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Spring/Summer 2008 Number 21


Knowing Our Experiencing Mind

By Lama Ole Nydahl

Questions and Answers

With Miphan Rinpoche

39 10

Niguma, The Secret One

By Ulla Unger

Book Review: Life Before Life

By Josh Greene

40 16

Meditation Basics
By Tasso Kallianiotis

His Way of Teaching Was Very Skillful, Part II

By Hannah Nydahl

44 26

Buddhism in Everyday Life

By Susan Bixby

Where Does Truth Lie? Between Buddhism, Science, and Religion

By Matt Huddleston


Movie Review: Milarepa: Magician, Saint, Murderer

By Joseph Lyman


Transmission in Diamond Way Buddhism

By Manfred Maier







Editorial Board
Executive Editor: Kenn Maly Art Director: Anilou Price Copy Editor: Eveline Smilack Associate Copy Editor: Jessica Prohuska Associate Editors: Claudia Balara, Aaron Crook, Carin Crook, Cristina Ferrando, Joshua Johnson, Tasso Kallianiotis, Joseph Lyman, Angelika Prenzel, Eveline Smilack Transcription: Jim Macur, Rachelle Macur Designers: Heidi Bernhardi, Jeremy Kuzinger, Anilou Price, Bozena Sudnikiewicz Photography Coordination: Marcin Muchalski Photography: Nina Joanna Dmyterko, Andri Emov, Sven Guttormsen, Jeremy Kuzinger, Hania Lubek, Marcin Muchalski, Ginger Neumann, Bartosz Ostrowski, Rubin Museum of Art, Augis Skackauskas, Bozena Sudnikiewicz, Marcin Szymeczko, Buddhistischer Verlag, Mathias Weitbrecht Circulation Manager: Jonathan Bradley Subscriptions: Benjamin Ritchey, Renata Ritchey Finance: Jennifer Wilson Tech Support: George Porrata, Ryan Singer, Ivan Smirnov Retailers: Please contact Jonathan Bradley at: Advertisers: Please send inquiries to: Editorial: Please send comments to: Buddhism Today is a bi-annual magazine published by Diamond Way Buddhist Centers USA, a California non-prot corporation. Contents copyright Diamond Way Buddhist Centers USA. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission

From the Editor

Buddhism Today aims to be a living document of authentic Buddhist transmission intended for the lay person and yogi practitioner in the West. It is meant for people leading normal active lives, who wish to understand and experience minds vast potential. Buddhism Today will challenge your mind by providing information and news that appeals to the discriminating individual. No religious truth can be above science or humanism and Buddhism Todays aim is to work with and complement these areas of contemporary thought. For this reason, Buddhism appeals to educated critical-thinking people with fresh independent minds: people for whom nihilism rings hollow and existentialism provides no joy. The teachings presented here are benecial if taken at face value, but they can provide boundless levels of joy and freedom when applied at the Diamond Way (Vajrayana) level. This magazine supports an authentic transmission because of its direct connection to the hearing lineage of accomplished practitioners in the Karma Kagyu school. Whether you are a casual reader or a devoted practitioner, we hope to provide something in these pages to support your understanding and development. It is said that we live in interesting times. To some, these words reect the degenerative nature of the modern world in which we live. But to us, these words are a call to action and a statement of renewal, an opportunity for seeing new possibilities and openings. In either case, we promise to expound joy and humanism above political correctness or dogmatic assumptions.

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There is a kind of hidden thread that runs through this issue of Buddhism Today and it points to what Buddhism is all about: mind. Of course many people of the 21st century with fresh and intelligent minds are probably concerned with how we work with mind and the benets that we can personally accrue when we do a good job. And for those of us lucky enough to meet with Tibetan Buddhism, we also learn that the goal of our practice is development of mind and enlightenment for the sake of beneting others, human and nonhuman beings. In this issue we investigate mind, its origins, its qualities, and its activities. We explore the purpose of bringing benet to others and uniting wisdom with compassion. I invite you to follow this thread. First in Questions and Answers, Mipham Rinpoche, father of H.H. the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, discusses the mind and brain. He talks of the coarse mind, which is connected to the nerve cells in the brain and perhaps the mind on which neuroscience is generally focused. But this coarse mind manifests out of what he calls subtle primordial mind. He engenders excitement in his description of a case where doctors worked with a boy without a brain but with a mind! I hope you enjoy this story. Second, Lama Ole Nydahl addresses our experiencing mind that is not materialistic, nor even an emotional mind. He shows that mind is space: potential, indestructible, a non-thing. Read what this means for our development. Along with his focus on beneting others, he stresses how important it is to preserve the teachings and methods of Buddhism, lest they disappear, as has been happening with many cultures and languages around the world today. Third, enjoy the inspiring words of Hannah Nydahl about how the 16th Karmapa instructed her and Lama Ole. She does not speak specically of mind and its development, but her stories of how the 16th Karmapa worked with them clearly show the way mind is involved and benets from the rened and subtle methods of a teacher. Keeping in mind what these three teachers tell us about mind, see what happens with this theme in Tasso Kallianiotis on meditation, Matt Huddleston on Buddhism and science, and Manfred Maier on matters of transmission and lineage. Truly, Buddhism is primarily about mind!
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Editors Note: This article is a shortened version, edited for publication, of a lecture given by Lama Ole Nydahl in June 2004 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Around the world these daYs, a lot of people are disturbed because theY know that manY unique animals and plants are disappearing, not Just everY month or everY Year, but everY daY. But fewer people are aware that as foreign cultures disappear, we are also losing essential knowledge about mind.


Lama Ole NYdahl

In 1959, when Communist Chinese attacked and destroyed Tibet, we nearly lost some of the nest and most advanced psychological and philosophical wisdom known to man. It was a streak of extreme luck that about eighty ve thousand Tibetans managed to ee over the Himalayas into India, Bhutan, and Nepal. While most of the fugitives had little education, there were several hundred wisdom holders, people with a full practical or theoretical training concerning the nature of mind, that made the journey. This gave the idealists of the world a precious opportunity to keep and save that knowledge. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the West was getting ready. Especially in North America and Northern Europe, some people had already gone beyond their own cultures and were eager to learn new things. That was my very visible generation of hippies. I wont say we were the most regular of students. Most of us had spent twenty years at schools and universities, so we were not satised to simply hear something. Also we usually arrived with exotic smoke coming out of our noses and ears. What we wanted was experience. To the Tibetans, we took some getting used to. Not only was our democratic and taboo free culture a mystery to them, but our appearances made many think we might be from another universe. Carrot colored hair, big noses, and booming voices were a novelty. And long arms and legs like ours they only knew from their Eastern warrior tribes, the Khampas, who can be truly majestic. However, they also noticed that we had compassion and were very honest, that as Westerners we said and did the same, which is quite different from Asian preferences for politeness over directness. We were always trying to make them eat vitamins, avoid polished rice, and stuff like that. Even though they couldnt always understand us, they did see that we wanted to benet them. In 1969, sensing an interesting potential, two brave teachers started instructing Westerners for the rst time. The highly learned Geshe Rabten, from the Gelupa school, started teaching their conceptual way in the Western Himalayas, but stopped soon after, as he got sick. He continued later at Rikon in Switzerland, with the blessing of the Dalai Lama. Kalu Rinpoche, a great Kagyu yogi with thirty years of meditation experience in Eastern Tibet, worked from his monastery in foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. His small village, called Sonada, lay on the road to Darjeeling and Sikkim. He taught with the blessing of the 16th Karmapa.

Later he went to the West several times, as my books Entering the Diamond Way and Riding the Tiger describe. He kept working until his yogi death in 1989. In 1969, the main Tibetan rinpoches decided that to preserve their heritage, they had to teach Westerners. The neighboring Asian cultures were too rigid and as desperately poor refugees in a country like India, most Tibetans could not afford years of education. Instead many of their young men wanted to trade and experience the world. Worst of all, especially due to tuberculosis, the main Tibetan wisdom holders were dying very quickly. If they did not pass on their insights, they would disappear. The conscious exchange between two rich cultures that started there has continued ever since, producing 560 Diamond Way centers worldwide to date. It lls halls everywhere.

So why the happiness every time we meet? Well, we celebrate both minds potential and Buddhas trust in us. He only taught because we can recognize that happiness comes from functioning well; behaving like buddhas until we become them and then living his highest level of identication with the nest of motivation. From these perspectives, meaningful activities must follow. The key to this is knowing our experiencing mind. How many of you have ever tried to nd out what is aware right now, looking through your eyes and listening through your ears? If you did and discovered that your mind was green, or striped, or had any other material characteristic, this would be a historic discovery. On the other hand, if you didnt nd anything, you should be happy beyond compare. Though at rst you might have a nihilistic ash, thinking that maybe mind doesnt exist, soon a state of

freedom and great bliss will pervade. And why? Imagine that your mind has a certain weight, color, smell, size, or form. That what is looking through your eyes has given dimensions and that you want to think of something much bigger. Would you then try to stretch mind, or would you try to fold whatever object you wished to make it t? Thus any materialistic concept of mind presents major practical problems and the emotional ones are much worse. If mind had been made or born or put together, like all discernable things, it would certainly also die, disappear, and fall apart. The reassuring thought that mind is a thing, that it has a certain voltage or some other physical characteristic, and the supercially secure feeling that people seek through such a view, would become a short lived happiness at ones second realization: that all things and events are transitory and impermanent. On the other hand, if we recognize that mind is not a thing, that it is without size, color, smell or form, then like space, we see that our awareness has not been created and also can never die nor disappear. The realization of the non-existence of any personal ego or self is the goal of the Theravada Buddhist traditions in of Indochina (minus Vietnam) and Ceylon, and it brings the unshakeable state of liberation. As there is no me that can be a target, suffering is an illusion and upon discovering this, disappears. It is a most relieving insight that we are not the bodies that get old, sick, and die, no matter how many vitamins we eat, and also not the thoughts and feelings which come and go, which would make confusion a lasting state. In its essence, mind can only be explained as potential, a neutral element, a non-thing. But the best description of mind remains indestructible space. And this understanding gives beings a true refuge, something we can rely upon. It is not the experience of not being anything or vulnerable that really transforms peoples awareness. It provides a growing certainty that mind is indestructible and has a pervasive and very strong effect. It really does remove fear, tightness, and so on. One becomes ever more aware that the clear light experiencing the world through our senses is outside the limitation of time. That it has never been made, created, born or put together, and can therefore be trusted to last. If beings see only the pictures in the mirror and not the mirror behind them, experience only the waves but not the unmoving ocean underneath, living only for objects of awareness, the things we think of and notice, then everything is Disneyland. We are then always in the past or in the future, holding onto or pushing away, trying to prove or excuse things, and there is no center. We are like leaves

On the other hand, if we experience our power of awareness, feel something to be conscious right here and now, know that there is something between and behind the thoughts that perceives and understands, then everything is free play and a gift.
in the wind; sometimes here, sometimes there. On the other hand, if we experience our power of awareness, feel something to be conscious right here and now, know that there is something between and behind the thoughts that perceives and understands, then everything is free play and a gift. Once the mirror is known, whatever comes and goes is its richness and always interesting. When we rest in the indestructible certainty that what knows and experiences consciousness can neither be improved nor harmed in any way, then we stop being like ordinary people, going to the cinema and hoping for a good lm. Instead we own the lm studios and the whole industry and are simply impressed by all the amazing things going on. With this view, things become interesting and fantastic, just because they reveal minds potential. We live in highly productive societies and usually think of mind as intelligence. But after recognizing its empty essence and the non-reality rst of a self and later also of an existent outer world, its boundlessness becomes evident. Mind is much more than abstract or practical thought. One also has memory, feelings, dreams, artistic and inventive abilities and so on. Beyond its space and awareness, one will notice yet a third quality, that mind plays incessantly and is limitless in its expression. After fearlessness and love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity become inseparable and it is difcult to separate ones own experience from that of others. At this point one notices how everybody thinks they are very special cases and should be happy. More than that, it becomes evident that others are countless


and each of us is only just one. Simple arithmetic then makes it clear that others must be more important and naturally brings forth the four kinds of perfect love mentioned above. They peak as minds quality of compassion, meaning, and active kindness. And how can a normal critical person trust something so wonderful to be true and dependable? Because space with its inherent awareness, constant play, and active compassion is indestructible. Realizing that, minds disturbing feelings lose their hold. From the view of indestructible space, any thought, feeling, or situation will be seen as at least interesting. We may then think, A while ago I was proud, then I got jealous. Right now I am confused. How interesting. Lets see what comes tomorrow. Viewing the whole circus from an unshakeable point of reference, one merely notices the originality of an interesting show. If desired, there also exists a whole box of tools. When formerly disturbing feelings come, one may avoid them, be aware of the situations of others or simply think, Make yourselves a cup of coffee, Im busy right now. Also one may be smart enough to let the thief come to an empty house. On the way to true inner freedom, one learns to experience whatever pleasant

appears as a blessing and everything difcult as purication and a teaching to better help others later. Buddha had a most practical goal, to give others the chance to become like him. He instructed his students to ask any questions they wanted and to continue until they were satised. With his powerful presence, it was important that his students did not just choose the easy way and start believing things. Therefore he frequently used concept shattering methods. It is said that one monk was afraid of the doctor but had a bump on his head that was infected. The doctor went to Buddha and said, He always runs away from me and if I dont operate, it will go into his brain and he will die. So Buddha replied, Tonight I will give a teaching which will especially interest him. While he is listening with the others, you come from behind and do the operation. It is actually said that the man only knew the bump was gone after the teaching ended. It seems that Buddha could have sold refrigerators in Greenland and woolen underwear in the Congo. But he also knew how quickly supercial convictions can change. Thats why his teachings always included a phase of analysis and clarication. What he wanted to avoid were teachings that were fullling on a Friday afternoon before a sunny weekend but lacked power on a rainy Monday morning when the boss is sour. He provoked his students to be sure that they really understood what was said and that the level of teachings corresponded to their lives. Buddhas teachings consist of 84,000 non-dogmatic instructions and pieces of advice, contained in four groups of 21,000 each. In print, they ll 108 books, called the Kanjur. If we take these teachings as information to study and learn, we see that three of the groups are t for that, but the fourth one is not. The Vinaya, given against desire and attachment, holds rules mainly for monks and nuns. It concerns things to do and not to do. His second eld of advice, the Sutra, is for lay people. It transforms anger and shows us how to skillfully protect others and benet society. The third group, called Abhidharma, targets ignorance. It is a practical and very interesting kind of logic, unlike the formal kinds we learn at Western universities. Buddhist logic deals with scenarios that can be understood through real world observations, and avoids premises that cannot be solved with experience. Vinaya was given for monks and nuns, Sutra to the lay people, and the Abhidharma was presented to philosophers, the thinkers. Buddha also gave a fourth and selfsecret level of teaching to those who can see him as a mirror to their minds and not as a god or a person. Showing them their timeless inner essence, they could only

respond with devotion. A deep kind of trusting thankfulness arose in them because they understood that perfection may only be seen outside because it is inside one all the time. This insight conrms that beings can achieve buddhahood. The fourth group of teachings which point directly to mind has several names: Buddhist Tantrayana (Hindus use the same word for a very different practice), Vajrayana, and Mantrayana. Tantra in Sanskrit means weaving, using ones totality of body, speech, and mind. Accordingly experiences are made which have a lasting and enlightening effect. Tantra is therefore the opposite to a Buddhist intellectual understanding, often gathered under the title of Sutra, which is like covering a hole in ones development with a patch. When the thread wears out, the patch falls off and the hole reappears. In Tantra, experiences mature and become a part of one, like the rst act of lovemaking or the rst time tasting sugar. Mantrayana is the name for conscious and protective vibrations. They open and charge ones bodily awareness centers with beyond personal energies. The energy forms invoked and the mantras used in this practice are really like making telephone calls. The OM at the start is like lifting a receiver and getting a dial tone. The next syllables are like dialing a Buddhas number, and the line is never busy. The last syllables show direction, like HUNG for strength, HRIH for compassion, TAM for the female compassion of liberatrice, PE for cutting through, and SOHA for spreading out. The third term for these transformative teachings is Vajrayana or Diamond Way. This is not to attract rich ladies who have read that such compressed pieces of carbon are their best friend, but because it makes mind exceedingly radiant and indestructible, like a diamond. The Diamond Way of behaving like buddhas until we become them uses the three truly transforming powers inherent in all beings: their capacity to know and their awareness to act, their energy, and above all, their ability to identify with their enlightened potential through their bond to a teacher.

The rst of these, using ones power of awareness, calms and holds mind through focusing on one object. This makes a meditator intuitive. Its effect is markedly enhanced though the bodhisattva motivation, that one will use any progress for the benet of all. Methods of breathing and ones focus on the inner energy channels and wheels of the body are the basis for the second way of energy, yielding results which amaze scientists even today. Most important, however, remains the guru yogas of identication, used by countless Westerners, that give free access to both minds awareness and energy, and skillfully manifest ones buddha nature.


Lama Ole Nydahl

Lama Ole Nydahl is one of the few Westerners fully qualied as a lama and meditation teacher in the Karma Kagyu Buddhist tradition. In 1972, after completing three years of intensive meditation training, Lama Ole began teaching Buddhism in Europe at the request of H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. He has since transmitted the blessing of the lineage in a different city nearly every day, traveling and teaching worldwide as an authorized lama. His depth of knowledge and dynamic teachings inspire thousands of people at his lectures and retreats in North and South America, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Asia.


the Secret One
BY Ulla UnGer
iguma was one of the legendary 11th century female Indian yoginis and is reported to have been born in 1016 AD. However, there are few historical sources about her or her student, the Shangpa Kagyu master Khyungpo Naljor, who transmitted teachings in Tibet. It is said he only met her in several visions, 150 years after her lifetime. The only reliable sources of information on Niguma are from the biographies of the Indian scholar and accomplisher (Sanskrit: Mahasiddha, Tibetan: Drubchen) Naropa (956-1040), with whom she kept close contact. Tibetan sources describe Niguma with the words Cham Mo, which means both sister and wife. In Naropas life story, as translated by Herbert V. Guenther, Niguma was Naropas wife. Guenther described Naropa as the son of a respected royal family with an extraordinary education in both spiritual and worldly elds. At the age of eighteen he was already considered a scholar and he wanted to become a monk. However, his parents insisted that he should marry and continue the family line. To avoid this without appearing rebellious, Naropa demanded a number of impossible conditions a potential candidate had to meet: She was to be sixteen years old, very beautiful, intelligent, free from prejudice, clean, the daughter of a Brahmin, and in addition be called Niguma. Finally, she had to be open to the teachings of the Great Way and have blonde hair. He assured his parents he would agree to marry as soon as they had found such a bride. His parents were totally desperate, faced with this hopeless situation. Nevertheless, out of devotion to Naropas father, a very loyal minister started on a journey together with a friend to nd this special bride. After they had been traveling in vain for more than a year, one day they had a special encounter at a well in Bengal; just then a Brahmins daughter came to the same well.

The fruit is the realization that ones own mind is indestructible and infallible.

This article is a reprint of one chapter from Dakinis: Life Stories of Female Buddhas, edited by Angelika Prenzel and published by Buddhistischer Verlag in 2007. Buddhism Today thanks the publisher for permission to publish this chapter. The book tells eleven life stories from the time when Diamond Way Buddhism was blooming in India and Tibet. They show how people, by applying these views and techniques, can use personal challenges for development, take responsibility for oneself and ones environment, and above all, reach inner freedom and lasting happiness. Hannah Nydahl said about this book, We dont so much learn the same meditations, but rather use the biographies as motivation for our own practice and development here and now.

Her blonde hair was tied up in a knot and she looked around with wide eyes. When she saw nobody to draw water with a rope for her, she did the job herself without the slightest hesitation. Then the minister addressed her and asked for some water. The girl was deeply touched by how tired and exhausted they both looked and fullled their wish with great pleasure. She paid meticulous attention to handing them a clean drinking bowl. This showed the minister that she had a very compassionate nature and a natural sense of cleanliness, so he asked about her parents, her name, her age, and to what caste she belonged. She answered, My father is the Brahmin Tisya. My mother is the Brahmin Nigu and my brother is the Brahmin Nagu. I am called Niguma. I am sixteen years old and belong to the Brahmin caste. The minister could hardly believe that all these details corresponded to Naropas demands. So he asked her if she had ever heard of Naropa, King Santivarmans son, and if she could imagine marrying him. She said he would have to ask her father about it and she would follow her fathers wishes. Her parents subsequently agreed to the marriage. Naropa was quite astonished since the impossible conditions he dictated seemed to him a rather secure way of avoiding marriage. The couple was married for eight years and Niguma was eager to learn from Naropa and practiced the Great Way. After being married for eight years, Naropas previous aspiration to be free from samsaric life awoke again and he decided to get a divorce in order to be able to enter a monastery. It is said that Niguma offered to take all the blame for the failed marriage by saying she had made so many mistakes that he could no longer endure being married to her. The couples parents negotiated the matter and decided to dissolve the marriage. After that, Naropa built an impressive career at the

famous monastic university of Nalanda, where he was even granted the position of gatekeeper, an enormous responsibility. However, he later renounced this respected position to become a disciple of the yogi Tilopa (988-1069). Having suffered twelve greater and twenty four smaller disasters in the course of his spiritual development, after twelve years Naropa nally became enlightened. While there is no clear description as to how Niguma attained enlightenment, one source states that she practiced together with her teacher, the great accomplisher Lavapa , and became enlightened in only one week!




Photo courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art, New York

When the ocean of conditioned existence has run dry and any attachment to external phenomena or ones ego has been abandoned, then everything experienced will become golden elds of non-attachment.
There may still be original Tibetan texts which could offer further details when translated to a Western language, however, at present only fragments are available. All available sources, such as those authored by Taranatha (born c.1575), who is especially known for his work History of Buddhism in India and a standard text on Green Tara, clearly states that she received neither the teachings on working with enlightened energy nor those on working with the mind from a human teacher, but from Diamond Holder (Sanskrit: Vajradhara, Tibetan: Dorje Chang) in a vision. Since Buddha Shakyamuni often appeared in the form of Diamond Holder to his disciples when giving tantric teachings, Diamond Holder is considered to be inseparable from him. Thus, Niguma received teachings directly from Buddhas mind and since she was able to open up so deeply, she did not have to practice for many years. After her enlightenment Niguma took the form of a wisdom dakini. Since then she has been dwelling in the enlightened awareness of the Joy State (Sanskrit: Sambhogakaya, Tibetan: Long Ku) of buddhahood and can no longer be perceived by normal beings. However, she never ceased to exist. Historically, Niguma is mentioned only very rarely after her divorce and she is said to have remained a devoted disciple of the great master Naropa. The Buddhist scriptures preserve some of Nigumas oral instructions, such as the empowerment of the Buddha Oh Diamond (Sanskrit: Hevajra, Tibetan: Kye Dorje), in whose

direct lineage of transmission she appears together with Sukhasiddhi. Other known teachings by Niguma deal with the steps on the Path of Magical Illusion (Sanskrit: Mayadhanacrama). These are explanations for very advanced meditations on insight into the illusory nature of all things. Niguma even considered buddhahood itself an illusion, the highest illusion of all, but still an illusion. In biographies of the translator Marpa (1012-1097), who became a disciple of Naropa, Niguma is mentioned as Marpas tutor who helped him work on and write down various texts. Also, Naropa sent Marpa to Niguma to learn from her as one of his many teachers. Naropa, however, gave no hint as to the relation between him and Niguma. On the shore of a poisonous lake in the south, at the cremation grounds of Sosadvipa, there lives the [dark skinned] Wisdom Dakini, who adorns herself with bone ornaments. Whoever encounters her is liberated. Meet her and ask her for the teaching on the Cathuhpitha Tantra. Marpa met Niguma there, where she was dwelling in a grass hut. After he had presented her with a gold mandala, he asked her for the teaching. Very happily she gave him the full empowerment and the oral transmission of the Cathuhpitha Tantra. Moreover, Niguma instructed him on the Developing Stage (Sanskrit: Utpatti, Tibetan: Kyerim) and the Completion Stage (Sanskrit: Sampannakrama, Tibetan: Dzogrim) of meditation. On his later journeys Marpa frequently returned to Niguma to receive further teachings and one time he stayed with her for a whole month. All further encounters with the enlightened Niguma took place in the form of visions, experienced by her later lineage holders Khyungpo Naljor, Sangye Tonpa, Kunga Drolchok, and Taranatha in Tibet. In addition, the famous lama and engineer Thangtong Gyalpo, who built numerous suspension bridges with solid metal chains in old Tibet, had three visions of her. The rst time, she appeared from a cloud, descended to earth, gave him empowerments and many teachings, and held a vajra celebration with him after she answered his many questions. Some years later, she appeared again, this time as a singing fteen year old shepherdess, who sadly told Thangtong Gyalpo how hard it was to benet beings as a girl. She had shown herself at various places in central and western Tibet to give teachings to happy people, but he was the only one who had recognized her. At the end of Thangtong Gyalpos life, one of his disciples who had received the traditional Shangpa teachings from him had gained clairvoyant control over his dreams. This disciple discovered that Thangtong Gyalpo knew many more visualizations and asked him why he had not passed these on. Thangtong Gyalpo answered that

they had been given to him directly by the dakini and she had expressly forbidden him to pass them on. Like many other Shangpa masters, Thangtong Gyalpo respected Nigumas wish to keep her teachings secret. The later founder of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, Khyungpo Naljor studied with 150 such teachers and one of the most famous among them was Niguma. According to Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Kyungpo Naljor was one of the most highly realized masters Tibet has ever

produced. Khyungpo Naljor met Niguma about 150 years after her ofcial lifetime in a wild vision. Despite his already substantial knowledge, he still wished for more advanced teachings and asked all the highly realized Indian masters he knew for them. He longed for teachings as they were given by Buddha himself. Their response was that he could only receive these from a dakini like the great Niguma. And where could he nd her? Well, she could show up anywhere, but for




beings constantly confused by their own emotions it was very hard, if not impossible, to encounter her at all. Niguma had dissolved her normal, physical body into rainbow light and regarding her spiritual state, she was inseparable from Diamond Holder himself. But it might be possible to encounter her at one of the cremation grounds, where she instructed a number of dakinis and presided over a large ritual offering festival (Sanskrit: Ganacakra, Tibetan: Tsog Kyi Khorlo). When Khyungpo Naljor heard about Niguma, he knew instantly that he had to nd her. Just hearing her name touched him so deeply that his eyes lled with tears and he began to tremble. Without hesitation he started on his way to a cemetery named Sosaling, although he could not be sure whether he really would nd Niguma there. While traveling, he constantly made wishes to the Three Jewels: to Buddha, to his teachings, and to the community of realized practitioners. When he arrived at Sosaling, Khyungpo Naljor had a vision: high above, he saw a female light and energy form of a bluish color. She was wearing bone ornaments, held a trident in one hand and a skull cup in the other. While he was looking at her, sometimes there seemed to be only one dakini, sometimes many. Some were sitting in meditation

posture and others were dancing very gracefully. He didnt have the slightest doubt; this had to be the great bodhisattva Niguma! He started prostrating to her and entreated her to transmit her teachings. But she answered him with scathing mockery, Beware! I am a esh eating dakini and I have a large retinue of other dakinis. Run away before they come and devour you! Run before it is too late! Khyungpo Naljor was not intimidated; however, he pressed on and asked for teachings, so she started to demand gold from him. Fortunately, this posed no problem as he had 500 gold pieces, which he offered her without hesitation. An offering of this kind was quite common in those days. In return teachers then took responsibility for their disciples living expenses once they had been accepted. Niguma, however, just took the gold and threw it away into the bushes. Obviously she had no attachment to conditioned things such as gold and Khyungpo Naljor took this as conrmation that he had indeed found the real accomplisher Niguma. An evil, esh eating dakini would certainly have at least kept part of the gold for herself. So he felt even more assured and continued to ask for the teachings. With aming eyes Niguma looked in all directions and suddenly she was surrounded by a large gathering of dakinis. They were doing all kinds of things: Some built palaces, others mandalas, some prepared Dharma teachings and others the evenings festival. Eventually, when the full moon rose, Niguma gave the empowerment and transmission of the Dream Yoga teachings (Tibetan: Milam) to Khyungpo Naljor. In the middle of the ceremony she said, Son of Tibet, rise! and he found himself hovering in the air. When he looked up to Niguma, she was sitting on top of a golden mountain, surrounded by a large retinue of dakinis. Waterfalls were owing down the four sides of the mountain. Khyungpo Naljor wondered whether what he saw was real or if he was just witnessing the magical play of the dakinis. Niguma gave him teachings and explained, When the ocean of conditioned existence has run dry and any attachment to external phenomena or ones ego has been abandoned, then everything experienced will become golden elds of non-attachment. The present nature of samsara, the world of phenomena, is like a play of dreams and magically produced illusory pictures. If you really experience that the world of phenomena is nothing but a dream, comparable to the pictures a magician may produce, then you have overcome the ocean of samsara. To do so you must be extremely devoted to your teacher.

Understand this! Now you have to leave. Go and take hold of your dreams! Khyungpo Naljor understood her teachings and in his dreams he received the Five Golden Doctrines of Niguma and three empowerments including the Six Teachings of Niguma. After this, Niguma told Khyungpo Naljor that apart from him nobody had received the entire transmission of these teachings three times in a dream. On the next day, Niguma granted Khyungpo Naljor the complete transmission with detailed explanations while he was awake. She made him promise to keep the transmission of the Six Teachings of Niguma secret together with only one other great accomplisher by the name of Lavapa. After that time, for ve generations the transmission was to be given by only one teacher at a time to one very special disciple in an unbroken lineage of transmission. After these ve generations it would be appropriate to spread the teachings further for the benet of all beings. One can only guess why Niguma wished for such secrecy. Perhaps she wanted to prevent her teachings from becoming a school and subsequently an institution. Khyungpo Naljor was not by any means the only one Niguma asked for such secrecy. Thangtong Gyalpo had been instructed likewise. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Shangpa lineage has never grown very large and that only those practitioners that can encounter it are seriously setting off on a path towards enlightenment. In essence, there is no difference between the Six teachings of Naropa (Tibetan: Naro Cho Druk) and the Six Teachings of Niguma. It is said only that Nigumas teachings are physically less strenuous. The main difference is the transmission line itself; the Six Teachings of Naropa have been transmitted through Marpa and his lineage holders within the Karma Kagyu School. The Five Golden Doctrines of the Shangpa Kagyu are often illustrated in the form of a tree. The roots are the Six Practices of Niguma: Inner Heat (Tibetan: Tumo) Illusory Body (Tibetan: Gyulu) Dream Yoga which removes spiritual darkness (Tibetan: Milam) Clear Light Yoga (Tibetan: Osel) Transference of Consciousness (Tibetan: Phowa) Intermediate State (Tibetan: Bardo)

The trunk is The Great Seal of the Amulet Box (Sanskrit: Mahamudra, Tibetan: Chagchen, Chagya Chenpo). The branches are the three methods of how to integrate the understanding of all phenomena the practitioner has gained through meditation into their everyday life. The blossoms are the Meditations on the White and the Red Dakini. The fruit is the realization that ones own mind is indestructible and infallible. These teachings go back to both Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. They have never been rewritten or changed in the slightest and are considered as ne and pure as gold. Since Niguma and Sukhasiddhi transmitted their knowledge to Khyungpo Naljor, they are considered the Mothers of the Shangpa Kagyu. Moreover, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye considers them to be incarnations of the two main wives of Guru Rinpoche, Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal. Niguma reached enlightenment in only one week and therefore, was doubtlessly one of the most successful practitioners ever. Still, her history can only be told with the help of other masters biographies and not by the usual means of chronologically arranged information. The reason that the information is missing may be that in Nigumas day in medieval India it was just not customary to write a womans biography. On the other hand, she also left the physically perceptible, material world at the time of her enlightenment. Therefore, she never was in the position of a Guru with many disciples who would have told her story. Or perhaps she was just a wild yogini, who did not want anybody to make too much of a fuss about her.

Lavapa was one of the 84 great Indian Mahasiddhas. He was one of the teachers of Tilopa (988-1069) and Atisha (982-1055).

Sources: Guenther, Herbert V., The Life and Teaching of Naropa, Shambhala South - Asia Editions, Boston (Massachusetts) 1999. - Kongtrul,Jamgon, Retreat Manual, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca (New York) 1994. - Kongtrul,Jamgon, Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verse from the Shangpa Masters, Tsadra Foundation, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca (New York) 2003. Riggs, Nicole, Like an Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters, - Dharma Cloud Press, Eugene (Oregon) 2001. Shaw, Miranda, Passionate Enlightenment, Princeton University Press - Paberbacks, Princeton (New Jersey) 1994. Trungpa, Chogyam, The Life of Marpa the Translator: Seeing - Accomplishes All, Shambhala Publications, Boston (Massachusetts) & London 1995.


Ulla Unger

Ulla Unger, a nutritionist by training, joined Diamond Way Buddhism in 1981. She organized the Buddhist Karma Kagyu Meditation Center in Munich, Germany and has coordinated it for fteen years. She is co-founder of the German Buddhist magazine Buddhismus Heute, originally called Kagyu Life. She now owns and drives a taxi in Munich.




His WaY of TeaChinG Was VerY SKillful


Hannah Nydahl on the

Part II

This is the second and nal installment of a talk that Hannah Nydahl gave at a course on H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in Leverkusen, Germany in 2005. Part I appeared in Buddhism Today No. 20. This portion continues to tell the story of how she and Lama Ole Nydahl rst met Karma Kagyu Tibetan Buddhism in the late 1960s and how the 16th Karmapa worked with them for development of mind and bringing Diamond Way Buddhism to the West. Hannah Nydahl spent over thirty years doing just this. She saw it as her and Lama Oles responsibility, simply their specic function in this time or epoch, to make the deep wisdom of Tibet accessible to our part of the world, as she once said. She died on April 1, 2007. This article, in its two parts, is a tribute to her work. Buddhism Today is extremely grateful to Claudia Balara for her careful and intense work in translating this article from the German and preparing it for publication here.

H.H the 16th Karmapa

ince we could not stay in Rumtek, we agreed that the best thing we could do was to go to Sonada, where Kalu Rinpoche was. Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche had already told us about the lama who sometimes taught Westerners. Although Sonada was only half a day trip from Rumtek, we were very, very sad that things werent progressing in Rumtek and that we were sent there. Kalu Rinpoche had a few students around him and they had started to practice. The time had come where we would actually start to learn something. Kalu Rinpoche gave teachings for about one hour every day. It started out with, What does refuge mean? What is karma? and, What are the Paramitas? This lasted for many months, during which time we also started on our Ngondro. But the whole time we were staying there, we really wanted to go to Sikkim to be with Karmapa. Already at that time, there was quite a difference from being with Karmapa or being with Kalu Rinpoche, being the student of one or the other. The people in Sonada

were students of Kalu Rinpoche and he always made it clear that we were students of Karmapa. We didnt really know what that meant at that time, but Rinpoche was always very kind to us. One day he told us that Karmapa was going to Bhutan and there was a possibility to meet him. We went off immediately and met Karmapa at the Teeshta Bridge when he came down from Rumtek. He then took us all the way to Bhutan with him. Illegally, he hid us in his truck. The deeper we got into the practice, the stronger our bond to Karmapa became. He was our connection to the dharma and we gradually started to gain more and more understanding. I would like to tell you a little more about how he worked with us. His method was to throw us in the water and we simply had to learn how to swim. One day in Rumtek, for example, he called us and asked, Do you have a drivers licence? And when we said Yes, he said, Okay, then we are going to Nepal. We dont have enough drivers. So why dont you drive a car?



Hannah Nydahl


Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl with H.H the 16th Karmapa in the mid 70s

The deeper we got into the practice, the stronger our bond to Karmapa became. He was our connection to the dharma, and we gradually started to gain more and more understanding.
You have to know that driving a jeep in Asia is very different from driving a car in the West. First of all, they drive on the left side of the road. The jeeps were really old and the roads in the Nepali mountains back then were even worse than they are today. So we drove all the way from Rumtek to Kathmandu. I do not think I ever had such a hard drive in my whole life. It was terrible! Ole was in one car and I was driving one of the other jeeps. It took one and a half days of constant driving. We stopped once to get some sleep, but during the day we drove non-stop on bad roads, up the mountains. And then Ole had the accident. I was driving the car behind him and I saw Oles car in the front going faster and faster. And it didnt stop when we were going in the curves, but I just stayed behind him, having no idea what was going on. Then he suddenly drove into the side of the mountain! (Laughs.) It looked very dangerous. The road was really steep. I stopped and Ole got out of the car. He said that the brakes had entirely failed and he couldnt stop the car anymore. Luckily Ole was at the wheel, because he was able to handle the situation. Karmapa had been in another car further up front, and of course the whole convoy stopped. The Tibetans still talk about it to this day, because Ole had the lama who was holding the black crown sitting next to him and had just started to say Karmapa Chenno mantras, thinking of Karmapa. Karmapa came over and we debated what to do.

After all, we were in the middle of the mountains. Ole suggested tying the car to another car. Karmapa was there during our discussion, checking everything out. It was a crazy thing to do, all sorts of things could have gone wrong, but it seemed like the only feasible solution. Ole would sit in the car by himself and it would be pulled. Karmapa came over to me and wanted to know whether I thought it was a good idea. I asked him back, What do you think? Because we trusted him so much, we were totally condent that he knew exactly what was going on. If he would give the go ahead, it would work out. He said, Okay and so we went on and nothing happened. But it was crazy! Karmapa would constantly check our trust in him. Something would happen and he would always want our feedback and nd out how far we would go, how far our trust would go. Some of these things we only understood after many years. For example, when we met him the rst time, we gave him some LSD, in our eyes the best gift. He politely accepted it. Many years later he talked to other people about it, saying that LSD is not good but he accepted it from us because he knew that then we wouldnt take it. When Karmapa gave us the refuge and lay promise, he only asked us for one thing; that from now on, we werent allowed to take any LSD anymore, because we took the promise not to take any intoxicants. His blessing was so powerful that from that moment we never even thought of LSD again. It just vanished from our minds, when before it was the thing. We didnt believe in any other drugs and had stopped smoking hash, but we had still believed in LSD. From that moment, we never thought of it again. Whatever Karmapa said, whatever he blessed, would immediately work without any hesitation. When he gave us teachings, it was never in a formal way, but they were essential teachings. He would suddenly ask what we thought about different things. We would answer and then started thinking how to improve the answer to make it sound more intelligent. But Karmapa wouldnt listen anymore, he just said: First thought, best thought! That was his level of teaching, very direct and not conceptual in any way. Sometimes I had to translate for Karmapa, which was quite tricky and very different from translating for anyone else. I had learned the alphabet before, so this came in very handy when we stayed in Sonada and did our Ngondro, because the texts were in Tibetan and there was no translator. This is how I started. We got hold of a dictionary and with my knowledge of the alphabet, I could read the dictionary and then translate everything word by word. When we did prostrations, I translated the text and

we did our 100,000 repetitions. Then we came to the next part and I translated that. We really started from scratch and learned in that way, and slowly we also started to gain more and more understanding. After a few years, we had been coming and going to Sikkim and had nished our Ngondro. Karmapa called us up to him one day and told us, Okay, now you go home. Home? Where is home? We thought that we would be there forever. We had even given him our passports at some point and we thought that was it. Then he said, Yes, now its time for you to go home. There are other people who will like to hear about what you have been learning here. He gave us a thangka (scroll painting) of the three main bodhisattvas: Loving Eyes, Wisdom Buddha, and Diamond in Hand. He said, You will need compassion,

Kalu Rinpoche




Karmapa always taught the essence, not so many detailed traditional things. That is what he wanted to transmit and what he wanted us to use and realize.

wisdom, and strength. I will give them to you symbolically in this picture and that is what you will take with you when you go back [to Europe]. So he sent us to the West and said, I will send Kalu Rinpoche rst, so he can prepare the way. He has done the same when we came from Tibet. And then I will come. So we went back to Europe in the autumn of 1972. We prepared everything the way he had told us to, and in 1974 Karmapa came for the rst time himself. He arrived in Oslo and we had prepared a car for him. You may have seen lms of Karmapa being welcomed in the US. All we had was our small VW bus, painted, with nice curtains and nice cushions. And thats how we picked him and the crew up from the airport. We spent a little time with him in Oslo and then went over to Stockholm. It was there when I had a dream about my mother. I went to Karmapa and told him about her. He didnt say much. He just took it in. A little later, I was sitting in a room with Karmapa in a place in Sweden where we had started a center with Kalu Rinpoche. Someone suddenly brought in a telephone. It was Oles mother who told me that my mother had just died. She had a heart attack, so it was a sudden death. Karmapa was sitting next to me, so he immediately got the message and said, Your mother is very lucky! He told me that she had a connection with him and that she had died in this moment was very

auspicious. Karmapa immediately held a ceremony for my mother. One could not wish for a better death. Of course it was difcult, but to have Karmapa there at that moment and let him take her through, that was very special. Right after that we went to Copenhagen, where he gave the Black Crown Ceremony for the rst time in Europe. At that time nobody knew what Buddhism was or who Karmapa was, but 2000 people came, among them my father. My parents had spent their whole life together and such a sudden death is always difcult for the one who is left behind. My father was invited to come and Karmapa really looked after him, explaining to him how happy my mother was now. Of course that was difcult for my father, who wasnt a Buddhist, to understand and to accept, but it helped him anyway. Karmapa gave my mother a lot of attention. A few days after the Black Crown Ceremony, he gave an empowerment especially for my mother: Almighty Ocean (Tibetan: Gyalwa Gyamtso), the red form of Loving Eyes in union. She had a strong connection to him. Even when she was still alive, she was very open to Buddhism. Through Oles and my rst hippie years and the times in prison, she was the one who was always the most understanding and who often saved the situation when things were difcult. Before Karmapa came, she already had a premonition. The last time I saw her, she told me

what I should do when she died. So there was this very very close connection between them. The way Karmapa took care of things with my mother was very kind. Later, it was the same with Oles parents and my father. He even came to our homes. He was caring and very compassionate on all levels. As mentioned earlier, Karmapas way of teaching us was by throwing us in the water and we simply had to swim. I have experienced that with him several times. One time, I think it was in 1977, we were driving with Karmapa and the whole group from Denmark to Holland in a bus. There must have been a real draft, because when we arrived I was really ill with what I later found out to be pyelitis. The Buddhist center was a tower and Ole and I were staying on the top oor of the tower. Karmapa was staying somewhere else. I was really sick. I had fever and cramps. It was incredibly painful. In order to go to the toilet, one had to walk down six oors. I really thought I was dying. I never had anything like that before and I had no idea what it was. They had planned a program with Karmapa for the evening, a Karma Pakshi empowerment, and I was supposed to translate. Karmapa called me to him and I literally crawled to him. He smiled and said, It is okay. Where does it hurt? I showed him where, he blew on it and said, Okay, so you go to the hospital, but rst we

have the empowerment! So the empowerment took place and I translated for him. I dont know how I managed to get through. Even under normal circumstances, translating for Karmapa was totally different from translating for anyone else because he taught in a quite unusual way. At that time I had just started to translate and usually the teachings I translated were quite structured. I had learned a little bit about dharma by then and could follow the thoughts. You heard some words and translated them, and it made sense. When Karmapa taught, he would speak very poetically and not follow any structure. It would seem like he had no idea of what he was talking about. And you could not use your normal intellectual way of translating. It just didnt work. The only chance was to forget everything and just try to tune in to him, to trust that he would somehow be able to work through you and the right things would come out. During the empowerment, Karmapa explained what to visualize and how some details appeared. There is a part in the Karma Pakshi empowerment about the nature of the mind that is usually never explained by any of the lamas, Karmapa included. But on that day, Karmapa started teaching about the nature of mind. It was a part of the Word Empowerment where the teacher uses Mahamudra words, which then, click, make you understand mind. On that day he actually taught that and I had to translate it.




Im very grateful. It was another of his skillful means. In an extreme situation like that, one does not function in a normal way. You can only do it if you understand the teachings intuitively, that is the only way. He gave me this incredible blessing and I managed to make it. I dont know what I said, but it was okay and everything was all right. After the empowerment I was taken to the hospital. Karmapa could put you in the most extreme situations, and then teach you something. He did that a lot. Quite a few people were actually slightly afraid of Karmapa because he was so powerful. When he was laughing, the whole house was laughing. When he frowned, it was the end of the world. I had moments like that as well, where it would be almost too much for me. That was part of the purications. At other times when he expressed his compassion, everything he did was out of compassion anyway, but when he showed it in the loving way, he would melt everybodys heart. And people, whether they were Buddhists or not, would get the blessing. Once I was driving a car and Karmapa was with me. We had to go from Frankfurt all the way down to Austria. It was a van and it was very slow. It just had no power. No matter how much I stepped on the pedal, nothing really happened.

We already knew at that time that Karmapa loved to drive fast. And I had to drive him in this car, so I knew from the beginning it would be a disaster. So I was driving and then he started looking at me. I started to ask him some questions and after a little while he asked me to stop the car because he wanted to sit in the back seat. (Laughs.) I kept on driving. At some point when we were going uphill and were even slower, he suddenly said, Now pass! And I just couldnt. It would have taken forever to pass the car in front of us and I had no chance of seeing if anyone would be coming from the other direction. Karmapa really tried to make me do it and I just didnt know what to do. I had them all in the car and if something happened, it would have been terrible. At the same time, he told me to do it. But before we came up to the top, the car was so slow that it was simply impossible. Again it was a situation where he just wanted you to do something that was totally against common sense, but you have the trust and you just do it. I tried, but in this situation it just didnt work and he was already in the back seat. The journey took, of course, much longer than it would have taken with a faster car. But there was nothing I could do about it and when we came to Munich, Karmapa

went into the fast car with Ole. But he was laughing about it too. He would do these things all the time. He watched our reaction and then laughed. It was like a teaching and purication at the same time. Another time Karmapa took Ole and me up to his room in Rumtek, as he wanted to give us some gifts. He gave me some folded clothes and I was so happy! He asked me to put them on, so I did. It was an old fashioned Tibetan chuba for women. Today they have a version which is quite easy to put on. It is one piece and you turn it around and it ts everybody. But this was an older version and it was quite tricky to dress up in. You are meant to wear a chuba down to your ankles. It is a sign of class, but of course I was much taller than the average Tibetan woman. So you can imagine how funny it looked. It was impossible to wear it that short. But Karmapa made me wear it and I had to walk around in it, and he just couldnt stop laughing. He was laughing his head off, because in Tibetan eyes I looked funny anyway. Being so tall, they didnt know if I was a boy or a girl, and then with this chuba only down to here. But it was a gift from him, so I had to wear it. And he thought it was simply hilarious. Karmapas sense of humor was amazing. When I had to translate for him, he would sometimes crack jokes, which of course you should not really translate. He loved bringing me in that kind of situation in front of other people. We were with him for twelve years and of course you can say that he died very young. As his student, you feel the loss. But at the same time, it is not a coincidence when a Karmapa dies. He knows when to die and everything ts. It is not an ordinary way of dying. What we do regret was that we could not communicate with him more. In the beginning we didnt really know the language, but later there were many situations where he would teach us. His way of teaching us was about giving us the essence, not so much the details. This is generally the function of a Karmapa. We will see how it will be with Thaye Dorje, but generally the Karmapas work like that: not so many long teachings and explanations, but more empowerments and direct instructions. At several occasions Karmapa called us over to him and gave us direct mind teachings, the essence of everything. For explanations about the details of the meditation, for example the 8th Karmapa, he would send us to other lamas. Sometimes he would send other lamas to us and asked them to teach us something. He would then check with them how it had gone and how our practice was going and then checked with us. For example, in order to learn the Phowa, he sent us to Ayang Rinpoche and said that this would now be a good thing to learn.

The only chance was to forget everything and just try to tune in to him, to trust that he would somehow be able to work through you and the right things would come out.

H.H. the 16th Karmapa and Ling Rinpoche




The funeral of H.H. the 16th Karmapa

Nearly everything Karmapa said, every instruction he gave was really meaningful. Even if in that moment you didnt understand it, you would suddenly remember it later, something he had said, which would make you understand a situation. Nothing was ever coincidental and no words or time were wasted. Everything had meaning on some level and was a teaching of some kind. We were lucky that he was here in Europe. I think that the growth in the West has happened through him. We just followed entirely what he had asked us to do. He was very clear about what we should do in the West, how we should practice, what our activities should be, down to the smallest details. One time in England he told us that he was going to Samye Ling in Scotland and it would be good if we would go over to Ireland. At that meeting he gave us a banknote and said, If you really keep your motivation completely pure and have no self-interest, you will never lack anything. As a symbol for that he gave us the note. It really is like that. When you have the right motivation and keep your bonds, you cant go wrong. Whatever happens will have

meaning and will be right. That is the main quality of everything, and Karmapa illustrated that so strongly. Again and again he would emphasize the importance of not mixing activity with politics. That was one of the things he told us so often and we didnt know what he was talking about at that time because we didnt know what he meant with politics. Later we found out what he meant and we remembered his words. Politics means to not keep your motivation just for the dharma and what you do in the dharma just for the benet of others. If you have your own interest and start to manipulate things, instead of thinking of the benet for everybody, then things become political. When the Karmapa controversy started, these were the words that guided Ole and me. We remembered what he had told us, saw what others were doing, and it became clear what he had warned us about. In 1980, Karmapa came to the West for the last time. He had a stopover in London on his way to America. He didnt go to any other places there and we went on to America to see him. It was the last time we saw him. Ole has talked about how we met him in Woodstock and received the last Crown Ceremony, the last time we were with him was in Boulder. Looking back now, we can see what was going on then, but at that time we didnt understand that it was the last time we would see him. Karmapa of course knew exactly and there were already some signs. When we said goodbye to him, I started crying. I didnt know why, there was no obvious reason. It just felt different. There were so many signs, but you dont really want to know it. It was in Boulder where Karmapa gave us instructions on what we should do in the future. After we had said goodbye to him and we had already left, he called us back and told us a few more things. All this happened in a different unusual way. Since this was the last time we saw him in that incarnation, his words stayed with us very strongly. He also told us to come to Rumtek at a certain time. Karmapa knew already then that he would die. Later, I dreamed that the dakinis called me and told me that Karmapa had died. Unfortunately it was true. We went to Rumtek and were there when he died. The news came during a Red Crown Ceremony with Gyaltsab Rinpoche. We knew immediately what had happened. Many of you experienced that with Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche because you developed a strong bond with him. When your teacher dies, it is a mixture of feelings. On a normal human level, of course one is sad and misses them. That is understandable because one will not see him in that form anymore. One is attached to that form

and misses them. At the same time there is also a unique opportunity to be very close to your teacher when you meditate at that time. The teacher rests in meditation and one can receive very strong blessings from him. We experienced that in Rumtek. In the middle of all this sadness was this enormous blessing where one could feel Karmapas presence, which was beyond everything we had experienced before. An experience like that conrms our true nature, which is there, no matter whether we have a physical body or not. These qualities continue. It will always stay with you and give you strength. It shows that what you do is right and it gives you strength for the activity. What Ole does is Karmapas activity. It is what Karmapa empowered him to do, and that is what is happening. I remember from the rst moment we met until he died, Karmapas most striking feature were his eyes. When you looked into his eyes, you were somewhere else, light years away, in another dimension, both here and at the same time everywhere. He would often look at Ole with these eyes. Now that we are more aware of what you can know when you are on the level of a Karmapa, we are sure that he could, already in the beginning when we came to him as hippies, see everything that is going on today. This is why he empowered Ole. We also had several meetings with him where he would just look, not say anything, and just rested in space. I dont know how much time passed and then he blessed us without saying anything. This blessing pervades all our activity. It is our root, our source. During all the years, from when Karmapa died and until the 17th Karmapa came, the activity only grew

because he was present all the time and his directions were so clear. In that way it didnt change anything, that he wasnt physically present. Whenever anything came up, the answers were always there, as if he was there. When one keeps the connection through the Guru Yoga, there is always a guideline. One can be sure that things are right and it conrms everything. You know that. You are the conrmation of that. The controversy was not a bad thing, I think. For us, it worked like a lter and made it possible for things to continue as the 16th Karmapa wanted them. He did not want all these political games, which suddenly became so dominant. It is not what he wished for and denitely not what he wanted us to transfer into our countries. It is something from Tibet we really didnt need. Karmapa always taught the essence, not so many detailed traditional things. That is what he wanted to transmit and what he wanted us to use and realize. And really that is what its all about. He transmitted the methods already. The activity of the 17th Karmapa is exactly as the 16th Karmapa wanted, and he is exactly as he said he would be. He said, I will not be like this the next time. I will be more gentle. I will study more because thats what the world will need at that time. And thats how he is now. Hes not the huge powerhouse that the 16th Karmapa was. The power is always there of course, but the activity is a little bit different. The Karmapas and the bodhisattvas always express the activity that has the most benet for all beings. That is what we are experiencing now with the 17th Karmapa. He is not a child anymore. He is really becoming very strong.

He gave us a banknote and said, If you really keep your motivation completely pure and have no self-interest, you will never lack anything.



Where Does Truth Lie?

Between Buddhism, Science, and Religion

uddhists are not the only people searching for truth. Countless scientic, religious, and philosophical groups throughout history have sought a higher meaning to our time on earth. Our exploration of philosophy, the love of truth, is something that binds us all, when we are not trapped in our more mundane pastimes. This activity links so much of our rich history in the wars and struggles humankind has endured. Our current wonderful health and lifestyles are the fruit of the pursuit of truth through modern scientic and medical methods. The search for truth has been hugely varied. When icking through The Joy of Sects by Peter Occhiogrosso, my favorite sect is a 19th century Russian group that found a very special way to liberation through tickling, with some even dying in the fervor. While this is an amusing story to us, the people involved clearly believed in the goals of

their tradition. To them it was more than just a pastime, it was a complete reality. In search of truth people do all sorts of activities, from the completely bizarre to the awe inspiring. There is a Japanese Buddhist school that sees running marathon length quests every day to pray at 300 temples as their main path to enlightenment. But can anyone objectively say which paths are more meaningful than others? Though some say it is politically incorrect to make these judgments, there is no doubt that developed cultures do compare and contrast the options that are available, whether in public or in private. Yet some feel threatened by other traditions. Out of fear and confusion they resort, variously, to using blind faith, proselytizing, propaganda, absolute rule, aggression, and in extreme cases even violence to make their ideas dominant. Critical clarity, therefore, is encouraged in the search for truth.

How We Know What We Know There are only three ways of knowing something: direct experience, logical explanations, and what others tell us. The way we interpret the knowledge we get from these three sources is key to our being able to question the relative benet of different traditions. Here I include everything that can be learned, from the stories our old grandma used to tell to the scientic experiments in space. First, there is what we experience directly. With our eyes, ears, nose, body, and tongue we get a constant stream of impressions that are shaped by our sense organs. This information is interpreted by an awareness, which in Buddhism is called mind. In the teachings explaining the 3rd Karmapa Ranjung Dorjes text on the discrimination of wisdom and consciousness, each sense organ or faculty is described as having a corresponding consciousness. The moment that one sense experiences the objects of knowledge, one sees them exactly as they are. This non-conceptual moment can, however, be mistaken. For instance, if one wears blue sunglasses, ones eye cannot see things how they are, but sees them in an altered hue. In this way one can see that an experience is not absolute, but rather relative. Similarly, our senses of smell are poor compared to that of dogs, some of which can reportedly smell ten thousand times more intensely than humans. Our impressions are quickly colored by our previous experiences, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, collectively called our disturbing emotions. What we experience directly however, cannot be denied. Assuming we are not hallucinating and all our faculties are in good working order, what we experience cannot be taken away from us and is believed to be real. The moment we start interpreting our experiences and calling them names or putting them in categories (conceptualization), we start removing the true nature of the experience. In Tibet, they say the nger pointing at the moon is not the moon, meaning that we limit things once we start interpreting them. If we name an object a cup, then it is immediately not thought to have the potential to be used as a pot, bowl, toilet, shovel, weapon, or countless other things. Furthermore, while our direct experiences cannot be denied, our explanations of what we experience are on much shakier ground. For centuries the earth was believed to be at and the sun seemed to be eaten by various gods every night because we had limited abilities to explain what we experienced. There is a way to build trusted understanding in the world around us. This is the second type of knowledge,

that of logic. If we have had a bad experience of eating blue cheese, for example, we know very well that other cheeses with thin threads of blue and green mold going through them are likely to be just as pungent. Now, this interpretation isnt based on experience of all cheeses, but uses a basic reasoning. Indeed if we had rst tasted a fully ripened English Stilton, but then taste a delicate and creamy Italian Dolce Latte, our interpretations could be quite misguided. Still in general, we will make more sense of the world around us based on our experiences and an ounce of good logic. On top of this, if the experience and logic are correct, when based on a proper reason as it is explained in Buddhism, then we can have an ah-ha moment, a direct experience where the truth becomes clear. Logical reasoning can be developed to an amazing degree. The results of basing an understanding on a correct interpretation of anothers experience can lead to great towers of realization and meaning. As Isaac Newton explained, If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Modern science has enabled incredible levels of understanding, to the degree that modern theories of the universe often suggest what should be tested and experienced directly to prove or disprove the theories. Science, however, is not truly science if a theory can not be tested in the realm of experience. It then belongs in the realm of philosophy, faiths, and religion.



H.H. the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorge


What the Neighbors Say The third source of experience is information that we learn, not through direct participation or rational reasoning, but from books, the scriptures of religions, the internet, TV news, and anecdotal stories like what our great Aunt Molly said was good for colds. A lot of this information is incredibly useful and meaningful, like a recipe to bake a delicious chocolate cake. While this is based on anothers experience and understanding, we can quickly gain the direct and mouth watering experience ourselves. Then we can make a host of logical conclusions about the relative benet of tasty but fattening cakes on our mental and physical health. All of this information, however, is not personally tested or tried and is inevitably more unreliable than our direct experience or understanding. But life would also be awfully slow if we had to work out everything for ourselves. So we build up experience, condence, and trust in certain sources and certain people. We do need to maintain a certain healthy skepticism though, if we really aim to nd the truth and meaning in our lives. Absolute faith and belief in the words and writings of others is nonsensical in the modern world and doesnt t with our contemporary scientic societies.

Question Question Question So why dont we question our own faiths and beliefs more often? Naturally we dont like the feeling of oating in space without guidance, unless our minds are full of a lot of richness. We lack condence in our own abilities and experiences, feeling them to be less meaningful or of less value than others. Intellectually we can also be undermined by others who are more adept and run rings around us with their logical arguments. There are many tricks and pitfalls in using rational logic. Sometimes we can simply feel safer by either using a book to tell us what we should do or relying on others to take the intellectual and emotional risk in nding a new truth. The sheer desire to have richness and qualities beyond our current experience can also lead to the adoption of irrational practices, which lead to further confusion. Keeping up with the Joneses is quite a motivation. Chicken or Egg? Where Science and Buddhism Meet For critical thinkers, fun starts once we start looking at how different philosophical and religious traditions value these three different sources of information. Clearly some religions hold the written word above anything an individual can experience or rationally explain. Indeed the written word can be directly at odds with our experience, which puts an individual in a difcult position. Here we have little option but to try and convince others of our truth in a somewhat desperate attempt to convince ourselves of the leaky holes in our own arguments. Experience is king in our scientic Western cultures, where our amazing abilities for rational thinking are based on methods developed by the ancient Greeks. In this system, anything written down can be disproved by clear reasonable thought and direct observations of our world. Experience exposes where our rational thinking is mistaken. This open minded but critical, skeptical, and rational position has allowed the West to extend the life expectancy of hundreds of millions of people and has enabled whole civilizations to reach new heights of quality of life. The modern western world view is really very similar to Buddhism, where what is clearly experienced is more directly true than what is written in all of the sutras, tantras, and their commentaries. Lama Ole Nydahl often says, Highest truth is highest joy. In this way, our search for truth by being present in the moment should bring the greatest happiness. Indeed in 1981, the year before the 16th Karmapa died, he said, The nowness of the mind is the practice that should be developed by you all. Great Buddhist masters, from Lama Ole Nydahl to H.H. Dalai Lama, have also made a stunning call; Where

The Role of Compassion

The four Tibetan Buddhist schools emphasize different aspects of the path to enlightenment. In the Kagyu and Nyingma schools, practice is key. In the Gelupa and to some extent the Sakya traditions, rational debate and analysis is primary. So how should we balance the different aspects of practice within our own lives? In the end, no amount of studying will on its own bring about liberation and enlightenment. We need to meditate to be able to clarify our perceptions of what is experienced. Beyond anything we can read pointing out the nature of mind, in the end it is up to us to realize it. The purpose of Buddhism is to bring a permanent happiness. While wisdom teachings point to the nature of reality and truth, or the lack of it, they are also felt to be dry, dogmatic, and uncompassionate. Indeed they can stir some quite angry reactions. To some, they fail to see the meaning and happiness that some people derive from their tickling festivities and dream catchers. This is where compassion is key and must grow in equal measure with wisdom, so we can develop the skills to help others see meaning beyond what is experienced. If what people do is not directly damaging to themselves or others, this already a wonderful step in the right direction. If we are to wake up from the dream of irrational explanations of our wonderful world, we need to make it a happy dream. Perhaps a little more humor and like our Russian friends, moderate tickling would be as good as any a place to start.

science really proves Buddhism wrong, we should trust science. In his recent book, The Universe in a Single Atom, the Dalai Lama calls for the Buddhist explanations of the size and shape of the universe to be re-examined given the amazing results from the Hubble Space Telescope. The nature of the observed universe cannot be denied. I Dont Mind if You Dont Matter Buddhism is particularly concerned with understanding consciousness. Science has also turned a keen eye to this pursuit. As pointed out in the introduction to The Road to Reality - A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Perose, the so-called mind-body problem is the key to all our philosophy. The body and outer world are physical, having all sorts of qualities that can be measured like weight, color, energy. The mind is clear and aware, experiencing everything that happens but having no measurable qualities. Indeed, even though mind is experiencing, it can be seen to be completely empty. Mind and matter are so different from each other; its clear that they cant interact. But as I type a few more words on this keyboard that follow my thoughts, I can see that they clearly do. The solution to this conundrum in Buddhism comes in the four main Buddhist philosophical schools: Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Cittamatra, and Madhyamaka. The rst two correspond closely to the traditional scientic view: that everything is said to be real, made of particles, and moving all the time. Mind is also made of the smallest real

moments. Unfortunately this doesnt help to explain how mind and matter communicate. The Cittamatra is the famous mind only school, saying that we can only overcome the mind-body problem if we say that everything is mind, but the moments of that mind are also real. In the Madhyamaka, we can see that this is a limited view and we need to go beyond, where form and emptiness are seen as inseparable. The great Kagyu master Saraha summed this up when he said, Grasping existence is like cattle. Grasping non-existence is even more stupid! These differing viewpoints help us to explain the experiences we have and can also, somewhat slowly, lead to a realization of the true nature of reality. Science, at this time, is reluctant to examine the possibility that mind and matter may be intimately linked, although there are hints and suggestions from elds as diverse as string theory, quantum computing, and neuropsychology. The view that the brain generates mind, with no direct evidence to date that supports this, is an assumption where science seems to have a blind spot. There will no doubt be large developments in the future. The Search for MeaningOld Traditions and the New Age So where does that leave huge the array of traditional religions and the various more recent practices that are lumped together into the category of New Age beliefs? Certainly, a clear explanation of our experiences and the

The nowness of the mind is the practice that should be developed by you all.
H.H. 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje




mind-matter problem is needed by any complete system to be credible. There are many New Age practices that seek not to explain anything, but to gain particular experiences, be they spiritual insights or special abilities, like using spirit guides to know the past or the future, insightful dreams,
Matt Huddleston

repositioning ley lines, and so on. While these may produce interesting results, they point to what mind can experience, rather than what mind is in itself. In this way, Buddhism would be skeptical of anything that offers a permanent refuge in the conditioned world, as it wont last. Science requires rational logical explanations that can be independently veried before an agreed truth is found. The Buddhist view of other traditions is rather compassionate and pragmatic. Where they are humanistic in their approach, other traditions are benecial. Buddhism certainly doesnt seek to convert others. It sees benet in people being true to their own culture. Buddhists should not take it upon themselves to undermine other peoples condence in their gods if adherents are generally happy and not overtly harming others. In Buddhism, all the traditional 360 non-Buddhist schools are said to hold wrong views as the great Kagyu-Nyingma teacher Chkyi Nyima Rinpoche explained in The Bardo Guidebook, Their tenets cannot ultimately withstand the scrutiny of reasoning and logic. Wrong views are incorrect in the sense of not being in accord with the nature of things. This means that we should apply a strong rational basis to all the offerings that we see at the spiritual fair. A student in Buddhism needs many qualities, including enthusiasm, to learn and especially to use the teachings, test them in the world, and to make them a part of ones experience. This takes a lot of effort, to really engage ones brain and think, Is this right? Does it t with my experience? How are these teachings relevant in the 21st century? In the end, even with the warm glow of condence a teacher gives us, it still depends on each of us to realize where truth lies. Buddhism isnt science. It describes a path to realization and concludes things about the nature of reality that are beyond the current realm of scientic method. While scientic theories apparently become more Buddhist, this doesnt mean that science will eventually become Buddhism. There is a meeting point between the two traditions, where Buddhism can help science to develop objective methods for the study of consciousness and expand its view of what is possible. Science can verify that Buddhist methods and philosophy are true in all times and places, and then help to make these methods for happiness accessible to all.

Grasping existence is like cattle. Grasping non-existence is even more stupid!Saraha


Matt Huddleston met Diamond Way Buddhism in 1994, while studying climate physics at the University of Cambridge. As an antidote to the ivory towers, in 1997 he moved to Nepal to teach math at a high school and experience Buddhism in its native environment. Back in the UK, he has helped establish Buddhist centers in Reading and Exeter and is now based in London. Since 2002 he has traveled through North America, Europe, and South America giving talks on Buddhism. In any spare time he likes stand-up comedy, motorbikes, and having fun in snow.




by Manfred Maier
To practitioners of the Karma Kagyu school, the term transmission is of vital importance. This is seen in the term Kagyupa: the syllable Ka means transmission. Karma Kagyu is the living tradition of the four transmissions, which Tilopa received from the Indian masters Nagarjuna, Ngagpopa, Lawapa, and the Dakini Kalpa Sangmo. The experience of this transmission as the ultimate insight into the nature of mind was passed on by realized masters over many centuries, in a close exchange between teacher and student. It is for this reason that it is still alive today. When we meditate with our friends in the center, we connect into this stream of realization. Students encounter a variety of methods and explanations within Buddhas complete teachings. These teachings correspond to the different potentials and perspectives of various people, and therefore there are many possibilities for learning and development. My teacher in secondary school often wrote the following lines into the notebooks of his students, There are three ways to learn. Learning by experience: this is the hardest. Learning by reection: this is the noblest. Learning by imitation: this is the fastest. When learning by experience, action precedes full understanding. Since the way to the goal is not clear, one simply tries something out. It is like an experiment which one is not certain will bring the desired result. If everything goes well, one has made a step on the way. If it goes wrong, one is at least richer by experience. Learning by reection may help one avoid making mistakes, but thoughts are only a small fraction of our totality. It often takes a lot of time until the understanding is transformed into experience. When one learns by imitation, one learns from an already functioning example. The steps of trial and error and of contemplation were already performed by the master whom one is imitating. Imitating others is not a good idea when attempting technological development; most creative people like to work on their own ideas and innovations. But imitation is the best way to learn about human abilities and qualities, since it gives the fastest results. It is a spontaneous way of learning that, after recognizing certain qualities, aims directly at transformation. If the learner chooses a perfect example, one is largely protected against confusion and can look forward to an inspiring phase of learning. The example of Buddhas life shows the rst two possibilities as a part of his own story of accomplishment. He practiced with many masters in the woods of Northern India, but he


realized that their teachings were not able to lead him beyond concepts and ideas. As an ascetic, he tried to break through to the ultimate experience by absolute deprivation, until he became aware that the mind does not work properly in a half-famished body. The third kind of learning was not known at his time: the one of imitation or identication, as we now call it. He himself was the one who would bring this method into the world by his own accomplishment. In Buddhas teaching it is clear what should be learned; liberation and enlightenment is the goal. Enlightenment is an unconditional state of mind beyond thoughts and ideas, which expresses itself as joy, fearlessness, and love and appears spontaneously and effortlessly for the good of all. The question of how we develop towards enlightenment has many aspects and can be roughly divided into two categories. The rst is working with conditions that lead to the freedom of mind. These are positive actions, good impressions, compassion, and wisdom. This is the step-bystep way of changing habits and views to gain more insight and an ultimate experience. The second group is being introduced into the absolute by a master, who opens the way of identication, showing the goal itself, where transmission is of fundamental importance. A story from Tilopas life tells us about this: One day, while Tilopa was studying the Prajnaparamita teaching, an old woman appeared in front of him. She became interested while looking at the texts and asked, My son, what are you doing there? He answered, I am studying. She raised her eyebrows and said, Yes, the teachings are profound, but the way is hard and leads through many lifetimes. If you really want to understand their meaning, I know a way that is fast and has few obstacles. Tilopa realized she was a dakini and answered, Yes, I very much wish to accomplish the direct experience of the teachings. She then showed him the Mandala of Highest Joy as a power eld of energy and light in front of him in space. That way she gave him a direct transmission of the blissful nature of his mind and taught him how to identify

For a living transmission in the understanding of the Diamond Way to happen, different fortunate conditions are required. In short, it is mainly about the connection to the outside, to the teacher, who shows us the nature of mind and to the inside, to the perceiver.
himself with the absolute aspect of his mind, so he could go through to an unbroken experience of highest insight and joy. If we wish to follow this way of showing the goal, then an experienced teacher is essential. He is the source of inspiration and transmission and makes it possible for a student to discover the unconditional qualities and abilities within oneself, again and again. In this case, teacher does not mean anything personal, but is an example of the unconditioned experience on two legs. By looking into

To practitioners of the Karma Kagyu school, the term transmission is of vital importance.

Even if the teacher is far away traveling, the student can rest in the transmission of the teacher and can always gain new power and insight. With each transmission and inspiration, the level of experience is raised and the trust into the mind is strengthened. The richness of mind is the goal and, at the same time, the way.
the teachers mind, one looks into a mirror of ones own mind. The two are not different in their absolute expression. The process of transmission, which has a special importance in the Diamond Way and the Great Seal (Mahamudra), can be encountered in various areas of life. It happens every time an exchange includes a sharing of experiences beyond words. Every expression of a physical or mental ability becomes a direct experience for the attentive student, when one recognizes these qualities in the example of the teacher. If the students conditions are good, one can directly transfer what is shown and in that way, make big leaps in his development. If human connections are supported by condence and openness, whole levels of experience can be shared. If one has a lot of joy, it is easily awakened in others. If one is loving, this quality becomes an immediate experience for others. For a living transmission in the understanding of the Diamond Way to happen, different fortunate conditions are required. In short, it is mainly about the connection to the outside, to the teacher, who shows us the nature of mind and to the inside, to the perceiver. Buddha taught that all sentient beings have the buddha nature. That which is conscious and perceives, the mind, is open like space, radiantly clear and without boundaries. Buddhas experience is to recognize the nature of the experiencer in this way. If our mind were free of ignorance and the mixed feelings that stem from ignorance, all its unconditioned aspects would spontaneously and effortlessly manifest. Whereas limited consciousness is trapped in liking and not liking and is scattered between past and future, the liberated mind rests spontaneously and effortlessly in the here and now. This is what we get mirrored by the teacher, the spontaneous mind beyond concepts and attachments. This is in the end, our timeless nature. Often the mind is compared to a diamond: indestructible,

radiant, and clear. The more the diamond of the mind is freed from obscuring veils, the more one becomes aware of ones own ultimate nature. The connection to the inside awakens. If we then meet the unshakably joyful space of the mind of our teacher, we discover the same qualities in our mind and transmission has already happened. From this moment onward, something is awakened that we are not able to forget so easily. A view of ultimate importance is established. Some experience it as a second birth or like falling deeply in love. The life stories of our transmission lineage show inspiring examples for this. From the recognition of the shown goal, there is more and more a certainty from which trust and openness naturally arises. If the mind is free from doubts, devotion can develop. The more of our totality we use, the faster we achieve our goal. The transmission of the teacher leads the student to more autonomy, because there is no greater independence than the growing trust into the indestructible space of our mind. If we want to look directly at the perceiver and make that our main practice, transmission is essential. Although the nature of mind is exactly the same for Buddha and all humans, this is often not recognized, because of ignorance. Everyone all over the world knows what he or she experiences and whether he or she likes it or not, but only the very few know who experiences all of that. Just like the eye, the mind perceives and experiences the outer world, but is barely, if at all, aware of itself. Now, if like Tilopa we want to look directly at the experiencer, the core of our practice, then transmission is essential. The teacher is necessary, as the holder of the ultimate insight and power. If we look at the history of the realized ones and pay attention to their teachers as the source of inspiration, we can see that transmission can happen in myriad ways.

Besides the formal transmission by empowerments into the different aspects of mind, like Highest Joy, Wisdom Buddha, or Diamond in Hand, there is the transmission of the yogi, also called accomplisher. Free from an outer form, here the teacher represents the freshness of mind. By the close connection to his students, he is always ready to show them the mirror, wherever their openness appears. That can happen while running into each other between toilet and lecture hall, during the quiet sharing of the same space, or whilst driving fast on the highway. Even if the teacher is far away traveling, the student can rest in the transmission of the teacher and can always gain new power and insight. With each transmission and inspiration, the level of experience is raised and the trust into the mind is strengthened. The richness of mind is the goal and, at the same time, the way. To keep this certainty and experience in the troubled waters of daily life is part of our practice and at the same time the best way to express gratitude to our teacher. Here it is useful to remember Lama Oles teaching on transmission: Highest truth is highest function. The more there is love and joy, insight and power; the closer we are to truth.

Manfred Maier
Manfred Maier lives in the Diamond Way Buddhist Center in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, where he works as a music teacher in the local schools. A student of Lama Ole Nydahl since 1982, Manfred also travels with his wife, Beate, and gives many talks on Buddhism.




Questions and Answers

Mipham Rinpoche
As for their relationship, mind and consciousness, the indestructible continuum which goes from one lifetime to the next is called primordial mind. It is a state which is completely beyond anything. It depends on the channels and energies of the various favorable and unfavorable rebirths of the body in each successive life. The subtle primordial mind mentioned above is activated by these channels and energies, and coincidentally emanates coarse mind. In the beginning ordinary beings, who have not yet trained their mind stream by means of listening and meditating, are not able to recognize this. In a normal human body, minds location is the wind in the central channel on the heart level. Coarse mind, which has been brought forth from the subtle primordial mind, conceives of forms, sounds and so on. Mostly, this depends on nerve cells in the brain; from that place, it becomes involved with objects. From the Medical Tantras, The nerves of the sense faculties, which cause the sense objects to arise, depend on the brain. What is this brain like, the object on which coarse mind depends? The nerve cells, a net of nerve particles, are called Chu Rtsa in Buddhism. The brain stem is many single subtle nerves, called neurons, joined together. For example, as soon as ink is attached to the edge of a fountain pen or brush pen, one may draw whatever picture one desires. In the same way, coarse mind, accompanied by winds that are in essence unhindered, and based on these nerves, appears as having the ability to cling to objects and to distinguish them. When people die, coarse mind dissolves into subtle mind. Through the power of the wind which also brings forth subtle mind, it moves to other places and takes hold of a different body as its base. As explained, again it emanates coarse mind. In spite of this, some scholars maintain that mind and brain are one or even that the mind is a quality of the brain. For example, the mechanical and materialistic viewpoint of the English philosopher Hobbes, Concerning the material foundation of the psyche and all the movements of mind, they are truly existent within the human brain. Also, the French Dr. Augustin Cabans explained, Mind consciousness is a thing arisen from the movements of the cerebrum. It is like for example bodily uids emerging from the liver. Therefore, many people say that if there is no cerebrum, one should leave the examination of the mind, because then it is impossible that there is an essence to consciousness.

Mipham Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl

Editors Note: What is presented here is a continuation of teachings by Mipham Rinpoche that appeared in Buddhism Today No. 19. Because of a stroke, Mipham Rinpoche is unable to speak. Therefore, he does all his teaching by writing on a board, in response to questions. For this article he wrote down everything in Tibetan and it was then translated into English. Helping with the interview and translating this text were Gabi Coura and Khenpo Karma Ngedon.

But recently in America, a boy called Andrew was born without a cerebrum and, until he died at the age of ve, was watching movies and laughing. The doctors who examined him explained that he, who has a head but no brain, was a real human being. After that, everywhere people without cerebrum appeared. Moreover, the girl Shanti Devi, born on October 16th, 1926 in New Delhi, India, could clearly remember ve previous lives. Many cases like this became known everywhere around the world. For example, it is well known that, according to statistics, in 1992 there were 1,300,000 such cases in America alone. Based on the ndings of brain research, it became known that consciousness depends on an entity different from the cerebrum. In 1972, Dr. R. A. Moody examined 150 people, and in his books, such as Life after Life and The Light Beyond, he explained that people gained condence that there is still something which remains after death. His primary proof is that people close to death have the experience of a consciousness separated from the body, so-called neardeath-experiences (NDE). The English scientist John Eccles, Nobel Prize winner in 1963, wrote in the research paper that won him the prize,What mutually links together the neurons and the formless is a component of consciousness. And, After the death of the cerebrum, consciousness, which is non-material, still remains; it does so uninterruptedly. Dr. John von Neumann, who is very famous all around the world and praised by scientists with the sharpest minds among all the people in the world said, Within the human body, there is a Self or an I which is non-material con-sciousness. It is dominated by the cerebrum of the body. From the distance, it perceives things. Moreover, based on the progress in quantum physics and other disciplines, it has become well known, just like the wind all around the world, that consciousness is of a different essence than the brain. What is wisdom in a Buddhist sense? What is the difference between the terms wisdom (She Rab, pronounced: sherab) and primordial wisdom (Ye Shes, pronounced: yeshe)? The word for primordial wisdom, ye shes, consists of two syllables, ye and she. Ye means from the beginning,

or primordial nature. Shes is mind which knows this primordial nature of phenomena perfectly. This is the meaning of ye shes in general, as explained in different treatises. Sometimes it can be understood as omniscience and sometimes as the realization of emptiness. There are different meanings according to the different treatises. From the path of accumulation to the tenth Bodhisattva Level, it is possible to understand primordial wisdom. From a general perspective, the nature of shes rab is mental events. Its function is to remove doubts and to focus on objects of examination. So through its own power, it can distinguish what is to be done and what is to be rejected. This wisdom is in the mind stream of all kinds of beings, Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists. Therefore, there is a big difference between wisdom and primordial wisdom. If we meditate, how does this benet others? If we cultivate completely pure meditation, we will even be able to obtain the state of a buddha, the supreme benet for ourselves and others, without difculties. The one who can benet others best is the Buddha himself. Therefore, huge benet for others arises through meditation. In particular, the way in which meditation benets others, depends on the type of meditation. Many non-Buddhists believe that what we experience is unchangeable fate or at least not caused by ourselves, but by something or somebody else. What exactly is the difference between the Buddhist and the non-Buddhist view of karma and destiny? The difference between the Buddhist and non-Buddhist view is whether one sees or not, that all ways in which happiness and suffering appear depend on ones own positive or negative actions of body, speech, and mind. Karma, according to the Buddhist system, means that beings bring about various experiences of happiness and suffering in accordance with their positive and negative actions of body, speech, and mind. Moreover, they are born in a place that corresponds to the accumulations of karma of the respective kind of beings. They experience feelings of happiness and suffering together with a world created according to the respective kind.

What is the difference between the mind and the brain? What is their connection? Mind is something formless and unobstructed, which has the characteristics of being empty, clear, cognizant, and conscious. The brain is a material form which is made of atoms. Therefore, there is a big difference between these two.

Moreover, based on the progress in quantum physics and other disciplines, it has become well known, just like the wind all around the world, that consciousness is of a different essence than the brain.




If we hold on to the positive, we will see for ourselves what is benecial and what is not, at all times and in all situations.

Book Review

LiFe BeFore LiFe

Non-Buddhists have many different positions. One can organize them in two kinds: those maintaining that all worlds arose by themselves and those maintaining that they were made by a supreme creator such as Shiva. If one asserts the rst position, namely that everything is selfarisen, it becomes impossible that there is either a method for beings to improve their way of life in the desired direction towards joy and happiness, or a method to stop the conditions for undesired suffering. So any kind of effort becomes useless, because everything arises by itself. According to the second viewpoint, a creator made the inanimate outer world, things without feelings like the continents, which exist for a long time and are free from sickness, and at the same time animate beings, like humans, that have feelings and short lives tormented by sickness, trouble, and suffering. Also, during this short life, happiness should come about effortlessly. Therefore, in brief, the supreme creator, who brought about the many sufferings of the world, should have been created by another creator. There are also many other subjects to be discussed or questions to be examined, such as whether or not the creator has complete power to create everything, but we cannot go into detail here. If we go back to the Buddhist understanding of karma, for example, just as the wellbeing of a body, whether free from sickness or having sickness, depends on ones health, all happiness and suffering depends on ones positive or negative actions. Moreover, just as with the experiences of positive actions, the health of a body free from sickness and in a good shape will be exhausted one day. For a person who is planning more positive actions, the Buddha Jewel, the one who shows the path of the teachings, is like a doctor. The Dharma Jewel, the completely pure path of methods, the positive actions in accordance with the Dharma, is like good health. And all the friends who also practice this path of methods are called the Sangha Jewel. Basing oneself on these Jewels in the appropriate way enables one to become free from all suffering and to obtain all happiness, the state of perfect Buddhahood. This is what is special about the Buddhas teachings. How can we inuence our karma in a positive way? Investigate and examine carefully the unmistaken methods for generating benet and happiness for ourselves and others. At the same time see what the path towards generating temperate and ultimate benet is and in what manner one needs to abandon bad behavior not in accordance with the practice of these methods. Finally understand the need to practice with body, speech, and mind whatever is in accordance with them. If we hold on to the positive, we will see for ourselves what is benecial and what is not, at all times and in all situations. By being our own teacher and our own pilot and always concentrating on our understanding, we will easily become able to change our actions of body, speech, and mind into a positive direction. Are mind and consciousness the same? It is correct to say that mind and consciousness are the same. The answers to these questions, as well as those presented in Buddhism Today, No.19, were composed by the one named Ju Mipham Tulku during ve mornings and evenings, based on what he heard and on a multitude of historical texts. May it be auspicious! Jim B. Tucker, M.D. 256 pages St. Martins Press (2005) ISBN 0-312-32137-6 By Josh Greene

About Mipham Rinpoche

Mipham Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1949. In 1959, many Tibetans ed the country because practicing the dharma became impossible. Because he was seriously ill at the time, Rinpoche was allowed to stay in his monastery, Junyung Gompa. He spent thirteen years in retreat learning Buddhist philosophy and practicing meditation. Later, he worked on rebuilding the monastery. Having suffered a stroke, he left Tibet in 1994 for medical treatment. He is a scholar and master of the Nyingma tradition, and he teaches in the traditional style. He is the father of H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje. He now lives with his wife Mayumla at the Karma Kagyu International Retreat Center in Karma Guen, Spain.

Life Before Life by Jim B. Tucker is about an investigation into the memories of children who claim to have had previous lives. Dr. Tucker is a child psychiatrist at the University of Virginia in the Division of Personality Studies. For the past forty years, members of that department have compiled over 2,500 case studies examining the phenomenon of mostly very young children who talk about a previous life from a rst person perspective. The cases have attributes ranging from unusual play, behaviors, emotions, and specic phobias to recognition of people and places that seem to be related to the life and death of a previous personality. The most remarkable cases involve memories that were checked against independent sources and were shown to correspond to an actual deceased person. The book is denitely not a dry scientic collection of case studies, nor is it simply various anecdotal stories or new age pseudo-science articles. Rather it is a very pragmatic and readable account, written for the layperson, about ongoing research by the University of Virginia. It is a guided presentation of the cases that have been conducted using impartial scientic methods. The book reads not as an argument for or against reincarnation but examines what those arguments are and what documented evidence is available. The writer asks the reader to use common sense and reason as he describes the various points of the cases. He does not offer up a scientic theory for what happens when we die. He does, however, try to interpret the evidence and then stops short of making any conclusions, leaving that to the reader. It is interesting that the author uses many examples similar to descriptions and analogies we have heard from Karma Kagyu teachers to describe the possible mechanisms of reincarnation. One such analogy used in the book, that of the mind and body relationship, is similar to that of an electrical signal and television set. The mind, like a signal, is not created by the brain but instead is transmitted and transformed by it.

In the book, the author examines statistics from the Universitys database of cases. One nding shows a positive correlation between previous personalities who were meditators and an increased awareness of the period in between lives by those same children. These children gave much more detailed descriptions of where they were, who they met, and what they saw in between lives. Many of the cases in Life Before Life involve violent deaths resulting from accidents or crimes. In some cases, there are birthmarks or birth defects on the child that specically match wounds that were usually fatal on the body of a previous personality. These facts, along with knowledge of cause and effect, lead me to consider that most of these children have these memories and physical markings due to especially strong impressions from previous lives. Despite this, the majority of the children eventually stop talking about their previous experiences and go on to lead regular lives. One of the assets of this book is that its logical scientic style ts well with the teachings of the Buddha. He taught the way things are, including how reincarnation manifests. However as Buddhists, we are not required to blindly believe in anything, including reincarnation. Instead, Buddha encouraged us to check things out and reach our own conclusions. For the reader who has meditated and has condence that mind is not limited to this body and this lifetime, Life Before Life will t well with Buddhist teachings on reincarnation. For the reader who is just starting down the path of meditation, this book offers compelling evidence that the perceiver listening through ones ears and looking through ones eyes may not be limited to the connes of the body. This book may give new practitioners some condence that reincarnation is not simply an exotic eastern idea, but something that it is within the realm of measurable scientic inquiry.




Meditation Basics

bY Tasso Kallianiotis
perfect these two aspects of our being: our awareness and our behavior. This is traditionally referred to as the full development of wisdom, compassion, and skillful means. So to be a practicing Buddhist is to train so that we may gain the necessary control over our mind in order to recognize its nature and be able to act accordingly, with spontaneity and freedom. Meditation is described as the central pillar of such practice because it bridges practical experience with insight and brings awareness to our every thought, word, and action. In order for this highest result to manifest, we need to apply the methods, passed on for the last two and a half millennia, as properly and as precisely as we can. This is no small feat. But as we begin to work with Buddhist meditation, repetition and consistent joyful effort are the key to improvement, development, and nally perfection. There are thousands of meditation practices that constitute the complete Buddhist transmission across all lineages and traditions. Regardless of which one(s) we choose, with the guidance of our teacher, there is a set of guiding principles that applies to all of them and which we are instructed to follow. They are an inherent part of every practice we do and we are advised to bring them to mind and develop them in every meditation session.

Guiding Principles of

limitations and reach buddhahood. However the only way this can be done is by developing and perfecting the skillful means and wisdom necessary to accomplish this task. Ones own benet is simply a stepping stone for the accomplishment of this ultimate goal: the benet of all beings. This enlightened attitude, Bodhicitta, is the fundamental motivation behind every effort we put into working with our mind. Seen from a purely analytical approach, how is it possible to overcome our xation on the idea that we are single, distinct, and separated from all others, if we continue to focus only on our own benet? All the things that separate us from others are incidental, transient, and interdependent: our thoughts, feelings, tendencies, body, ideas, background. What we all have in common is constant and exactly the same in everyone: our abilities to think, feel, and experience. All beings share the same nature and are part of one totality. We all are the endless expression of minds limitless qualities. A pragmatic approach to this guiding principle is meaningful and touching. One can see beings everywhere constantly seeking refuge and happiness in things they cannot ultimately depend. This brings confusion and disappointment, makes joy dependent and conditioned, and leads to varying degrees of distress. If we dont take it upon ourselves to do something about it, who will?

Devotion and Trust

Our teachers are our deepest inspiration. They embody goal, teaching, support, methods, and protection. They show us that what we have set out to accomplish is doable. Always supportive, they explain things to us over and over, patiently and lovingly. They are the highest principle, Lama, our direct contact with enlightenment, our reference point. Through their guidance, our every step becomes more meaningful, more aware, and more solid. If it were not for them, we would not have the opportunity to work with our mind in a way that brings lasting results. One of the most essential Kagyu wishes reads, Devotion is the head of meditation. The constant growth of unwavering gratitude for the precious opportunity to use these methods and for the one that brings the teachings to us, gives us the trust necessary to further our development.

o be on the Buddhist path is to train our mind so that we are not overwhelmed by the habitual tendencies that govern it. In an endless continuity of moments we constantly think, say, and do things that are driven by what we have thought, said, and done before. Although the potential for complete freedom and choice is always there, we nd ourselves, more often than not, lacking the ability to keep disturbing thoughts and feelings under control. Acquired behaviors from the beginning of this life and according to the Buddhist view, over countless lifetimesheavily inuence not only what we say and do but also how we perceive and interpret everything. Enlightenment, the goal of every Buddhist, is to

The Right Attitude

For a practitioner of the Great Way, Mahayana, as well and the Diamond Way, Vajrayana, enlightenment is more of a side affect than the goal. The goal of a bodhisattva is to liberate all beings, to help them go beyond their

Although there is always benet and progress towards our development when we sit to do our practice, the results of our meditation are maximized when balanced with a good understanding of what we are doing. Clarity about the goal, as well as the methods themselves, prevents us

We walk away from the cushion with thankfulness and the clear understanding that the purpose of the meditation is to remind us that we are more than the limited set of conditions with which we identify.




to overcome. They only live through our attention, and so the best remedy is to starve them of this attention. It is natural for thoughts and feelings to appear. Thats what mind does. But what do we do when these thing come up during meditation? How do we deal with them? We simply go back to where we were in the meditation, keeping our focus where it needs to be to the best of our ability. We add more distractions to our practice the moment we think, Oh Im distracted. I shouldnt do that. So we diligently and continuously bring our attention back to the meditation without a second thought. Then we notice over time how our distracting thoughts become fewer and our mind becomes more focused and stable, satised and joyful.

precious gift we have been granted by our teacher, that it brings the highest possible result and benet. We decide to hold our teacher in our mind at all times. We walk away from the cushion with thankfulness and the clear understanding that the purpose of the meditation is to remind us that we are more than the limited set of conditions with which we identify. Minds perfect qualities, limitless power, and boundless compassion are inherent within us all. We decide to behave as best we can, as if we have already accomplished our goal. Through this constant effort and repetition, this training, we will certainly reach the point where direct realization will be accomplished and no further effort will be necessary. In a way, we can say that we meditate so that we dont have to.

Clarity and Alertness

Especially when we are doing formless meditation, like following the breath, or long mantra repetitions, we may easily nd ourselves in a dull, cloudy, or sleepy state. The purpose of such practices is not to simply complete a certain number of repetitions or minutes of sitting quietly. It is to develop stability and to concentrate on the quality, or qualities that the mantra activates. In order for this to happen we must maintain as much clarity as possible. We need to remain alert to what is going on in our mind so that we can address distraction as soon as it appears. In such cases we cansimply let go and return our focus to the meditation. If this is too difcult to maintain, then the best solution is to keep our sessions short but frequent. The aim is quality not quantity. It is often advised that we may also bring our meditation to completion when we are at a point where we feel good about it and have good clarity and alertness. This way we avoid enforcing habits we dont need, by just trying to stay awake for example, and will be more willing and inspired to come back to it.

from considering our goal a distant and remote state, taking our meditation experiences too seriously, losing focus, or straying down a different path. Enlightenment is full and complete awareness beyond all concepts in every moment. The present moment is all that ex\ists. The past is only a memory and the future has not happened yet. When we approach the meditation cushion, it is not to become enlightened in the future but right now in this sitting. The now is what we are always experiencing. This understanding brings the goal closer and makes it a real and immediate possibility because we recognize that we are not trying to acquire anything or reach a destination somewhere else. We are developing minds inherent qualities, which are already present. The buddha forms we meditate on are the embodiment of these qualities and are an exceptionally skillful way of keeping us inspired and focused by manifesting in a way we can relate to them.

these methods simply work. Considering this and developing the right attitude, devotion, trust, and understanding allows condence to arise and continue to grow. Condence in the goal, methods, and support that is fueled and inspired by the realized teacher brings the recognition that the path we are on is unshakable and completely dependable. This eliminates all doubts that prevent us from reaching our objective and gives us the strength and courage to overcome any obstacle that may appear on the way.

Beyond Hope and Fear

So, with all this in mind we sit to do our practice. From the moment we begin our meditation we simply go through it exactly as taught following the instructions we have been given and without any deviation. Still, we are not perfect yet and therefore, all existing habits continue to show themselves and seek every opportunity to display their distracting abilities. They are powered by the momentum they have built up through the attention we give them. Criticism may arise and we think, I am too distracted, or, Im not meditating well today. Our tendency to hope comes up and we may think, It felt so good last session, I want that again this time. Finally, fear may arise and we may become weary or even frightened of purication. These are exactly the habitual tendencies we are training

Although our meditation session may come to a conclusion, our practice does not. We remember that we didnt do it for ourselves alone. We extend every positive impression to all beings everywhere, so that we make use of them immediately in the best possible way. We realize the

The meditation that we do has been given by someone who has used it successfully and achieved the full results. It has been passed on and brought to us in an unbroken chain of transmission over the last 2500 years. We are the current end point of a precious garland of accomplished meditators who began at the very same place we are now. Their achievements and vast activity are a testament that


Tasso Kallianiotis

In 1982, Tasso Kallianiotis took refuge with Lama Ole Nydahl and has remained his close student ever since. He has received teachings and transmissions from many high lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Since 1994, at Lama Oles request, he has been teaching and introducing people to Diamond Way methods throughout North America and Europe. He has also given radio interviews and written articles on Diamond Way Buddhism.




Buddhism in Everyday Life


BY Susan BiXbY
A Little Girl
As children we are very vulnerable and we need to be protected: My Dad was my protector. Because he was a parasitologist, a doctor of tropical medicine, I lived most of my childhood in the tropics. Our brick house in Liberia, West Africa was close to the jungle and built on pillars to protect us from snakes. Lying in bed at night, I listened to the drums of nearby villages and the cries of wild animals. I loved those sounds. I remember one day I made the short walk from our house across a eld to my Dads Institute of Tropical Medicine. When I walked through the open door, I saw a long shiny snake slithering across the cement oor. It fascinated me and I walked towards it. My Dad grabbed me. The beautiful snake was a deadly black mamba. Im told that when we lived in Calcutta, India and my two year old body was covered in hundreds of mosquito bites, my Dad took care of me in a quiet, efcient way with no attendant drama. As I grew older and expressed more fears, my father, a supreme optimist, continued to reassure me that everything would always be all right. My family and friends saw my dependence on my Dad and wondered how Id survive when he could no longer protect me. I didnt worry because I thought he would be with me forever. His death, and death in general, was something that terried me, so I put it out of my mind. I was deliberately blind to the nature of impermanence, to the fact that everything I loved would one day disappear. naked under the stars in a lake near Montreal. We had all the time in the world for wonder-lled gymnastic love making and long talks. When we were twenty two and twenty three, and still in university, a judge married us in an empty courtroom. The judge looked down at these two clueless young people and asked, Do you know what youre doing? I moved from my parents home to our own home, but the pattern of fears that led me to unsatisfying solutions continued. Before I reached thirty, we had a daughter and twin boys. We had the usual challenges that face young parents after carefree self-involved dating and the obstacles arrived with a vengeance: sleep deprived nights, sick children, and money constraints. We kept busy and distracted. I was going to art school and running a household. Chris was practicing law. When our children were young, I was in a constant state of tension. I often called my Dad for medical and other advice. He continued to inject humor and optimism into my life. I believe that his view helped keep me sane, but it was becoming difcult to pretend that everything was really okay. I was caught up in samsara, or conditioned existence. When conditions were good I was happy. When they werent, I was unhappy. Like many mothers, I worked every waking moment and fell into bed at night exhausted. Although I was physically present for my children and my husband, it was a nervous, worried, and controlling presence. I was full of fear that I wasnt doing everything perfectly.

From Fear To Through

A Young Woman
Chris and I met in high school. I was fourteen and he was sixteen. Four years later we began dating. Our courtship was sweetened by endless bottles of wine and swimming

Meeting The Lama

This was our life when my husband and I met Lama Ole and Diamond Way Buddhism in 1994. We received a yer in the mail announcing his upcoming talk in Calgary.




During those years we rarely went out in the evening but for some reason we put the notice on the fridge. At the last moment, we decided to go. Even though I had no interest in military looking men (Ole has short hair, often wears clothes from army surplus so as not to waste money, and has a strong, muscular build) or in religion (my Dad was an atheist), I was blown away by the intense feelings of joy invoked in me by the Lama. I couldnt stop smiling. What I understood that night was that we can all obtain the unchanging experience that (our) mind is indestructible, timeless and joyful.1 If we and others behave badly, its not because were bad or evil, its because were ignorant or in a stupor. Ole said that we dont realize that our essence is space, which cant be improved and cant be harmed. If we cant be harmed because our essence is clear space, full of richness and potential, then there is nothing to fear. That was a wow for me! It was a seminal moment in my life. Over the past fourteen years of practicing Buddhist meditation my fear has been largely supplanted by joy. I learned that everyone wants lasting happiness but doesnt understand what that means or how to get it. When we believe that our bodies, thoughts, and feelings have a permanent reality, then happiness is elusive. We live in fear of losing what we have and want and of keeping away what we dont.

When we recognize our true nature, absolute happiness is the only possible result. In order to nd enduring happiness, one needs to take refuge in something lasting. Refuge is what we habitually turn to in our lives, particularly when the going gets tough. Taking refuge creates a spiritual connection that, on the one hand, protects us from the fears and anxieties we may have about suffering in samsaric or conditioned existence. It also protects us from obstacles in this life and in death until we reach enlightenment.2 Diamond Way practitioners take refuge in the Buddha (our goal of full enlightenment), his teachings (the way to the goal), the community of practitioners with whom we travel, and especially in the Lama. The Lama represents blessing, methods, and protection. He is a reection of our essence. When we see him clearly, we see our own buddha nature. Until we understand that we are buddhas and can maintain that view without falling down, we need protection.

preventing them from ever falling down, from ever failing. I realize now that this isnt helpful and in fact, it creates dependent adults who cant function in the real world. Through my meditation practice, I have a deeper understanding of protection. Children need to be protected from physical and mental harm. But as we grow and mature, we come to realize that our biggest enemy is not what goes on outside, its what goes on in our minds. We need tools to protect ourselves from identifying with disturbing emotions and stiff ideas about how things are. The meditations taught in our Diamond Way Centers teach us how to create a space between our awareness and these disturbances so that we dont engage them. Instead we watch them arise and pass away again. I observe how quickly emotions come and go with my grandchildren. They cry hard and minutes later they look beautiful: their eyes shining and round, with no signs of swelling or tears. Their emotions werent present ve minutes earlier and have completely disappeared moments later. When my grandchildren are upset, it doesnt tear me apart the way it did with my own children because I know it will pass quickly, like other equally impermanent feelings. When Im calm and condent, I can give my grandchildren the space they need to see a connection between their actions and the results of those actions. Karma, cause and effect, is the best teacher of all. Even a baby with a few sharp teeth can learn from cause and effect. When he bites on the nipple he gets a different reaction than when he sucks gently. He likes one reaction; he gets Mamas milk. He doesnt like the other; Mama pulls away her warm milky breast. I hold our four little grandsons just like I held my now grown daughter and sons and I see how everything amazes babies just because things appear out of space. Babies are blown away by a shaft of light on the grass, a bus going by the window, or a cheerio on the carpet. And their amazement rekindles mine and the circle of joy goes round and round. I see how my state of mind impacts others. I know now that I am responsible for my own happiness and I have the choice of seeing problems as obstacles or opportunities.

When I see them as opportunities, I go through my days with a light shield protecting me. Joyful people and experiences manifest all around me. And when we have that surplus, we can behave in the only way that makes sense; we can be here for the benet of others. Even the biggest sourpusses or angry drivers shine back at us when we greet them with a genuine smile. In early 2006, my ninety one year old father was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He died two months later in Los Angeles and boom! My childhood protector was gone. We were at his side fteen minutes after the doctor pronounced him dead. His face looked tense. We told him what he had told us for many long years: that everything would be all right, that he would be ne. We used all the tools that Lama Ole had taught us during the many Phowas (courses on conscious dying) that we had attended. We told him to go to the light, that everything was a projection of his mind and that there was nothing to fear. We said mantras and touched the top of his head, the place where our consciousness leaves the body. His face relaxed. I looked at his old face, now peaceful. After so many years of having my dear old Dad as my protector, I knew absolutely that the protection was inside me and that I could let him go. Death no longer frightened me. When we left his side it was well after midnight. Through the neon lit streets, we walked and ran back to our hotel. We were crying, smiling, and laughing. A month later Lama Ole and Hannah were staying at our Calgary center, upstairs in our bedroom where I had a photo of my Dad. We had all just returned from a Phowa north of Calgary. It was late. Chris and I were alone in the kitchen. Ole had never met my Dad but he knew the photo was of my Dad because he had done Phowa for him after he died. Ole bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen. He smiled his big beautiful Danish smile and told us that my Dad had gone off very well and that everything really was all right. ____________________________

 le Nydahl, Refuge and the Enlightened Attitude, Diamond Way O Buddhist Center, San Francisco, USA, 2003, p. 11 2 Kalu Rinpoche, Luminous Mind, Wisdom Publications, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1993, p.107

A Grandmother
I held my rst grandson Max, named after my father, an hour after he was born. I looked at his perfect, tiny, vulnerable body: a body that needed protection in order to survive. I know that Im able to do what is necessary to protect him and my other grandchildren when my mind is clear. I used to think that protecting children meant

Susan Bixby

Susan Bixby met Lama Ole Nydahl in 1994. Along with her husband, Chris, she was one of thefounding members of the Calgary Diamond Way Buddhist Center in 1995. The center has been in their home since 2001. Susan has been very involved in the workings of Diamond Way Buddhism in North America. Before having children she was a French teacher. She is now a writer and painter, mother to a daughter and twin sons, and grandmother to four little boys.




Movie Review
Joseph Lyman

Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint

Written and Directed by: Neten Chokling Rinpoche 90 minutes, Tibetan with English subtitles Distributed by: Shining Moon Productions (2006)

There are few lms today that compare with the recently released lm Milarepa. There are no shoot-outs, no strategically planned super crimes. No drug deals gone wrong, leading to a hyper-paced chase scene. Without any of these elements, Milarepa is a thoughtful well crafted lm that deals with the issue of personal responsibility. Neten Chokling Rinpoches feature lm is a work of uncommon skill and beauty. Filmed in the exquisite setting of Northern India, the picturesque background itself becomes a part of a larger story. Interestingly, the lm was not made in Tibet because the Chinese government forbids superstitious depictions in lm. What some might consider slow paced is nothing more or less than the simply told tale of the Buddhist master Milarepa. The rst part of the lm deal with the early years of Milarepas life. The emotional story of the death of his father and his mothers subsequent descent into destitution has elements that are timeless and unconned by their cultural surroundings. Impoverished by the hands of family members, his mothers desire for revenge borders on madness. She coerces Milarepa to seek training in the black arts. Once procient, he returns to his village, destroying most of it and killing dozens of inhabitants. But this is a bitter victory for our hero. Almost immediately, he regrets his actions and perceives the futility of the violence. He is happy with neither the outcome, nor his own actions. There is a wonderfully emotional moment that follows his act of terror

when a local village woman sits by him, silently weeping. He ees the wrath of the survivors and takes refuge with a Buddhist monk who tells him, Your enemies arise from your own mind. To conquer them, cease negative actions, cultivate positive ones, and tame your mind. Haunted by images of the pain and suffering he caused, Milarepa starts to question his motivation and understanding. In the end, the lm leaves Milarepa as he begins his journey towards enlightenment. Those familiar with the story know his travels have only begun. The sequel is set to be released in 2009. The story of Milarepas life is one of the most commonly told tales in Tibet and is a cautionary tale, but ultimately one of hope and redemption. The 11th century practitioner spent his later years working through the karma he accumulated in his early life. As director Chokling commented, People who feel kind of hopeless because of (mistakes theyve made) in their lives. The key is that (Milarepa) was so ordinary and that he stuck to this path. He was completely determined to make a huge amount of progress. To prove that the worst person like him can (become) enlightened. That there is no one who is beyond redemption.1 Not everyone today will consider Milarepas story ordinary, but everyone can appreciate the depth of his encounter with karma and his mind on its way to enlightenment.

The Orange County Register, Monk Brings Tale of the Sinners Saint to Screen, September 19, 2007