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 Efimov, 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: Jonathan@buddhism-today.org Advertisers: Please send inquiries to: ads@buddhism-today.org Editorial: Please send comments to: editors@buddhism-today.org Buddhism Today is a bi-annual magazine published by Diamond Way Buddhist Centers USA, a California non-profit 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 mind’s 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 Today’s 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 beneficial 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 reflect 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 benefits 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 benefiting others, human and nonhuman beings. In this issue we investigate mind, its origins, its qualities, and its activities. We explore the purpose of bringing benefit 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 benefiting 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 specifically of mind and its development, but her stories of how the 16th Karmapa worked with them clearly show the way mind is involved and benefits from the refined 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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But fewer people are aware that as foreign cultures disappear. they also noticed that we had compassion and were very honest. In 1969. Carrot colored hair. What we wanted was experience. who can be truly majestic. from the Gelupa school. We were always trying to make them eat vitamins. However. they did see that we wanted to benefit them. worked from his monastery in foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. Bhutan. that as Westerners we said and did the same. when Communist Chinese attacked and destroyed Tibet. It was a streak of extreme luck that about eighty five thousand Tibetans managed to flee over the Himalayas into India. not Just everY month or everY Year. a great Kagyu yogi with thirty years of meditation experience in Eastern Tibet. that made the journey. Kalu Rinpoche. big noses. but stopped soon after. so we were not satisfied to simply hear something. I won’t say we were the most regular of students. Most of us had spent twenty years at schools and universities. there were several hundred wisdom holders. two brave teachers started instructing Westerners for the first time. Also we usually arrived with exotic smoke coming out of our noses and ears. we are also losing essential knowledge about mind. And long arms and legs like ours they only knew from their Eastern warrior tribes. of a lecture given by Lama Ole Nydahl in June 2004 in Prague. “Around the world these daYs. but everY daY. lay on the road to Darjeeling and Sikkim. That was my very visible generation of hippies. Back in the late 60s and early 70s. Even though they couldn’t always understand us. 5 . avoid polished rice. the Khampas. started teaching their conceptual way in the Western Himalayas. While most of the fugitives had little education. He taught with the blessing of the 16th Karmapa. Czech Republic. a lot of people are disturbed because theY know that manY unique animals and plants are disappearing. Not only was our democratic and taboo free culture a mystery to them. His small village. which is quite different from Asian preferences for politeness over directness. people with a full practical or theoretical training concerning the nature of mind. some people had already gone beyond their own cultures and were eager to learn new things. and booming voices were a novelty.Editor’s Note: This article is a shortened version. To the Tibetans. the West was getting ready.” KNOWING OUR EXPeRIeNCING MIND Lama Ole NYdahl 4 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 In 1959. edited for publication. and stuff like that. we took some getting used to. with the blessing of the Dalai Lama. Especially in North America and Northern Europe. sensing an interesting potential. as he got sick. and Nepal. The highly learned Geshe Rabten. called Sonada. He continued later at Rikon in Switzerland. This gave the idealists of the world a precious opportunity to keep and save that knowledge. but our appearances made many think we might be from another universe. we nearly lost some of the finest and most advanced psychological and philosophical wisdom known to man.

It provides a growing certainty that mind is indestructible and has a pervasive and very strong effect. and there is no center. It fills halls everywhere. More than that. size. But the best description of mind remains indestructible space. and equanimity become inseparable and it is difficult to separate one’s own experience from that of others. know that there is something between and behind the thoughts that perceives and understands. sick. it would certainly also die. the main Tibetan wisdom holders were dying very quickly. On the other hand. know that there is something between and behind the thoughts that perceives and understands. experience only the waves but not the unmoving ocean underneath. if you didn’t find anything. it becomes evident that others are countless 6 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 7 . Mind is much more than abstract or practical thought. That what is looking through your eyes has given dimensions and that you want to think of something much bigger. We live in highly productive societies and usually think of mind as intelligence. just because they reveal mind’s potential. It is a most relieving insight that we are not the bodies that get old. The conscious exchange between two rich cultures that started there has continued ever since. sympathetic joy. holding onto or pushing away. we celebrate both mind’s potential and Buddha’s trust in us. one will notice yet a third quality. tightness. created. and so on. We are like leaves “On the other hand. It really does remove fear. smell or form. feel something to be conscious right here and now. meaningful activities must follow. 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. suffering is an illusion and upon discovering this. And why? Imagine that your mind has a certain weight. they would disappear. that it has a certain voltage or some other physical characteristic. its boundlessness becomes evident. On the other hand. In 1969. Instead we own the film studios and the whole industry and are simply impressed by all the amazing things going on. whatever comes and goes is its richness and always interesting. He only taught because we can recognize that happiness comes from functioning well. producing 560 Diamond Way centers worldwide to date. From these perspectives. that mind plays incessantly and is limitless in its expression. He kept working until his yogi death in 1989. or would you try to fold whatever object you wished to make it fit? Thus any materialistic concept of mind presents major practical problems and the emotional ones are much worse. But after recognizing its empty essence and the non-reality first of a self and later also of an existent outer world. The neighboring Asian cultures were too rigid and as desperately poor refugees in a country like India. Instead many of their young men wanted to trade and experience the world. One becomes ever more aware that the clear light experiencing the world through our senses is outside the limitation of time. disappears. born or put together. and it brings the unshakeable state of liberation. After fearlessness and love. going to the cinema and hoping for a good film. Once the mirror is known. like all discernable things. no matter how many vitamins we eat. feelings. As there is no me that can be a target. smell. If mind had been made or born or put together. compassion. We are then always in the past or in the future. then everything is free play and a gift. Worst of all. Would you then try to stretch mind. we see that our awareness has not been created and also can never die nor disappear. if we experience our power of awareness. if we recognize that mind is not a thing. The reassuring thought that mind is a thing. or had any other material characteristic. you should be happy beyond compare. especially due to tuberculosis. then like space. as my books Entering the Diamond Way and Riding the Tiger describe. One also has memory. then everything is Disneyland.” in the wind. dreams. something we can rely upon. Beyond its space and awareness. then everything is free play and a gift. Though at first you might have a nihilistic flash. would become a short lived happiness at one’s second realization: that all things and events are transitory and impermanent. The key to this is knowing our experiencing mind. sometimes there. trying to prove or excuse things. color. sometimes here. and can therefore be trusted to last. then we stop being like ordinary people. and die. and also not the thoughts and feelings which come and go. things become interesting and fantastic. It is not the experience of not being anything or vulnerable that really transforms peoples’ awareness. which would make confusion a lasting state. thinking that maybe mind doesn’t exist. disappear. that it is without size. feel something to be conscious right here and now. On the other hand. color. So why the happiness every time we meet? Well. If they did not pass on their insights. artistic and inventive abilities and so on. or striped. a non-thing. this would be a historic discovery. behaving like buddhas until we become them and then living his highest level of identification with the finest of motivation. a neutral element. the things we think of and notice. If beings see only the pictures in the mirror and not the mirror behind them. When we rest in the indestructible certainty that what knows and experiences consciousness can neither be improved nor harmed in any way. they had to teach Westerners. most Tibetans could not afford years of education. and the superficially secure feeling that people seek through such a view. In its essence. if we experience our power of awareness. That it has never been made. At this point one notices how everybody thinks they are very special cases and should be happy. With this view. living only for objects of awareness. and fall apart. looking through your eyes and listening through your ears? If you did and discovered that your mind was green.Later he went to the West several times. or form. And this understanding gives beings a true refuge. soon a state of freedom and great bliss will pervade. mind can only be explained as potential. the main Tibetan rinpoches decided that to preserve their heritage. How many of you have ever tried to find out what is aware right now.

and skillfully manifest one’s buddha nature. When formerly disturbing feelings come. I’m busy right now. This makes a meditator intuitive. speech. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. He instructed his students to ask any questions they wanted and to continue until they were satisfied.000 each. Methods of breathing and one’s focus on the inner energy channels and wheels of the body are the basis for the second way of energy. Accordingly experiences are made which have a lasting and enlightening effect. The Vinaya. This insight confirms that beings can achieve buddhahood. New Zealand. While he is listening with the others. the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. It transforms anger and shows us how to skillfully protect others and benefit society. constant play. the Sutra. one merely notices the originality of an interesting show. Tantra in Sanskrit means weaving. and mind. With his powerful presence.” Viewing the whole circus from an unshakeable point of reference. What he wanted to avoid were teachings that were fulfilling on a Friday afternoon before a sunny weekend but lacked power on a rainy Monday morning when the boss is sour. holds rules mainly for monks and nuns. be aware of the situations of others or simply think. given against desire and attachment. In print. meaning. then I got jealous. which is like covering a hole in one’s development with a patch. one may avoid them. and the line is never busy. and Asia. Simple arithmetic then makes it clear that others must be more important and naturally brings forth the four kinds of perfect love mentioned above. one learns to experience whatever pleasant appears as a blessing and everything difficult as purification and a teaching to better help others later. and active compassion is indestructible. used by countless Westerners.” It is actually said that the man only knew the bump was gone after the teaching ended. The doctor went to Buddha and said. 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. calms and holds mind through focusing on one object. 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). they could only respond with devotion. it will go into his brain and he will die. Let’s see what comes tomorrow. In 1972.” Also one may be smart enough to let the thief come to an empty house. after completing three years of intensive meditation training. About Lama Ole Nydahl Lama Ole Nydahl is one of the few Westerners fully qualified as a lama and meditation teacher in the Karma Kagyu Buddhist tradition. experiences mature and become a part of one. unlike the formal kinds we learn at Western universities. They open and charge one’s bodily awareness centers with beyond personal energies. Its effect is markedly enhanced though the bodhisattva motivation. Mantrayana is the name for conscious and protective vibrations. The first of these. like HUNG for strength. Australia. And how can a normal critical person trust something so wonderful to be true and dependable? Because space with its inherent awareness. 8 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 9 . In Tantra.H. Buddha’s teachings consist of 84. and the Abhidharma was presented to philosophers. called the Kanjur.000 non-dogmatic instructions and pieces of advice.and each of us is only just one. The third term for these transformative teachings is Vajrayana or Diamond Way. UK.” So Buddha replied. mind’s disturbing feelings lose their hold. 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. and Mantrayana. It concerns things to do and not to do. you come from behind and do the operation. we see that three of the groups are fit for that. On the way to true inner freedom. like the first act of lovemaking or the first time tasting sugar. But he also knew how quickly superficial convictions can change. Vajrayana. The energy forms invoked and the mantras used in this practice are really like making telephone calls. to give others the chance to become like him. Showing them their timeless inner essence. Vinaya was given for monks and nuns. If desired. “A while ago I was proud. Buddha had a most practical goal. often gathered under the title of Sutra. remains the guru yogas of identification. “Make yourselves a cup of coffee. The OM at the start is like lifting a receiver and getting a dial tone. called Abhidharma. When the thread wears out. or situation will be seen as at least interesting. The last syllables show direction. The third group. their ability to identify with their enlightened potential through their bond to a teacher. TAM for the female compassion of liberatrice. Europe. they fill 108 books. and SOHA for spreading out. traveling and teaching worldwide as an authorized lama. They peak as mind’s quality of compassion. is for lay people. Sutra to the lay people. “He always runs away from me and if I don’t operate. but the fourth one is not. Russia. “Tonight I will give a teaching which will especially interest him. Lama Ole began teaching Buddhism in Europe at the request of H. It is a practical and very interesting kind of logic. His second field of advice. This is not to attract rich ladies who have read that such compressed pieces of carbon are their best friend. feeling. We may then think. If we take these teachings as information to study and learn. Most important. any thought. He has since transmitted the blessing of the lineage in a different city nearly every day. that one will use any progress for the benefit of all. HRIH for compassion. From the view of indestructible space. How interesting. that give free access to both mind’s awareness and energy. the patch falls off and the hole reappears. Tantra is therefore the opposite to a Buddhist intellectual understanding. Realizing that. targets ignorance. PE for cutting through. using one’s totality of body. it was important that his students did not just choose the easy way and start believing things. It is said that one monk was afraid of the doctor but had a bump on his head that was infected. and above all. Therefore he frequently used concept shattering methods. He provoked his students to be sure that they really understood what was said and that the level of teachings corresponded to their lives. contained in four groups of 21. That’s why his teachings always included a phase of analysis and clarification. however. His depth of knowledge and dynamic teachings inspire thousands of people at his lectures and retreats in North and South America. The next syllables are like dialing a Buddha’s number. Buddhist logic deals with scenarios that can be understood through real world observations. yielding results which amaze scientists even today. like a diamond. but because it makes mind exceedingly radiant and indestructible. their energy. Right now I am confused. 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. the thinkers. and active kindness. there also exists a whole box of tools. It seems that Buddha could have sold refrigerators in Greenland and woolen underwear in the Congo. using one’s power of awareness. and avoids premises that cannot be solved with experience.

out of devotion to Naropa‘s father. She answered. Having suffered twelve greater and twenty four smaller disasters in the course of his spiritual development. as translated by Herbert V. an enormous responsibility. and above all. edited by Angelika Prenzel and published by Buddhistischer Verlag in 2007. New York . At the age of eighteen he was already considered a scholar and he wanted to become a monk. Tibetan sources describe Niguma with the words Cham Mo. which means both sister and wife. Buddhism Today thanks the publisher for permission to publish this chapter. This showed the minister that she had a very compassionate nature and a natural sense of cleanliness. After they had been traveling in vain for more than a year. Naropa was quite astonished since the impossible conditions he dictated seemed to him a rather secure way of avoiding marriage. with whom she kept close contact. the great accomplisher Lavapa . and if she could imagine marrying him. there are few historical sources about her or her student. very beautiful. one source states that she practiced together with her teacher. can use personal challenges for development. Naropa’s 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. free from prejudice. the Shangpa Kagyu master Khyungpo Naljor. after twelve years Naropa finally became enlightened. his parents insisted that he should marry and continue the family line. The only reliable sources of information on Niguma are from the biographies of the Indian scholar and accomplisher (Sanskrit: Mahasiddha. she had to be open to the teachings of the Great Way and have blonde hair. and to what caste she belonged.NIGUmA 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. She paid meticulous attention to handing them a clean drinking bowl. However. In Naropa’s life story. Niguma was Naropa’s wife. They show how people. just then a Brahmin‘s daughter came to the same well. her age. Nevertheless. However. So he asked her if she had ever heard of Naropa. her name. The couple was married for eight years and Niguma was eager to learn from Naropa and practiced the Great Way.” Her blonde hair was tied up in a knot and she looked around with wide eyes. the daughter of a Brahmin. and in addition be called Niguma. Finally. He assured his parents he would agree to marry as soon as they had found such a bride. she did the job herself without the slightest hesitation. The book tells eleven life stories from the time when Diamond Way Buddhism was blooming in India and Tibet.” The minister could hardly believe that all these details corresponded to Naropa‘s demands. 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 fruit is the realization that one’s own mind is indestructible and infallible. one day they had a special encounter at a well in Bengal. King Santivarman’s son. intelligent. take responsibility for oneself and one’s environment. and became enlightened in only one week! 10 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 11 Photo courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art. However. but rather use the biographies as motivation for our own practice and development here and now. His parents were totally desperate. reach inner freedom and lasting happiness. he later renounced this respected position to become a disciple of the yogi Tilopa (988-1069). It is said he only met her in several visions. clean. The couple’s parents negotiated the matter and decided to dissolve the marriage. Guenther described Naropa as the son of a respected royal family with an extraordinary education in both spiritual and worldly fields.” N This article is a reprint of one chapter from Dakinis: Life Stories of Female Buddhas. Guenther. who transmitted teachings in Tibet. by applying these views and techniques. “My father is the Brahmin Tisya. I am sixteen years old and belong to the Brahmin caste. “We don’t so much learn the same meditations. After being married for eight years. After that. Hannah Nydahl said about this book. When she saw nobody to draw water with a rope for her. I am called Niguma. The girl was deeply touched by how tired and exhausted they both looked and fulfilled their wish with great pleasure. so he asked about her parents. While there is no clear description as to how Niguma attained enlightenment. where he was even granted the position of gatekeeper. a very loyal minister started on a journey together with a friend to find this special bride. Naropa built an impressive career at the famous monastic university of Nalanda. Naropa demanded a number of impossible conditions a potential candidate had to meet: She was to be sixteen years old. 150 years after her lifetime. faced with this hopeless situation. Then the minister addressed her and asked for some water. Her parents subsequently agreed to the marriage. She said he would have to ask her father about it and she would follow her father‘s wishes. My mother is the Brahmin Nigu and my brother is the Brahmin Nagu. Tibetan: Drubchen) Naropa (956-1040). To avoid this without appearing rebellious.

who became a disciple of Naropa. At the end of Thangtong Gyalpo’s life. Diamond Holder is considered to be inseparable from him. Tibetan: Kyerim) and the Completion Stage (Sanskrit: Sampannakrama. Kyungpo Naljor was one of the most highly realized masters Tibet has ever produced. Whoever encounters her is liberated. but still an illusion. this time as a singing fifteen year old shepherdess. Kunga Drolchok. Since Buddha Shakyamuni often appeared in the form of Diamond Holder to his disciples when giving tantric teachings. In biographies of the translator Marpa (1012-1097). This disciple discovered that Thangtong Gyalpo knew many more visualizations and asked him why he had not passed these on. but for 12 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 13 . After he had presented her with a gold mandala. had three visions of her. On his later journeys Marpa frequently returned to Niguma to receive further teachings and one time he stayed with her for a whole month. she did not have to practice for many years. Since then she has been dwelling in the enlightened awareness of the Joy State (Sanskrit: Sambhogakaya. She had shown herself at various places in central and western Tibet to give teachings to happy people. then everything experienced will become golden fields of non-attachment. at the cremation grounds of Sosadvipa. According to Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. Niguma instructed him on the Developing Stage (Sanskrit: Utpatti. Other known teachings by Niguma deal with the steps on the Path of Magical Illusion (Sanskrit: Mayadhanacrama). Meet her and ask her for the teaching on the Cathuhpitha Tantra. Khyungpo Naljor met Niguma about 150 years after her official lifetime in a wild vision. He longed for teachings as they were given by Buddha himself. Naropa. “On the shore of a poisonous lake in the south. experienced by her later lineage holders Khyungpo Naljor. Sangye Tonpa. who built numerous suspension bridges with solid metal chains in old Tibet. Very happily she gave him the full empowerment and the oral transmission of the Cathuhpitha Tantra. After her enlightenment Niguma took the form of a wisdom dakini.” There may still be original Tibetan texts which could offer further details when translated to a Western language. such as those authored by Taranatha (born c. Naropa sent Marpa to Niguma to learn from her as one of his many teachers. Tibetan: Dorje Chang) in a vision. she never ceased to exist. in whose direct lineage of transmission she appears together with Sukhasiddhi.” Marpa met Niguma there.1575). he still wished for more advanced teachings and asked all the highly realized Indian masters he knew for them. Thangtong Gyalpo respected Niguma‘s wish to keep her teachings secret. and held a vajra celebration with him after she answered his many questions. where she was dwelling in a grass hut.“When the ocean of conditioned existence has run dry and any attachment to external phenomena or one’s ego has been abandoned. at present only fragments are available. clearly states that she received neither the teachings on working with enlightened energy nor those on working with the mind from a human teacher. however. who sadly told Thangtong Gyalpo how hard it was to benefit beings as a girl. she could show up anywhere. These are explanations for very advanced meditations on insight into the illusory nature of all things. Tibetan: Dzogrim) of meditation. but from Diamond Holder (Sanskrit: Vajradhara. Despite his already substantial knowledge. Niguma is mentioned as Marpa’s tutor who helped him work on and write down various texts. she appeared from a cloud. who adorns herself with bone ornaments. In addition. However. Thangtong Gyalpo answered that they had been given to him directly by the dakini and she had expressly forbidden him to pass them on. The later founder of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition. gave no hint as to the relation between him and Niguma. Thus. Niguma is mentioned only very rarely after her divorce and she is said to have remained a devoted disciple of the great master Naropa. Historically. but he was the only one who had recognized her. Like many other Shangpa masters. he asked her for the teaching. descended to earth. and Taranatha in Tibet. The Buddhist scriptures preserve some of Niguma’s oral instructions. All further encounters with the enlightened Niguma took place in the form of visions. Niguma received teachings directly from Buddha‘s mind and since she was able to open up so deeply. she appeared again. Niguma even considered buddhahood itself an illusion. Moreover. the famous lama and engineer Thangtong Gyalpo. And where could he find her? Well. Tibetan: Long Ku) of buddhahood and can no longer be perceived by normal beings. there lives the [dark skinned] Wisdom Dakini. one of his disciples who had received the traditional Shangpa teachings from him had gained clairvoyant control over his dreams. however. All available sources. Also. Khyungpo Naljor studied with 150 such teachers and one of the most famous among them was Niguma. gave him empowerments and many teachings. The first time. Some years later. such as the empowerment of the Buddha Oh Diamond (Sanskrit: Hevajra. Tibetan: Kye Dorje). the highest illusion of all. who is especially known for his work History of Buddhism in India and a standard text on Green Tara. Their response was that he could only receive these from a dakini like the great Niguma.

But it might be possible to encounter her at one of the cremation grounds. It is said only that Niguma’s teachings are physically less strenuous. Herbert V. Shaw. In essence. When he looked up to Niguma. After these five generations it would be appropriate to spread the teachings further for the benefit of all beings. Nicole. The fruit is the realization that one’s own mind is indestructible and infallible. An offering of this kind was quite common in those days. Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verse from the Shangpa Masters. 14 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 15 . flesh eating dakini would certainly have at least kept part of the gold for herself. to encounter her at all. Snow Lion Publications. Eventually. She is co-founder of the German Buddhist magazine Buddhismus Heute. was doubtlessly one of the most successful practitioners ever. originally called Kagyu Life. Therefore. Niguma. Miranda. . joined Diamond Way Buddhism in 1981. He was one of the teachers of Tilopa (988-1069) and Atisha (982-1055). Boston (Massachusetts) & London 1995. Ithaca (New York) 1994. After this. The Life and Teaching of Naropa. Fortunately. One can only guess why Niguma wished for such secrecy. Khyungpo Naljor wondered whether what he saw was real or if he was just witnessing the magical play of the dakinis. Niguma had dissolved her normal. where she instructed a number of dakinis and presided over a large ritual offering festival (Sanskrit: Ganacakra. Passionate Enlightenment. Tibetan: Chagchen. Shambhala Publications. Niguma granted Khyungpo Naljor the complete transmission with detailed explanations while he was awake. Perhaps she wanted to prevent her teachings from becoming a school and subsequently an institution. material world at the time of her enlightenment. After that time. a nutritionist by training. She was wearing bone ornaments. Or perhaps she was just a wild yogini. When Khyungpo Naljor heard about Niguma. then you have overcome the ocean of samsara. he saw a female light and energy form of a bluish color. But she answered him with scathing mockery. She now owns and drives a taxi in Munich. - Dharma Cloud Press. “Son of Tibet. sometimes there seemed to be only one dakini. physical body into rainbow light and regarding her spiritual state. On the other hand. . The main difference is the transmission line itself. These teachings go back to both Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. for five 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. Like an Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters. so she started to demand gold from him. In return teachers then took responsibility for their disciples’ living expenses once they had been accepted. Germany and has coordinated it for fifteen years. Tsadra Foundation. 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. Boston (Massachusetts) 1999. there is no difference between the Six teachings of Naropa (Tibetan: Naro Cho Druk) and the Six Teachings of Niguma. Snow Lion Publications. The Life of Marpa the Translator: Seeing - Accomplishes All. Therefore. when the full moon rose.Kongtrul. She organized the Buddhist Karma Kagyu Meditation Center in Munich. They have never been rewritten or changed in the slightest and are considered as fine and pure as gold. Moreover. About Ulla Unger Ulla Unger. Still. With flaming eyes Niguma looked in all directions and suddenly she was surrounded by a large gathering of dakinis. While he was looking at her. some prepared Dharma teachings and others the evening’s festival. Waterfalls were flowing down the four sides of the mountain. Since Niguma and Sukhasiddhi transmitted their knowledge to Khyungpo Naljor. and to the community of realized practitioners. Princeton (New Jersey) 1994. she never was in the position of a Guru with many disciples who would have told her story. Run away before they come and devour you! Run before it is too late!” Khyungpo Naljor was not intimidated.. Sources: Guenther. Niguma reached enlightenment in only one week and therefore. The reason that the information is missing may be that in Niguma’s day in medieval India it was just not customary to write a woman‘s biography. He didn’t have the slightest doubt. is like a play of dreams and magically produced illusory pictures. Some were sitting in meditation posture and others were dancing very gracefully. Niguma gave the empowerment and transmission of the Dream Yoga teachings (Tibetan: Milam) to Khyungpo Naljor. Obviously she had no attachment to conditioned things such as gold and Khyungpo Naljor took this as confirmation that he had indeed found the real accomplisher Niguma. Princeton University Press - Paberbacks. surrounded by a large retinue of dakinis. Thangtong Gyalpo had been instructed likewise. she also left the physically perceptible. Shambhala South - Asia Editions. Tibetan: Tsog Kyi Khorlo). To do so you must be extremely devoted to your teacher. “When the ocean of conditioned existence has run dry and any attachment to external phenomena or one’s ego has been abandoned. So he felt even more assured and continued to ask for the teachings. Riggs. just took the gold and threw it away into the bushes. When he arrived at Sosaling. 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. Just hearing her name touched him so deeply that his eyes filled with tears and he began to tremble. rise!” and he found himself hovering in the air. Khyungpo Naljor was not by any means the only one Niguma asked for such secrecy.Jamgon. The blossoms are the Meditations on the White and the Red Dakini. In the middle of the ceremony she said. They were doing all kinds of things: Some built palaces. the world of phenomena. they are considered the Mothers of the Shangpa Kagyu. however. An evil. Chogyam.Kongtrul. Ithaca (New York) 2003. If you really experience that the world of phenomena is nothing but a dream. Chagya Chenpo). held a trident in one hand and a skull cup in the other. although he could not be sure whether he really would find Niguma there. 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. The present nature of samsara. comparable to the pictures a magician may produce. Niguma gave him teachings and explained.Jamgon. this had to be the great bodhisattva Niguma! He started prostrating to her and entreated her to transmit her teachings. which he offered her without hesitation. Understand this! Now you have to leave. Eugene (Oregon) 2001. On the next day. Retreat Manual. he pressed on and asked for teachings. Without hesitation he started on his way to a cemetery named Sosaling. the Six Teachings of Naropa have been transmitted through Marpa and his lineage holders within the Karma Kagyu School. he knew instantly that he had to find her. she was sitting on top of a golden mountain. “Beware! I am a flesh eating dakini and I have a large retinue of other dakinis. her history can only be told with the help of other masters’ biographies and not by the usual means of chronologically arranged information. he constantly made wishes to the Three Jewels: to Buddha. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye considers them to be incarnations of the two main wives of Guru Rinpoche. The Five Golden Doctrines of the Shangpa Kagyu are often illustrated in the form of a tree.Niguma beings constantly confused by their own emotions it was very hard. sometimes many. who did not want anybody to make too much of a fuss about her. While traveling. Niguma told Khyungpo Naljor that apart from him nobody had received the entire transmission of these teachings three times in a dream. others mandalas. Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal. this posed no problem as he had 500 gold pieces. then everything experienced will become golden fields of non-attachment. however. 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. Khyungpo Naljor had a vision: high above. Trungpa. 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. 1 Lavapa was one of the 84 great Indian Mahasiddhas. to his teachings. she was inseparable from Diamond Holder himself. if not impossible.

We don’t have enough drivers. we were very. “What does refuge mean? What is karma?” and.H. She saw it as her and Lama Ole’s responsibility. It started out with. Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche had already told us about the lama who sometimes taught Westerners. the stronger our bond to Karmapa became. Already at that time. during which time we also started on our Ngondro. but Rinpoche was always very kind to us.H the 16th Karmapa ince we could not stay in Rumtek. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in Leverkusen. She died on April 1. 2007. he called us and asked. Kalu Rinpoche gave teachings for about one hour every day. “Okay. we agreed that the best thing we could do was to go to Sonada. So why don’t you drive a car?” 16 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 Hannah Nydahl 17 . 20. being the student of one or the other. We went off immediately and met Karmapa at the Teeshta Bridge when he came down from Rumtek. for example. Part I appeared in Buddhism Today No. simply their specific function in this time or epoch. he hid us in his truck. The people in Sonada S were students of Kalu Rinpoche and he always made it clear that we were students of Karmapa.” he said. Kalu Rinpoche had a few students around him and they had started to practice. We didn’t really know what that meant at that time. “to make the deep wisdom of Tibet accessible to our part of the world. in its two parts. The deeper we got into the practice.” as she once said. “What are the Paramitas?” This lasted for many months. The time had come where we would actually start to learn something. He was our connection to the dharma and we gradually started to gain more and more understanding. His method was to throw us in the water and we simply had to learn how to swim. Hannah Nydahl spent over thirty years doing just this. very sad that things weren’t progressing in Rumtek and that we were sent there. where Kalu Rinpoche was. 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. then we are going to Nepal. He then took us all the way to Bhutan with him. This portion continues to tell the story of how she and Lama Ole Nydahl first 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. there was quite a difference from being with Karmapa or being with Kalu Rinpoche. “Do you have a driver’s licence?” And when we said “Yes. I would like to tell you a little more about how he worked with us. One day he told us that Karmapa was going to Bhutan and there was a possibility to meet him. H. Illegally. But the whole time we were staying there. This article. we really wanted to go to Sikkim to be with Karmapa. One day in Rumtek. Although Sonada was only half a day trip from Rumtek. Germany in 2005.“His WaY of TeaChinG Was VerY SKillful” 16TH KARmAPA Hannah Nydahl on the Part II This is the second and final installment of a talk that Hannah Nydahl gave at a course on H. is a tribute to her work.

very direct and not conceptual in any way. I do not think I ever had such a hard drive in my whole life. And then Ole had the accident. He would suddenly ask what we thought about different things. We really started from scratch and learned in that way. whatever he blessed. but during the day we drove non-stop on bad roads. Karmapa had been in another car further up front. he only asked us for one thing. and Diamond in Hand. Karmapa was there during our discussion. Wisdom Buddha. So we drove all the way from Rumtek to Kathmandu. It was a crazy thing to do. the stronger our bond to Karmapa became. when we met him the first time.000 repetitions. We didn’t believe in any other drugs and had stopped smoking hash. but it seemed like the only feasible solution. First of all. best thought!” That was his level of teaching. We got hold of a dictionary and with my knowledge of the alphabet. After all. and slowly we also started to gain more and more understanding. We stopped once to get some sleep. I had learned the alphabet before. which was quite tricky and very different from translating for anyone else. He politely accepted it. thinking of Karmapa. we gave him some LSD. and we gradually started to gain more and more understanding. Ole would sit in the car by himself and it would be pulled. The road was really steep. Some of these things we only understood after many years. But it was crazy! Karmapa would constantly check our trust in him. because he was able to handle the situation. Ole suggested tying the car to another car. When Karmapa gave us the refuge and lay promise. now its time for you to go home. Karmapa called us up to him one day and told us. “Okay. Sometimes I had to translate for Karmapa. we had been coming and going to Sikkim and had finished our Ngondro. Many years later he talked to other people about it. It just vanished from our minds. up the mountains.H the 16th Karmapa in the mid 70s “The deeper we got into the practice. he just said: “First thought. because we took the promise not to take any intoxicants. they drive on the left side of the road. having no idea what was going on.” You have to know that driving a jeep in Asia is very different from driving a car in the West. checking everything out. and of course the whole convoy stopped. From that moment.” He gave us a thangka (scroll painting) of the three main bodhisattvas: Loving Eyes. “Okay” and so we went on and nothing happened. how far our trust would go.Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl with H. we were in the middle of the mountains. we weren’t allowed to take any LSD anymore. Then he said.” “Home? Where is home?” We thought that we would be there forever. that from now on. because Ole had the lama who was holding the black crown sitting next to him and had just started to say Karmapa Chenno mantras. saying that LSD is not good but he accepted it from us because he knew that then we wouldn’t take it. This is how I started. It took one and a half days of constant driving. Karmapa came over and we debated what to do. “What do you think?” ­Because we trusted him so much. all sorts of things could have gone wrong. we never thought of it again. We would answer and then started thinking how to improve the answer to make it sound more intelligent. it would work out. And it didn’t stop when we were going in the curves. He said that the brakes had entirely failed and he couldn’t stop the car anymore. but I just stayed behind him. The jeeps were really old and the roads in the Nepali mountains back then were even worse than they are today. He was our connection to the dharma. but we had still believed in LSD. We had even given him our passports at some point and we thought that was it. I translated the text and we did our 100. There are other people who will like to hear about what you have been learning here. Then he suddenly drove into the side of the mountain! (Laughs. After a few years. “Yes.) It looked very dangerous. Kalu Rinpoche 18 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 19 . I was driving the car behind him and I saw Ole’s car in the front going faster and faster. The Tibetans still talk about it to this day. I could read the dictionary and then translate everything word by word. Then we came to the next part and I translated that. in our eyes the best gift. For example. now you go home. I stopped and Ole got out of the car. we were totally confident that he knew exactly what was going on. I asked him back. but they were essential teachings. He said. His blessing was so powerful that from that moment we never even thought of LSD again. Karmapa came over to me and wanted to know whether I thought it was a good idea. so this came in very handy when we stayed in Sonada and did our Ngondro. Luckily Ole was at the wheel. would immediately work without any hesitation. Something would happen and he would always want our feedback and find out how far we would go. If he would give the go ahead. But Karmapa wouldn’t listen anymore. it was never in a formal way. When he gave us teachings. when before it was the thing. When we did prostrations. Whatever Karmapa said. because the texts were in Tibetan and there was no translator. He said. It was terrible! Ole was in one car and I was driving one of the other jeeps. “You will need compassion.

At that time nobody knew what Buddhism was or who Karmapa was. he gave an empowerment especially for my mother: Almighty Ocean (Tibetan: Gyalwa Gyamtso). she was the one who was always the most understanding and who often saved the situation when things were difficult.” So we went back to Europe in the autumn of 1972. a Karma Pakshi empowerment. Of course that was difficult for my father. one had to walk down six floors.” So he sent us to the West and said. When Karmapa taught. with nice curtains and nice cushions. All we had was our small VW bus. explaining to him how happy my mother was now. to understand and to accept. make you understand mind. I had learned a little bit about dharma by then and could follow the thoughts. The Buddhist center was a tower and Ole and I were staying on the top floor of the tower. We prepared everything the way he had told us to. where he gave the Black Crown Ceremony for the first time in Europe. who wasn’t a Buddhist. On that day he actually taught that and I had to translate it. Karmapa was staying somewhere else. Karmapa included. He even came to our homes. Where does it hurt?” I showed him where. I think it was in 1977. And then I will come. It just didn’t work. He arrived in Oslo and we had prepared a car for him. that was very special. It would seem like he had no idea of what he was talking about. and in 1974 Karmapa came for the first time himself. but first we have the empowerment!” So the empowerment took place and I translated for him. the red form of Loving Eyes in union. I went to Karmapa and told him about her. During the empowerment. so he immediately got the message and said. That is what he wanted to transmit and what he wanted us to use and realize. but to have Karmapa there at that moment and let him take her through. Through Ole’s and my first hippie years and the times in prison. so you go to the hospital. Of course it was difficult. A few days after the Black Crown Ceremony. They had planned a program with Karmapa for the evening. I never had anything like that before and I had no idea what it was. so he can prepare the way. we were driving with Karmapa and the whole group from Denmark to Holland in a bus. I really thought I was dying. 20 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 21 . And you could not use your normal intellectual way of translating. which then. 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]. “Okay. and I was supposed to translate. I was really sick. A little later. Later. but it helped him anyway.” wisdom. she already had a premonition. Karmapa’s way of teaching us was by throwing us in the water and we simply had to swim. But on that day. “I will send Kalu Rinpoche first. Even when she was still alive. It was Ole’s mother who told me that my mother had just died. He just took it in. but 2000 people came. because when we arrived I was really ill with what I later found out to be pyelitis. Before Karmapa came. to trust that he would somehow be able to work through you and the right things would come out. The only chance was to forget everything and just try to tune in to him. My parents had spent their whole life together and such a sudden death is always difficult for the one who is left behind. Even under normal circumstances. In order to go to the toilet. We spent a little time with him in Oslo and then went over to Stockholm. he would speak very poetically and not follow any structure. among them my father. It was a part of the Word Empowerment where the teacher uses Mahamudra words. Karmapa explained what to visualize and how some details appeared. Karmapa immediately held a ceremony for my mother. Karmapa started teaching about the nature of mind. “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 called me to him and I literally crawled to him. He didn’t say much. You heard some words and translated them. Right after that we went to Copenhagen. He was caring and very compassionate on all levels. I don’t know how I managed to get through. translating for Karmapa was totally different from translating for anyone else because he taught in a quite unusual way. and strength. I have experienced that with him several times. And that’s how we picked him and the crew up from the airport. At that time I had just started to translate and usually the teachings I translated were quite structured. One could not wish for a better death. She had a strong connection to him. It was there when I had a dream about my mother. painted. One time. So there was this very very close connection between them. not so many detailed traditional things. It was incredibly painful. he blew on it and said. and it made sense. She had a heart attack. so it was a sudden death. she told me what I should do when she died. it was the same with Ole’s parents and my father. As mentioned earlier. He smiled and said. “It is okay. I had fever and cramps. He has done the same when we came from Tibet. The last time I saw her. You may have seen films of Karmapa being welcomed in the US.“Karmapa always taught the essence. Karmapa was sitting next to me. I was sitting in a room with Karmapa in a place in Sweden where we had started a center with Kalu Rinpoche. Karmapa gave my mother a lot of attention. Someone suddenly brought in a telephone. My father was invited to come and Karmapa really looked after him. There must have been a real draft. click. she was very open to Buddhism. The way Karmapa took care of things with my mother was very kind. 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.

He was laughing his head off. one does not function in a normal way. He loved bringing me in that kind of situation in front of other people. This is generally the function of a Karmapa. When he frowned. But this was an older version and it was quite tricky to dress up in. So I was driving and then he started looking at me. When he was laughing. the 16th Karmapa and Ling Rinpoche 22 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 23 . He would do these things all the time. everything he did was out of compassion anyway. and he just couldn’t stop laughing. We already knew at that time that Karmapa loved to drive fast. It was another of his skillful means. It was a van and it was very slow. but in this situation it just didn’t work and he was already in the back seat. Today they have a version which is quite easy to put on. I had them all in the car and if something happened. And I had to drive him in this car. For explanations about the details of the meditation. Karmapa really tried to make me do it and I just didn’t know what to do. nothing really happened. But Karmapa made me wear it and I had to walk around in it. The journey took. so I had to wear it. the whole house was laughing. it would have been terrible. When I had to translate for him. It is one piece and you turn it around and it fits everybody. and then teach you something. He gave me some folded clothes and I was so happy! He asked me to put them on. And people. No matter how much I stepped on the pedal. in order to learn the Phowa. And he thought it was simply hilarious. where it would be almost too much for me. You are meant to wear a chuba down to your ankles. But he was laughing about it too. But there was nothing I could do about it and when we came to Munich. Karmapa went into the fast car with Ole. (Laughs. But it was a gift from him. he sent us to Ayang Rinpoche and said that this would now be a good thing to learn. that is the only way. but you have the trust and you just do it. He would then check with them how it had gone and how our practice was going and then checked with us. As his student. It is a sign of class. It just had no power. he told me to do it. We were with him for twelve years and of course you can say that he died very young. In an extreme situation like that. the essence of everything. of course. it is not a coincidence when a Karmapa dies. So you can imagine how funny it looked. whether they were Buddhists or not. but it was okay and everything was all right. but generally the Karmapas work like that: not so many long teachings and explanations. After the empowerment I was taken to the hospital. It was impossible to wear it that short.I’m very grateful. Quite a few people were actually slightly afraid of Karmapa because he was so powerful. “Now pass!” And I just couldn’t. For example. He knows when to die and everything fits. 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. In the beginning we didn’t really know the language. He gave me this incredible blessing and I managed to make it.H. Karmapa’s sense of humor was amazing. At some point when we were going uphill and were even slower. and then with this chuba only down to here. Sometimes he would send other lamas to us and asked them to teach us something. But before we came up to the top. Once I was driving a car and Karmapa was with me. Karmapa could put you in the most extreme situations. you feel the loss. It was like a teaching and purification at the same time. for example the 8th Karmapa. 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. would get the blessing.) I kept on driving. but when he showed it in the loving way. which of course you should not really translate. he would melt everybody’s heart. At several occasions Karmapa called us over to him and gave us direct mind teachings.” H. but more empowerments and direct instructions. He did that a lot. That was part of the purifications. he would send us to other lamas. At the same time. it was the end of the world. the car was so slow that it was simply impossible. to trust that he would somehow be able to work through you and the right things would come out. I tried. We had to go from Frankfurt all the way down to Austria. Again it was a situation where he just wanted you to do something that was totally against common sense. What we do regret was that we could not communicate with him more. We will see how it will be with Thaye Dorje. Being so tall. so I knew from the beginning it would be a disaster. At other times when he expressed his compassion. but later there were many situations where he would teach us. “The only chance was to forget everything and just try to tune in to him. not so much the details. I don’t know what I said. they didn’t know if I was a boy or a girl. It was an old fashioned Tibetan chuba for women. You can only do it if you understand the teachings intuitively. He watched our reaction and then laughed. much longer than it would have taken with a faster car. so I did. It is not an ordinary way of dying. But at the same time. His way of teaching us was about giving us the essence. because in Tibetan eyes I looked funny anyway. Another time Karmapa took Ole and me up to his room in Rumtek. he would sometimes crack jokes. he suddenly said. I had moments like that as well. but of course I was much taller than the average Tibetan woman. as he wanted to give us some gifts.

Karmapa knew already then that he would die. We also had several meetings with him where he would just look. This is why he empowered Ole. and Karmapa illustrated that so strongly. and he is exactly as he said he would be. our source. In that way it didn’t change anything. When one keeps the connection through the Guru Yoga. Again and again he would emphasize the importance of not mixing activity with politics. Karmapa came to the West for the last time. not so many detailed traditional things. He’s not the huge powerhouse that the 16th Karmapa was. That is what he wanted to transmit and what he wanted us to use and realize. It is not what he wished for and definitely not what he wanted us to transfer into our countries. there was no obvious reason. already in the beginning when we came to him as hippies. you will never lack anything. but the activity is a little bit different. You know that.” And that’s how he is now.The funeral of H. but you don’t really want to know it. Since this was the last time we saw him in that incarnation. it worked like a filter and made it possible for things to continue as the 16th Karmapa wanted them.” As a symbol for that he gave us the note. see everything that is going on today. If you have your own interest and start to manipulate things. Later. Karmapa of course knew exactly and there were already some signs. you were somewhere else.H. Everything had meaning on some level and was a teaching of some kind. He said. light years away. When the Karmapa controversy started. instead of thinking of the benefit for everybody. It really is like that. no matter whether we have a physical body or not. That is what we are experiencing now with the 17th Karmapa. both here and at the same time everywhere. The activity of the 17th Karmapa is exactly as the 16th Karmapa wanted. what our activities should be. During all the years. He also told us to come to Rumtek at a certain time. of course one is sad and misses them. For us. down to the smallest details. At that meeting he gave us a banknote and said. You are the confirmation of that. we are sure that he could. and it became clear what he had warned us about. in another dimension. Later we found out what he meant and we remembered his words. The power is always there of course. Nothing was ever coincidental and no words or time were wasted. and just rested in space. Ole has talked about how we met him in Woodstock and received the last Crown Ceremony. There were so many signs. Whatever happens will have meaning and will be right. I started crying. “I will not be like this the next time. He transmitted the methods already. He would often look at Ole with these eyes. An experience like that confirms our true nature. not say anything. Politics means to not keep your motivation just for the dharma and what you do in the dharma just for the benefit of others. then things become political. He is really becoming very strong. It is something from Tibet we really didn’t need. I remember from the first moment we met until he died. the activity only grew because he was present all the time and his directions were so clear. That is the main quality of everything. It was the last time we saw him. It shows that what you do is right and it gives you strength for the activity. That is understandable because one will not see him in that form anymore. he called us back and told us a few more things. After we had said goodbye to him and we had already left. It will always stay with you and give you strength. We just followed entirely what he had asked us to do. We remembered what he had told us. When we said goodbye to him. In 1980. Unfortunately it was true. He did not want all these political games. What Ole does is Karmapa’s activity. you would suddenly remember it later. something he had said. “If you really keep your motivation completely pure and have no self-interest. that he wasn’t physically present. We knew immediately what had happened. I will be more gentle. It was in Boulder where Karmapa gave us instructions on what we should do in the future. we can see what was going on then. the 16th Karmapa Nearly everything Karmapa said. these were the words that guided Ole and me. He gave us a banknote and said. He had a stopover in London on his way to America. The news came during a Red Crown Ceremony with Gyaltsab Rinpoche. When your teacher dies. from when Karmapa died and until the 17th Karmapa came. “If you really keep your motivation completely pure and have no self-interest. 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. there is always a guideline. which was beyond everything we had experienced before. That was one of the things he told us so often and we didn’t know what he was talking about at that time because we didn’t know what he meant with politics. The controversy was not a bad thing. Even if in that moment you didn’t understand it. These qualities continue. Now that we are more aware of what you can know when you are on the level of a Karmapa. And really that is what it’s all about. We went to Rumtek and were there when he died. and that is what is happening. When you looked into his eyes. I think that the growth in the West has happened through him. We experienced that in Rumtek. The teacher rests in meditation and one can receive very strong blessings from him. but at that time we didn’t understand that it was the last time we would see him. the answers were always there. It is our root. saw what others were doing. his words stayed with us very strongly. When you have the right motivation and keep your bonds. One can be sure that things are right and it confirms everything. you can’t go wrong. He didn’t go to any other places there and we went on to America to see him. Whenever anything came up. On a normal human level. He was very clear about what we should do in the West. One is attached to that form and misses them. We were lucky that he was here in Europe. Looking back now. I will study more because that’s what the world will need at that time. which suddenly became so dominant. Karmapa always taught the essence. At the same time there is also a unique opportunity to be very close to your teacher when you meditate at that time. as if he was there. I dreamed that the dakinis called me and told me that Karmapa had died. The Karmapas and the bodhisattvas always express the activity that has the most benefit for all beings. I didn’t know why. how we should practice. It is what Karmapa empowered him to do. which would make you understand a situation.” 25 24 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 . In the middle of all this sadness was this enormous blessing where one could feel Karmapa’s presence. the last time we were with him was in Boulder. I think. Karmapa’s most striking feature were his eyes. This blessing pervades all our activity. All this happened in a different unusual way. you will never lack anything. which is there. it is a mixture of feelings. every instruction he gave was really meaningful. I don’t know how much time passed and then he blessed us without saying anything. He is not a child anymore. Many of you experienced that with Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche because you developed a strong bond with him. It just felt different.

from the stories our old grandma used to tell to the scientific experiments in space. The moment that one sense experiences the objects of knowledge.” Modern science has enabled incredible levels of understanding. 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. As Isaac Newton explained. This information is interpreted by an awareness. “If I have seen further. the people involved clearly believed in the goals of B their tradition. In search of truth people do all sorts of activities. How We Know What We Know There are only three ways of knowing something: direct experience. a direct experience where the truth becomes clear. and religion. if one wears blue sunglasses. ears. body. our senses of smell are poor compared to that of dogs. when based on a proper reason as it is explained in Buddhism. and philosophical groups throughout history have sought a higher meaning to our time on earth. and Religion MATT HUDDLeSTON uddhists are not the only people searching for truth. Our exploration of philosophy. Our current wonderful health and lifestyles are the fruit of the pursuit of truth through modern scientific and medical methods. the love of truth. For centuries the earth was believed to be flat and the sun seemed to be eaten by various gods every night because we had limited abilities to explain what we experienced. is encouraged in the search for truth. what we experience cannot be taken away from us and is believed to be real. one sees them exactly as they are. our interpretations could be quite misguided. my favorite sect is a 19th century Russian group that found a very special way to liberation through tickling. if the experience and logic are correct. however. and what others tell us. for example. is not truly science if a theory can not be tested in the realm of experience. For instance. While this is an amusing story to us. Science. they say the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. some of which can reportedly smell ten thousand times more intensely than humans. meaning that we limit things once we start interpreting them. Still in general. weapon. then we can have an “ah-ha” moment. Countless scientific. to the degree that modern theories of the universe often suggest what should be tested and experienced directly to prove or disprove the theories. religious. therefore. is something that binds us all. shovel. that of logic. however. each sense organ or faculty is described as having a corresponding consciousness. there is no doubt that developed cultures do compare and contrast the options that are available. The search for truth has been hugely varied. but sees them in an altered hue. which in Buddhism is called mind. logical explanations. be mistaken. aggression. or countless other things.Where Does Truth Lie? Between Buddhism. Yet some feel threatened by other traditions. First. The results of basing an understanding on a correct interpretation of another’s experience can lead to great towers of realization and meaning. Indeed if we had first tasted a fully ripened English Stilton. Our impressions are quickly colored by our previous experiences. likes and dislikes. absolute rule.H. when we are not trapped in our more mundane pastimes. Out of fear and confusion they resort. bowl. one’s eye cannot see things how they are. What we experience directly however. On top of this. there is what we experience directly. 26 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 H. but uses a basic reasoning. It then belongs in the realm of philosophy. In this way one can see that an experience is not absolute. and tongue we get a constant stream of impressions that are shaped by our sense organs. then it is immediately not thought to have the potential to be used as a pot. To them it was more than just a pastime. Assuming we are not hallucinating and all our faculties are in good working order. variously. This activity links so much of our rich history in the wars and struggles humankind has endured. This non-conceptual moment can. Science. Similarly. with some even dying in the fervor. collectively called our disturbing emotions. proselytizing. the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorge 27 . our explanations of what we experience are on much shakier ground. it was a complete reality. But can anyone objectively say which paths are more meaningful than others? Though some say it is politically incorrect to make these judgments. and in extreme cases even violence to make their ideas dominant. faiths. we will make more sense of the world around us based on our experiences and an ounce of good logic. this interpretation isn’t based on experience of all cheeses. whether in public or in private. propaganda. In Tibet. If we name an object a cup. This is the second type of knowledge. toilet. hopes and fears. 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. With our eyes. The moment we start interpreting our experiences and calling them names or putting them in categories (conceptualization). nose. There is a way to build trusted understanding in the world around us. If we have had a bad experience of eating blue cheese. Here I include everything that can be learned. Critical clarity. In the teachings explaining the 3rd Karmapa Ranjung Dorje’s text on the discrimination of wisdom and consciousness. but rather relative. Now. cannot be denied. Logical reasoning can be developed to an amazing degree. The way we interpret the knowledge we get from these three sources is key to our being able to question the relative benefit of different traditions. but then taste a delicate and creamy Italian Dolce Latte. we start removing the true nature of the experience. to using blind faith. Furthermore. while our direct experiences cannot be denied. it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. When flicking through The Joy of Sects by Peter Occhiogrosso.

have also made a stunning call. The purpose of Buddhism is to bring a permanent happiness. they are also felt to be dry. Unfortunately this doesn’t help to explain how mind and matter communicate. In his recent book. and neuropsychology. Perhaps a little more humor and like our Russian friends.” H. saying that we can only overcome the mind-body problem if we say that everything is mind. a clear explanation of our experiences and the “The nowness of the mind is the practice that should be developed by you all. where what is clearly experienced is more directly true than what is written in all of the sutras. We need to meditate to be able to clarify our perceptions of what is experienced. is not personally tested or tried and is inevitably more unreliable than our direct experience or understanding. it can be seen to be completely empty. The body and outer world are physical. If we are to wake up from the dream of irrational explanations of our wonderful world. and trust in certain sources and certain people. the year before the 16th Karmapa died. A lot of this information is incredibly useful and meaningful. we need to make it a happy dream.” Great Buddhist masters. it’s clear that they can’t interact. We lack confidence in our own abilities and experiences. which puts an individual in a difficult position. Absolute faith and belief in the words and writings of others is nonsensical in the modern world and doesn’t fit with our contemporary scientific societies. In this system. feeling them to be less meaningful or of less value than others. In the Kagyu and Nyingma schools. Mind and matter are so different from each other. from Lama Ole Nydahl to H.A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Perose. All of this information. Lama Ole Nydahl often says. While this is based on another’s experience and understanding. 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje 28 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 29 . Indeed. and moving all the time. practice is key. if we really aim to find the truth and meaning in our lives. fun starts once we start looking at how different philosophical and religious traditions value these three different sources of information. The solution to this conundrum in Buddhism comes in the four main Buddhist philosophical schools: Vaibhasika. our search for truth by being present in the moment should bring the greatest happiness.H. The view that the brain generates mind. in the end it is up to us to realize it. In the Gelupa and to some extent the Sakya traditions. he said. Indeed in 1981. unless our minds are full of a lot of richness. So how should we balance the different aspects of practice within our own lives? In the end. like a recipe to bake a delicious chocolate cake. where form and emptiness are seen as inseparable. To some. tantras. Experience exposes where our rational thinking is mistaken. As pointed out in the introduction to The Road to Reality . so we can develop the skills to help others see meaning beyond what is experienced. Then we can make a host of logical conclusions about the relative benefit of tasty but fattening cakes on our mental and physical health. While wisdom teachings point to the nature of reality and truth. The sheer desire to have richness and qualities beyond our current experience can also lead to the adoption of irrational practices. Experience is king in our scientific Western cultures. experiencing everything that happens but having no measurable qualities. But life would also be awfully slow if we had to work out everything for ourselves. The Search for Meaning—Old 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. but the moments of that mind are also real. rational debate and analysis is primary. Beyond anything we can read pointing out the nature of mind. and Madhyamaka. The first two correspond closely to the traditional scientific view: that everything is said to be real. somewhat slowly. dogmatic. no amount of studying will on its own bring about liberation and enlightenment. I can see that they clearly do. we should trust science. Indeed the written word can be directly at odds with our experience. Science has also turned a keen eye to this pursuit. Indeed they can stir some quite angry reactions. TV news. is reluctant to examine the possibility that mind and matter may be intimately linked. This open minded but critical. the so-called mind-body problem is the key to all our philosophy. Grasping non-existence is even more stupid!” These differing viewpoints help us to explain the experiences we have and can also. Question Question Question So why don’t we question our own faiths and beliefs more often? Naturally we don’t like the feeling of floating in space without guidance.H. made of particles. at this time. which lead to further confusion. confidence. anything written down can be disproved by clear reasonable thought and direct observations of our world. If what people do is not directly damaging to themselves or others. we can quickly gain the direct and mouth watering experience ourselves. science really proves Buddhism wrong. and anecdotal stories like what our great Aunt Molly said was good for colds. and their commentaries. Mind is also made of the smallest real moments. Sautrantika. The mind is clear and aware. moderate tickling would be as good as any a place to start. The nature of the observed universe cannot be denied. 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. “Highest truth is highest joy. however. although there are hints and suggestions from fields as diverse as string theory. In the Madhyamaka. Dalai Lama. skeptical. energy.What the Neighbors Say The third source of experience is information that we learn. lead to a realization of the true nature of reality. is an assumption where science seems to have a blind spot. not through direct participation or rational reasoning. 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 finding a new truth. we can see that this is a limited view and we need to go beyond. Where The Role of Compassion The four Tibetan Buddhist schools emphasize different aspects of the path to enlightenment. So we build up experience. with no direct evidence to date that supports this. having all sorts of qualities that can be measured like weight. where our amazing abilities for rational thinking are based on methods developed by the ancient Greeks. the internet. But as I type a few more words on this keyboard that follow my thoughts. even though mind is experiencing. Science. There are many tricks and pitfalls in using rational logic. 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 scriptures of religions. this already a wonderful step in the right direction. Intellectually we can also be undermined by others who are more adept and run rings around us with their logical arguments. 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 nowness of the mind is the practice that should be developed by you all. The Cittamatra is the famous mind only school. and uncompassionate. The great Kagyu master Saraha summed this up when he said. Keeping up with the Joneses is quite a motivation. “Grasping existence is like cattle. Cittamatra. The modern western world view is really very similar to Buddhism. but from books. they fail to see the meaning and happiness that some people derive from their tickling festivities and dream catchers.” In this way. We do need to maintain a certain healthy skepticism though. The Universe in a Single Atom. or the lack of it. There will no doubt be large developments in the future. Clearly some religions hold the written word above anything an individual can experience or rationally explain. I Don’t Mind if You Don’t Matter Buddhism is particularly concerned with understanding consciousness. quantum computing. color. Chicken or Egg? Where Science and Buddhism Meet For critical thinkers. This is where compassion is key and must grow in equal measure with wisdom.

Since 2002 he has traveled through North America. test them in the world. There is a meeting point between the two traditions. In this way. A student in Buddhism needs many qualities. rather than what mind is in itself. and having fun in snow. to really engage one’s brain and think. In Buddhism. this doesn’t mean that science will eventually become Buddhism. Matt Huddleston repositioning ley lines. he has helped establish Buddhist centers in Reading and Exeter and is now based in London. Grasping non-existence is even more stupid!”Saraha About Matt Huddleston met Diamond Way Buddhism in 1994. and so on. all the traditional 360 non-Buddhist schools are said to hold wrong views as the great Kagyu-Nyingma teacher Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche explained in The Bardo Guidebook. as it won’t last. it still depends on each of us to realize where truth lies. including enthusiasm. In any spare time he likes stand-up comedy. As an antidote to the ivory towers. where Buddhism can help science to develop objective methods for the study of consciousness and expand its view of what is possible. This takes a lot of effort. but to gain particular experiences. motorbikes. Where they are humanistic in their approach. It sees benefit in people being true to their own culture. like using spirit guides to know the past or the future. “Grasping existence is like cattle. The Buddhist view of other traditions is rather compassionate and pragmatic. “Their tenets cannot ultimately withstand the scrutiny of reasoning and logic. There are many New Age practices that seek not to explain anything. Europe. even with the warm glow of confidence a teacher gives us. Science can verify that Buddhist methods and philosophy are true in all times and places. and South America giving talks on Buddhism. other traditions are beneficial. Buddhism would be skeptical of anything that offers a permanent refuge in the conditioned world.Saraha mind-matter problem is needed by any complete system to be credible. “Is this right? Does it fit with my experience? How are these teachings relevant in the 21st century?” In the end. and to make them a part of one’s experience. while studying climate physics at the University of Cambridge. Science requires rational logical explanations that can be independently verified before an agreed truth is found. to learn and especially to use the teachings. Buddhism certainly doesn’t seek to convert others. be they spiritual insights or special abilities. 30 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 31 . Buddhism isn’t science. insightful dreams. Wrong views are incorrect in the sense of not being in accord with the nature of things. While these may produce interesting results. and then help to make these methods for happiness accessible to all. in 1997 he moved to Nepal to teach math at a high school and experience Buddhism in its native environment. Back in the UK. they point to what mind can experience. Buddhists should not take it upon themselves to undermine other people’s confidence in their gods if adherents are generally happy and not overtly harming others. It describes a path to realization and concludes things about the nature of reality that are beyond the current realm of scientific method.” This means that we should apply a strong rational basis to all the offerings that we see at the spiritual fair. While scientific theories apparently become more Buddhist.

Enlightenment is an unconditional state of mind beyond thoughts and ideas. one simply tries something out. while Tilopa was studying the Prajnaparamita teaching. and therefore there are many possibilities for learning and development. This is the step-bystep way of changing habits and views to gain more insight and an ultimate experience. If we wish to follow this way of showing the goal. By looking into “To practitioners of the Karma Kagyu school. The example of Buddha’s life shows the first two possibilities as a part of his own story of accomplishment. When one learns by imitation. The second group is being introduced into the absolute by a master. The experience of this transmission as the ultimate insight into the nature of mind was passed on by realized masters over many centuries. who shows us the nature of mind and to the inside.” She raised her eyebrows and said. The first is working with conditions that lead to the freedom of mind. we connect into this stream of realization.” When learning by experience. Learning by imitation: this is the fastest. again and again. most creative people like to work on their own ideas and innovations. If everything goes well. In this case. who opens the way of identification. Lawapa. liberation and enlightenment is the goal. and wisdom. one has made a step on the way. teacher does not mean anything personal. It is like an experiment which one is not certain will bring the desired result. She became interested while looking at the texts and asked. and love and appears spontaneously and effortlessly for the good of all. good impressions. fearlessness. he tried to break through to the ultimate experience by absolute deprivation. “I am studying. different fortunate conditions are required. and the Dakini Kalpa Sangmo. action precedes full understanding. It is a spontaneous way of learning that. one is largely protected against confusion and can look forward to an inspiring phase of learning. in a close exchange between teacher and student. until he became aware that the mind does not work properly in a half-famished body. Since the way to the goal is not clear. one is at least richer by experience. If you really want to understand their meaning. My teacher in secondary school often wrote the following lines into the notebooks of his students. after recognizing certain qualities. since it gives the fastest results. These teachings correspond to the different potentials and perspectives of various people. I very much wish to accomplish the direct experience of the teachings. to the perceiver. “Yes. where transmission is of fundamental importance. A story from Tilopa’s life tells us about this: One day. but thoughts are only a small fraction of our totality. one learns from an already functioning example. “There are three ways to learn. but he UddHISM realized that their teachings were not able to lead him beyond concepts and ideas. the term transmission is of vital importance. It is for this reason that it is still alive today.” Tilopa realized she was a dakini and answered. When we meditate with our friends in the center. The third kind of learning was not known at his time: the one of imitation or identification. but the way is hard and leads through many lifetimes. the teachings are profound. but is an example of the unconditioned experience on two legs. so he could go through to an unbroken experience of highest insight and joy. Students encounter a variety of methods and explanations within Buddha’s complete teachings. to the teacher. This is seen in the term Kagyupa: the syllable Ka means transmission. showing the goal itself.” She then showed him the Mandala of Highest Joy as a power field of energy and light in front of him in space. which expresses itself as joy. which Tilopa received from the Indian masters Nagarjuna.” 32 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 33 . He is the source of inspiration and transmission and makes it possible for a student to discover the unconditional qualities and abilities within oneself.” himself with the absolute aspect of his mind. Learning by reflection: this is the noblest. “My son. In Buddha’s teaching it is clear what should be learned. I know a way that is fast and has few obstacles. then an experienced teacher is essential. He himself was the one who would bring this method into the world by his own accomplishment. The steps of trial and error and of contemplation were already performed by the master whom one is imitating. as we now call it. If it goes wrong. If the learner chooses a perfect example. “Yes. In short. Imitating others is not a good idea when attempting technological development. It often takes a lot of time until the understanding is transformed into experience. But imitation is the best way to learn about human abilities and qualities. it is mainly about the connection to the outside. Learning by experience: this is the hardest.TRANSMISSION D W B IN IAMONd AY by Manfred Maier To practitioners of the Karma Kagyu school. an old woman appeared in front of him. These are positive actions. The question of how we develop towards enlightenment has many aspects and can be roughly divided into two categories. Learning by reflection may help one avoid making mistakes. Ngagpopa. As an ascetic. Karma Kagyu is the living tradition of the four transmissions. compassion. the term transmission is of vital importance. what are you doing there?” He answered. aims directly at transformation. 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. He practiced with many masters in the woods of Northern India.

If the mind is free from doubts. at the same time. wherever their openness appears. If human connections are supported by confidence and openness. this quality becomes an immediate experience for others. when one recognizes these qualities in the example of the teacher. The connection to the inside awakens. The more there is love and joy. This is in the end. different fortunate conditions are required. the spontaneous mind beyond concepts and attachments. The teacher is necessary. aware of itself. but only the very few know who experiences all of that. Everyone all over the world knows what he or she experiences and whether he or she likes it or not. the mind perceives and experiences the outer world. the student can rest in the transmission of the teacher and can always gain new power and insight. where he works as a music teacher in the local schools. From this moment onward. The transmission of the teacher leads the student to more autonomy. Beate. If we then meet the unshakably joyful space of the mind of our teacher. 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. during the quiet sharing of the same space. By the close connection to his students. The more of our totality we use. If we want to look directly at the perceiver and make that our main practice. The richness of mind is the goal and. we can see that transmission can happen in myriad ways. If we look at the history of the realized ones and pay attention to their teachers as the source of inspiration. the student can rest in the transmission of the teacher and can always gain new power and insight. the way. In short. Free from an outer form. Now. If one is loving. If one has a lot of joy. That which is conscious and perceives. also called accomplisher. if at all. it is mainly about the connection to the outside. transmission is essential. the closer we are to truth. This is what we get mirrored by the teacher. With each transmission and inspiration. who shows us the nature of mind and to the inside. From the recognition of the shown goal. whole levels of experience can be shared. which has a special importance in the Diamond Way and the Great Seal (Mahamudra). all its unconditioned aspects would spontaneously and effortlessly manifest. one can directly transfer what is shown and in that way. because of ignorance. If the student’s conditions are good. That can happen while running into each other between toilet and lecture hall. Although the nature of mind is exactly the same for Buddha and all humans. The process of transmission. is open like space. It happens every time an exchange includes a sharing of experiences beyond words. to the perceiver. Often the mind is compared to a diamond: indestructible. something is awakened that we are not able to forget so easily. the faster we achieve our goal. Manfred also travels with his wife. Buddha’s experience is to recognize the nature of the experiencer in this way. the mind. Whereas limited consciousness is trapped in liking and not liking and is scattered between past and future. Even if the teacher is far away traveling. If our mind were free of ignorance and the mixed feelings that stem from ignorance. the more one becomes aware of one’s own ultimate nature. the core of our practice. this is often not recognized. can be encountered in various areas of life. Here it is useful to remember Lama Ole’s teaching on transmission: “Highest truth is highest function. devotion can develop. the liberated mind rests spontaneously and effortlessly in the here and now. and gives many talks on Buddhism. radiantly clear and without boundaries. or Diamond in Hand. the level of experience is raised and the trust into the mind is strengthened. it is easily awakened in others. if like Tilopa we want to look directly at the experiencer. Some experience it as a second birth or like falling deeply in love. A view of ultimate importance is established. For a living transmission in the understanding of the Diamond Way to happen. Every expression of a physical or mental ability becomes a direct experience for the attentive student.” the teacher’s mind. The more the diamond of the mind is freed from obscuring veils. and clear. insight and power.” Manfred Maier Manfred Maier lives in the Diamond Way Buddhist Center in Villingen-Schwenningen. Buddha taught that all sentient beings have the buddha nature. like Highest Joy. Just like the eye. Germany. because there is no greater independence than the growing trust into the indestructible space of our mind. The life stories of our transmission lineage show inspiring examples for this. we discover the same qualities in our mind and transmission has already happened. our timeless nature. With each transmission and inspiration. here the teacher represents the freshness of mind. make big leaps in his development. Besides the formal transmission by empowerments into the different aspects of mind. at the same time. then transmission is essential. or whilst driving fast on the highway. but is barely. A student of Lama Ole Nydahl since 1982. radiant. The two are not different in their absolute expression. The richness of mind is the goal and. there is the transmission of the yogi.“Even if the teacher is far away traveling. to the teacher. the level of experience is raised and the trust into the mind is strengthened. one looks into a mirror of one’s own mind. as the holder of the ultimate insight and power. the way. Wisdom Buddha. 34 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 35 . there is more and more a certainty from which trust and openness naturally arises. he is always ready to show them the mirror.

in 1992 there were 1. What is wisdom in a Buddhist sense? What is the difference between the terms wisdom (She Rab. As explained.Questions and Answers Mipham Rinpoche As for their relationship. appears as having the ability to cling to objects and to distinguish them.” 36 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 37 . some scholars maintain that mind and brain are one or even that the mind is a quality of the brain. Dr. Therefore. Because of a stroke. according to the Buddhist system. as soon as ink is attached to the edge of a fountain pen or brush pen. Helping with the interview and translating this text were Gabi Coura and Khenpo Karma Ngedon. the object on which coarse mind depends? The nerve cells. speech. there is a Self or an I which is non-material con-sciousness. so-called neardeath-experiences (NDE). Many cases like this became known everywhere around the world. Mipham Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl Editor’s Note: What is presented here is a continuation of teachings by Mipham Rinpoche that appeared in Buddhism Today No. are called Chu Rtsa in Buddhism.”What mutually links together the neurons and the formless is a component of consciousness. born on October 16th. one may draw whatever picture one desires. The doctors who examined him explained that he. according to statistics. mind’s location is the wind in the central channel on the heart level. Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists. sounds and so on. without difficulties. R. and in his books. the nature of shes rab is mental events. it is possible to understand primordial wisdom. and based on these nerves. The brain is a material form which is made of atoms. that all ways in which happiness and suffering appear depend on one’s own positive or negative actions of body. it does so uninterruptedly. It is a state which is completely beyond anything. This wisdom is in the mind stream of all kinds of beings. joined together. Its function is to remove doubts and to focus on objects of examination. There are different meanings according to the different treatises.” Therefore. But recently in America. and mind. it can distinguish what is to be done and what is to be rejected. For this article he wrote down everything in Tibetan and it was then translated into English. Shes is mind which knows this primordial nature of phenomena perfectly. means that beings bring about various experiences of happiness and suffering in accordance with their positive and negative actions of body.” Also. It is like for example bodily fluids emerging from the liver. from that place. the girl Shanti Devi. it moves to other places and takes hold of a different body as its base. the indestructible continuum which goes from one lifetime to the next is called primordial mind. depends on the type of meditation. wrote in the research paper that won him the prize. 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. still remains. “Mind consciousness is a thing arisen from the movements of the cerebrum. huge benefit for others arises through meditation. His primary proof is that people close to death have the experience of a consciousness separated from the body. many people say that if there is no cerebrum. one should leave the examination of the mind. he explained that people gained confidence that there is still something which remains after death. Sometimes it can be understood as omniscience and sometimes as the realization of emptiness. which has been brought forth from the subtle primordial mind. They experience feelings of happiness and suffering together with a world created according to the respective kind. speech. In 1972. Coarse mind. So through its own power. clear. Augustin Cabanès explained. was a real human being. they are truly existent within the human brain. It depends on the channels and energies of the various favorable and unfavorable rebirths of the body in each successive life. For example. “The nerves of the sense faculties. or primordial nature. In the same way. called neurons.” And. it perceives things. This is the meaning of ye shes in general. India. The brain stem is many single subtle nerves.000 such cases in America alone. “Concerning the material foundation of the psyche and all the movements of mind. this depends on nerve cells in the brain. After that. who has a head but no brain. it has become well known. a net of nerve particles. From the Medical Tantras. which has the characteristics of being empty. From the path of accumulation to the tenth Bodhisattva Level. Moreover. they are born in a place that corresponds to the accumulations of karma of the respective kind of beings. are not able to recognize this. Karma. 19. and mind. A. From a general perspective. it becomes involved with objects. pronounced: yeshe)? The word for primordial wisdom. In spite of this. Ye means from the beginning. The subtle primordial mind mentioned above is activated by these channels and energies. was watching movies and laughing. until he died at the age of five. could clearly remember five previous lives. based on the progress in quantum physics and other disciplines. Through the power of the wind which also brings forth subtle mind. he does all his teaching by writing on a board. just like the wind all around the world. that consciousness is of a different essence than the brain. From the distance. we will even be able to obtain the state of a buddha. “After the death of the cerebrum. The English scientist John Eccles. Nobel Prize winner in 1963. it is well known that. the supreme benefit for ourselves and others. accompanied by winds that are in essence unhindered. The one who can benefit others best is the Buddha himself. 1926 in New Delhi. consists of two syllables. If we meditate.300. Therefore. It is dominated by the cerebrum of the body. For example. because then it is impossible that there is an essence to consciousness. coarse mind. such as Life after Life and The Light Beyond. depend on the brain. For example. In a normal human body. there is a big difference between wisdom and primordial wisdom. again it emanates coarse mind. there is a big difference between these two. Based on the findings of brain research.” Moreover. Mipham Rinpoche is unable to speak. mind and consciousness. who have not yet trained their mind stream by means of listening and meditating. Moreover. conceives of forms.” What is this brain like. John von Neumann. which is non-material. What is the difference between the mind and the brain? What is their connection? Mind is something formless and unobstructed. it became known that consciousness depends on an entity different from the cerebrum. In the beginning ordinary beings. and coincidentally emanates coarse mind. “Within the human body. just like the wind all around the world. “Moreover. Many non-Buddhists believe that what we experience is unchangeable fate or at least not caused by ourselves. who is very famous all around the world and praised by scientists with the sharpest minds among all the people in the world said. the French Dr. that consciousness is of a different essence than the brain. Therefore. based on the progress in quantum physics and other disciplines. ye shes. in response to questions. the way in which meditation benefits others. a boy called Andrew was born without a cerebrum and. Moody examined 150 people. Therefore. the mechanical and materialistic viewpoint of the English philosopher Hobbes. which cause the sense objects to arise. but by something or somebody else. everywhere people without cerebrum appeared. it has become well known. as explained in different treatises. cognizant. coarse mind dissolves into subtle mind. how does this benefit others? If we cultivate completely pure meditation. Mostly.” Dr. In particular. When people die. pronounced: sherab) and primordial wisdom (Ye Shes. ye and she. consciousness. and conscious.

Spain. These facts. 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. whether free from sickness or having sickness. Later. Basing oneself on these Jewels in the appropriate way enables one to become free from all suffering and to obtain all happiness. Life Before Life will fit well with Buddhist teachings on reincarnation. is like good health. the positive actions in accordance with the Dharma. Junyung Gompa.” Book Review LiFe BeFore LiFe Non-Buddhists have many different positions. The cases have attributes ranging from unusual play. lead me to consider that most of these children have these memories and physical markings due to especially strong impressions from previous lives. If we hold on to the positive. speech. 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. The book is definitely not a dry scientific collection of case studies. No. Tucker is about an investigation into the memories of children who claim to have had previous lives. such as whether or not the creator has complete power to create everything. including reincarnation. Tucker. For the reader who has meditated and has confidence that mind is not limited to this body and this lifetime. the completely pure path of methods. like humans. Despite this. this book offers compelling evidence that the perceiver listening through one’s ears and looking through one’s eyes may not be limited to the confines of the body. who brought about the many sufferings of the world. is like a doctor. The writer asks the reader to use common sense and reason as he describes the various points of the cases. One such analogy used in the book. Buddha encouraged us to check things out and reach our own conclusions. the supreme creator. who they met. at all times and in all situations. based on what he heard and on a multitude of historical texts. He taught the way things are. He is the father of H. By being our own teacher and our own pilot and always concentrating on our understanding. that have feelings and short lives tormented by sickness. should have been created by another creator. Because he was seriously ill at the time. we are not required to blindly believe in anything. Having suffered a stroke. as well as those presented in Buddhism Today. The most remarkable cases involve memories that were checked against independent sources and were shown to correspond to an actual deceased person. about ongoing research by the University of Virginia. he left Tibet in 1994 for medical treatment. the health of a body free from sickness and in a good shape will be exhausted one day. happiness should come about effortlessly. At the same time see what the path towards generating temperate and ultimate benefit is and in what manner one needs to abandon bad behavior not in accordance with the practice of these methods. May it be auspicious! Jim B. He is a scholar and master of the Nyingma tradition. Instead. members of that department have compiled over 2. Therefore. How can we influence our karma in a positive way? Investigate and examine carefully the unmistaken methods for generating benefit and happiness for ourselves and others. behaviors. at all times and in all situations. He now lives with his wife Mayumla at the Karma Kagyu International Retreat Center in Karma Guen. He does not offer up a scientific theory for what happens when we die. If one asserts the first position. during this short life. and suffering. The answers to these questions. that of the mind and body relationship. For the past forty years. he worked on rebuilding the monastery. including how reincarnation manifests. in brief. Rinpoche was allowed to stay in his monastery. and mind whatever is in accordance with them. we will see for ourselves what is beneficial and what is not. we will see for ourselves what is beneficial and what is not. The Dharma Jewel. and what they saw in between lives. This book may give new practitioners some confidence that reincarnation is not simply an exotic eastern idea. One of the assets of this book is that its logical scientific style fits well with the teachings of the Buddha. all happiness and suffering depends on one’s positive or negative actions.500 case studies examining the phenomenon of mostly very young children who talk about a previous life from a first person perspective. the one who shows the path of the teachings. trouble. like a signal. 38 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 39 . He does. The book reads not as an argument for or against reincarnation but examines what those arguments are and what documented evidence is available. 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. Rather it is a very pragmatic and readable account. but we cannot go into detail here. but something that it is within the realm of measurable scientific inquiry. nor is it simply various anecdotal stories or new age pseudo-science articles. there are birthmarks or birth defects on the child that specifically match wounds that were usually fatal on the body of a previous personality. There are also many other subjects to be discussed or questions to be examined. Finally understand the need to practice with body. and specific phobias to recognition of people and places that seem to be related to the life and death of a previous personality. In the book.“If we hold on to the positive. along with knowledge of cause and effect. a creator made the inanimate outer world. These children gave much more detailed descriptions of where they were.D. just as with the experiences of positive actions. the state of perfect Buddhahood. emotions. Martin’s Press (2005) ISBN 0-312-32137-6 By Josh Greene About Mipham Rinpoche Mipham Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1949. So any kind of effort becomes useless. Tucker is a child psychiatrist at the University of Virginia in the Division of Personality Studies.H. and at the same time animate beings. were composed by the one named Ju Mipham Tulku during five mornings and evenings. however. written for the layperson. and he teaches in the traditional style. 256 pages St. the author examines statistics from the University’s database of cases. M.19. and mind into a positive direction. which exist for a long time and are free from sickness. In 1959. or a method to stop the conditions for undesired suffering. For the reader who is just starting down the path of meditation. just as the wellbeing of a body. we will easily become able to change our actions of body. for example. The mind. depends on one’s health. Moreover. things without feelings like the continents. many Tibetans fled the country because practicing the dharma became impossible. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje. Also. It is a guided presentation of the cases that have been conducted using impartial scientific methods. because everything arises by itself. speech. try to interpret the evidence and then stops short of making any conclusions. the Buddha Jewel. One finding shows a positive correlation between previous personalities who were meditators and an increased awareness of the period in between lives by those same children. leaving that to the reader. And all the friends who also practice this path of methods are called the Sangha Jewel. Life Before Life by Jim B. This is what is special about the Buddha’s teachings. For a person who is planning more positive actions. is not created by the brain but instead is transmitted and transformed by it. He spent thirteen years in retreat learning Buddhist philosophy and practicing meditation. Many of the cases in Life Before Life involve violent deaths resulting from accidents or crimes. According to the second viewpoint. If we go back to the Buddhist understanding of karma. Dr. namely that everything is selfarisen. is similar to that of an electrical signal and television set. the majority of the children eventually stop talking about their previous experiences and go on to lead regular lives. Are mind and consciousness the same? It is correct to say that mind and consciousness are the same. In some cases. However as Buddhists.

Bodhicitta. One’s own benefit is simply a stepping stone for the accomplishment of this ultimate goal: the benefit of all beings. “Devotion is the head of meditation. how is it possible to overcome our fixation on the idea that we are single. compassion. If it were not for them. our every step becomes more meaningful. Acquired behaviors from the beginning of this life— and according to the Buddhist view. and skillful means. They show us that what we have set out to accomplish is doable. One of the most essential Kagyu wishes reads. body. This is traditionally referred to as the full development of wisdom. If we don’t take it upon ourselves to do something about it. Seen from a purely analytical approach. We all are the endless expression of mind’s limitless qualities. as well as the methods themselves. Although the potential for complete freedom and choice is always there. Always supportive. This is no small feat. as well and the Diamond Way. 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. Lama. and interdependent: our thoughts. In order for this highest result to manifest. as properly and as precisely as we can. and more solid. we find ourselves. Through their guidance. if we continue to focus only on our own benefit? All the things that separate us from others are incidental. we need to apply the methods. makes joy dependent and conditioned. and finally perfection. Guiding Principles of limitations and reach buddhahood.Meditation Basics MeDITATION bY Tasso Kallianiotis perfect these two aspects of our being: our awareness and our behavior. more often than not. Mahayana. Meditation is described as the central pillar of such practice because it bridges practical experience with insight and brings awareness to our every thought. development. T o be on the Buddhist path is to train our mind so that we are not overwhelmed by the habitual tendencies that govern it. They are the highest principle. feelings. say. tendencies. methods. patiently and lovingly. There are thousands of meditation practices that constitute the complete Buddhist transmission across all lineages and traditions. to help them go beyond their Understanding Although there is always benefit and progress towards our development when we sit to do our practice. All beings share the same nature and are part of one totality. distinct. word. This enlightened attitude. they explain things to us over and over. ideas. the results of our meditation are maximized when balanced with a good understanding of what we are doing. But as we begin to work with Buddhist meditation. passed on for the last two and a half millennia. and separated from all others. Vajrayana. However the only way this can be done is by developing and perfecting the skillful means and wisdom necessary to accomplish this task. support. our reference point. with the guidance of our teacher.” The constant growth of unwavering gratitude for the precious opportunity to use these methods and for the one that brings the teachings to us. enlightenment is more of a side affect than the goal. and do things that are driven by what we have thought. said. What we all have in common is constant and exactly the same in everyone: our abilities to think. and experience.” 40 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 41 . A pragmatic approach to this guiding principle is meaningful and touching. background. In an endless continuity of moments we constantly think. 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. we would not have the opportunity to work with our mind in a way that brings lasting results. the goal of every Buddhist. One can see beings everywhere constantly seeking refuge and happiness in things they cannot ultimately depend. and protection. over countless lifetimes—heavily influence not only what we say and do but also how we perceive and interpret everything. who will? Devotion and Trust Our teachers are our deepest inspiration. there is a set of guiding principles that applies to all of them and which we are instructed to follow. and action. our direct contact with enlightenment. They embody goal. Enlightenment. feel. 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. repetition and consistent joyful effort are the key to improvement. Regardless of which one(s) we choose. teaching. lacking the ability to keep disturbing thoughts and feelings under control. is to The Right Attitude For a practitioner of the Great Way. transient. gives us the trust necessary to further our development. The goal of a bodhisattva is to liberate all beings. more aware. and leads to varying degrees of distress. Clarity about the goal. is the fundamental motivation behind every effort we put into working with our mind. This brings confusion and disappointment. with spontaneity and freedom. and done before.

“I am too distracted.” So we diligently and continuously bring our attention back to the meditation without a second thought. 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. We decide to hold our teacher in our mind at all times. losing focus. and boundless compassion are inherent within us all. We add more distractions to our practice the moment we think. When we approach the meditation cushion. and so the best remedy is to starve them of this attention. 42 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 43 . from considering our goal a distant and remote state. as if we have already accomplished our goal. “Oh I’m distracted. That’s what mind does. We realize the Confidence The meditation that we do has been given by someone who has used it successfully and achieved the full results. 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. Since 1994. then the best solution is to keep our sessions short but frequent. 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. In order for this to happen we must maintain as much clarity as possible. Still. 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. that it brings the highest possible result and benefit. Confidence in the goal. Criticism may arise and we think. he has been teaching and introducing people to Diamond Way methods throughout North America and Europe. devotion. The now is what we are always experiencing. or straying down a different path. cloudy. limitless power. or qualities that the mantra activates. Tasso Kallianiotis took refuge with Lama Ole Nydahl and has remained his close student ever since. we can say that we meditate so that we don’t have to. “I’m not meditating well today. fear may arise and we may become weary or even frightened of purification. by just trying to stay awake for example. or sleepy state. Mind’s perfect qualities. The purpose of such practices is not to simply complete a certain number of repetitions or minutes of sitting quietly. which are already present. I want that again this time.” or. we are not perfect yet and therefore. or long mantra repetitions. In such cases we can simply let go and return our focus to the meditation. Clarity and Alertness Especially when we are doing formless meditation. like following the breath. these methods simply work.to overcome. This way we avoid enforcing habits we don’t need. If this is too difficult to maintain. They are powered by the momentum they have built up through the attention we give them. precious gift we have been granted by our teacher. The present moment is all that ex\ists.” Finally. We need to remain alert to what is going on in our mind so that we can address distraction as soon as it appears. we will certainly reach the point where direct realization will be accomplished and no further effort will be necessary. It is natural for thoughts and feelings to appear. at Lama Ole’s request. The aim is quality not quantity. 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.” Our tendency to hope comes up and we may think. Considering this and developing the right attitude. taking our meditation experiences too seriously. Enlightenment is full and complete awareness beyond all concepts in every moment. and will be more willing and inspired to come back to it. We decide to behave as best we can. trust. Through this constant effort and repetition. We are the current end point of a precious garland of accomplished meditators who began at the very same place we are now. it is not to become enlightened in the future but right now in this sitting. We remember that we didn’t do it for ourselves alone. so that we make use of them immediately in the best possible way. He has also given radio interviews and written articles on Diamond Way Buddhism. I shouldn’t do that. Then we notice over time how our distracting thoughts become fewer and our mind becomes more focused and stable. and understanding allows confidence to arise and continue to grow. We extend every positive impression to all beings everywhere. The past is only a memory and the future has not happened yet. our practice does not. Their achievements and vast activity are a testament that About Tasso Kallianiotis In 1982. These are exactly the habitual tendencies we are training Thankfulness Although our meditation session may come to a conclusion. we may easily find ourselves in a dull. “It felt so good last session. all existing habits continue to show themselves and seek every opportunity to display their distracting abilities. keeping our focus where it needs to be to the best of our ability. 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. It is to develop stability and to concentrate on the quality. They only live through our attention. He has received teachings and transmissions from many high lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage. 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. 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. Beyond Hope and Fear So. It has been passed on and brought to us in an unbroken chain of transmission over the last 2500 years. We are developing mind’s inherent qualities. with all this in mind we sit to do our practice. In a way. methods. this training. satisfied and joyful.

Four years later we began dating. and money constraints. Like many mothers. I was full of fear that I wasn’t doing everything perfectly. As I grew older and expressed more fears. We received a flyer in the mail announcing his upcoming talk in Calgary. my father. His death. When we were twenty two and twenty three. Although I was physically present for my children and my husband.Buddhism in Everyday Life JOYFULNeSS BUDDhIST MeDITATION BY Susan BiXbY A Little Girl As children we are very vulnerable and we need to be protected: My Dad was my protector. It fascinated me and I walked towards it. I believe that his view helped keep me sane. Because he was a parasitologist. 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. my Dad took care of me in a quiet. I remember one day I made the short walk from our house across a field to my Dad’s Institute of Tropical Medicine. and controlling presence. We had all the time in the world for wonder-filled gymnastic love making and long talks. was something that terrified me. a supreme optimist. we had a daughter and twin boys. Chris was practicing law. I was caught up in samsara. The beautiful snake was a deadly black mamba. but it was becoming difficult to pretend that everything was really okay. I often called my Dad for medical and other advice. I loved those sounds. My family and friends saw my dependence on my Dad and wondered how I’d survive when he could no longer protect me. I lived most of my childhood in the tropics. When our children were young. We kept busy and distracted. a doctor of tropical medicine. naked under the stars in a lake near Montreal. “Do you know what you’re doing?” I moved from my parents’ home to our own home. Lying in bed at night. I was going to art school and running a household. I saw a long shiny snake slithering across the cement floor. I was deliberately blind to the nature of impermanence. West Africa was close to the jungle and built on pillars to protect us from snakes. From Fear To Through A Young Woman Chris and I met in high school. Our brick house in Liberia. and death in general. it was a nervous. and still in university. I was unhappy. worried. so I put it out of my mind. India and my two year old body was covered in hundreds of mosquito bites. When I walked through the open door. sick children. When conditions were good I was happy. I listened to the drums of nearby villages and the cries of wild animals. continued to reassure me that everything would always be all right. I didn’t worry because I thought he would be with me forever. I worked every waking moment and fell into bed at night exhausted. 44 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 45 . When they weren’t. My Dad grabbed me. efficient way with no attendant drama. I’m told that when we lived in Calcutta. We had the usual challenges that face young parents after carefree self-involved dating and the obstacles arrived with a vengeance: sleep deprived nights. to the fact that everything I loved would one day disappear. I was in a constant state of tension. He continued to inject humor and optimism into my life. or conditioned existence. The judge looked down at these two clueless young people and asked. a judge married us in an empty courtroom. but the pattern of fears that led me to unsatisfying solutions continued. I was fourteen and he was sixteen. Before I reached thirty.

which can’t be improved and can’t be harmed. I was blown away by the intense feelings of joy invoked in me by the Lama. and grandmother to four little boys. They cry hard and minutes later they look beautiful: their eyes shining and round. now peaceful. The meditations taught in our Diamond Way Centers teach us how to create a space between our awareness and these disturbances so that we don’t engage them. we decided to go. Before having children she was a French teacher. and laughing. Ole said that we don’t realize that our essence is space. Through the neon lit streets. Diamond Way O Buddhist Center. preventing them from ever falling down. we need protection. and has a strong. Mama pulls away her warm milky breast. like other equally impermanent feelings. I know now that I am responsible for my own happiness and I have the choice of seeing problems as obstacles or opportunities. Even the biggest sourpusses or angry drivers shine back at us when we greet them with a genuine smile. it’s because we’re ignorant or in a stupor. 11 2 Kalu Rinpoche. He died two months later in Los Angeles and boom! My childhood protector was gone. USA. Chris. Massachusetts. Over the past fourteen years of practicing Buddhist meditation my fear has been largely supplanted by joy. Their emotions weren’t present five minutes earlier and have completely disappeared moments later. I couldn’t stop smiling. a bus going by the window. We said mantras and touched the top of his head. and protection. We used all the tools that Lama Ole had taught us during the many Phowas (courses on conscious dying) that we had attended. When I’m calm and confident. I realize now that this isn’t helpful and in fact. Refuge is what we habitually turn to in our lives. 1993. it’s what goes on in our minds. And their amazement rekindles mine and the circle of joy goes round and round. we walked and ran back to our hotel. p. Babies are blown away by a shaft of light on the grass. then there is nothing to fear. it creates dependent adults who can’t function in the real world. on the one hand. When he bites on the nipple he gets a different reaction than when he sucks gently. I see how my state of mind impacts others. with no signs of swelling or tears. muscular build) or in religion (my Dad was an atheist). thoughts. I have a deeper understanding of protection. or a cheerio on the carpet.107 A Grandmother I held my first grandson Max. I learned that everyone wants lasting happiness but doesn’t understand what that means or how to get it. When my grandchildren are upset. the place where our consciousness leaves the body. A month later Lama Ole and Hannah were staying at our Calgary center. cause and effect. I looked at his old face. The center has been in their home since 2001. absolute happiness is the only possible result. It was late. She is now a writer and painter. Chris and I were alone in the kitchen. protects us from the fears and anxieties we may have about suffering in samsaric or conditioned existence. from ever failing. 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). vulnerable body: a body that needed protection in order to survive. Karma. Somerville. We were crying. He likes one reaction. “Taking refuge creates a spiritual connection that. it’s not because we’re bad or evil. we can behave in the only way that makes sense. Luminous Mind. she was one of the founding members of the Calgary Diamond Way Buddhist Center in 1995. His face looked tense. We had all just returned from a Phowa north of Calgary. ____________________________ 1  le Nydahl. When I see them as opportunities. then happiness is elusive. we see our own buddha nature. He doesn’t like the other. His face relaxed. I knew absolutely that the protection was inside me and that I could let him go. 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. Susan has been very involved in the workings of Diamond Way Buddhism in North America. And when we have that surplus. named after my father. I go through my days with a light shield protecting me. the community of practitioners with whom we travel. Along with her husband. we come to realize that our biggest enemy is not what goes on outside. That was a “wow” for me! It was a seminal moment in my life. San Francisco. one needs to take refuge in something lasting. and feelings have a permanent reality. Death no longer frightened me. it doesn’t tear me apart the way it did with my own children because I know it will pass quickly. an hour after he was born. is the best teacher of all. Even though I had no interest in military looking men (Ole has short hair. We told him what he had told us for many long years: that everything would be all right. Refuge and the Enlightened Attitude. We told him to go to the light. I know that I’m able to do what is necessary to protect him and my other grandchildren when my mind is clear. After so many years of having my dear old Dad as my protector. full of richness and potential­. p. Until we understand that we are buddhas and can maintain that view without falling down. Ole bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen. that everything was a projection of his mind and that there was nothing to fear. At the last moment. often wears clothes from army surplus so as not to waste money. mother to a daughter and twin sons. tiny. methods. 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. my ninety one year old father was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. What I understood that night was that we can all obtain “the unchanging experience that (our) mind is indestructible. We need tools to protect ourselves from identifying with disturbing emotions and stiff ideas about how things are. Joyful people and experiences manifest all around me. When we see him clearly. 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. I observe how quickly emotions come and go with my grandchildren. I can give my grandchildren the space they need to see a connection between their actions and the results of those actions. that he would be fine. Through my meditation practice. The Lama represents blessing. I looked at his perfect. We live in fear of losing what we have and want and of keeping away what we don’t. smiling. If we can’t be harmed because our essence is clear space. upstairs in our bedroom where I had a photo of my Dad. We were at his side fifteen minutes after the doctor pronounced him dead. 2003. In order to find enduring happiness. we can be here for the benefit of others. his teachings (the way to the goal). In early 2006. Even a baby with a few sharp teeth can learn from cause and effect. When we left his side it was well after midnight. particularly when the going gets tough. When we recognize our true nature. Instead we watch them arise and pass away again. When we believe that our bodies. He is a reflection of our essence.During those years we rarely went out in the evening but for some reason we put the notice on the fridge. timeless and joyful.”1 If we and others behave badly. Wisdom Publications. 46 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 47 . But as we grow and mature. I used to think that protecting children meant About Susan Bixby Susan Bixby met Lama Ole Nydahl in 1994. and especially in the Lama. he gets Mama’s milk. Children need to be protected from physical and mental harm.

silently weeping. As director Chokling commented. That there is no one who is beyond redemption. The 11th century practitioner spent his later years working through the karma he accumulated in his early life. He flees the wrath of the survivors and takes refuge with a Buddhist monk who tells him. nor his own actions. He is happy with neither the outcome. cultivate positive ones.” Haunted by images of the pain and suffering he caused. The emotional story of the death of his father and his mother’s subsequent descent into destitution has elements that are timeless and unconfined by their cultural surroundings. The sequel is set to be released in 2009. 1 The Orange County Register. Without any of these elements.Movie Review Joseph Lyman Milarepa: Magician. He was completely determined to make a huge amount of progress. cease negative actions. Those familiar with the story know his travels have only begun. The first part of the film deal with the early years of Milarepa’s life. he returns to his village. Interestingly. the film was not made in Tibet because the Chinese government forbids superstitious depictions in film. destroying most of it and killing dozens of inhabitants. To conquer them. “People who feel kind of hopeless because of (mistakes they’ve made) in their lives. Monk Brings Tale of ‘the Sinner’s Saint’ to Screen. September 19. Filmed in the exquisite setting of Northern India. Neten Chokling Rinpoche’s feature film is a work of uncommon skill and beauty. No drug deals gone wrong. Tibetan with English subtitles Distributed by: Shining Moon Productions (2006) There are few films today that compare with the recently released film Milarepa. Impoverished by the hands of family members. To prove that the worst person like him can (become) enlightened. but ultimately one of hope and redemption. Milarepa is a thoughtful well crafted film that deals with the issue of personal responsibility. The key is that (Milarepa) was so ordinary and that he stuck to this path. no strategically planned super crimes.”1 Not everyone today will consider Milarepa’s story ordinary. There is a wonderfully emotional moment that follows his act of terror when a local village woman sits by him. his mother’s desire for revenge borders on madness. In the end. Milarepa starts to question his motivation and understanding. the film leaves Milarepa as he begins his journey towards enlightenment. But this is a bitter victory for our hero. What some might consider slow paced is nothing more or less than the simply told tale of the Buddhist master Milarepa. There are no shoot-outs. Saint Written and Directed by: Neten Chokling Rinpoche 90 minutes. The story of Milarepa’s life is one of the most commonly told tales in Tibet and is a cautionary tale. he regrets his actions and perceives the futility of the violence. but everyone can appreciate the depth of his encounter with karma and his mind on its way to enlightenment. the picturesque background itself becomes a part of a larger story. Murderer. She coerces Milarepa to seek training in the black arts. 2007 48 BUDDHISM TODAY | SPRING/SUMMER 2008 . Once proficient. “Your enemies arise from your own mind. leading to a hyper-paced chase scene. and tame your mind. Almost immediately.