Buddhism

Buddha

The historical Buddha Shakyamuni was born around 560 B.C.E. to a royal family. From early childhood, he was surrounded by wealth and beauty, and enjoyed a sophisticated education. The texts describe him as tall, strong, and blue-eyed.

When he was 29 years old, he left the palace for the first time and encountered an old person, a sick person, and a dead person, experiences he had never known before. He then realized that nothing was permanent and left his palace to meditate in the mountains and forests of Northern India. After a six-year search for lasting meaning, he recognized the nature of mind while in deep meditation and reached enlightenment in what is Bodh Gaya in Northern India today.

The Buddha's teachings, which make beings fearless, joyful, and kind, are the main religion in several East Asian countries. Since the early seventies, the profound Buddhist view with its vast number of methods has inspired and fascinated a growing number of people in Western cultures.

Buddha teaches about ultimate and conditioned existence in a way that makes Buddhism directly relevant to our daily lives. Understanding this makes the experience of lasting happiness possible. Buddhism does not proclaim dogmas; rather, it encourages critical questioning. Using the right meditations, the intellectual understanding of the teachings becomes a personal experience. Additional methods solidify what is reached in meditation. The goal of Buddha's teachings is the full development of the innate potential of body, speech, and mind. Through his teachings, Buddha is seen as a timeless mirror of mind's inherent potential.

Liberation and Enlightenment

In the process of becoming liberated, one first discovers that body, thoughts, and feelings are in a constant state of change. Therefore, there is no basis for a real existing ego or “self.” Realizing this, one no longer feels like a target and stops taking suffering personally.

Enlightenment is the second and ultimate step. Here, the clear light of mind radiates through every experience. In every moment, mind enjoys its self-arisen abilities and everything becomes spontaneous and effortless.

Cause and Effect - Karma

Karma (tib. la) means cause and effect. It does not mean fate. The understanding that each of us is responsible for our own lives makes it possible to generate positive impressions consciously. This brings happiness and helps us to avoid the causes of future suffering. Positive states of mind may be strengthened effectively through the methods of the Diamond Way, while negative impressions waiting to mature can be transformed into wisdom.
 

Diamond Way

Buddha gave instructions for three different types of people. Those who wanted to avoid suffering received the instructions about cause and effect called the Small Way (skt. Hinayana).  Those who wanted to do more for others were given the teachings on wisdom and compassion called the Great Way (skt. Mahayana). Where people had strong confidence in their own and others' Buddha nature, Buddha taught the Diamond Way (skt. Vajrayana). Here, he manifested as forms of energy and light or directly transmitted his enlightened view as a flow of awareness. On this highest level, the aim is the complete development of mind, the spontaneous effortlessness of the Great Seal (skt. Mahamudra).

The Diamond Way offers the modern world "effective methods that lead to a direct experience of mind," as explained by Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, one of the most experienced teachers of Tibetan Buddhism. One learns to experience the world from a rich and self-liberating viewpoint. Diamond Way meditations develop a deep inner richness and lead to a non-artificial and unwavering mind where every enlightened activity can unfold.

 

Meditation

In Buddhism, meditation means "effortlessly remaining in what is." This state may be brought about by calming and holding the mind, by realizing compassion and wisdom, or by working with the body's energy channels and meditating on Buddha forms of light and energy. The most effective method is the constant identification with one's own Buddha nature, and the experience of always being in a Pure Land, both of which are taught in the Diamond Way. When the oneness of the seer, what is seen, and the act of seeing is unbroken - during and between the times of meditation -the goal of the Great Seal (skt. Mahamudra) is reached.

Introduction and instructions to the following basic meditations are offered in all Diamond Way Centres.

Refuge Meditation
The first meditation practice on the path to enlightenment.

16th Karmapa Meditation
A path to the realization of the nature of mind through identifying with the Lama. This meditation is the basic meditation of the Karma Kagyu lineage.

Diamond Mind Meditation
Meditation used to dissolve harmful impressions in the mind.

Meditation on the Buddha of Limitless Light
A meditation used as a preparation for the practice of Conscious Dying (tib. Phowa).
 

Diamond Way Buddhism Retreat

Anyone who wishes to continuously benefit sentient beings needs to develop a mature personality. In the independent and advanced West, this desirable state is developed on basis of Buddha's teachings on the Diamond Way level with its close bond of activity and meditation. For almost 30 years, short phases of dissolving with Lamas and Buddhas as well as working with mantras have been beneficial tools for countless friends, both for their present and their future lives. Since many people want to devote more effort to their further development, we introduce the existing retreat centres throughout the world.

In order to make the best possible use of the precious time we have, staying in a location with an existing enlightening field will be very beneficial. Although the state of true existence is the same everywhere, the joyous energy field is emphasized in a place where the seeds have been specifically placed. This helps develop a mental surplus with all the abilities linked to that, and a thorough exploration and cleansing of the consciousness' long term memory will be more effective in such places.

The environment itself has a positive influence so that the practitioner will be less distracted from his/her task at hand. And if the local ‘temple workers’ are friendly and turn out to be capable teachers, the best conditions for the development of body, speech and mind come together.

Milarepa once said: Leaving your home is part of the exercise. Well, for us these steps don't have to be painful! We have known the friends who live at the above mentioned locations for a very long time. They feel that it is important to create a suitable environment for practicing, and this is why they have put together an extensive collection of Dharma-related videos, books, and talks on tapes. One prerequisite for utilizing the full mental potential of such retreats remains the protection of Buddhist refuge and the decision to use the Diamond Way path of the Karma Kagyu lineage.

Differences between a Retreat and daily Meditation

Buddhist meditation shows the mind to the practitioner. It reduces the influence of habits, of external expectations, as well as internalized, solidified patterns. Polishing the 'jewel' - meaning the mind - the practitioner becomes more useful to others.

A retreat of a few days or weeks tremendously amplifies such results by creating more distance to everyday life. The lack of distraction by daily necessities leads to a deeper and more fluid experience of calmness of mind and insight.

Due to the view in Diamond Way Buddhism shorter retreats and daily life blend together excellently and have beneficial effects on each other. During a retreat as a couple, day and night are filled with joy and you gain extra strength for life.

Different Types of Retreats

Each practitioner decides for him- or herself on the duration and content of the retreat. For beginners open retreats with four daily sittings may be advisable: One short sitting before breakfast, two longer sessions before and after noon, and another shorter one in the evening, possibly together with the practitioners of the local centre. Of course it is possible to restrict the number of sessions, but it is advisable to create a daily schedule and stick to it. The remaining time of an open retreat is used to help out in the centre and to engage in an exchange with the people who live there. This type of retreat can be performed at any centre and is well suited for couples.

In closed retreats the practitioner does not talk to others, or he speaks only with certain advisors selected prior to the beginning of the retreat. The practitioner also eats by him- or herself. This type of retreat is recommended for people who are used to meditation and who have a few years experience with Diamond Way meditation.

Meditating alone, or in special cases together with people who are very close, will create space to remove disturbing impressions from the consciousness' long term memory. Since one does not have to be concerned with others while meditating alone, all impressions can naturally arise and evolve in wisdom. The goals for a retreat should be chosen modestly, goals that are set too high may spoil the fun of it.

Some centres offer group retreats. In such a case, some meditations are performed together as a group, and others are practiced alone. Many places offer additional time for questions and answers and/or evening lectures by local teachers, all of which are immensely beneficial. Practicing together as a group and the individual's Buddhist insights that arise during such group retreats create strong connections amongst the participants, and the resulting friendships enable us to benefit others to the fullest of our potential.
 
What is Conscious Dying - Phowa?
The goal of the Phowa practice is to learn how to die consciously, and transfer the consciousness at the moment of death to a state of highest bliss. The practice is the last of the Six Yogas (energy teachings) of Naropa, and one of the most profound teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very direct method involving visualization and mantra. Lama Ole is one of the few Buddhist lamas empowered to teach the Phowa practice. Since 1987, he has taught Phowa to over 80,000 people at several hundred meditation courses around the world.