Diamond Way Buddhism

Course with Lama Ole Nydahl in Wisconsin, Oct 11-14 2019

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About the course

This Great Seal Course will be an immersive experience digging into Buddhism’s most profound teachings, learning advanced meditation techniques, and connecting with a vibrant lay Buddhist community.

A Diamond Way Buddhist course has something for all skill levels. Experienced meditators will use the time to recharge and deepen their own practice while those new to Diamond Way Buddhism will get a thorough experiential introduction. The dynamic of new and old creates a rich backdrop for the highly engaging teachings of the Diamond Way.

This course will be guided by Lama Ole Nydahl, a meditation master in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Ole is the founder of more than 50 groups and centers in the US and nearly 700 across the world. During this course he will teach on the Great Seal (Mahamudra in Sanskrit; Chag Chen in Tibetan), which is considered to be the crown jewel of Buddha’s teachings.

Each day of the course will include lectures, meditation and Q&A with Lama Ole. Diamond Way teachers will also give panel lectures, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn the unique meditation practices that we do in our centers.


To understand the Great Seal is to know the inseparability of subject, object and the interaction in between. By meditating on enlightened buddha forms of energy and light, “we understand we can only see this perfection outside because we have the seed of it inside all the time,” according to Lama Ole.

For centuries masters of the Kagyu lineage have taught the Great Seal in a variety of ways ranging from more systematic and gradual to intensely direct and experiential. Lama Ole delivers these teachings in a fresh and spontaneous manner that is both accessible and in keeping with the style and authenticity of the colorful Kagyu tradition.

In a Great Seal course Lama Ole will typically teach:

  • Wishing Prayer for the Attainment of the Ultimate Mahamudra: a classic Buddhist text written by the third Karmapa in the 14th century. These 25 verses spell out Diamond Way Buddhism's basis for development, path and goal in a stepwise fashion. Lama Ole has also written a commentary, The Great Seal: Limitless Space and Joy, on this famous work.
  • Ganges Mahamudra: a more direct approach to the Great Seal given by Tilopa, the 10th century founding father of the Kagyu lineage known for his wild-yogi style and deep wisdom, to his main student Naropa.
  • The Ultimate Supreme Path of Mahamudra: another highly regarded text originally given by Lama Shang (or Lama Zhang), a charismatic, larger-than-life, and enlightened spiritual teacher. Lama Shang was also a highly effective military and political leader during a turbulent time in 12th century Tibet. He, like Lama Ole, was known to teach in a simple, straightforward and accessible way.


Buddhism can be broken out into three main “vehicles” or ways of practice. The noble Foundational or Small Way focuses on developing an exceeding clear awareness of cause and effect (or karma) and avoiding causing harm to others. The inspiring Great Way adds the deep wish to then bring others to enlightenment, also known as bodhicitta. The expedient and deeply transformative Diamond Way builds upon the first two vehicles and employs skillful meditation methods and an enlightened view of reality - essentially acting and seeing the world like a Buddha until you become one.

Buddhism can evoke images of monks and nuns in red robes, however, there’s also a rich history of lay and yogi meditation masters that had considerably accessible lifestyles and personalities. Diamond Way Buddhism is the modern day rendition of those latter two traditions.

Today, tens of thousands of independent, lay people of Western culture utilize the advanced meditation methods once only found in Tibet. The members of this contemporary movement consciously hold a far-reaching and exciting perspective on life and represent the lay branch of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

There are nearly 700 Diamond Way centers and groups across the world. Our centers consciously shy away from rigid hierarchies and are built upon idealism, friendship and an egalitarian spirit. Nobody in our organization is paid, and the vibrant and jovial atmosphere in our centers makes Buddhism and meditation simple and straightforward to learn.


Lama Ole offers a rare combination: an authentic Tibetan Buddhist master and a lay person with real life experience.

Lama Ole is one of the few Westerners fully qualified as a lama and meditation master in the Karma Kagyu Buddhist tradition. In 1969, he and his wife Hannah became the first Western students of H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyu lineage and a widely renowned figure in Tibetan Buddhist history. Under his tutelage, and the lineage’s most esteemed masters, Ole and Hannah completed three years of intensive meditation training. In 1972, they began teaching Buddhism in Europe at the 16th Karmapa’s request.

Lama Ole has chronicled his and Hannah’s first encounters with Tibetan Buddhism and the challenges of bringing it to the modern, Western world in two books: Entering the Diamond Way and Riding the Tiger.

After over 45 years of activity, at the age of 78, Lama Ole still maintains a schedule that puts him in a different city nearly every other day and teaching nearly every night. He has transmitted the advanced teachings and meditations of the Kagyu lineage to tens of thousands people and has founded upward of 700 Western lay Buddhist centers in more than 50 countries.

The teachings that Lama Ole passes on include:

  • The Great Seal (Sanskrit: Mahamudra; Tibetan: Chag Chen): teachings that contain the profound view and methods of Diamond Way Buddhism
  • Conscious Dying (Tibetan: Phowa): transforming the experience of dying into a liberating and enlightening process
  • Four Foundational Practices (Tibetan: Ngöndro): the special practices that create a proper basis in our mind to receive the Great Seal teachings

Lama Ole can reach people today - those with jobs, families and aspirations for a meaningful life - because he has seen and experienced it all himself. He fully participated in the counterculture of the 1960’s, has never shied away from a fast motorcycle or the chance to skydive, and can speak to being in a healthy, loving relationship.

Lama Ole asks his students to be well-informed and critical, especially concerning free speech and women’s rights, and that the Diamond Way centers are run in meritocratic manner with no hierarchies. He also encourages his students to be self-reliant and join him, shoulder to shoulder, in producing Buddhism instead of just consuming it.

Lama Ole has authored several other books including:

  • The Way Things Are: an essential and instructive introduction into Buddhism and the Diamond Way
  • The Great Seal: a commentary on a classic text on the nature of mind, and Diamond Way Buddhism's underlying basis, expedient path, and liberating goal
  • Fearless Death: a guide to understanding the methods passed down by Tibetan Buddhist masters that uncover the joy and meaning in the dying process
  • Buddha & Love: the timeless teachings of Buddhism explained through examples from modern relationships

Learn more about Lama Ole’s background, his teachers, his work and books that he’s authored on lama-ole-nydahl.org.