A perfect book to introduce Westerners to Tibetan Buddhism.
This is the genuinely compelling story, and spiritual odyssey, of Ole and Hannah Nydahl, who in 1968 became the first Western students of the great Tibetan master, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Their exciting travels on the worn path between the green lowlands of Europe to the peaks of the Himalayas, led them to experience the skillful teachings of numerous Tibetan lamas who helped transform their lives into "limitless clarity and joy." From their first contact with Tibetan Buddhism in Kathmandu in the form of a lama with extraordinary psychic powers, Ole and Hannah encountered the full spectrum of the Buddhist "view." Their aim in writing this book is "to form a bridge between two worlds, and especially to share with all who are looking for their true being ... an introduction to a time-proven way to Enlightenment."
"One cannot really transmit anything, except what one has directly experienced, and the reason many of you will be able to identify with what happened to us is that, deep within, we are so very much alike."
Table of Contents
1. Our Honeymoon Journey
2. The Transparent Lama
3. Freedom in Jail
4. Overland to Nepal
5. The Black Crown
6. The Forgotten Valley
7. In the Sherpa Country
8. The Last Trip
9. We Take Refuge in Buddha
10. The Road to Bhutan
11. Learning from Kalu Rinpoche
12. Karmapa Sets the Course
13. Home in Sonada
14. Establishing a Practice
16. First Return
17. The Southern Camps
18. Life - A Dream
19. Work Starts
Appendix: List of Tibetan Buddhist Centers
Choosing Nepal for our honeymoon in the summer of 1968 was no bad idea. It was the very time in history when the early and still idealistic Hippie scene of Europe and the old schools of Tibetan Buddhism could meet, giving direction to the former and a chance for the latter not to end up in museums but survive as a living practice. Years of traveling the worn paths between the green lowlands of Northern Europe and the icy peaks of the Himalayas would follow, bringing forth lay and yogic Diamond Way Buddhism as it thrives today. For the first time in history, the meeting of Western idealism and intelligent Asian materialism now combine vast and formerly untried aspects of mind's potential.
As my lovely wife Hannah, myself, and later so many fine friends discovered, what appeared was a tool to master life. The Diamond Way expertly transforms disturbed states of consciousness into most enjoyable clarity and bliss. In a completely practical way, it makes every aspect of life useful towards liberation and enlightenment.
In the exciting company of co-smugglers and other adventurous friends during those years, it was possible to spend real time with the highest Tibetan and Bhutanese lamas. Their examples and exceedingly skillful teachings inspired us, and after a careful examination they chose us as partners in bringing their powerful transmissions and meditations into the West.
The main aim of this book is to recount what happened when the best of two so different but valuable cultures met. Its continuation, Riding the Tiger, will describe the following maturation of the work. It may have been the only case in history when experienced people from two advanced civilizations so consciously tried to learn the best from each other. With the tragic losses of the last years, during which several of the old lamas holding a full inner and secret transmission have died, it feels good to reprint a book that shares the atmosphere of that first encounter.
Hannah was twenty-two and I twenty-seven when we first met living Diamond Way Buddhism. Our parents were teachers at colleges in the residential areas north of Copenhagen. They were precious people, and we grew up in a world full of confidence in the fundamental goodness of man. Though we were raised in a completely humanistic setting from earliest childhood, I had recurrent, exciting dreams of war in mountain areas which I had never seen. In them, I beat back round-faced soldiers and protected what I could then only understand as men in red, ladies' clothes. Not until 25 years later, when I saw the first Tibetan monks in Nepal, did I understand what they were, and only 45 years later, on a secret tour through Chinese-occupied eastern Tibet, did I see the mountains and villages which I had fought to protect.
Also in this life, I automatically fought anything bigger - be it people or systems - that would limit my freedom. Hannah was just as independent but worked with things inwardly instead of bashing the outer world.
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1999
Also by Lama Ole Nydahl
Riding the Tiger
The Great Seal
Order Information / Blue Dolphin Publishing Home