An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby practitioner » Fri May 11, 2012 4:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:And if it was written by a critic of DW does that mean it also would fail the test of objectivity?


Yes, that is why i think Religious Studies that try to pass as purely academic are inherently flawed. Take a look at Christianity for example, there are an army of believers with PhD's out there trying to prove every event in the Bible calling it "research" and an equal number who think its all BS trying to disprove every event in the Bible. But both sides already have their minds made up. Of course religions isn't the only field with these problems but the nature of religion and people feelings about it makes it exceptionally hard for anyone to be objective.

The author of the paper clearly has an agenda to improve the light that Ole Nydahl is seen in, and like wise Nydahl's critics have an agenda as well. It is certainly something worthy of discussion, I just don't think that discussion can really be called "academic".
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Fri May 11, 2012 4:20 pm

I'm not saying that the article is flawed because the author is a student of Nydahl's. If this appeared to be my thesis to any of you I apologize for the misunderstanding. In order to judge if the article is objective or not, of course one needs to investigate the article itself and analyze the arguments and theses proposed in it.

The propositional content of a thesis and the intentions with which the author proposes this thesis are two different facts which have to be judged independently of each other - but of course there can be relations between both layers of discourse. In this case I believe it is all too obvious that the author is biased because he is an Ole Nydahl student. Nevertheless, of course, the claim that his article is pseudo-objective needs to be supported by arguments. Funny enough, this distinction between the rational content of a criticism and the intentions of the person uttering it leads us directly to the flaw of the article.

I was a student of Ole Nydahl's for a while in the late nineties, and one of the very many critical points that made me change my mind and turn away from him was the way he handles criticism. He almost never addresses the rational content of a criticism, instead he just insinuates that the criticism is uttered because the person criticising him has negative intentions. Like being impoisoned by pride, hatred, jealousy etc. Or, if the criticism comes from people on the "other side" of the Karmapa affair, he just insinuates that the motive behind the criticism is just that they are attacking him for political reasons. But I cannot remember that he ever addressed the rational content of the criticisms he was confronted with.

To give you an example, in the mid-nineties there was a big scandal in the Vienna center, because the founders of that center split from (or is it with?) the Ole students. The founders are studied Tibetologists who follow a rather traditional approach and saw themselves primarily as students of the Tibetan teachers, namely of Khenpo Chodrak. They had a big fight with the Ole students, both sides sueing each other to whom the furnishing and all the statues of the center belonged etc. From the side of the traditionalists there were lots of well founded rational reasons why they couldn't go with the Ole students any more. One of the most important reasons was that the Ole students were trying to forbid them to do Tibetan Pujas in the temple. (At that time Ole had literally banned all Tibetan Pujas from his centers and only allowed his translated meditations in his centers.) When Ole adressed this conflict in his public talks, all he said about it was that the founders of that center are intellectuals and as such they are very proud and narrow minded, and because of their pride they had turned against him. He didn't address the rational content of their criticism with one single word. And this is how he normally addresses criticism.

This way of handling criticism is a widespread pattern both in Ole Nydahl's behaviour as well as in his students behaviour, and alltogether it creates a certain cultish athmosphere in his centers, because as soon as you ask a critical question people respond by saying things like "Oh, you are very proud, you should do more prostrations" or "you only say that because of anger you should do more Dorje Sempa practice".

Now coming back to the topic of this thread and to my accusation that the author is pseudo-objective, let's take a look at this passage:

It is surprising to realize how little academic research has been done on a worldwide organization whose adherents form the largest number of convert Buddhists in many European countries and possibly the largest convert Buddhist movement in the whole of Europe and South America. This lack of research might partly be due to the fact that the Diamond Way is still of rather negligible relevance in France and the Anglo-Saxon world. Another factor is the academic bias, especially in current North-American Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, whose scholars/practitioners overwhelmingly come from the dGe lugs school or the more vocal other side of the divided Karma bKa' brgyud community. They are supported by large and influential Buddhist publishing houses such as the dGe lugs-associated Wisdom and Snow Lion and institutions such as the Tsadra Foundation. In the controversy about the recognition of the Seventeenth Karma pa hierarch, this group favors one-sidedly the Si tu pa candidate, Urgyen Trinley (O rgyan 'phrin las), who is recognized by the surprising alliance of the Chinese occupants of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The supporters of this candidate try to monopolize the academic and public discourse by attacking or ignoring Thaye Dorje (mTha' yas rdo rje), the candidate supported by Nydahl and his Diamond Way; Thaye Dorje wasrecognized by the "Red Hat Karma pa," the Fourteenth Zhwa dmar pa hierarch.


This passage and the entire article reflects exactly this pattern of thinking that Ole Nydahl applies when he is responsing to criticism: instead of addressing the rational points of the critique brought forward he insinuates the critic has negative intentions, or even worse: belongs to the "other side".

This pattern of thinking is on the verge of paranoia, but certainly it is a form of denying reality.

If Scherer really wanted to know why the academic community ignores Ole Nydahl and his teachings, he could research what the criticisms are. There was an over 100 pages thread at eSangha (I pretty much sense that this thread is going to become very long as well), there still is an over 100 pages thread at the cult watch forum at rickross.com, there are numerous critical articles on the web by observers belonging to the christian churches. And last not least: having studied Tibetology (?) or comparative religious sciences or whatever, Scherer could have simply asked his academic teachers what their criticism is. And even if now Scherer is maybe bound to have a pure view of his teacher he should have done so before he decided to see Ole as his Guru.

There are so many points about Ole Nydahl's teachings which are criticised over and over again that refuting them from an academic point of view (if that would be possible at all) would fill volumes. But instead of adressing the critique on a rational level Scherer trivializes it: people may have a problem with Ole's biography, the drugs and the women, but well, the drug stuff is history, his womanizing is a from of Crazy Wisdom and his political views about Islam are his private opinion. And yes, at least he's honest about it. And besides the academic community is ignoring Ole Nydahl because they are against his Karmapa.

On this background the whole "hermeneutic of trust" vs. "hermeneutic of suspicion" thing appears to me like an attempt to intellectually sublimate Oles style of handling (or rather manhandling) criticism: instead of dealing with the rational content he insinuates negative intentions. So, even if I haven't yet read it with the scrutiny with wich I normally read academic articles, the baseline of Scherers thesis seems to be: whoever criticises Ole is doing so from the perspective of a hermeneutics of suspicion, so let's just ignore it.

If I have overread a passage where Scherer actually rationally adresses a criticism of Nydahl's teachings - please let me know.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri May 11, 2012 4:43 pm

practitioner wrote:The author of the paper clearly has an agenda to improve the light that Ole Nydahl is seen in, and like wise Nydahl's critics have an agenda as well.
While this is true to an extent I think it makes the mistake of nullifying the validity of any attempt to present a subject objectively. Take the post by R'n'R (an excellent analysis by the way), one can just (try to) invalidate the entire content of their post by saying that R'n'R, being a former student of DW, cannot be subjective and thus their analysis is invalid. Like I said before, pure objectivity is a myth. What one can do is carfully read any account and try to decipher fact from opinion. For example: I believe that it is a fact that most supporters of the Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje would have a less than positive opinion of DW. This does not contradict the fact that may supporters of the Karmapa Thaye Trinley Dorje also have a less than positive opinion of DW. What I would then do, trying to be objective, is look at the commonalities and differences of why they have a less then... and that way find the shared subjective opinions, which would be the closest I could get to the objective reasons.

The same goes for the reasons people support DW, based on the entire spectrum of opinion.

That is why I used the article to kick off this thread. I did not know that the author was a student of DW, not that there is something wrong with that per se.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 10:48 am

Yes. You forget that Nydhal started DW with the blessing of the 16th Karmapa.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun May 13, 2012 10:52 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Yes. You forget that Nydhal started DW with the blessing of the 16th Karmapa.


Sorry not following you there?
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 11:24 am

A picture speaks a thousand words.

Ole and 16th Karmapa.jpg
Ole and 16th Karmapa.jpg (154.16 KiB) Viewed 543 times
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Stewart » Sun May 13, 2012 11:27 am

Yeah to be fair lots of controversial 'teachers' started with the encouragement of authentic masters....'Geshe' Kelsang, Michael Roache, Ngakchang 'Rinpoche'...to name three, but that doesn't mean they are still operating or behaving in a way consistent with what they were originally given encouragement to do...people get a little position and power, then start changing things....continually citing their pedigree to justify their actions.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 11:31 am

You won't see me disagreeing with what you are saying BUT it is completely wrong to hang the ENTIRE phenomenon of DW on the Karmapa "issue". There is a lot more being played out here. As for the issue of controversy, there are many instances of official teachers within the official boundaries of lineages that engage in extraordinarily controversial behaviour and statements too, right?
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Stewart » Sun May 13, 2012 11:35 am

Well. at least that photo proves they were once in a room at the same time as the 16th Karmapa...case closed!

But seriously I can give you photos of me with at least half a dozen well known Lamas, Karmapa UTD, Tai Situpa among them....does that mean I'm a lineage holder too?! No, it means I was near them at some point...... with a camera.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Kelwin » Sun May 13, 2012 11:44 am

samdrup wrote:Well. at least that photo proves they were once in a room at the same time as the 16th Karmapa...case closed!

But seriously I can give you photos of me with at least half a dozen well known Lamas, Karmapa UTD, Tai Situpa among them....does that mean I'm a lineage holder too?! No, it means I was near them at some point...... with a camera.

Lama Ole Nydahl was the 16th Karmapa's close student for many years, stayed with him in the East for a long time, took him on tour around the West, received many teachings and mind instructions from him, got personal instructions on how to start centers in Europe and what practices to give, etc etc. He got his full blessing.

This thread is getting ridiculous.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun May 13, 2012 12:08 pm

samdrup wrote:The tour you are referring to was facilitated and organized by Akong Rinpoche, a Lama who Ole and his students have steadily criticised and slandered over the years...for no other reason than AR's close relationship with the Karmapa.


Yes indeed, I remember reading in "Rogues in Robes" by Ole's student Tomek Lehnert that Ole had stated that he would have liked to get Akong Ronpoche alone in a room for five minutes with no witnesses (I think that's pretty faithful to the text - I haven't seen my copy for about 10 years - maybe someone can back me up on that). Nice guy! Very commited to non-violence. That book, and that line in particular, helped me realize what nasty piece of work Ole is.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Stewart » Sun May 13, 2012 12:13 pm

I totally forgot about that book! It's full of hateful bile.

I read it years ago and was pretty shocked at some of the stuff in it.

DW people, please don't say it wasn't written by Ole, it was certainly sanctioned by him.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 1:19 pm

So, let's see if I am getting this right: what people are saying is that Nydahl was NOT a personal student of the 16th Karmapa? I have read quotes by Erik D. Curren (who seems to be a strong critic of Nydahl and wrote the book - Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering the Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today in 2008) that state the contrary. I can understand why Nydahl would lie in order to gain kudos hrough association with the 16th Karmapa but why would a critic of his lie as well? It doen't make any sense.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Stewart » Sun May 13, 2012 1:33 pm

I'm certainly not saying that he wasn't a close student...but I'm not sure the 16th Karmapa encouraged him to set himself up as a lineage holder who slanders authentic Lineage Lamas, sleep with his students and generally draw a lot of negative attention to himself. Do you?

I know many students of the 16th Karmapa, one of whom spent many years with him, and he is nothing like Ole, he teaches, travels and translates. He is well respected, and has published many books and papers. No controversy whatsoever. Basically he stuck to what he was told.

My personal feeling (I have no documentary evidence before I am asked) is that he is a bit of an embarrassment to Shamar and TTD, but he is quite capable of turning both himself and his organization against someone if riled. The Shamar/TTD camp doesn't need that.

I think the case is that Ole has exaggerated and exploited his worth and history in recent Kagyu history.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun May 13, 2012 1:35 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:So, let's see if I am getting this right: what people are saying is that Nydahl was NOT a personal student of the 16th Karmapa? I have read quotes by Erik D. Curren (who seems to be a strong critic of Nydahl and wrote the book - Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering the Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today in 2008) that state the contrary. I can understand why Nydahl would lie in order to gain kudos hrough association with the 16th Karmapa but why would a critic of his lie as well? It doen't make any sense.
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That's not why I understand from the foregoing. More, simply, that he was not as close to the Karmapa as he liked to let on. I've never read Curren's book. In what way does it criticize Ole?
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 2:31 pm

Oooopsss... I assumed it was critical of Ole Nydahl, after spending some time reading Buddhas not Smiling, I can see that it is quite the opposite.

Sorry, my mistake! :roll:

If people are interested in reading it the book can be found here http://www.american-buddha.com/cult.bud ... ng.toc.htm
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 13, 2012 2:34 pm

samdrup wrote:I'm certainly not saying that he wasn't a close student...but I'm not sure the 16th Karmapa encouraged him to set himself up as a lineage holder who slanders authentic Lineage Lamas, sleep with his students and generally draw a lot of negative attention to himself. Do you?
Somebody else described Nydahl in the following way: the 16th karmapa gave him the ball and told him to run and that's what Ole did, only unfortunately he left the field, and even the stadium.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Kelwin » Sun May 13, 2012 3:40 pm

samdrup wrote:Kelwin you buy into Oles 'thing'...I don't, let's leave it there.

Actually I don't completely buy into it Samdrup! I'm certainly very skeptical about many aspects of him and the Diamondway. In fact, that's why I left, years ago. However, I prefer to keep the accusations a bit rational. The great effort to put him down sometimes seems a bit strange to me. He's a mix of good and bad.

Besides all the attacks on him as a person, and his unconventional behaviour, what do we think about his teachings? This is an honest question here. Do we find anything in his teachings which is not Buddhism?
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun May 13, 2012 3:44 pm

Kelwin wrote:
Besides all the attacks on him as a person, and his unconventional behaviour, what do we think about his teachings? This is an honest question here. Do we find anything in his teachings which is not Buddhism?


Well Shamar certainly did a couple of years ago. BTW, what do you think about Ole wanting to beat up on Akong Rinpoche as reported in "Rogues in Robes". Is it really defensible for a Dharma teacher to speak like that?

You cannot separate a teacher from his conduct. If he can't walk the talk, he is a hypocrite at the very least.
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Re: An interesting academic analysis of Diamond Way

Postby Stewart » Sun May 13, 2012 3:47 pm

Right, so by that reasoning if someone has the outward appearance of a pure Buddhist teacher, but privately is rotten to the core, then that's okay is it?
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