LOVE STORY My childhood was probably one of the most pleasant and interesting a child could have had during the war years in Europe. I was born into a loving academic family north of Copenhagen [in Denmark] in March 1941 and witnessed my parents work in the Danish resistance, sailing Jews to safety in Sweden. My schooling was mainly in languages and, in 1959, I was deeply inspired by a year spent as an intercultural exchange student in New York and Connecticut. Before entering the University of Copenhagen, to study German and English, I served 16 months in the army and met my future wife, Hannah, for the second time. We'd first met when I was 10 and she was five, and she was unforgettable from the moment I saw her. She was studying French and Spanish. Hannah and I were two parts of a well-functioning totality - male joy and female space. I earned extra cash working for the post office and doing heavy construction work. I also boxed for four years. SPREADING THE WORD The 1960s were a time when, inspired by Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary and many others, the inner horizons became the new space to discover and love. Many friends lost control or actually died. This coincided with our first contact with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - who was impressive but too sweet for our taste - and our honeymoon to Nepal, in 1968. When it came to Buddhism, Hannah and I probably had no choice. If we hadn't been chosen to spread Buddhism to the West, I might have become an English or German teacher, but I really was quite wild and had countless ideas. After three years of training with meditation masters in the Himalayas, we were asked by the 16th Karmapa Lama [Rangjung Rigpe Dorje] to return to the West and see if our friends wanted to learn to meditate. [The events are described in Nydahl's books Entering the Diamond Way and Riding the Tiger]. CAUSE AND EFFECT The biggest misconception about Buddhism is that the Buddha is a god. In fact, what we think, say and do influences our subconscious and also the world around us. It creates the happiness and pain of the future. Up to the moment of our death, we can improve our situation, but, afterwards, what we have thought, said and done becomes our next life. Sceptics should look at the non-dogmatic balance between wisdom and compassion, and try it out step by step. My main teachers are the karmapas and the shamarpa, great Tibetan lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage. We work more with the transformation of desire. The other two old schools, the Nyingmas and Sakyas, work with anger or confusion. The Dalai Lama's Gelugpas are a new school, and mainly work with philosophy. In Tibetan Buddhism, yogis and their realisation are most important and valued, followed by monks and then laypeople. In the Chinese Buddhist tradition, it is the monks who are the most revered. Buddhist monks and nuns safeguard traditional teachings and are indispensable. But the rapid growth of Buddhism in Western cultures today is due to the idealistic activities of laypeople who know the world. MIND MATTER The Diamond Way methods of meditation focus directly on the nature of the mind, which is the same everywhere. Among other things, brain research on Buddhist meditators in several countries shows the presence of masses of theta brainwaves, denoting great and ongoing happiness, and this is my state of mind. In Hong Kong, people are energetic and matter-of-fact. Many are very bright and some have a deeply touching kind of devotion. One can feel the timeless roots of Buddhism, even though visitors are guided the wrong way around the Big Buddha on Lantau Island [one should always circumambulate with one's right shoulder towards a Buddha or stupa]. So far, I have mainly taught English-speaking people in Hong Kong. But in the practices of conscious dying [in Tibetan, phowa], where people meditate and open up their central channel in the body towards the Pure Land of the Buddha of Limitless Light [in Tibetan, opame], the local Chinese who attended my teachings had excellent results. LEADING THE WAY The highlights of my life have been meeting and studying under the 16th Karmapa Lama for 12 years and continuing this work for the 17th Karmapa Lama, Trinley Thaye Dorje. Today, dozens of travelling teachers share in the responsibilities of The Diamond Way Foundation, set up by my late wife and me. My best advice is to think of others first. Lama Ole Nydahl is giving talks on the Buddha's highest teachings today at 10am and 3pm at Bradbury School, 43C Stubbs Road. See www.buddhism.hk .