If mind has been clear light from beginningless time, then why do disturbing feelings arise at all?

Lama Ole’s answer:

All disturbing feelings arise from ignorance. Ignorance is the fundamental inability of mind to see that the one experiencing, that which is experienced, and the experience itself complement one another—that space and its clarity are the same everywhere. Unfortunately, one mistakes space for an “I” and thinks that the clarity—all that appears in space—is a “you.” Out of this separation, the disturbing feelings arise.

We develop attachment to what we want and aversion against what we dislike. From attachment, desire and greed arise, and from aversion, hate and jealousy arise. Likewise, from ignorance—from stupidity—appears pride; one thinks of oneself as something real and important, even though one might die at any moment.

The Buddha teaches that there are 84,000 combinations of these basic disturbing emotions. They all lead to harmful actions and words, which again produce bad results. This suffering makes us believe that the world is against us. Then bad actions arise again, and the cycle continues on and on.

Because of Christianity, we here in the West believe that “clear” things cannot be holy. We think there can only be miracles if we leave things unclear, if they are a little bit mystical. But in Buddhism, we want to make everything as clear as possible! It is good to look at things carefully, to doubt, to differentiate, to be critical. This is how one becomes a really good Buddhist. Buddha explains the way things are, but the experience we must gain ourselves. It’s only unwise if we doubt the same things again and again. When we have resolved a doubt—and thus learnt something—we simply move on. But it is good to examine everything critically.

Whoever is critical in the beginning is like a diamond in the end: indestructible and clear. One has sorted out all doubts and internalized the essence of the teachings. Whoever is full of love and desire at first will be like a lotus flower in the end: open to everything.

People belong to different buddha families:

The transformation of anger is the diamond family.

The transformation of pride is the jewel family.

The transformation of attachment is the lotus family.

The transformation of jealousy is the action family.

The transformation of stupidity is the buddha family.

The strongest disturbing feeling—whatever puts the most stones in one’s way—is at the same time the best raw material for enlightenment.

What are the antidotes against disturbing emotions?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If anger is the biggest problem, then we should really force ourselves again and again to wish all beings everything good and to develop compassion.

If attachment is strongest, we should always remember that everything is impermanent, that we can’t take anything with us, and that instead we should let all beings take part in our joy.

And if confusion is strongest, then we should rest in whatever is there—we should go beyond concepts and simply rest in our center.

If pride is strongest, we should look at how everything is conditioned and falls apart again.

And if jealousy is strongest, we should go through with the experience completely to see that it is actually like a stream of awareness, like a stream of water in the ocean.

I experience my physical needs very strongly as attachment and as really unpleasant. How can I deal with that?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In the Diamond Way, we practice as lay people and yogis because we see disturbing emotions as the raw material for enlightenment. This distinguishes us from the Hinayana or Theravada level of monks and nuns.

The good thing is that one can open up to the Buddha with everything, even with our sexuality. The Buddha teaches that the body is a temple with 72,000 energy channels. The female parts are a lotus flower and the male parts a diamond. Everything experienced is seen as pure, as full of wisdom and meaning. And if we ourselves feel pure, we can open up to the Buddha and learn from him; we can work with these energies. In everything that happens, purity, excitement, and freshness appear in every moment.

It is a real obstacle if one has been raised to see the body as an enemy and everything below the belt as bad. Often a Catholic education is the cause. In my opinion, a lot of Catholics need therapy to restore a reasonably healthy relationship with their bodies.

It is important to open up to the buddhas completely, also with our desires and feelings. This way we can ask them to reach out to us, especially if it is about love. Women are more aware than men in this regard. They understand the importance of love much better than men do.

If a man goes to a woman, he should open up to experience her wisdom and to understand the deep importance of love and the significance of openness.

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.

What’s the difference between love and attachment in relationships?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Disturbing emotions like attachment originally arise from confusion. There are only three emotions that do not result from confusion and are therefore absolute: fearlessness, joy, and love.

Fearlessness arises when mind recognizes its space nature—when mind discovers that it isn’t a thing, but indestructible like space itself. Joy emerges when mind recognizes its clarity nature. This happens when, on the basis of fearlessness, mind experiences its free play—its potential and its richness. Then one becomes joyful and happy.

Love arises when mind recognizes its unlimited nature. If you realize that the nature of mind is space-clarity and boundlessness, and that all beings are like us—that they want to be happy and to avoid suffering—you’ll notice that you cannot separate your own feeling from those of others. There is simply nothing else you can do but become a loving and caring person. Only these feelings have the true nature of mind as their cause, and thus they really are of a permanent nature.

The mind of normal people is like an eye: it looks outward but cannot see itself. All phenomena in space can be measured and described, but the question of the size of mind, of its length, width, form, or taste—nobody can answer these. We know everything about the outer world but nothing about the one who experiences it. This is bad since the outer images are constantly changing, whereas mind always remains the same.

From mind’s inability to see itself, two fundamental emotions emerge. The first is attachment or desire. We experience ourselves as being less than the totality of all phenomena and long for something we think we don’t have. The second emotion is aversion. We think that we don’t like all those people out there, that they are dangerous.

Many people tend to mistake desire for virility and think that without any desires we would be impotent. This misunderstanding is based on a misinterpretation of words, but it is the reason why many don’t want to meditate. This is why we use the term attachment instead.

If we take a closer look at love and attachment, we can clearly distinguish between two things. The first one only has positive aspects; it is the giving type of love. This love manifests itself through a direct exchange with someone or through a general feeling of compassion, sharing with others whatever one has. It also appears as sympathetic joy, meaning that we are happy about things that don’t have anything to do with us personally—simply because we consider them to be meaningful. And finally, with this kind of love we are balanced; we know that everyone has buddha nature, no matter how much this clear light may be hidden.

The other, bad kind of love doesn’t take place in the here and now, but instead happens in the past or future. It doesn’t set others free but rather limits and confines them. This kind of love cannot rejoice if the partner learns and develops but rather worries that he or she is becoming smarter than we are and might run away soon. We should really make sure to get rid of this jealous, narrow-minded, envious, and expectant kind of love the moment we see it approaching. Restrictive control isn’t beneficial to anybody. We should give freedom to people and let them go. If they come back, they belong with you; if they leave for good, they will be happier somewhere else. Everything clingy, sticky, and full of expectations isn’t good. Everything liberating is good.

What should we do to deal with attachment?

Lama Ole’s answer:

The Buddha gave two pieces of advice concerning attachment, and Karmapa has added another special remedy. On the highest, absolute level—within the Mother Tantra lineage—the Buddha advises working with the melting phase in particular. This means that one keeps the building-up phase in the meditation short and remains in the melting phase for a long time. In the meditation on the 8th Karmapa, there are also special antidotes for attachment.

On a practical, everyday level, and for people who are mainly motivated by strong desires and wishes, the Buddha advises us to think a lot about impermanence, so that we do not bind ourselves too much to the world of phenomena. Secondly, we should share everything good we experience with all sentient beings because desire types do experience a lot of wonderful and rich things. We should always carry a feeling inside us of “I want to show this to others!”

If you make use of all the different levels in this way, you will obtain good results. The most important is to understand that the thought wasn’t here before, it will be gone by tomorrow, and it need not disturb you today—like the waves in the ocean which come and go.

How can we be sure that the joy we experience is not a strong dependency?

Lama Ole’s answer:

We can examine the level on which the joy takes place. If it consists of having something and stops the moment we don’t have it anymore, then the joy is constricting and unpleasant.

Actually, we can enjoy everything as long as we don’t have a problem once it’s gone. If the pleasure becomes strong enough, then it breaks the limits of the ego. One can enter it via the ego and discover something that is a thousand times greater than anything one has ever known before. As long as it doesn’t dominate us, we can enjoy it fearlessly. As an old master once said, “Since everything is a play of mind anyway, we may as well enjoy it.” What he was talking about is life itself.

Sometimes men become quite clingy and attached to me although I only wanted to be friendly. How should I handle this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

It’s best to explain to them how fantastic it would be to share something on many levels—to have a brother or a friend. This way you lead them out of the sexual attachments. And one should tell them in particular, “What you are looking for in me is in yourself. Why don’t you try to meditate a bit?”

Simply meditate on the level of highest wisdom, again and again, and make people aware of their strength and potential. If people want something they cannot get, if they want something in an unhealthy way, it is best to send them on. It’s best to use the energies and help them become independent. Then you can work together later on.