate around this issue and the consensus seems to be that in general it is not likely to be beneficial to the student/acolyte/devotee/disciple. A sexual/emotional relationship between a spiritual teacher/doctor/counsellor/lawyer/etc and their student/patient/client can never be in equilibrium. Ther is always an imbalance.
2.Whatever the scenario they presented in public, I am sure that Hannah Nydhal suffered considerable emotional distress as a result of her husband's infidelities. Open marriage never works -- or only very rarely. Many women try to make it work, under pressure from their husbands/partners. Some women kid themselves they can sustain a relationship that includes ongoing adultery. Very few succeed.
Personally I would choose not to trust my spiritual wellbeing to a teacher well known for his/her fondness for sexual conquests.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: dr. thomas ()
Date: August 13, 2008 05:33AM


Why would you say Ole is a "white supremist." He is definately patriarchal and militaristic (he is a former boxer after all), but white supremist? I don't think he would be so popular around the world if that was the case. Are you referring to his outspoken views about Islam? If anything describes him it would be that he is kind of the CEO for lay Bhuddism.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: dr. thomas ()
Date: August 13, 2008 07:02AM


Although I agree with you that teachers should not be sleeping with students, clients, or whatever, I must protest your use of the phrase, 'sexual conquest.' That suggests you have some insight into the motives of Ole while the turth might be a whole lot less interesting: it is the nature of the man to enjoy sexual and sensual relations with women. It might be interesting to know what he says about haveing such relations with people who have taken refuge with him, if in fact he has, and what is the woman's response. Further, you have no idea how Hannah felt about it, do you? After all, their marriage and general living arrangement was the farthest think for orthodox so it is a little difficult to discern their feelings about such things, and even whether they still considered themselves married in any traditional sense. I agree with you however, that so-called open marriage rarely ever works in the 'real' world, but it is not only pressure from men and not only women that suffer. I know of cases where it was the woman's idea for instance, just as I know cases where it was the man's.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: davidlondon ()
Date: August 13, 2008 08:41PM

Dear Pema,

I understand your concern about the responsibilities of a spiritual teacher and I respect your motivation to protect people from being manipulated, abused or taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. I would just like to clarify a few points which I hope will foster greater understanding.

I agree with your observation that open relationships only tend to work very rarely in our predominantly monogamous culture. However, in the case of Hannah and Lama Ole Nydahl, who I have been a close student of for many years, I can confirm that their relationship was definitely one of these rare cases, and an example of unconditional love which has inspired many people. The words “suffer”, “emotional” and “distress” are probably the least appropriate terms to be connected with Hannah who during her life manifested only joy, compassion and care for others. The fact that their relationship was, in dr. thomas’s words, ‘mutually concluded’ renders the judgment-laden term “infidelity” inapplicable. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that in other cultures, including Tibetan and Bhutanese, polygamous and polyandrous relationships have existed and functioned for centuries.

For example, over a period of 13 years, Lama Ole Nydahl had two partners, Hannah Nydahl and Catrin Hartung. As I already indicated, because of their teaching/translating activity and due to their support for the highest Kagyu lamas, Hannah and Lama Ole Nydahl had to spend many months each year apart, and during these months, Lama Ole Nydahl was together with Catrin Hartung. Catrin Hartung is a co-director of the Diamond Way Foundation and plays a key role in the organisation of Diamond Way Buddhism internationally. She is no longer the partner of Lama Ole Nydahl.

As dr. thomas stated in an earlier post, Lama Ole Nydahl’s style is easy to dislike, and it is true that many people perceive him as superficial, politically incorrect etc. That’s fine and people vote with their feet by not listening to him. Others, specifically the thousands of practitioners in the hundreds of Karma Kagyu meditation centres he and Hannah Nydahl have established, find his style very agreeable and connect with his easy, accessible approach to Buddhism and benefit a lot from it. People can make their independent choices in the spiritual marketplace based on their own maturity and in Diamond Way Buddhism no one is compelled or coerced into anything: the situation is transparent from the beginning so it is easy for people to make up their minds about whether Lama Ole Nydahl is the right teacher for them.

dr. thomas is also correct in stating that it needs to be clear if people are talking about a teacher’s personality and style or specific behaviours that have been harmful. One has to distinguish between the perception of a teacher’s approach and the actual actions performed by that teacher and their results. If there were any evidence of a trail of female students (in fact even one would do) who felt manipulated or abused by Lama Ole Nydahl, I would have to concede that his behaviour and actions would have brought negative results. In reality, however, such evidence does not exist.

This is why I felt the need to speak out about the poisonous slander being spread by Jonathan Lucey in the guise of an imaginary female student. The accusation that someone was sexually abused in a Diamond Way Buddhist Centre is a very, very serious one indeed. If it was true, it would forever tarnish and scandalise the organisation and its founder. If untrue, it is defamatory. Simply mud-slinging by a bitter and lonely individual who is somehow projecting his hopelessness and frustration onto a convenient 'enemy'.

People may not like or trust Lama Ole Nydahl personally, but I would recommend judging him on the basis of what he has achieved and the people he has benefited, not on the basis of moralistic preconceptions. Different kinds of teachers and approaches are suitable for different kinds of people. Personally I am very thankful about this fact.

Best wishes,


Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 13, 2008 11:23PM

Continuing Education Module

Get a copy of the Buddhist ethical precepts and assess how your dharma center functioned in relation to the precepts. All too often gossip happens and it is always at the expense of low ranking people, while powerholders are protected. This is called right speech--in a bad group, that is.

The Precepts and How They are Warped in Malfunctioning Sanghas.

1) We are told not to kill. Pretending someone is not present when they are trying to communicate a pattern of power abuse is IMO, a form of killing. So if you try to report abuse within a dharma center and someone ignores you or shames you, that could, in my opinion be construed as a form of murder.

2) Not to lie. That means, among other things, not to present incomplete
information as if it were complete information. It also forbids witholding the
truth about a teacher's controversial or iffy lineage credentials from new visitors to a center. If a leader has not completed the foundational practices or teaches that there is such a thing as reaching a level of attainment that frees us from the vows we took to honor the precepts, that too is deceitful. It also misrepresents the Three Jewels.

3) Not to take what has not been freely (and my reading) consciously offered. That means a leader must honor boundaries, and not have
relations with persons who are vulnerable or regressed in relation to him or her. A person who is vulnerable, or regressed or fearful cannot give full and conscious consent.

4) Avoid darkening the mind and body of self and others with intoxicants. To my mind, intoxicants include personal charisma, trance, and crusade mentality (as in our Dharma is better than other peoples Dharma).

It may be that if wrongly taught, Tibetan Buddhist practices,even those done by oneself in ones private shrine-room may induce trance rather than stablize the mind and lead to insight into all things.

Hypnotherapists have long understood that in trance we are less troubled by logical discrepancies and thus less troubled by discrepancies between the precepts and teacher's or senior disciples her actual behavior. This lack of alertness can be a very early step in a chain of cause and effect that can later breed serious forms of abuse.

5) To beware of misusing sexuality. That means beware of power imbalances in personal relationships, and to be vigilent if ones attention is wandering persistently in directions where it does not belong. This is a signal to deepen ones practice and look for presence of greed, hate and illusion, NOT act it out---and one is especially obligated to do this if one
is a powerful and admired teacher!

In the area of sexuality, one is also obligated to note if one is giving ones attention preferentially to people who are wealthy, amusing, or meet one's pattern of sexual craving. The Dharma is for everone, rich, poor, elderly, young, etc. A leader who prefers the company of wealthy, attractive and adoring people is generating cause and effect that can later 'set the stage' for more serious kinds of abuse.

(Sexual abuse is never the only problem. It is only possible when a pattern of dysfunction has gone on that has been ignored.)

6) Right speech--to beware of praising self at the expense of others.

I see the corollary as also to beware of devaluing oneself so as to put someone else up high on a pedestal. A true teacher will discourage this!

7) To beware of harsh speech. This one is a big problem in Dharma centers. People are often afraid to speak up, even when it means speaking up about something potentially hazardous.

I would suggest that if a pattern of disharmony ALREADY EXISTS, it is a matter of telling the truth (honoring the precept not to lie) to insist that the matter be examined and submitted to insight (vipassana) and assessed in relation to the ethical precepts. If a pothole is in the street, the authorities
are supposed to mark it so motorists dont drive into it.

Putting up a sign to warn of a road hazard and protect others is not 'harsh speech.' If something is already going wrong, and potentially hurtful at a Dharma center, its protecting the Three Jewels to speak up, not a violation of Right Speech.

However, misbehaving leaders love to shame us with accusations that Right Speech is violated if anyone dares to blow the whistle on them. Or accuse you of being gripped by afflictive emotions.

Leaders in the grip of afflictive emotions all too often are allowed to accuse others of this, but get away without being called on their stuff. Be prepared.
Non powerholders have to be able to deflect these stunts.

8) Harboring ill will. This one is tough. But...if a leader is allowed to keep on with a pattern of questionable behavior, the fall out would likely be worse
than if the person were challenged early on. And sometimes the only way
a frightened student can energize his or her boundaries and speak out is to
use the life force of anger. I struggle with this one a lot.

If we wait until we are 100% free of afflictive emotion, the harm may reach even worse proportions, while we remain silent.

There are times when one has to give up the vision of being a perfect
practitioner and speak up--afflictive emotions and all.

9) Greed in relation to comfort,money, resources. Many misbehaving
leaders get greedy in relation to money, get insulated from reality via
entourages of people hand picked to pamper thier whims--and keep their secrets.

10) Safeguarding the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

To speak up in relation to problems is to look after the welfare of the Sangha. A sangha is healthy only if it supports the practice of everyone,
whether its a brand new student, all the way up to the senior people doing
high level practices.

There is a culture of toxic shame in the false dharma world. One of the cruelest things is the accusation that seekers should not be 'coddled' and that a serious student should always accept anything, even abuse. This mentality actually rationalizes and perpetuates abuse.

Two, a surprising number of people in the New Age and fake Dharma scene actually worship authoritarian power but are not consciously aware of it.

IMO these unconscious power worshippers can only feel spiritual by thrilling to a power imbalance.

To them, whoever has rank is always right. They will always identify with the powerholder, even if theyve never even met the person and will always dump on and shame people who dare to speak out against power abuse--even if they have never met you.

The comment below is a good example of this tiresome and hurtful rhetoric of invalidation.


Simply mud-slinging by a bitter and lonely individual who is somehow projecting his hopelessness and frustration onto a convenient 'enemy'.

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