My partner has become quite difficult and quarrelsome. Our relationship doesn’t work very well anymore, but he never wants to talk about our problems. How should I deal with this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If talking is not possible because the levels of experience are too different, then one can apply a few tricks to relax the situation. You can tell yourself, “I only spend a few hours a day with him, whereas he is with himself day and night, poor fellow.” You might also remind yourself that you can train patience with people like him, and without patience there’s no enlightenment. You can try to see everything he says as a mantra. Even when he grumbles and grouches, you only hear Om Mani Peme Hung or Karmapa Chenno, Karmapa Chenno.

As to why people are difficult, this is often because they have problems with themselves. They have so much pressure inside themselves that they try to create external counter pressure by starting an argument with others. You can consciously remove the pressure—for instance, by leaving the room every time he is about to start to argue with you. Tell him, “This isn’t my table; I’m not serving here today.” You are friendly, but act very superficially the moment he tries to pull you into his trips. You simply don’t engage.

If he doesn’t find anything to counteract his inner pressure, he will explode at some point. That’s when the inner problems will come up, and only then can you start talking about them, working with them, and thinking about how to go on from there.

Or he may find some other people to argue with. Then you can act as the referee rather than the enemy. You can bring in your female wisdom, and he will listen to you. However, there’s one thing women should be mindful of if they don’t have children. They shouldn’t act out their suppressed urge to educate their partner. This can make him behave in a moody and dismissive way just so that you’ll leave him in peace.

The best we can do in this case is to only share the good things with each other. Whenever things are smooth, you are with him, and whenever they aren’t, you get a couple of books to read. Life is too short to get caught up in bad moods. We go into the garden when the sun is shining, and when it’s raining we stay away. And if we think the sun is shining too rarely, we can still think of moving on to another place with better weather.

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.

What can we do for people who are very confused or even suffer from psychoses?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In a case like that, I would work with mantras. Give them the good, sturdy om mani peme hung mantra, and get them used to saying it. A mantra works like a protective oil film. Disturbances usually make scratches on our mind, creating habits that we fall into again and again. But when we use a mantra, the disturbances slide back and forth and then fall away without creating habits. A good dose of om mani peme hung for everybody would be good. You just have to watch out that they don’t think you are trying to convert them by force.

How does fear appear?

Answer of Lama Ole Nydahl:

Fear is not a primary or secondary feeling, but a tertiary one. The primary, basic disturbing feeling is ignorance; from this, others arise such as confusion, pride, and anger. Out of these then fear arises.

Fear originates from old anger and resentment which come up again and which one cannot stand having in one’s own mind. If one has these disturbing feelings inside oneself, and one’s mind looks at its own content, then it will see things it does not like and experience fear.

The outer world is a projection of our mind. If we look through rose-colored glasses, the world is beautiful. If we look through black glasses, it is horrible. We will have fear if the anger, resentment, and disturbances inside us have not been worked out. The best way to get rid of fear is to very consciously wish all beings everything good every day, as often and deeply as possible. There is no fear that will not disappear then; the blockages that one cannot bear will fall away. Good wishes for others are the strongest antidote.

In the case of anger and fear, it is also very good to do one million repetitions of the mantra om mani peme hung. This mantra is like an all-purpose cleaner. Om removes pride, ma dissolves jealousy, ni removes attachment, pe cuts through confusion, me eliminates avarice and greed, and hung destroys anger. Whenever we say om mani peme hung, we clean the inner mirror of our mind. This is very effective!

What can we do against stubbornness and egotism?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Against egotism it helps to see that all people are in the same situation as we are. They all want to be happy and avoid suffering. They behave well when they are doing well and become unpleasant when they’re having a bad time. So we can see that they are not so different from us.

And against stubbornness? The best is maybe to say “PEI!” Every time you are totally stuck in your own fixed ideas, you can quickly say “PEI!” inwardly. It’s like a pile of peas being hit by a stick; they fly everywhere. A sharp “PEI!” is very good. Then when the elements of your stubbornness condense again, say “PEI!” once more, and then maybe they’ll stay away.

If people take themselves too seriously, tickle them. Just be careful of where you are standing in relation to them, because if they are angry they might try to hit you with the back of their head. So duck down a bit to the side and tickle from there. And then say, “Aren’t you happy today?” And even though they’re taking themselves incredibly seriously, they’ll start to laugh.

Are there any methods against pain in Buddhism?

Lama Ole’s answer:

A vast topic! The best might be a general Buddhist method and, I’m sorry, it sounds very simple: detachment. That means to always understand that we have our body rather than that we are our body.

Pain is always related to the belief in the reality of experiences that appear in one’s mind. If one knows that this body impermanent and should be used as a tool, then this kind of thinking—“Oh, it’s happening to me. I am the target. I’m suffering!”—this vanishes. It rather becomes, “Yes, there is suffering, and bodies can feel pain,” and so on; it becomes less personal. We have to train this attitude while we are young and fresh. Likewise, we don’t learn meditation while dying; we learn it now.

Mantras like OM MANI PEME HUNG or KARMAPA CHENNO are always very good. There are also special mantras and certain breathing practices that can help. But the most important thing is to not take the pain too seriously and to focus on something else.

Sometimes I manage to fight anger quite well, but often this feeling turns into a strong sadness. What does that mean?

Lama Ole’s answer:

It is a sign that you have strong purifications. You jumped into this with deep interest and full of openness. You walked the way of the Buddha and have seen that there is suffering, that suffering has causes, and that perhaps there is an end to suffering.

You are strongly interested in bringing suffering to an end. And the more energy, openness, and trust you put into the practice, the more challenges will also come up. There can actually be situations where one goes through all kinds of things and thus cannot have much meaningful contact with many people. That is why we have retreats. There you can dump everything on the table without people constantly criticizing. You can silently go through many inner processes. It is best to do this with one’s teacher or in a group retreat. When the difficulty is gone, then one comes out and can be sociable again.

You are gifted and have really understood that the mind cannot be destroyed. Everything difficult that happens—that comes from the inside—is a purification. In these cases, you can be certain of three things: it won’t be too much, you will learn something from it, and you will always get rid of something.

It is important that you say a lot of mantras, a lot of KARMAPA CHENNO, and that you stay focused. You should also think about the emptiness of things: that everything appears, changes, and dissolves again, that things are not as real as you want to make them. The ego also likes to hide in the drama of the purification process. If you meditate, the energy channels will open up, you’ll go through purifications, but then get back to work. Don’t get absorbed with the drama too much.

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!