When I am resting in open space during meditation, after a very short time my ego disrupts the experience. Is there an antidote against this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

I would always praise the ego until it completely loses its footing. I would say, “Fantastic, what wisdom! You already know that you are losing control if you play along, if you allow for space. Very smart how you are doing this!” Or you can think, “Oh, this is the ego. It always comes around here. Take a cup of tea, ego, I’m meditating!” We simply continue one-pointedly. And one day, we’ve made it. At some point the ego finally dissolves.

But don’t turn the pet into a predator. There can be reasons why the ego is resisting. It could be that in the beginning, the perfect experience of emptiness is too strong; it might throw you out of balance. You may first have to build up even more good impressions in the store consciousness before you can allow all this. It is also possible that one area—for example, intellectual understanding—is already very developed, while another area—like emotional maturity—isn’t so developed yet. There one has to give the development some time.

So don’t get mad at the ego. Think instead, “Aha, that surely has its meaning!” or “that clearly makes sense!” or “that will definitely help me with something!” and then simply go on. I wouldn’t fight it wildly. That just puts energy into ego games, which will only get stronger this way. Just continue until it dissolves by itself from its lack of strength.

What does it mean if we laugh while dreaming?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Laughter is a release of pressure. It has different meanings in different cultures. In some cultures, you show your teeth when you laugh as a sign that you’re not dangerous. Or you show your hands—that might be the first smile. This means something like, “I don’t have any weapons; I am not hiding anything,” and so on.

In the Himalayas, they laugh when someone falls. It’s not malicious joy, but rather to help the mind not hold on to what is happening. They laugh when someone trips so that the person who fell doesn’t take it too seriously. This laughter is a useful reaction.

In our culture, it’s simply liberating to laugh. When you laugh, you release energy and feel good. It’s healthy—people who laugh a lot get beautiful faces.

Is there a way to remember our dreams when waking up?

If one remembers a dream, it is because the mind somehow considers it to be significant. If we enjoy life during the day and everything goes well, then it is possible that we remember very little of our dreams. Dreams are probably always a sign that something is happening, simmering, and fermenting—that something is being processed.

If one is reasonably relaxed, then there will probably be less going on. If one wants to have a better memory in general, there is a blessing for this. We can also strongly resolve to remember our dreams before falling asleep. In the morning, while waking up, we remind ourselves of this and then the experiences come up again.

How can one use dreams on the way to enlightenment?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If we hold on to the moment where we know, “this is a dream,” and then expand this feeling more and more, we can become fully enlightened this way.

We have yogis who got enlightened while dreaming and in deep sleep—maybe not so many, but it has happened. If one recognizes the moment of dreaming and extends it into the day, this can provide great protection and keep a lot of disturbing emotions away.

Why are dreams so difficult to interpret?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If there is little emotion involved, then dreams are often only old, torn-off images from the store consciousness, which have little to do with you. Only if there is an emotional reaction involved—one feels good or bad—then the dream has meaning.

In dreams that feel important, the mind wants to tell itself something but it can’t really face up to it. So it encrypts the messages of the subconscious to the conscious. The subconscious plays hide and seek. It is worthwhile to look at this a bit because some parts of dreams do have meaning.

Is it possible to receive real teachings in dreams?

Lama Ole’s answer:

The teacher you hear or see the most in your dreams is very, very important for you. He is probably your root teacher, with whom you have the strongest experience and connection. Here it is quite possible to connect with his power-field, exchange knowledge, and really learn something.

If you dream of the lama and, for example, are talking about flowers or drinking tea, it can be a kind of opening of the subconscious. And if you really feel a lot, then suddenly a new level of development—an “aha” experience—breaks through. This then is a true blessing, and you can get strength, energy, and knowledge from the teacher in this way.

But you must never act solely on the basis of the dream! You always have to check whether what you’ve dreamt makes you fat, is immoral, breaks the law, and so on. You have to check whether it is compatible with the regular world. So don’t jump out the window without a parachute, or something like that. Instead, check the information with sound common sense.

What does it mean if we dream of the Karmapa or of you?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If you dream of me, then your virtue is gone! No but seriously, one can say that the teacher is the direct gateway to our own buddha nature. The teacher is actually the mirror showing us our own face.

So if you dream of buddha forms, hear mantras, or see your lama, then this actually means that you have direct access to your own buddha nature. This is very good! It means that the veils of dust on the mind are quite thin and that the timeless nature of mind is close to breaking through. Another positive aspect of dreaming of the teacher is that if one dies and doesn’t have Phowa, then one has a very good chance of seeing the teacher shortly after death or while dying.

There are Buddhist teachings about attachment that describe the body as something impure. Isn’t this a contradiction of the Diamond Way teachings? 

Lama Ole’s answer:

The Buddha gave teachings for different people. He taught monks and nuns to consider physical sensations as something unpleasant since it is dangerous for them—for their peace of mind. He told lay people that the body is a way to give joy and a means through which to work with the mind. On the highest level, it is said that there are 72,000 energy channels in the body, all of them radiant, all of them meaningful. One sees the female part as a lotus flower and the male part as a diamond. One regards the whole body as a mandala, a power-field of light and energy.

If we practice on the Diamond Way level and consider the body impure, then we are breaking our bonds. If we experience somebody else’s body as unpleasant, repulsive, impure, or meaningless, we are stepping out of the buddhas’ power-field.

I have no idea how the monks work with this; maybe they keep it disconnected in their minds. But if one practices on the level of the Diamond Way, if one has received teachings on Mahamudra and then considers the body as something impure, then one actually throws everything away again. I always tell my students that highest truth is highest joy, and one should hold this level as well as one can.

How can sexuality be used for meditation practice?

Lama Ole’s answer:

A meditator’s goal is to have the same control of his body that a racecar driver has of his car. That is, we become capable of steering the energies in the way and direction we choose. However, only those who have already accomplished a lot can do this practice. It is necessary to train, to learn to experience things in a beyond-personal way, and to develop meditative power.

If we look at the succession of the practices, the tantric union teachings come after the practice of “inner heat,” where one can sit in the snow and melt it. To do this correctly, one must be able to pull the energies down, hold them, and turn them around. There is a yogi joke that if a man has truly accomplished this practice, he can pull water mixed with milk up through his penis and then release the water and milk again separately. I have no idea to what extent this is true, but in any case, the practice is very difficult indeed.

The reason we don’t talk a lot about sexual union practices isn’t prudishness. From the Buddhist viewpoint, the body is neither dirty nor sinful. It is a tool—a temple of energy where enlightenment can take place. But one explanation of why union practices are not mentioned often is that many people have difficulties concerning sexuality. If we talk about the energies of the body, sexual energies, and working with them, people often start to think in their old-fashioned Christian or Islamic concepts, regarding sexuality as something dirty and wrong. They build up dualities.

The union practices are generally kept secret for the people’s own good—because they simply cannot understand what a jewel they are holding. If we still hope and fear, hold on and push away, if we want to keep ourselves under control and develop disturbing feelings, then it’s better to keep the lid on it. Only when we can meet each other in a state of giving and taking and aim at developing each other, only then does the tantric union practice become useful. Not until one experiences everything as a dream and can see both practitioners as forms of energy and light does it make any sense to invoke the powerfields and exchange energies.

Generally speaking, it’s like this: use your body as a tool to give others joy and avoid causing them suffering. You should also not destroy the joy experienced when making love with any ideas about how we should do it. Enjoy, be good to your partner, and everything else will evolve gradually.

In Buddhism, the ultimate level of insight is called detong, which means the inseparability of joy and emptiness. That means that you remain in a state of bliss and ecstasy. You keep this state without interruption, and you are in full control of it. But it is not a personal state. You radiate into space, full of joy. As soon as something is touched by you, it starts to radiate too. In this state, the experience isn’t that one person is doing something for somebody else. Rather something happens in open space. Try to hold this level all the time, when making love too. Experience it as the highest initiation and not as a small thing you only want to keep for yourself. Then it will be an encounter full of highest truth and the most beautiful jewels. Stay aware of this and then radiate on everything.

I always have strong self-doubt; could you give me advice for this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

The cause of self-doubt is rooted in wrong views—that is, in one’s way of thinking. It means you are putting the cart before the horse. You should create distance from the “either-or” attitude and lift what is relative and conditioned to the level of the absolute.

Understand that highest bliss is highest truth and that everybody benefits from all the good that happens everywhere. Try not to feel separate from the totality and to always wish all beings happiness. If you are doing better, then others will also do better. And if you feel good, you can also do more for them.

If the self-doubt is of an intellectual nature, then it’s best to use mantras. Mantras are like an oil film on which the disturbing emotions slip back and forth in all directions and then fall away. Mantras protect your mind from its neuroses, and thus deep experiences and joys can develop. Look at you: you have a face, two arms, two legs, and would like to have happiness like everyone else. This is a completely open game. Try to do whatever possible to be happy, and what is not possible today might be tomorrow.

Those who think they have problems should read an international newspaper every day for one week and confront themselves with what is happening in the world—for example, with what takes place in Africa on a daily basis. Then one’s own difficulties are put into perspective and lose their weight.

How can we get rid of indecisiveness?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Think about the interconnectedness of everything—that you are not really separate from others. If you want to be useful for others, then make the very strong wish to be able to give them what they need. Then you will do the right thing spontaneously and effortlessly, without thinking that now you are doing this for someone else. This is the goal.

When there are many things to do at the same time, how do I follow your advice of “doing what’s in front of one’s nose”?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Then do what is closest in front of your nose! If you are writing a letter, finish it; then if there is a cup of coffee in front of you, drink it, and so on. You keep your body busy with the things that have to be done while holding everything else in mind. Then the difficulties smooth out, and gradually everything will fall into your hands like ripe fruit.

First, try to look at things clearly without being disturbed by fixed ideas and strong feelings. This means not going up and down like in an elevator all the time but coming to rest and perceiving things directly, just as they are. There can be the problem of becoming too stiff or losing compassion, where one is too closed and wants to control everything. But if you approach things in a relaxed and open way, you’ll see what needs to be done.

It is important that you stay in your middle and have confidence in yourself. You stand there with inner strength. And then, from this level of strength, you will see what fantastic things can happen. If you can hold the middle, then the rest will come by itself. If you run away from your middle and look for something else, you will only get confusion and difficulties.

This is what good karma amounts to: one has so many good impressions in mind that one rests in whatever happens. One doesn’t have to prove or excuse anything, or move anything from here to there. If we can do this, then we’ll also see which difficulties we create for ourselves. If the barriers of the ego get in the way of this, then the Lama can give advice.

When I understood that all things are composite and therefore transient, I lost all interest in everything. How can I experience the world full of infinite possibilities again?

Lama Ole’s answer:

When one experiences things as transitory, this often comes with a loss of interest and excitement. And then the question is, What comes after our attachment to things has been loosened and does not drive us anymore? How can one go on from there?

I myself am always interested in the next picture, in the unfolding of every situation into an even wider space of ever more possibilities. It is important that even while something is still happening, you are already with the next thing, then the next, so that fulfillment never stops.

So don’t try to hold on to something to the point that you just sit there not knowing how to take it further, but instead go from one experience when it reaches its peak to the next peak.

And remember that highest bliss is highest truth! Try to feel at home where there is highest bliss, highest meaning, highest fulfillment, highest awareness, highest experience, and so on. Try to see everything that brings pain, limitations, and difficulties as functional errors from the outset. The nature of all beings is always that of the Buddha. The clear light of mind is the same everywhere.

One is mistaken as long as one doesn’t recognize that. One runs after one’s inner and outer impressions and is caught in an eternal cycle. We develop compassion if we can see this situation as it is, without any stickiness or sugar coating. One can indeed say that our general experience is suffering compared to the bliss of enlightenment.

If we try to see everything as pure, can’t we lose ourselves in illusions and superficiality?

Yes, that may happen indeed. For some time in Kathmandu, we had people who threw in too many of their own trips. They said, “Everything is pure,” and then ate some things that didn’t do them any good.
The point is that if we want something too forcefully, we are outside of our center and can therefore make mistakes. One has to know that on the ultimate level all beings are buddhas, but since they don’t know that yet they make many mistakes. It is a matter of holding ultimate and conditioned truth at the same time.

People make the mistake of confusing the path and the goal, of mixing up conditioned and ultimate truth. And that usually happens to people when they are under emotional pressure—when they simply want to see something in particular, or when they have to protect themselves from an experience that would be too painful. That’s why I say that the pure view should develop out of mature understanding, and not because one is escaping or hiding from things.

One should think, “Everybody is a buddha. Let’s see who has discovered that already and who hasn’t.” This means that we take it easy and that there is no pressure. The easiest way here is to look into the mirror and check, “How important is it for me that this situation comes out in this or that way?” This especially plays a part in matters of love. Maybe in the beginning, falling in love is only possible if one projects a beautiful image onto the other person. At first there might just be certain hormones that let the other appear as especially desirable. And then later on, you find out if there is really anything behind it—whether there is a bond or whether it was just a brief attraction.

And there, it is important to watch oneself closely—“Do I just want to see that or do I really see it?” If one is not trying to see something but sees it nevertheless, then one won’t make mistakes. Thus we should always act from our center. We are centered as long as we stand there firmly, without having to prove or apologize for anything.

How do you experience an unpleasant situation on the highest level — for example, if you are caught in smog and can’t breathe well?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Then I am aware of the inability to breathe for a moment and imagine how all those lead molecules find their way into my blood stream, where they go from there, and so on. Of course I try to leave the place, but it’s no tragedy.

We will all grow old, get sick, and die. The question is whether you make a problem out of it or not—here you can decide. You might also enjoy holding your breath. Instead of experiencing the breath in the throat, you experience it in the chest, and then comes pressure in the eyes. It’s possible to turn anything that happens into a party in the mind. In the same way one celebrates a beautiful lady, mind can celebrate itself.
And again, it’s about doing two things at the same time. On the one hand, one maintains the fresh moment of experiencing whatever is happening, and on the other, one considers what is worthwhile and what isn’t—how to manage to live a bit longer and to take better care of oneself.

Also remember that nobody will want to listen to you if you are caught in too many dramas and tragedies. The joyful view is better, where people say, “Ah, here there might be possibilities” and “here we can do something.” The way you act will influence people. If you can do something witty, joyful, and meaningful, then people will listen to you. You should always stay in a good mood.

If you lose the feeling of people’s buddha nature, of their potential, then you will become lonesome. Try to think instead, “OK, we made a little mistake there; maybe we can change it in this or that way,” and come in with surplus. Then you’re in a good position.