If parents separate, which parent should the children stay with?

Lama Ole’s answer:

When taking a human rebirth, a person will be female if the karmic bond is stronger with the father or male if it is stronger with the mother. That basically means that girls feel more drawn to the father and boys to the mother.

This can change throughout one’s life due to other karmas. I believe that the simplest solution is for the children to live with the parent who has found a new partner with a good connection to the children. This is especially true if one parent doesn’t find a new partner. A family is certainly better than a single parent, unless the bond with that parent is particularly strong.

In most cases, I recommend having an extended family, the way the Nepalese live, for example. In their culture, former partners and their new partners create two families out of one, where the children can maintain a good bond with both parents. In this situation, it is important that the former partners do not feel anger towards one another for being left. Both have to be satisfied when they separate.

Does meditation also help clear up hostile connections with people from our past?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Yes—for example, in the long refuge meditation, you imagine any enemies you have next to yourself. They also join in and receive the blessing of the practice. And that really works. I remember when Hannah and I went to Nepal in 1969/70, I had had a lot of fistfights in the past. I hadn’t seriously hurt anybody, but there were a few people who really wanted to settle the score—and they were ready to get together to do that, too.

While we were away for a few years learning to meditate and doing the foundational practices, I just put them beside me during the meditation. And when Hannah and I came back, they were waiting at the airport and greeted us like old friends. At some point, the whole power-field had changed. Meditating on buddhas is very powerful.

It’s like this: a hook can’t catch a ball; it can only catch a ring. If there is no openness from the other person, then nothing happens. But if there is a ring, if the person you have difficulties with is open to you, then something can be caught and the connection will improve.

Why does the unenlightened mind always seek out a body again?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Our actions, thoughts, and words from former lives—our karma—work like a kind of glue, like something that makes things crystallize out of the possibilities of space. We then find parents when they make love—we tether ourselves to the fertilized egg and are born. And what binds us here is cause and effect and our ignorance in thinking that we are limited. We are bound here because the conditions are there, because a hook and a ring came together, because we aren’t able to see mind as clear light but instead identify with the body.

If we think we are our body, we are deluding ourselves. Rather, we have a body. The body is something through which we can work, but our true nature is clear light. As long as this is not recognized, we believe that we are our body and experience old age, sickness, death, and all the difficulties that go along with these concepts. Buddha shows us the experience that we really are clear light. This is the goal. The body is our tool to use for the benefit of all—without experiencing ups and downs, without expectations and fears, but simply because it feels so right.

Is it true that an enlightened person is reborn in a human body again and again?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Enlightened beings are reborn only if they wish to be. They have free choice. The bodhisattva Loving Eyes took rebirth multiple times among birds because apparently they are able to learn certain things. And all of space is truth. Wherever an openness for truth arises in us, this truth will manifest in such a way that we can connect with it, learn, and develop.

Is it correct to say that desire must be present for a human rebirth?

And if we don’t transform our feelings of desire, will we still be reborn as human beings?

Lama Ole’s answer: 

That’s basically true as long as we don’t do anything really harmful. If we carry out a lot of negative actions in our lives or if we are very miserly with money, we will very likely be reborn in Africa, South America, or places like that. Likewise, if we have been greedy but also generous, we might be reborn in North America or Europe. But the good places are shrinking while the bad places are growing.

It is smart to learn how to develop ourselves. And the beautiful thing about a Buddhist practice is that we don’t need to change or destroy our desires or attachments. We only have to learn to turn all the energy of our desire around. Right now, this energy is focused on athletic partners, money, and holidays. We just need to direct it towards liberation and enlightenment instead. Desire is a very positive force if one knows how to transform the clinging and limiting attachments into liberating and enlightened desire. The tiger doesn’t have to be put to sleep; you can ride him. You harness the tiger to the front of a plough and steer it in the direction you want to go. In other words, we use the power inherent in the disturbing emotions, even though this may not be so easy.

In some cases, it’s helpful to relax and just avoid the most difficult situations where we usually go through the roof. It’s wise to experience everything as dreamlike. Think, “the emotion wasn’t here five minutes ago, and it will disappear in another five minutes. If I get involved with it now, I’ll only get into trouble.” But the most important thing is to make use of the power while turning it around. This is exactly what a fighter does: he takes his enemy’s power and uses it against him.

Is it possible to think that we are angry with someone for a certain reason, but that the real reason lies in an issue from a former life?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Yes, it is quite possible that in a previous life someone took your partner away or killed you. This could be your karma.

This is actually one of the reasons it is so difficult to stop wars. Many beings kill each other and then meet again in another life in all kinds of countries just to kill each other again and again. The only antidote is that the people in an area become so positive that those with bad karma don’t get born in those countries anymore.