Lama Ole Nydahl in Edinburgh 2000: a recollection

In this post we recollect Lama Ole Nydahl’s first visit to Edinburgh. Martin Dahms, who comments later in the post, was one of the founders of the original Edinburgh Diamond Way Buddhist Group which was active between 2000 and 2003.

Edinburgh Skyline

On Tuesday 28 March 2000, Lama Ole Nydahl gave a talk at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens lecture theatre, entitled “Basis, Way and Goal in Diamond Way Buddhism”. The talk was an introduction to Diamond Way Buddhism, in which Lama Ole pointed to the Buddha nature as the basis for our development, gave an overview of the methods the Buddha taught to remove the veils which prevent us from experiencing this potential, and explained how the goal – enlightenment – is the full development of mind’s inherent qualities. The lecture was attended by several friends who travelled from London, elsewhere in the UK and abroad, as well as many locals, including inquisitive members of what Lama Ole wryly described in his lecture as a nearby “Presbyterian Buddhist Centre”!

Once the lecture, Q&A, meditation and blessing were over, there was time to socialise. After enjoying a couple of pints in a local pub with Lama Ole, Hannah and a group of about 20 friends, the group retired to Martin’s place on Doune Terrace. Lama Ole and Hannah went on to Royal Park Terrace to Friedhart’s (the other founding member) house where the Edinburgh Group used to hold their regular public meditations, to get some much-needed rest.

The house on Royal Park Terrace was right at the base of Holyrood Park, a wild piece of highland landscape in the centre of the city of Edinburgh, about a mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 251 m (820 ft), and provides breathtaking views of the city. The main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park is called Arthur’s Seat, and the views from there are unmatched anywhere else in Edinburgh.

Panoramic view from Arthur's Seat (click on image for full-screen view)

Martin Dahms recounts:

“The next day we went up Arthur’s seat. What I can remember on top of the mountain was that Lama Ole looked over the town and said something like “all these people are running here and there and are trying to be happy, and it’s our job to show them how” and that we have to take care that Diamond Way Buddhism does not disappear from the world because that would mean that a breathing hole out of Samsara would be lost. I’m not sure about the exact words anymore, but the message is still clear. Then together with Lama Ole and Hannah we invoked the protectors of the Karma Kagyu Lineage.

Before Lama Ole left I asked him for a blessing because at that time I used to get a lot of really sore throat infections. He advised me to focus on the red light during the 16th Karmapa Meditation in particular, and then he blessed me. When we were leaving for the airport with the travelling group’s luggage, Anthony from London was sitting next to me in the car. As my car was a left-hand drive and there was a bend in the street that I couldn’t really look into, I had to rely on him to tell me when to pull out. Somehow we managed to get out of the parking space exactly at the time when a van was trying to get past with quite some speed. The van hit us in the right wing and put us right back in our space on the left where we came from. It was quite interesting I thought, because a week before I had read in a book how to hit a car to get it out your way and it all happened exactly as described in the book. Anyway, everyone got out of the car and while Caty and Hannah were saying “oh, we’re really sorry about that” (which I didn’t feel like at all), Lama Ole just walked around the car, briefly asked if I had insurance (which I had) and then came towards me and said “…and the thing with the throat will be over soon as well now” – and of course, it was.”

Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl

While the original Edinburgh group dissolved in 2003 after its founding members moved away, the blessing from the top of Arthur’s seat remained present in space and a few years later an idealistic new group appeared which is active today.

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