I am not too much interested to discuss Ole Nydahl in this post. I wrote at length on him here on my German website. The German article was the result of a collective effort by Ole Nydahl followers to remove criticism from the German Wikipedia. After a mediation had been provoked by me one of the (female) editors was able to influence the moderator of the Wikipedia mediation by secretly inviting him to a dinner and a lecture of Ole Nydahl. (I found that out when I checked their talk pages and what they had deleted at those pages.) When I realized this I confronted the moderator and the editor with these facts and finally I withdrew from the mediation and the German Wikipedia article about Ole Nydahl and made my own article about him …
According to all information I checked, read, and received, I think, it is safe to say that Ole Nydahl is a classical elitist leader who gathers people who finally identify themselves with an elitist group and its leadership, the Diamond Way; elitists who are convinced that it are they who bring the Dharma (within the context of Tibetan Buddhism) to the West – and Tibetans or Buddhist monks or nuns are not much needed for this process.
Ok, naivety and pride can make you everything believe no matter how stupid it is.
In that sense Ole Nydal and his Diamond Way followers are quite similar to the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). Another similarity Ole and his Diamond Way Buddhism share with the New Kadampa Tradition is the occupation of a respected name for their spread in the West. Like the NKT occupies and claims to be the inheritor and the possessor of the ancient Kadampa school, Ole Nydahl and his Diamond Way devotees occupy and claim to be the inheritor and the possessor of the Karma Kaygue Tradition in the West. Both share also the missionary drive, rapid expansion, badly educated teachers, and a superficial understanding of the Dharma. Ole Nydahl has been rightly criticized for promoting a hedonist version of Buddhism. Ole Nydahl has also been accused of speaking in a conceited and militaristic way, of being right wing, racist, sexist, and hostile to foreigners. He became also infamous for his strong hostile attacks against Islam.
However, he and his followers see themselves as yogis … maybe, the first yogis of the Karma Kaygue Tradition who do not live in caves, solitude or the forest and who do not have to rely on renunciation but (samsaric) joys like bungee jumping, fast motorbike races, parachuting, sex etc.
In Germany people reported to me that Ole Nydahl and his followers took over most of the German Karma Kaygue Centers and made them their own centers. They said they did it by making devoted followers members of the respective charity trusts, removing the old board and installing a new board that followed Ole Nydahl and his favorite Karmapa candidate (Thaye Dorje). There were mainly only three very strong persons in Germany who were able to resist Ole Nydahl’s taking over strategy, a former army general and two architects. The latter also won the court case (after Nydahl and his followers took over their centre in Hamburg) and they kicked him and his followers out of it.
Having said this, there are also some good things about Ole Nydahl and his Diamond Way Buddhism:
- it is not too difficult to leave the group (though similar to NKT to go to other Buddhist teachers, centers or Buddhist traditions, is seen as something to be avoided, and Nydahl and his followers share also an attitude of sectarianism with Kelsang Gyatso and his followers)
- those who left the group are not damaged too much but report that mainly there has been benefit for them and they can continue under good teachers outside of Diamond Way very easily
- many (but not all) think with gratitude about their time in Diamond Way, and say it was a good initial start for Dharma practice to them
- Ole does not establish himself as the sole authority for his students or even as a Buddhist master but Ole invites also other Buddhist teachers like the late Shamar Rinpoche etc.
- Ole accepts when a student leaves him and when the student says he wants to follow another teacher. A former student told me that Ole wished him all the best and let him go without grasping or hostility.
What I want you to make aware of is the following propaganda video:
Here is an analysis to it:
- The Affective Aspect of Decision by the Non-Buddhist Blog / M. Steingass
For a video about Tibetan yogis see here
More critical information about Ole Nydahl
- Lama Ole: Buddhist teacher or charlatan? by Joe Orso
- Controversial Buddhists (PDF) by MyWeekender.co.uk
- Eine Art Buddhismus Light? – Prof. Martin Baumann (Neue Luzerner Zeitung)
- Kein Interview mit Ole Nydhal – Prof. Peter Riedl (Ursache & Wirkung)
- F. Rupprecht über Ole Nydahl, die Karma Kagyü Übertragungslinie und Diamantweg Buddhismus
Burkhard Scherer (a desciple of Ole Nydahl) about Nydahl and his group from an (rather biased) academic point of view
- Macho Buddhism: Gender and Sexualities in the Diamond Way (PDF) by Burkhard Scherer (PhD)
- Interpreting the Diamond Way: Contemporary Convert Buddhism in Transition by Burkhard Scherer