How can you check whether your mind is really clear or just on some trip?

Lama Ole’s answer:

You can say the syllable “pei” forcefully and then observe how your mind behaves. If everything you had in mind is scattered over several streets, then it was probably a trip. But if even greater clarity arises, if you are able to see what is happening even more precisely, if you are even more centered, you were probably right. This is the highest level of checking something.

Another thing you can do is examine how it would feel if suddenly everything were turned upside down—if suddenly all the pretty ladies didn’t like you anymore. What would your mind experience? How would it react? This way you can check how much of what you see is your own projection. You can see whether you really think of others’ happiness or are just running after your own pipedreams.

But actually, it is best not to let so many thoughts and concepts come up. Try to experience your thoughts as the free play of mind, as its richness and power. Don’t let them become chains that bind your arms or legs. Thoughts are good servants but difficult masters. They are all waves on the ocean, but it is the ocean itself that matters.

Maybe you can allow yourself a daydream once in a while to reduce stress, as long as you know what it is. But as soon as you start wishing for it to be real, then hope and fear are added in and it’s not nice anymore.

How can we know whether we are ready to act freely in the moment and discard common morality and other conventions?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If there are no more disturbing feelings associated with a situation, then one simply acts like a doctor who says, “If I don’t amputate that leg, this person will die.” If one sees a situation as it is with a completely clear and beyond-personal state of mind, and then acts for the benefit of others without disturbing emotions, then one will certainly be right. In such a case, whatever else happens is other people’s karma.

How can we know whether we’re on the right or wrong path?

Lama Ole’s answer:

For this there are outer and inner signs. If one is on the wrong path, one might attract difficult people again and again, who are then hard to get rid of. One has a sort of outer energy-hook that pulls those people towards oneself. It is possible to do this out of compassion, too, but then that should happen consciously. The inner sign of being on the wrong path is that disturbing feelings—like envy, jealousy, pride, confusion, and so on—become stronger.

You will sense that you are on the right path through noticing that you attract pleasant things on the outer level. And on the inner level, disturbing feelings will vanish and more space and freedom will emerge.

But mind is king; we ourselves have the freedom to decide what happens. If we are on a difficult path, we can decide, “I am a Bodhisattva. I’m helping all beings in pain and purifying their suffering.” With this attitude, we get through everything safely. We leave the heavy luggage behind and then quickly get ahead.

Can you always assume that the more joyful way is the right way?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In principle, the levels of highest functioning, highest joy, and highest truth are equal. Experiencing greater happiness, seeing things as they are more clearly, and functioning better physically and mentally are intertwined. For example, if you work with proper tools in an interesting environment, then you are closer to the perfection of your nature than if you do something that won’t work with tools that are no good.

One just has to be careful not to get attached to the happiness but instead to pass the good feelings on to others. One has to understand that conditioned joys are impermanent.

We should always try to experience joy without an outer cause. Be aware that joy is inherent in one’s own mind, and try to let joy become independent from a cause as quickly as possible. Understand that joy is a moment without fabrication—without thoughts, without ideas, without any obstruction. In the moment one is naked and open, joy comes through. Try to reach that state without any outer influence. That comes through meditation; there you learn that your mind can find absolutely anything within itself and out of itself.

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.

Is one still able to make practical decisions after reaching a level where one doesn’t judge so much or think in terms of good and evil?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Of course you will still see the suffering and difficulties of the world. The point is to not be trapped in them yourself. If your beard is no longer stuck in the mailbox—if you’re no longer bound by your own disturbing emotions and you see the possibilities of beings, then you can act out of surplus and strength.

It is about you yourself reaching a level where you are no longer vulnerable. This way you become able to work for others. If you are no longer trapped in your own difficulties, then you can see the difficulties of others and do what will help them in the long run. Unlike politicians, who only think two years ahead until the next election, think like a statesman who sees what Germany, Denmark, or Europe will look like in one hundred years. Be farsighted. Only deal with the really important things—long-term things. Whether or not people get five cents more in their paycheck right now is not so important. The important things are freedom, development, the status of women, and that people remain intelligent.