Interpreting the Diamond Way: Contemporary Convert Buddhism in Transition


  • Burkhard Scherer Canterbury Christ Church University



This paper addresses the broader issues of continuity and change during the transition of Tibetan Buddhism from Asia to the West. It looks at the Diamond Way, a contemporary Karma bKa' brgyud lay movement founded by the Danish lay teacher Ole Nydahl. The paper aims to open this area of study by employing a balanced approach between a hermeneutics of suspicion and a hermeneutics of trust, and by adding the historical-critical approach of Tibetan Buddhist Studies to the perspectives of sociology and cultural anthropology. Acknowledging Nydahl as both a charismatic and controversial figure within contemporary Buddhism, the discussion focuses on notions of lay and yogi Buddhism in the Diamond Way and on the question of westernization in Diamond Way practices. The paper concludes by raising questions about the future, continuity and change of Nydahl's heritage after his death.

Author Biography

Burkhard Scherer, Canterbury Christ Church University

Department of Theology and Religious Studies


How to Cite

Scherer, Burkhard. 2015. “Interpreting the Diamond Way: Contemporary Convert Buddhism in Transition”. Journal of Global Buddhism 10 (February):17-48.



Research Articles