When I see injustice, I get angry very quickly. Couldn’t this be useful if it motivates me to intervene?

Lama Ole’s answer:

With anger, you always act incorrectly. You shouldn’t be a wimp or limit your field of vision. You should do what is necessary with compassion.

I don’t know when the idea came up that one gets through better with anger. This is not true! Anger is a poison for the mind; it makes us sick and unclear. Only when you keep a cool head will you win.

Try to get to the understanding that all beings want happiness and to avoid suffering. Even if you can’t see it, all beings basically have buddha nature, even someone like Khomeini. He is not evil; his mind is merely so obscured that among all options he always chooses the wrong one. He also wants to have happiness and avoid suffering, but he is so confused that he only makes mistakes.

By understanding that people are ignorant and not evil, you can avoid anger. Get this insight and react with compassion, but also with the necessary sharpness.

There are many cultural differences concerning partnership and sexuality, and each culture has its own standards.

Is it possible to simply disregard these norms, or does the cultural context play a central role in how we should behave?

Lama Ole’s answer:

My advice on this is similar to that of our other teachers who have spent some time in the West and become acquainted with something other than the narrow cultures they come from: Live your life without stepping too far out of the frame your society has set up. Live in a way that does not make problems for yourself or others and that naturally brings joy.

But if you do some practice that especially sticks out from the norm and alienates you too much from others, then suffering will emerge. And the only thing that really counts is whether what you do causes happiness or suffering in the long run. That’s simply how it is.

What can I do if I constantly have arguments with my parents because they always insist on their old-fashioned views and won’t accept anything new?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In some respects, there comes a time when one has to admit that they are “ready for the museum.” On some points they won’t be able to change and will just stay with the views and expressions of their time. In those cases, keep talking to them in a way they can understand and which benefits them. Try to keep things they can’t understand at all away from them, because for them it is now about enjoying a happy old age. You can tell yourself, “I can’t change them anyway, so I will just be friendly.”

On the other hand, there are actually situations where a spark of life is noticeable, and then one can try to tell them that they should change something, that they aren’t too old to try something new! But one really shouldn’t be angry, because parents are difficult out of stupidity, not malice. They wish their children only the best, but they can hardly understand their own situation. And if you are dependent on their support, then it is very difficult for them indeed when you argue with them too much.

In my job, I often have to take relatively drastic measures, and sometimes I have to show people the door. This is often unpleasant for me, and I have doubts about whether it’s the right thing to do.

Lama Ole’s answer:

In any situation, one should treat people like grownups and tell them that they have to face the consequences of their actions.

Many grownups are like children. They don’t know what’s right and wrong, and thus they behave like children. Then one has to tell them, “This will be rewarded like this and that will be punished like that. This is how the world works; now make your choice!” Cut through the situation in a cheerful, beyond-personal way, and tell them clearly: “You have to leave now, please,” not “Unfortunately, I have to….” Because if one treats grownups like children, then they will behave like children. And if children don’t have to face limits, they will become neurotic.

My brother is very aggressive and picks fights all the time. Is there any way I can help him?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If he is willing to say a mantra, then a few million repetitions of OM MANI PEME HUNG would be good. That removes a lot of aggression.

I myself lost interest in fighting during my first visit to a nude sauna. There I suddenly saw how much naked skin there is that can be injured, how vulnerable people really are. When I left the sauna I thought, “Now I will protect them. Now I won’t beat them up anymore; I will change the program.” And that was very good!

Are men and women considered equal in Buddhism?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In Tibetan Buddhism, yes. But there are three different levels in Buddhism:

1) In Theravada Buddhism, the male principle is considered to be higher than the female. It is said that on the last step to enlightenment one must take rebirth as a man. Women are seen more as dangerous distractions for the monks.

2) In Mahayana Buddhism, it is said that the male mind is stronger. But even here men and women are more or less on the same level.

3) And in Diamond Way Buddhism, the male and female principles are equally important. Male or female alone is too little. The point is that we learn from each other, that we complement each other. On the inner level, the female is wisdom and the male is activity. And on the secret level, the female is space and the male bliss. In Diamond Way Buddhism, one can’t say “better” or “worse.” It is a matter of realizing both and bringing both together.

That’s why on the highest level of enlightenment, the Maha-Annuttara Yoga Tantra, there are only male and female buddhas in union.