Learning in Diamond Way Buddhism

Lama Ole Nydahl teaching

What is the process of learning in Diamond Way Buddhism?

As is traditional in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, “Three Wisdoms” (Tib. shes rab gsum; Skt. śruta cintā bhāvanā) are mentioned, those of Learning, Reflection and Meditation. According to the Rangjung Yeshe dictionary, ‘Learning’ means receiving oral teachings and studying scriptures in order to clear away ignorance and wrong views. ‘Reflection’ is to eradicate uncertainty and misunderstanding through carefully thinking over the subject. ‘Meditation’ means to gain direct insight through applying the teachings in one’s personal experience.

Scriptural teachings

Books such as Lama Ole Nydahl’s “The Way Things Are” serve as an introduction to Buddhism, and titles by other authors (e.g. see here) build on this. Several important texts comprise the philosophical foundations of Diamond Way Buddhism. These include The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (Tib. dam chos yid bzhin nor bu thar pa rin po che’i rgyan) by Gampopa, and two works by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339), The Wishes of the Great Seal, The Ultimate Meaning (Tib. nges don phyag rgya chen po’i soon lam) and Discriminating between Consciousness and Awareness (Tib. rnam shes ye shes ‘byed pa’i bstan bcos). Gampopa’s classic work outlines the graduated path to enlightenment. The treatise on Consciousness and Wisdom by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje is important as a support to meditation practice and the development of the pure view, and his Great Seal Wishes are explained and commented on in books such as Lama Ole Nydahl’s “The Great Seal“.

Oral teachings

The Karma Kagyu School is renowned for its tradition of passing on teachings orally, so a central method of learning in Diamond Way Buddhist Centres is through the passing on of oral teachings by authorised Buddhist teachers such as H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, Sherab Gyaltsen RinpocheLama Ole Nydahl and more frequently lay Buddhist teachers appointed by Lama Ole to teach in Diamond Way Buddhist centres internationally.

An important part of each teaching is the opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Question and answers in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism are part of the so-called “Three Wisdoms” mentioned above. 1. thos pa’i shes rab is the wisdom of learning or hearing, 2. bsam pa’i shes rab is the wisdom of reflection or contemplation, 3. sgom pa’i shes rab is the wisdom of meditation. This is actually the outline of each lecture by Lama Ole Nydahl and the lay Buddhist teachers who teach in his name: Firstly, people receive oral teachings, secondly, they ask questions in order to clarify doubts and to reflect upon the topic, and finally they meditate together.