Thursday, June 7, 2012

Diamond Way Buddhist Centers - Clear Lake and Houston

This is one in a series of "Profile" posts in which different local Buddhist groups and Temples will be described so that seekers will understand fully in advance what to expect should they decide to visit.
UPDATED April 4, 2013 to reflect new center location.

The Diamond Way Buddhism - Clear Lake Center is located in the Clear Lake area at 417 E. NASA Parkway.

Grab from Googlemaps.
The Clear Lake group has also recently started both a Facebook page and a Meetup page
Its sister facility, Diamond Way Buddhism - Houston Center, is located near the Heights.
Location of Diamond Way Houston
3502 Oak Forest Dr. Houston, TX  77018
As of the date of this blog post, there was also a complete page pertaining to a third local group reportedly affiliated with the University of Houston, but corresponding references to that group do not appear on Diamond Way root pages, and so this group's current activity status is uncertain.
Screengrabbed from:
Diamond Way is a lay organization within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.  It is currently led by Danish man named Ole Nydahl, and by Trinley Thaye Dorje, one of the two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa.  There are approximately 600 Diamond Way Centers world wide.
A screengrabbed image of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, predecessor to the 17th Karmapa.
The Clear Lake center currently engages in several practices, as follows:
  • Group meditations are held each Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m.  These typically commence with a ten-minute talk followed by a guided (as opposed to silent) meditation on the 16th Karmapa (the current version of this does not appear to be available online, but a recent previous version can be found at this Wayback site, which includes Ole Nydahl reciting the meditation).  The guided meditation is followed by the singing of a Tibetan language hymn referred to as "Invocation Black Coat", which does not appear to be available online.  The group atmosphere before and after the meditation is relaxed and social, moreso than what is encountered in many more formal Temple settings.
  • On Sundays starting at 9:00 a.m., the group engages in Ngondro practice (further general information on this topic here).
  • Additionally, the Clear Lake Center coordinates with other centers for special events including those conducted by "Traveling Teachers" (trained lay support personnel sometimes referred to as "circuit riders" by other religious groups).  Further information can be found in the Calendar section of the Center's website (bottom of their homepage). 
Moderator's Viewpoints.  Seekers who choose to review available Diamond Way information on the internet will undoubtedly encounter a variety of different viewpoints regarding this group.  An evaluation of the relative merits of these viewpoints and of Diamond Way itself are outside the scope of this blog post and beyond the expertise of this blogger.  However, a few general points and references are potentially worth noting:

(1)  New seekers may wish to become generally familiar with Tantric Buddhism prior to participating in the activities of any Vajrayana group, whether Diamond Way or other lineage of similar derivation.  The use of intense visualizations and sounds and the intent of lowering interpersonal barriers to identification have little parallel in mainstream American culture, and are not stylistically comparable to the type of silent meditation engaged in by other Buddhist schools (e.g., Zen or Theravada).  Some people are not comfortable with these practices, whereas others gravitate toward the increased meditation structure furnished by the guiding process.   Listening to the Karmapa meditation on the Wayback site introduces these ideas, and can help you to determine whether this approach to Buddhism might be right for you. 

(2)  It is clear from the accusations of cult-like associations (e.g., here and here), allegations of disclosure improprieties (e.g., Wikileaks), as well as his pivotal role in events surrounding the Karmapa controversy that Ole Nydahl is a strongly polarizing public figure.

When performing a search of his name, these were the top four auto-complete responses supplied by Google.  Allegedly, Google attempts to infill search strings based on the relative frequency with which other users have recently input the same search parameters.
However, being controversial does not necessarily mean being dishonest or unethical.  One fact apparently disputed by no credible source is that the Nydahls did receive authentic endorsement from the 16th Karmapa to bring the Diamond Way teachings to the West.

This research paper explores the group further, but unfortunately, it seems to raise more questions than it answers. 

The paraphrased words of the Buddha are as relevant to each individual seeker's examination of Nydahl's Diamond Way Buddhism as they are for every other aspect of life:

Don't take anyone else's word for anything.  See for yourself. 

Courtesy of 

1 comment:

  1. I recently sent out a couple of requests asking that anyone with additional third-party assessments of Diamond Way provide me with that info, especially if the references involve formal scholarly works (e.g., university research).

    Here below is one link that I received. It doesn't go into much detail regarding Diamond Way itself, but does provide a bit of perspective on their position in the Danish landscape of Buddhism.