Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way: Legitimate or cult?

‘Diamond Way’ is a group claiming to follow the Karma Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It has a long history of controversy since it’s founding in 1972 by Ole Nydahl, a Danish man. Ole Nydahl (known as Lama Ole by followers) was travelling in India and Nepal, and smuggling drugs back home to Denmark when he met the 16th Karmapa. On his return to Denmark, he was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for drug smuggling. After his release, he founded the ‘Diamond Way’ group.

Ole Nydahl with an automatic rifle.

His use of the term Lama and encouragement for this followers to do the same is also controversial. Tibetan Lamas have to do a minimum of 3 year’s retreat before being allowed to use the title. Ole Nydahl has done no such retreat or training. Nydahl himself is also a highly controversial figure. There has long been accusations that he has had sex with his female followers. When confronted about this, he replied “There’s no teacher-student relationship involved in that. They’re Diamond Way Buddhists, but they’re not my students in that moment. They’re equal partners.”

His political views are also controversial. He has long been a vocal critic of Islam, and frequently makes disparaging comments about black Africans. Former members have complained of death threats and smear campaigns since leaving, and also referred to the group as a cult.

We tried to contact Diamond Way centres in the UK, but there was no response.

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2 responses to “Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way: Legitimate or cult?

  • kim

    i have also been to a few meetings with the members. Not only do they not radiate the pure compassion and pure vibes of people who are as enlightened or practised as they claim to be, they are also spiritually arrogant and obsessive. they berate all the other buddhist schools and tradition, esp the theravadas. They behave like a cult as their partners are all from the group and they seem to change around too. I have decided i am not comfortable with the vibes they send off nor do i aspire to be like them. They are no doubt nice, and very charismatic. just like all the different sects of christianity too. The worse thing of all is they endorse drinking alcohol and do it regularly there affter meditation and claim its good for you and openly state that their brand of buddhism is not against drinking. As far as i am aware, there was only one Shakyamuni buddha who clearly stated the fifth precept is to abstain from intoxicants. Its not a commandment but is a precept, if you cant follow it, dont promote it and negate it using the words of buddha, and much less call yourself a superior ‘sect’ of buddhism using buddha’s name as a cover up. You are an unorthodox sect, not the new word of the new buddha or something funky like that. NO matter what buddhist tradition u belong to, the original words and teachings of the Buddha is the same essence.

  • Tim

    I have had experience with a Diamond Way teacher. He runs one of their centers (at least he claims too and is registered as such) I am not Buddhist or religious in any way but had business with him. Serious crackpot. At times I wondered if he had mild Down syndrome. He would take things I said and later on present them to me as his ideas. Like a puppy looking for a home. He was lazy and came from family money. His Diamond Way status was bought I am sure as I heard a few stories suggesting he was forking over pretty good to Old Ole. I also heard about their hard drinking on the road. Which struck me as odd. After having enough of this guy’s strange and quite often double crossing behaviour I severed all ties and he became like a girlfriend who couldn’t accept the breakup. Very conniving, deceitful, and completely untrustworthy. Reality is simply not a place this man lives. Also very arrogant. Seemed to think he was superior and enlightened yet this guy never once presented an original idea, took little to no action in his business pursuits and contradicted himself all the time. Had to really watch my back and in the end the knives were being thrown at it like crazy. Thankfully I saw it coming and was prepared. I am not educated in Buddhism but this guy didn’t seem to have his own identity let alone be “enlightened”. Rather aggressive and deceitful really. He is a teacher? Wow … no thanks. He would send me youtube links about Ole too and I saw nothing I liked. Rambling cult like guy is my opinion. I have known guys with that look in their eye. Organized crime guys have that same glint. Seemed to me the guy was surrounded by sycophants which this guy I dealt with was most certainly one of. Not a balanced individual that’s for sure. An emotional infant is my take.

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