Is the path of development to enlightenment the same for men and women?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If you look at the whole path, women have an easier start because most of the teachers today are men. But it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way in the future. Today women can fall in love with the teacher, and by being completely focused on him they can absorb a lot and develop very quickly. In contrast, men first have to test each other. There is always a certain amount of rivalry involved. That’s why it is a bit more difficult for men in the beginning. Women also have an advantage because of their gentle and giving nature, while men often show aggression and have to protect others.

But at some point, some very subtle attachments remain more strongly in women—maybe to a man, a child, the family, etc. That’s why the man, who always stays a bit playful like a child, gets through more easily at the end, because he can let go better.

The woman comes to things more with her totality and richness, in a holistic way. And the man bumps up against something and reaches a new dimension, getting through that way. That is why men and women complement each other so well. When there is a good relationship between a man and a woman, the woman can soften the man with her devotion and openness so that he won’t be so stiff and competitive. And in the end, the man can show the woman a few things: “Look! We can do it like this or like that” and so on. And again we see that men and women work better together. Neither is better, but rather together they round each other out and function in a more meaningful way.

There are many ways of learning from each other and developing. When a man meets a woman, she can be his lover, or mother (she shows him the world), or daughter (he protects her), or sister (she helps him progress). When a woman meets a man, it works the other way around. The man is her lover, or father (he takes care of her and protects her), or brother (he shows her how things are), or son (she can do something for him and live out her protective feelings). This range of possible relationships contains a tremendous opportunity to complement each other, a huge field of power and joy that cultivates growth. We just have to find it.

I’m very proud that my male and my female students are developing equally well. Today we also have as many female as male Diamond Way teachers. If they stick with it, we will have many female buddhas.

And actually, it is true that mind in itself has no gender. Only in the moment it connects with a body does it take on certain qualities, a certain type of energy. But as soon as the body is gone, everyone’s mind is clear light—then there is no difference at all.

If we don’t have much time, is it better to help with the center work or to do our own practice?

Lama Ole’s answer:

I would try to do both. Help out when there is a lot to do in the center; otherwise, do your own practice. The best would be to do your practice in the center as often as possible. That way you stay in touch with the friends there and can learn from them. And it also attracts new people if someone from the center is always there, whether he just sits in the kitchen drinking coffee and greeting people, or gives a good example by practicing in the gompa.

What is the best way to integrate Buddhist practice into everyday life?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Here it’s about doing a mix of formal and intuitive practice whenever possible. I would try to spontaneously intersperse short periods of meditation throughout the day whenever the situation permits. It is also good to have fixed meditation sessions during the day as the basis. For example, after the last embrace in the morning, I would sit down with my partner and take refuge together for five minutes or concentrate on the three lights from the Karmapa meditation.

One can also use any break during the day to let Karmapa arise in space and concentrate on the lights. One can try as much as possible to see everything as pure and beautiful. On your way to work on the bus or train, you can imagine the Buddha or Karmapa sitting on a board above the heads of everyone. Then in your mind, you pull the boards away and let the Buddha or Karmapa fall down into their hearts and start to shine.

I would always concentrate on space and bliss as inseparable. Try to see space as that which contains all things and not as what separates them. That means not just directing your consciousness forward—habitually following your nose and eyes—but being aware of the space all around yourself as well.

It’s about experiencing consciousness as something similar to space, as something that expands in every direction. This point is really important, so I often emphasize it. If one experiences that meter of distance between oneself and others not as separation but instead as space—a container that encompasses us all—one will experience more and more joy. By developing this view, by always focusing on what unites and brings us together, experiences and abilities that go beyond what we’re used to will arise quite naturally. Suddenly, we know who is calling before the phone rings, or we think of a friend and a short time later we get a letter from him. This happens because mind in its joyful, relaxed state expresses all its wisdom and abilities.

When we arrive at work, we can now see something exciting and meaningful in every situation. To the ladies I would point out their beauty and wisdom and to the gentlemen their power and joy. This way their attention will be directed towards their strengths, and they will be in closer contact with their potential. At work we then think, “I don’t just have a duty here; I have a mission. Through what I do today, I can touch many beings and maybe give them something useful that brings them joy.”

In moments when there is nothing to do and nobody is demanding your attention, you can completely relax for a short while, absorb the three lights, and give away the good impressions to all beings afterwards. If you have a more physical job in which you don’t need to think so much, you can keep repeating a mantra the whole time.

We really can look at everything on the highest level. For example, even machines we can see as an expression of the intelligence of inventors who created something that functions so well. During the morning break or lunch, again we can interact with people in the most meaningful ways, seeing the freshest and most beautiful aspects of all that happens. While eating, we can also give everything as a gift to Karmapa in our minds.

Maybe at work you have a boss who is an impossible guy, but you just think, “How wonderful. Without difficult people there’s no patience, and without patience there’s no enlightenment. Many thanks!” So no matter what’s going on, one makes the best possible use of one’s time, always seeing the best in people and learning from whatever happens. On the way home, we can then let Karmapa fall into the hearts of everyone on the bus again.

Those who couldn’t do any prostrations in the morning should definitely do them after work. The reason is that repeatedly “throwing down” your body will align your own energies. Your energy level will rise so much that you can subtract an hour of sleep time for every hour of prostrations you do. They also give tremendous strength and we become more able to do something for others.

When there is nothing thrilling on TV, you can also meditate on Diamond Mind to purify all negative impressions accumulated over countless lifetimes. Or you can do your current personal practice. And finally in the evening, you can take your loved one to bed and practice the union of bliss and emptiness, the meeting of wisdom and compassion.

When the time to sleep comes, sitting in bed, we can do a final meditation on the emptiness–clarity of mind, the Clear Light Meditation. Afterwards we lie down and remain in a state of limitless light all night. The next morning, the light shines back into us, we emerge out of space as the buddha aspect of our choice, and we take refuge and go out again into the world. This way, one makes full use of the twenty-four hours in the day.