Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: Outsider ()
Date: October 18, 2008 07:44PM

My experiences comes as an 'uncovertable' and this is I agree presents what I will write being biased on my objective. I have seen DW as very commercially based, so lets say we are talking about a Scam rather than a Cult or a nice mix of the 2. I have not seen one ocassion where money was not required and the practices encouraged and fostered always require you move to the next step through a retreat or intensive course. I have seen arguments that DW literature is freely available in the centers, certainly in the centre I have experienced this was not so, want book, buy book and why not half a dozen photo's of Ole while your at it, not one member offered to loan their copy which was always close to hand. DW looks to have strayed far from the basic principals of buddhism, demonstrates an alarmingly high amount of cult characteristics, charasmatic self styled lama figure head being the main pointer. Diamond Way attracts all manner of opportunists such as destiny coaches, self styled guru's who all hide behind the veil of invite only: virtualsangha.ning.
Ethics and principals are biased towards the group / its beliefs and will therefore always work against those not towing the party line, another fine cult attribute.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 18, 2008 10:04PM

Outsider wrote:


and the practices encouraged and fostered always require you move to the next step through a retreat or intensive course.

Alexander Berzin has this to say:


"Although participation in group recitation of monastic rituals involves meditation, most Tibetan monks and nuns have additional daily practices which they do on their own. Their private practices usually include chanting and performing further tantric rituals, and for some, sitting in silent meditation. Similarly, Tibetan lay practitioners also meditate on their own. Traditional Tibetan Buddhism does not employ the custom of silent group meditation, either with or without a leader. Consequently, when traditional Tibetan masters first come to the West and are asked to lead group meditations, many have no idea what Western students are talking about.

'Tibetans learn to meditate by having a teacher explain the instructions and then by practicing alone in their rooms. The teacher hardly ever meditates with the students, even at the beginning stages of the training. In contrast, most Westerners need someone to meditate with them at first, to help them overcome the confusion and barriers that may arise from engaging in a practice from a foreign culture. Thus, most Westerners inevitably begin to meditate in a group that is led by a teacher."

But if Western students continue with this guidance past the beginning stages, and do not learn how to meditate by themselves and, without the support of a teacher or group, Berzin warns of some potential pitfalls.


"In most cases, teachers lead meditation for benevolent purposes. However, since led meditation works by the power of suggestion, particularly when silent meditation is guided step by step, a teacher with a tendency toward abusing power may contribute to the overdepence. The abuse may take a gross, devious form if motivated by a self serving wish for control, such as when a teacher tries to manipulate disciples to worship the guru by including images of him or herself in the visualization. In extreme cases, the leader of a cult may even use led meditation to brainwash followers to commit mass suicide at an impending end of the world. In more subtle and benign cases of exploitation of power, a teahcer may sincerely wish to benefit disciples. Yet an unconscious drive to gain energy and fulfillment from helping others in an active, demonstrable way may underlie the persons overuse of guided meditation.

"There is no doubt that the directive energy of a charismatic teacher and a group dynamic may contribute to our gaining initial meditative exeperiences as novice practitioners...Spiritual development through meditation, however, needs to be self-sustaining. Once we gain a certain level of discipline and experience through group meditation led by a teacher, however, we need to strengthen that discpline and experience through solitary practice. Otherwise we risk becoming addicted to led meditation, as if it were a recreational drug.

'By being mindful of these points from the start, we may avoid the pitfalls of becoming overdependent on a teacher, or even on tape cassettes, for meditational practice.'

(Alexander Berzin, Relating to Spiritual Teacher, Snow Lion Press, 2000, pages 187-189). can most students become 'mindful of these points from the start' unless a teacher tells them 'from the start' that group instruction is strictly for early stage practice?

And unless told this at the beginning, how will novice Western students see progress as the ability to practice in a self directed way, rather than measuring their progress by how many blissful experiences they have in the presence of their charismatic teacher?

Think about it. How often, when we talk with spiritual types, have we ever heard someone say, 'At least I'm getting better at meditating in my room, rather than only being able to sit still when at the Dharma center.'

Its much more common to hear people say they are making progress because on So and So's retreat, they had a deeper silence than before. Most reports of progress we here about are linked to the guru or the group retreat experience, rather than in humbler terms of 'I'm better able to do it at home these days' or 'I got curious about my anger when in the car, instead of flipping the bird at the guy who cut me off.'

For the kind of advice Berzin gives is not at all normal in New Age circles. Most of the time we hear of friends who speak of constantly going off to lectures, retreats, or who are entralled by the guru's latest tape or DVD.

Very few will mention that they are being trained to do self conducted practice at home, and develop self reliance as practitioners. often do we hear about an outreach event entitled 'An Exciting Evening of Examining Buddhist Ethical Precepts'?

Most Dharma outreach emphasizes meditation and special experiences, with nothing said about the ethical context of Buddhadharma.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/2008 10:14PM by corboy.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: darren c ()
Date: October 19, 2008 03:01PM

I find it hard to belive that with over 500 centers worlwide and close to 40 years of exsitants that the diamondway could be considered a cult. After doing some googling I found no proof or other people making any claims against the diamond way.It sounds to me that one person had a bad experince and wants to retaliate.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: October 19, 2008 09:13PM

darren C:

What is your interest here?

Have you been involved in any way, shape or form with the diamond way?

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 20, 2008 01:04AM

Macdonalds has thousands of franchises all over the world, but that ubiquity does not by itself doenst prove that a steady diet of Micky D is good for one's health.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: Outsider ()
Date: October 20, 2008 01:47AM

Experiences come from those of us willing to contribute and there is enough material out there that covers some recent threads in this forum:

The first thing which is misleading is, that he spread the idea of being realised, this charisma of being a realised bodhisattva (Mahakala) is used and designed in order to give him a stronger standing, without explaining Karmapas historical quotation in relative terms, there are many levels of emanations. Even it can be said in a joke, this was never clarified by him, but only used as strategy.

He relies on this charisma quite extensively
and it is used by him and by his students as a kind of replacement of real knowledge of the dharma.
This charisma of being a dharma protector is used as authority for being qualified to be able to teach the Buddha-dharma. Which can be likely the other way round, lack of knowledge about the subject dharma needs other strong authority as replacement.
Meanwhile he has a large number of students and they watch carefully this kind of charisma is not damaged or put in question by outsiders.
(I am sure what i am now saying will bring in trouble soon or later)
So what he did establish is a kind of sect called Diamond-way which has more or less one thing in common with the original Kagyu School both embellish the same name. The main focus in Diamond-way is on the person Ole Nydal, very similar like in the history in the Karma Kagyu lineage was on the Karmapa, in case of the Diamond-way things did deteriouate into a Buddhist personal cult sect.
He established himself to the extant of being considered as equal of Mahasiddha.

I know some examples who did study with me in the same shedra with me under the same Kenpo, some points of exposition of the dharma did contradict Ole's behaviour and the students did protest against
it, later this was told to Ole directly and he advised his followers not to visit again the shedra in Delhi, with the effect that nobody came and continuate their studies.
This is ridiculous, since the Kenpo in question was the director of the shedra
and he was the director of the Nalanda shedra in Rumtek Sikkhim before and enjoyed his education directly
from the 16th Karmapa and also from different well known and recognised Kenpos and Lamas from the Karma Kagyu Lineage as well from other lineages.
Nalanda was even visited by Gelugpa students and there was some exchange between both schools, as well well known by the Gelugpas by the high standard this institute operates. So the director as wel all other Kenpos were educated to the highest degree and hence authentic teachers.

To advise his followers not to go to places where the Dharma is taught in a perfect and authentic way because of being afraid this can contradict Ole's style and behaviour is a major mistake and contradicts the whole idea of Buddhism.
Diamond-way is used and administrated by him like a private company and those who follow have to swallow the whole bunch of culture ritual.
So people (new and old) are more or less in a situation hwre they have to swallow the whole personal cult behaviour "of Ole is the hero and the greatest" in order to come to the actual thing, the Buddha-dharma.
This is a wrong approach and not part of any historical tradition. The person, the Lama in question is not the main focus of devotion, but his actions and his activity, the dharma and his deeds helping others towards liberation. Any cult which confuses this little but important detail, that the main focus of devotion is not towards the 5 skandas of the teacher but towards his activity is a vital point of understanding in all Mahayana Buddhism.
Let me clarify one thing more, even the Karmapa is in the process of studying although he is a realised bodhisattva and resides on the 10th bodisattva level
, how much more are we in need of studying and practice?
Meanwhile some handselected Kenpos are allowed to teach in some (handselected) centres with success.
I think this is due to some influence of the previous students of the Shedra in Delhi.
And this company Diamond-way became too large for him, so he was in need to get some help.

The second big mistake is, that he defines his (new school) as Vajrayana, but rejects the whole selfliberating part which is the integral part of Mahayana.
Because he simply don't like it, i did ask him several times for many years ago, he simply don't like everything which has to do with vows, celibation, discipline, moral and the more.
The whole spectrum what you can find in every Lamrim text is reduced to one small
tenet, devotion towards the Lama, which will bring everybody into the right direction.
With this new freedom (the lack of definition) what is the path towards liberation he can fill it out with his very personal way of interpration of the Buddha-dharma.
With other words, the traditional way to teach students are rejected out of dislike and this lack of knowledge is his free room to arrange his
personal dharma-exposition.

What he teaches is very basic Buddhism and some Mahamudra (i can not say what he taught is wrong or not) but what i know is, that he simply get destruct and carried away during his teachings and offer
the audience more or less longer excursion about his new projects (in Spain Karma Gon) or some other places. In my time he was telling from Schwarzenberg a spot in Germany. (Very nice people there)
So there is nothing wrong in informing people about different projects, but if people are coming to learn the Dharma and they are faced with a situation where they first have to listen his excursion about this and that (regularly his dharma teachings
develops into this kind of chattering)
Instead of giving the people the pure dharma they first have to swallow this hero acrobatic exposition what he is doing in the world (selfpraising) and how great everything is in the world with him, and people belief it!
So instead of teaching the Dharma people have to swallow his charisma of being the greatest among men, this kind of pattern developed into a kind of business, you all can be part of my Greatness.
OK enough from this.

The third thing which is misleading, he is promissing that his path will lead towards liberation.
People are allowed to learn higher methods like powa (this is borrowed from the Vajrayana) and with this technic it is promissed that people will go easily to the Buddhaland of Buddha Amitabha.
This is not the full truth, because one can't go easily to such a pure realm.
There are certain things more one has to do in order to be qualified (accumulation of merit) before one has a chance to go there.
So it is not a question of the right tantric technic to be able to go to the pure realm of Amitabha but a bunch of several things, which inclouds proper lifestyle (ethic),
aspiration towards liberation (selfliberating vows, refuge vows) developing true bodhiitta, and making wishing prayers to be reborn in the land of Amithabha and last, to meditate on the pure realm of Buddha Amitabha.
Ole just cuts the whole tail of the before mentioned necessity and just offers the last technical aspect as the true authentic path.

The fourth mistake which is misleading is, that Ole says Karma Kagyu is the practice lineage and we are not doing study so much.
This wrong idea is spread wide and large in all directions and westerners are tired of schools and universities so this news meet open ears.
But in fact, in order to be able to understand the path correct, to avoid all the little and greater misperceptions and mistakes we need to study the path.
There is one tradition in Tibet to follow an authentic teacher without studying and without much meditation this path is basd on pure devotion towards the teacher.
In order to make that happen the teacher needs to be qualified and he needs to be a Mahasiddha, which excluse all common teachers.
A great bodhisattva residing (and not advertising) on the bhumis (8th and above) can maybe lead some extraordinary disciples who did show great devotion towards the Lama towards liberation through different skillful means like a ring and the hoke, the disciple needs extraordinary trust and confidence and devotion towards the Lama as well develop pure vision about him.
So, this devotion is no blind devotion, but based in the knowledge that the Lama is authentic.
During my 28 years of observations i came to the conclusion that this devotion method was used be several Tibetan Lamas and from Western teachers in order to make students follow him and to avoid critical questions.
This devotion trip was in fact many times misused and i am afraid in case of Ole Nydal this happens again in a large scale.

Check out: E Sangha

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 21, 2008 12:52AM

E-sangha may be accessed here:


The site can be also searched for information, in case others have already put up information on a matter or group that interests you.

As on, for E-sangha The search slot is to the right of the screen. It is best to do a search and read as much as possible before considering whether to post. Many of your questions may already have an answer, thanks to earlier correspodance.

However, on E-sangha there may be some cases where certain topics may not be accessible unless one has registered as a member on E-sangha. Registration is free, but it does require reading and agreeing to E-sangha's terms of use.

The most prudent way to proceed is to register, do searches on what interests you, read what is available.

Then if you have additional questions and it is a possibly controversial topic, feel free to e-mail the moderators privately.

If you dont log on to the E-sangha site for awhile, you will have to re-activate your account or create a new one.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: cybertao ()
Date: October 22, 2008 02:04AM

" I find it hard to belive that with over 500 centers worlwide and close to 40 years of exsitants that the diamondway could be considered a cult. After doing some googling I found no proof or other people making any claims against the diamond way.It sounds to me that one person had a bad experince and wants to retaliate"

How many churches have Rev. Moon? (Or isn't it a cult anymore?).

I think "claims against a cult" may be a poor metric. I trust what I see with my own eyes.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: Outsider ()
Date: October 23, 2008 04:02AM

DW demonstrates the classic franchise model, offer the basics but make the customer feel more worthwhile with the extravagent add ons that they cannot refuse, a money earner every time.

Why am I so hung up on the financial issue, imagine knowing someone who has never been in debt but within months of joining a DW centre starts to rack up the credit card debt on trips and demonstrates a 20% of salary burn rate in a week alone. Its quite powerful.

Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Posted by: sam108 ()
Date: October 24, 2008 05:16PM


I am new here, but I came across this thread and thought I might contribute my perspective.
I have some experience with Diamond Way -- but I'm not in any way an official
spokesman for them (if there is such a thing); I don't have any sort of leadership position either.
Reading this thread, it sounds like a very different group from the one I am involved in.
I suppose we all take away our own interpretations of what we perceive.

I don't think Diamond Way is for everybody. Lama Ole himself says that. We have
this saying, "finding the hat that fits". For some people, the Diamond Way hat fits very
well. For other people, it doesn't. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them,
or anything wrong with Diamond Way -- it just means they need to look elsewhere.

People above have raised all sorts of issues about Lama Ole's qualifications to be a Lama,
the legitimacy of the 17th Karmapa (as recognized by Diamond Way), etc. I think these
boil down to interpretations of Buddhist teachings, and on different accounts of events that
happened years ago. I wasn't there years ago, and I don't feel qualified to judge on complicated
questions about the proper interpretations of traditional teachings. What I can say, is that I
(and a lot of other people) have found Diamond Way to be a place which contributes to my
spiritual well-being, which is why I continue to be associated with it. Because of that,
these sort of arguments (which I'm out of my depth to judge) don't sway me.

I also think, in terms of Lama Ole's attitude to Islam: I think there are two types of Muslims
-- backward, conservative types; and the more secular progressive sort. I think in terms of
the first group, Ole's criticisms are 100% on target, if maybe a bit bluntly worded. In terms
of the second group, I think Ole just doesn't seem to notice they are there, and I think if he
would make some more effort to acknowledge them I think people would be less critical of
him in this area. Also, although I see the political and social usefulness of supporting liberal
/ progressive interpretations of Islam, one has to ask, whose interpretation is more
historically authentic? And I'm afraid, as much as it is politically inopportune to say, that
the more backward sort is probably more historically authentic; and one aspect of Ole's
distinctive vocation is to point out those truths that some of us would rather ignore.

I'd also like to comment on claims of "sexual abuse". I think some people misinterpret
both the open attitude to relationships which is common (but not compulsory) in the Diamond Way
community, and also the traditional Tantric Buddhist spiritual approach to sexuality. Some people
like the idea of openness in relationships; other people find that concept hard to fathom. But there
is nothing specifically Diamond Way about that, it is also a broader (albeit minority) view within
Western culture, shared by groups of all sorts of different persuasions, spiritual or secular. I myself,
I have always been inclined to that attitude towards relationships, long before I ever even heard of
Diamond Way, so that aspect doesn't bother me. But I understand a lot of people can't understand it;
maybe they should just live and let live, rather than condemn them?

The other aspect of the sexual question -- traditionally, in Western culture, the sexual and spiritual
domains were considered largely disjoint, except in the specific case of marriage. So, the idea of
a spiritual teacher having a sexual relationship seems highly improper. But, I think the impropriety
really comes from the betrayal of trust -- in the Christian tradition, for instance, ministers of religion
are expected to behave in a way which excludes sexual relations with either anyone (celibacy), or
no one but their marital partner. Thus, for a religious functionary in that sort of tradition to engage
in a sexual relationship with a follower is to violate the teachings of their religion, and thus violate
the trust which the follower has placed in them as a minister. But, if a religion doesn't teach that,
then no such violation of trust occurs. I'd say the same thing about attempts to analogize medical
ethics into spirituality -- if you go to see a physician, you don't expect a sexual relationship, and
thus for a physician to engage in one is inappropriate. On the other hand, do you expect a sexual
relationship if you go to a spiritual teacher? Well, that really depends on the nature of their teachings.
If they teach e.g. "no sex outside of marriage", which would judge that such a relationship is improper,
and then seek to engage in one anyway, that suggests they are being abusive. Whereas, if they teach
"free love" (to use an old phrase), and offer you the opportunity to participate in that with them,
how is that a betrayal? It's not a betrayal; its just their being truthful to their own teachings.

I understand that, for someone to describe their experiences as "sexual abuse", they must be in
great personal pain. At the same time, I feel that the term should really be restricted to cases
involve minors, or those of restricted capacities (e.g. the intellectually disabled), or non-consensual
cases (i.e. rape). If an adult of sound mind consensually engages in sexual activity, then I don't
think we should call it abuse, even if they later regret doing it. I'm sure some people have had
sexual experiences in the context of Diamond Way which they later regretted -- just as people
have had sexual experiences they have regretted outside Diamond Way as well -- but unless they
involved lack of consent or other violations of the law, I don't think its fair to label them abuse.

Thanks for listening

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