An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

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Grigoris
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An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Grigoris » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:12 pm

Whilst trying to track down the new book on the eighth Karmapa I mistakenly stumbled across the following academic research article:
Interpreting the Diamond Way: Contemporary Convert Buddhism in Transition
by Burkhard Scherer
Canterbury Christ Church University
Department of Theology and Religious Studies

It gives an interesting and well researched, though at times biased, analysis of the Diamond Way centres and of their founder/leader Ole Nydahl that I thought people might be interested in reading and discussing.
http://www.globalbuddhism.org/10/schere ... #_ednref14
:namaste:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

spanda
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby spanda » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:33 pm

Interesting. Thanks!

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Kelwin
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Kelwin » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:52 pm

Interesting indeed, an excellent paper!
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena

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Shemmy
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Shemmy » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:03 pm

Yeah, thanks! One of the most interesting things I've read on the internet in awhile! I wasn't aware of his placement of the working yogi at the top of the meditation food chain. Very encouraging to us working stiffs.

When Lama Ole came to Bangkok last year, there seemed to be some amount of paranoia among the Vajrayana-Mahayana Buddhists here and very few of the regulars were in attendance though I'm sure most knew about it. I was curious why no one came out and I asked. The Shambhala people cited some vague Trungpa criticisms and warnings. I wonder if Trungpa wasn't worried about competition from Lama Ole. An organizer from another group cited Lama Ole's sexual permissiveness as an issue and they didn't want to lose their reputation in Thailand by coming to see him and thereby appear to endorse promiscuity. So, the crowd at the Bangkok one day lecture was mostly his own followers who happened to be on holiday in Thailand or following him on tour.

I didn't know what to expect but ended up feeling quite impressed by Lama Ole's warmth, approachability. I felt his followers were really open and genuinely friendly and I ended up more impressed by them than anything. He seems to allow people to relax and that may be one of the good points about a westernized style, is there seemed to be more openness and less formality among the gathering. He invited everyone to go out to a pub for a beer after the lecture and empowerment, which would have created further shock and disapproval among the Bangkok Vajrayanists I imagine. Sadly, Nydahl's aids who said they would email me and send texts used for the Karmapa 16 guru yoga practice never did get back to me. So, I never ended up practicing the meditation. At the talk Lama Ole with some urgency mentioned the need to establish a center in Bangkok but his aides seemed to not want anything to do with this. One said he has too many centers as it is, despite Lama Ole seeming to be very interested in getting one of the locals going on such a project. As of now such a center has yet to materialize.

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby AlexanderS » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:59 am

I attended a Phowa Course by Ole Nydahl down at the europe center in southern germany in august. I was very impressed with the relatively low prices and the good organisation. Also I got a chance to meet thousands of people who practice in this linage. Overall very kind, self-confident and free-spirited people. I was also very grateful for lama Ole Nydahl to make such a profound teaching and method avaible to beginners like me. He was very good during the whole 7 days i was there.

Rafael Maurin
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Rafael Maurin » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:48 am

Very Interesting...Thnx :smile:

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Grigoris
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Grigoris » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:47 am

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:43 pm

“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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conebeckham
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:51 pm



"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

Knotty Veneer
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:00 pm

“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:54 pm

I did read the article and it was very good. Tending more to a "hermeneutics of trust" than I would be inclined to but interesting nonetheless.

You may not like to see criticism of Ole here but I think it is a valid point that in his organisation - as Shemmy's post implies - criticism of Ole's behavior is cast as a failure of character on the part of the critic. Indeed one can see something similar in the article itself where it says:

Nydahl is apparently a charismatic figure, both personally and as a teacher. Nydahl's activities, however, have attracted criticism, rendering him a controversial figure in contemporary Buddhism. At this point, it is worth noting that Nydahl, both in his books and public lectures, is very open about controversial details in his biography and lifestyle, for example his drug dealing in the 1960s and his sexual promiscuity. In fairness, one should contrast this "lay/yogic" honesty to the rather frequent scandals due to the breaking of celibacy vows in both Tibetan and Western convert monastic contexts.(7) Nydahl's honesty is conducive to a hermeneutics of trust in which biographical elements and personality are interpreted against the background of Nydahl's own understanding of Buddhism. Still, Nydahl's reception (and lack thereof) in recent scholarship is driven by a primarily etic hermeneutics of suspicion. However, the considerable contribution Nydahl has made to the spread of Buddhism among converts in the West can also be analyzed with a hermeneutics of trust and by including the emic parameters of the Tibetan Karma bKa' brgyud tradition.

This lets Ole off very lightly and puts his poor reception in academia and elsewhere down to a "hermeneutics of suspicion" (which I think you could gloss here as "paranoia") on the part of the establishment. Nowhere in the article does it entertain the possibility that Ole's behavior may be harmful. Indeed, it seeks to excuse him - after a fashion - by saying yes he sleeps around but at least he's not a hypocrite! The article does not seem to want to venture into the territory of examining the power structures that can exist in groups like Ole's between the teacher and "consort". Sexual permissiveness is normative in Ole's philosophy and he seems to be free of any judgement from the lineage at large. I would have liked to seen some more discussion of that.
“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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Grigoris
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Grigoris » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:26 pm

Hate to be the one that breaks this to you but sexual permisiveness is normative everywhere in Europe nowadays, especially in Oles homeland of Denmark. Actually sexual permisiveness is not frowned upon in Buddhism per se anyway. It is not included under any of the categories of unwholesome sexual behaviour so where is the problem with sexual permisiveness? Tibetans are also pretty good with the old sexual permisiveness. ;)

As for his credentials, well, okay...

But his low standing in academia? So what? :shrug:

I agree that trying to fob off all critique as a "hermeneutic of suspicion" is a little too overarching. I did warn people that the article was "at times biased".

And the issue of power relationships between students and teachers is one that I personally have raised in other threads too.

The thing is that I want people to reply to the article and its portrayal of Diamond Way, I don't want this thread to devolve into yet another "put the boot into Ole" thread. That's just too boring.
:namaste:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:45 pm

“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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Grigoris
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Grigoris » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:52 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

Knotty Veneer
Posts: 464
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:10 pm

“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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conebeckham
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:36 pm

My (limited; one-time only) experience with Diamond Way--a bunch of young people get together in a living room, sit down, and play a cassette tape of Ole speaking in English, "leading" what's called, by their centers, the "Three Lights Meditation "-it's actually a Guru Yoga based on, and composed by, 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpai Dorje, (A Shower of Ambrosia Generating the Shoot of the four Kayas, is the actual name: bla.ma'i.rnal.'byor.sku.bzhi'i.myu.gu.skyed.byed.bdud.rtsi'i.char.rgyun.ces.bya.ba.'zhugs.so). It was presented somewhat like a guided meditation. Say some "Karmapa Khyenno" mantras, a couple minutes of silent meditation, and you're done. Everyone gets up, but a few of the guys pass around a page in Tibetan, which they proceed to chant, quickly, standing up (turns out it's what we call the "Ma Dag Ma," a short Solkha to Karma Kagyu Protectors). Lots of laughter when it's finished, then it was social hour. A card table in the living room, with Ole's books on display for purchase.

Comparing it to any other Tibetan Dharma center, including even Vajradhatu/Shambhala centers, it was like apples and oranges. But hey, it was just one visit....can't say it was the typical experience.


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Kelwin
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Kelwin » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:59 am

'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:03 pm

Although I have no time for Ole, Diamondway is an interesting phenomenon. Like Vajradhatu, it's an attempt to envisage a lay Western Vajrayana Buddhist movement. Unfortunately, its leadership appears dysfunctional and Ole is not really the person who is going to actually make something like this work. Other groups who've tried this sort of thing like the Triratna Community or Vajradhatu/Shambhala tend to end up with a rather ragbag set of practices drawn from a variety of sources which does not reflect a single source tradition (that is not to say they are ineffective). Other groups like the New Kadampa are not really lay communities in the same sense even though they chant in the vernacular etc. and of course they are lead by a Tibetan monk. Maybe something like the Aro gTer group might be a better example - although it seems to draw a lot of criticism around the authenticity of its teachings (something I am not in a position to comment on).

I think a lay Vajryana tradition in the West would be really interesting but it really require a Westerner who is high learned in the chosen tradition and very spiritually advanced. Of the few Westerners who may lay claim to those qualities none some yet interested in starting such a community. Whether such a thing could ever work at this time in history is debatable. Maybe we need more time.
“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” - James S. Gordon.

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Grigoris
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Grigoris » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:33 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

honestdboy
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby honestdboy » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:12 pm

Lama Ole does seem to be a teacher that people love or strongly dislike. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing any teacher as perfect. Thus, I am in the minority of folks having mixed feelings about him, but I think he does much more good than bad, since he has greatly spread interest in the Kagyu lineage as he travels tirelessly worldwide. I also prefer to listen to teachers who say what they really think. He is an inspiring teacher for certain types of people. :anjali:


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