Introduction to Buddhism
Two thousand five hundred and fifty years ago, the
historical Buddha enjoyed unique circumstances for passing on his
teachings. Born into a highly developed culture, he was surrounded by
exceedingly gifted people. After reaching enlightenment, he shared his
methods for discovering the mind for a full forty-five years. It is for
this reason that his teachings, called the Dharma, are so vast.
Who is Buddha ?
The historical Buddha was born in approximately 570 B.C. in
Northern India. As a young man he spent six years searching and meditating.
He then recognized the true nature of mind, thus becoming Buddha - the "awakened
one." His teachings, which make beings fearless, joyful and kind, are the
main religion of several East Asian countries.
What is Buddhism ?
The Buddha gave methods by which full enlightenment may be
attained. He made clear which teachings relate to ultimate or conditional
truth. The Buddha showed his students in practical and understandable ways
how to use all experiences in life as steps toward enlightenment, giving
methods that lead to deep and lasting happiness.
What is Karma ?
Karma means cause and effect, not fate. The understanding that each of us is responsible for our own lives makes it possible to consciously generate positive impressions which bring happiness while avoiding the causes of future suffering. Positive states of mind may be effectively strengthened through the methods of the Diamond Way, while negative impressions waiting to mature, can be transformed into wisdom.
What is Meditation ?
In Buddhism, meditation means, "effortlessly remaining in what is." This
state may be brought about by calming and holding the mind, when
compassion and wisdom are realized, or by working with our bodie's energy
channels and meditating on light forms of the Buddhas.
What is Liberation and Enlightenment ?
In the process of becoming liberated, one first discovers
that body, thoughts, and feelings are in a constant state of change and
flux. There is therefore no basis for a real existing ego or 'self.' One
stops feeling like a target, taking one's suffering personally. When one
thinks, "there is suffering" instead of "I suffer," one becomes
invulnerable and free.
What are the differences between Buddhist schools ?
The Buddha worked to benefit three kinds of people. Whoever
wanted to avoid suffering received the instructions about cause and effect
called Theravada or the "Small Way." Those who wanted to do more for
others were given the Mahayana or the "Great Way," the teachings on wisdom
and compassion. To people having strong confidence in their own Buddha
nature, Buddha taught the Vajrayana or the "Diamond Way."
Diamond Way Buddhism in the West
While there are many Buddhist centers of various lineages
active in the West, this homepage pertains to the 230 lay Buddhist centers
of the Karma Kagyu Lineage which have been started by Lama Ole Nydahl.
They are under the spiritual guidance of the 17th Karmapa, Thaye Dorje,
who now resides in New Delhi, India. These groups have a democratic
structure and function through unpaid, voluntary work on the basis of
idealism and friendship. The members share the responsibility for guiding
meditations, answering questions and giving teachings. Lama Ole has so far
trained about 30 students who are now traveling and teaching in many
The Karma Kagyu Lineage
Karma Kagyu is one of the major Buddhist schools of Tibet.
As a lineage of direct oral transmission, it especially treasures
meditation and can, through interaction with a qualified teacher, bring
about the full direct experience of the nature of the mind. The Karma
Kagyu methods were taught by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni to his
The Gyalwa Karmapas are unique among the great Lamas of
Tibet, having reached full enlightenment centuries ago. During a previous
incarnation Karmapa was at the side of the historical Buddha as the great
Bodhisattva Chenrezig or "Loving Eyes." In Sanskrit his name is
Lama Ole Nydahl
Lama Ole Nydahl
and his wife Hannah were the first western students of the 16th Gyalwa
Karmapa. He recognized them as protectors of his lineage and asked them to
work for him. Since 1972, after three years of training in the Himalayas,
Lama Ole has given Diamond Way teachings in a new town nearly every day
around the world. He is always accessible to his students, and his
spontaneous joy and disregard of "holy cows" exemplifies the freedom
everyone can reach through the fearlessness of Mahamudra.