Lama Ole Nydahl’s visit to the UK, September 2010

Lama Ole Nydahl teaching in London, September 2010

Lama Ole Nydahl teaching in London, September 2010

On Monday, 20 September 2010, Lama Ole Nydahl arrived in the UK by coach on his annual “channel tour” accompanied by 50 students who were travelling together with him for his teaching programme in the “channel countries” – i.e. those bordering the English Channel – France, the Netherlands, Belgium, England (and Ireland, which in 2008 was incorporated into the English Channel for the purpose of the tour!). After the ferry arrived in Dover, the coach drove to Brighton, where Lama Ole was scheduled to give a lecture entitled “Buddhism in the West” at the extremely popular local venue Komedia, which fortunately were happy to host an event somewhat different to their regular programme (click on thumbnails below to enlarge).

Lama Ole Nydahl teaching at Brighton Komedia, September 2010Lama Ole Nydahl teaching at Brighton Komedia, September 2010Lama Ole Nydahl teaching at Brighton Komedia, September 2010

This was the very first time that Lama Ole had come to Brighton, and hosting his lecture there was the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication by the local sangha in establishing an authentic Buddhist offer in Brighton. Earlier in 2010 they celebrated the opening of their new premises. The event was publicised in the local newspaper, the Brighton Argus, and the hall was packed to capacity with Brightonians and many friends from London and elsewhere in the UK. Lama Ole gave an introductory lecture, followed by the usual Q&A and meditation. The following morning Lama Ole visited the premises of the new Brighton Buddhist Centre where he blessed the meditation room together with the Brighton sangha. Afterwards, Lama Ole set off with the channel tour coach for London.

Lama Ole performing a Buddhist marriage blessing in London Sept 2010

Lama Ole performing a Buddhist marriage blessing in London Sept 2010

Lama Ole’s time in London was put to good use. He arrived in the early afternoon on the channel tour bus and was whisked off for two hours of filming for the documentary project about the life of Hannah Nydahl. Following this, he came to our London Buddhist Centre where a couple from the local sangha were to receive a Buddhist marriage blessing. This was preceded by a short teaching about love and partnership from a Buddhist perspective for the assembled guests.

After a meal together with several friends from some of our Buddhist groups outside London, Lama Ole was taken to Senate House where his official teaching programme began with a lecture entitled “Limitless Freedom and Joy – an introduction to Diamond Way Buddhism”. The lecture took place in the prestigious Beveridge Hall, where Sir Winston Churchill, a hero of Lama Ole who he refers to as “the world’s last statesman” received his honorary degree from the University of London in 1947. 500 students, friends and newcomers attended the talk, and many stayed after the Q&A and meditation to receive Buddhist refuge and a blessing. After the lecture a large group of friends joined Lama Ole and his travelling group to socialise and enjoy a pint of quality English ale together in a nearby public house much loved by the London sangha.

Lama Japma Thaye with Lama Ole in the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre

Lama Japma Thaye with Lama Ole in the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre

The next day, Lama Ole’s dear friends Lama Jampa Thaye and his wife Dechen Dolma joined him for a late lunch at the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre where they had a chance to catch up and exchange on a range of subjects concerning developments in Buddhism in the West.

In recent years many children were born to members of the UK sangha, so after lunch, parents were invited to bring their kids to the centre to receive a blessing.

Then, between 4 and 6pm, a large meeting was held back in the Beveridge Hall where the core London sangha as well as representatives from all of our centres and groups in the UK came together to ask questions and seek advice from Lama Ole on a range of important themes. First there was an exciting update on the status of the new London Buddhist Centre project, and Lama Ole spoke about the broad historical background and the importance of London as an example for the world. He spoke about the wishes in the 1970s of Kalu Rinpoche and the 16th Karmapa for a big Kagyu centre in London, then the years where Hannah and Lama Ole’s work focussed on Central Europe while the UK and France were mainly involved with monastic Buddhism, then about the time from when he met Steven James and gave the first Phowa course in the UK, up to the present. Lama Ole then answered many key questions concerning the direction of the project. Other questions focussed on the broader context in the UK in which Diamond Way Buddhism has established itself, as well as some concerning the functioning of our centres, and about internationality in our UK sangha (click on thumbnails below to enlarge).

Sangha meeting in the Beveridge HallSangha meeting in the Beveridge HallSangha meeting in the Beveridge Hall

After a break back at the London Centre, Lama Ole returned to Senate House for his second lecture, again to a hall packed to capacity. First, as sceduled, he taught about death and rebirth from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, and his own extensive experience of transmitting the practice of Phowa or “transference of consciousness at the moment of death”. Following this, Lama Ole gave the pith instructions directly pointing out the nature of mind, according to the famous “Ganges Mahamudra” verses by the Indian forefather of the Kagyu lineage, Tilopa (988–1069). Afterwards there were many questions and answers. (click on thumbnails below to enlarge).

Queuing to get into the Beveridge HallLama Ole Nydahl teaching at Senate House September 2010Attentive students at Lama Ole's teachings in London

This previously unannounced part of the programme was a spontaneous decision taken by Lama Ole while in Brighton, having recently started to use it during teachings in the Balkan tour, Germany and the day before in Brussels. The fine new English translation that Lama Ole used was by Ken McLeod, a close student of Kalu Rinpoche and old friend of Hannah and Lama Ole from the 1970s. All who had the good fortune to attend this event were deeply touched and inspired by these precious teachings.

Lama Ole meeting students in London September 2010

Lama Ole meeting students in London September 2010

Finally, after everyone received a blessing, Lama Ole left the hall at 1am and returned to the London centre for a few short hours of sleep. Then at 5am, in typically jovial mood, he climbed back onto the channel tour bus for Dublin, the place of his next lecture that evening, waved off by the bleary-eyed but happy London Centre residents. The visit was a fantastic success and we’re already looking forward to an exciting programme of events next year. Watch this space and keep posted!

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3 Responses to “Lama Ole Nydahl’s visit to the UK, September 2010”

  1. Great time spent with the lama!!!

    Please, if anyone has more pictures of the first day in London, could you please post a link??

    Thank you!! :D

  2. Mary Anne says:

    Emaho! Thanks for a fine report.

  3. Verónica Álvarez says:

    I wish I was there!!

    What an amazing event!!

    Love you so much London sangha!!!!!


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