Kagyu Practice Lama Ole Nydahl


"We just have to remind ourselves that the source for any happiness is the mind itself."

Very few people are able to meditate in a meaningful way for long periods of time, and only being caught in the conditioned world is a waste of potential. The best is to integrate Buddha's teachings into one's daily life , and we Kagyus have an excellent basis for doing that. Through our close bond with the Lama and the exceptional Mahamudra teachings we can develop in every moment and in all situations. Its focus is not on daily and hour-long sitting practices, but on the "King's high-way": one behaves like a Buddha until one becomes one.

The non-dual view involves nothing more difficult than learning a few central truths about the nature of mind by heart and then training to see them working in the world. Being a Buddhist and not using these tools is simply stupid. In addition to the Ngöndro (preliminaries) and the spontaneous daily Karmapa meditations, it is also useful to keep the Lama in one's heart and let his light radiate out to all beings. Together, theses methods make it possible to watch the mind from the Mahamudra-level.

Frequent, even if light, readings of Mahamudra teachings by masters like Tilopa, the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje or the 9th Karmapa Wangchuck Dorje add rounding aspects to what will already be a conscious and steadily self-liberating life, and maybe the best helpers of all will prove to be our friends in the local center.

Our Kagyu groups under Karmapa Thaye Dorje grow everywhere through the sharing of experience. As the Mahamudra-view expands it gives meaning to all things in life. It is the most important possession we have because nothing but our view decides whether we are happy or unhappy, rich or poor. Without the Mahamudra one just becomes older but not wiser.

Whoever had this understanding of deepest meaning should never fall back to the level of common consumerism or let himself get caught in superficial and temporary fads like 'P.C.", political correctness. Standing by our timeless knowledge and the blessing we carry, makes us a refuge for all. Who of us has not often heard that mind is empty, clear and limitless? If we just live that and actively express our nature as indestructible, rich and loving, the Mahamudra will bring countless beings to timeless meaning and joy.

It is important not to lose courage if there are no tangible results for some time. The goal itself is the state where one expects nothing and the enlightening process always continues on subconscious levels. Do not suddenly think that you can not meditate and seek compensation through "soft sciences" or superstition. Discussing pyramids and horoscopes just leads to more confusion.

Our modern world surrounds us with pleasant and sensual impressions, but they are all impermanent. Only the consciousness which experiences them lasts. Of course, it is reasonable to fill our lives with beauty and to make people aware of the possibilities of their senses, but simply trying to convert unpleasant experiences into pleasant ones cannot lead to an ultimate goal. Only the recognition of the experiencer itself liberates us. This is why meditation with the right view is so important.

Except for when teaching others, I have little time for sitting meditation. My schedule which has included a new town nearly everyday for the last 22 years, starting 160 centers around the world does not permit that. Instead, I leave my mind in its own place and let my legs run around. You can do the same. Make the very best of every moment by always acting effortlessly and spontaneously and keeping the Lama in your heart. Let your neuroses float away on an oily film of mantras and see all things on the highest level. For example: when driving be aware of the delightful power of what moves under and around you.

Of course it is important to make enough distance to be able to choose the comedies and avoid the tragedies of life. For that purpose one should do sitting Diamond Way meditation as often as possible. But, if life is too demanding one should just make the best of the situation and either melt together with the Lama and act like him, simply being aware of the potential of what happens or staying with the vibration of the inner mantras. In all activities the feeling of being in a meaningful pure land should be kept and strengthened. We learn this best through spontaneous meditations during the natural pauses of the day and gradually this state of mind will pervade our lives and we become the unshakable refuge for all. We must not expect this to happen by itself, however; one can get lazy very easily. All enjoy having things done for them by others and, therefore, one must frequently remember that nobody can get enlightened for us. We would severely set others back in their development if we were to install the traditional kind of Buddhism which leaves the practicing to monks and nuns so others can keep on sleeping with a good conscience until it is too late.

It is only a question of time before our meditations will bring a steady state of bliss comparable only to union with our best partners. No outer means can create joys which are not inherently in ourselves. Searching for happiness through possessions or the impressions of our senses is like trying to move something from a long distance with a wobbly pole. It is very imprecise and one often gets unwanted results.

Working with the mind directly through meditation, however, is like a German sport car's precise stick-shift. It brings lasting results and is much more effective than activating outer props to feed pleasant experiences back to oneself.

Actually the conditioned world works like a conspiracy to keep us from finding lasting values. Everywhere we hear "buy this and you will be happy!" "Use this toothpaste and have success." "Travel there and you will have a great time...!" Just look at how many people try to sell you a sofa or a TV set and how few offer you Dharma-books? Therefore, knowledge about mind's absolute and relative nature is essential. We need to understand that every experience is like a individual dream inside a collective one and only the experiencer really exists. It is our great gift as Buddhists to the world that we - and probably the Advaita Vedanta Hindus - show the absolute goal: enlightened awareness beyond any duality or ego. That is why it is so important that we never become rusty or superficial, but always have a fresh new angle on enlightenment to inspire a changing world.

Although many wonder about our easy style, one becomes more and not less successful in the world by holding the relaxed Mahamudra view. Inner calm and space are also advantageous on the level of jobs and money. Unthinking people often carry things from A to B today and then back to A tomorrow, thinking they are doing productive work, but such meaningless repetitions fall away with an increasing overview. The more consciously one works, the more results the same effort will bring. For this reason also the busiest people should find some time for meditation. The blessing of whatever one touches will grow and the example will inspire others.

Back in the seventies a lama told me that a time is predicted when the Lama will have to beg his students to meditate. It is seen as a sign of decay and in several traditional Buddhist cultures it may have happened. We have the opposite situation in the west today: our search for the wonders of mind is fresh and alive. We just have to remind ourselves that the source for any happiness is the mind itself. With steady work we can bring it forth.

Kagyu Life International, No.2, 1995. Copyright ©1995 Diamond Way Buddhist Centers USA