Join Lama Surya Das – Recognizing our collective interdependence.

Buddhist thought and practice has always emphasized nonviolence, especially protecting and cherishing of all forms of life. This is based on the interwoven interdependence of all things–all of us, and all creatures great and small. Today we celebrate Earth Day, and I ask you: What may inspire, motivate and sustain your feelings of connection and universal responsibility, intentional altruistic actions, and the recognition that we must move from me to we if we are to survive and flourish on this endangered planet?
I find it by going mindfully outside, interbeing with the beauty and richness of nature, and observing directly the inseparable unity of doing and being in moments of inter-meditation, co-meditating with water, sky, wind and trees; and thru the inseparable unity of contemplation and action, faith and deeds, on the path of awakened living.
Recognizing our interconnectedness and collective interdependence allows us to appreciate, respect and accept our undeniable responsibility to protect all the flora and fauna of this earth, and all the habitats, oceans and rivers too. Unfortunately, we seem unable to recognize the interdependence of all.
A sage said: “The light by which we see is the one by which we are seen.” You can see this at many levels, human and divine. We do need genuine change and transformation, each and all of us. And our broken social systems also need transformation. I know now that we can’t just ask what needs changing without sincerely striving to know and transform ourselves.
The future begins now, starting with one step. It’s time to open our wisdom eye and good heart, and grok this world, clear and open. Considering trends, problems, challenges and opportunities we face, I believe we must ask ourselves and each other: “What can we do to contribute to a better world and planet? What can we do individually and collectively toward alleviating suffering and edifying and awakening the world through our noble-hearted and compassionate, all-inclusive bodhichitta (innate enlightened mind), thru love in action, for the benefit of one and all?
As a tantric Tibetan song of enlightenment goes:
“The whole universe is my body, all beings my heart & mind.”
With Love and blessings,
Lama Surya Das

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Look at ourselves

Let’s really look into ourselves, for once, candidly and unstintingly. What are we seeking? What are we missing, if anything? What do we want? Let’s put it very crassly. Not just what do we “aspire to,” but what the hell do we really want? And then try to go for that. Even if it’s just money or a new car or love interest. Because then when we have that, we might still find that we want more. Then we must go on and look deeper until we find what is really satisfying, fulfilling, and leads to long term contentment. But if we are afraid to reach out, afraid to ask, to want or take anything for ourselves; if we pretend we don’t want anything; if we deny all our impulses, desires, hopes, wishes and needs, then we don’t get anywhere. We take all the passion and energy, drive and juice out of our path.

So I ask you: Ask yourself what you are really seeking and want, your greatest desire? Also, what are you afraid of? What is holding you back? What is your greatest fear, and would you be willing to face it? I assure you that fear is already motivating and conditioning you, unconsciously or obviously. The Dharma is the end of all desire. Not the end of passion, but the end of craving and grasping at desire in unhealthy ways. Spiritual freedom and autonomy brings liberation and the immense untapped raw energy that awaits us just below the surface of desire and passion.

I take refuge in awareness and reality-testing, and awaken warm and empathic compassion in recognizing others in similar situations. Fearlessly seek what we are after, and penetrate deeply. We can’t control our conditioning and karma, but we can learn how to be more skillful with them, and ultimately how to be accepting and one with them as well as free of their unhappy effects.

With love & blessings,
Lama Surya Das

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Full Day Workshop

Hosted by Lama Surya Das
Hosted by Lama Surya Das

Join Lama Surya for a full day workshop focusing on Dzogchen: View, Meditation & Action… Awakening Wisdom, Compassion and Resilience for the 21st Century.

In a series of experiential (practical) as well as teaching sessions, the American Lama will share with us his insights and guidance in meditation practice, chanting and prayer, self-inquiry, and what he calls “The Art and Practice of Presencing and Radiant Nowness-awareness” as part of his Dharma teaching (Dharma=insightful wisdom, truth, spirituality, and that which heals.)

Through the main Dzogchen practice of Trekchod or “Cutting Through/Seeing Through/Skygazing”, this profound and direct practice will be pointed out and unveiled.

All level of students are welcome!

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An American Lama’s Thoughts on Prayer

Happy holydays! May every day be a good one, just being alive as the sun dawns.

Every morning I wake and take a moment to appreciate the lovely view from my bedroom window. And every day, as I take in the stillness and beauty of my little pond and surrounding woods, I wonder: Who made all of this? Wordless gratitude fills my heart and mind, body and soul each day as I begin my morning ritual, and I sense the sacred Presence transcendent over all of us yet immanent in each and every one of us, by whatever name or image-ing.

Where’d it all come from, and where’s it heading? The unspeakable potency of this ancient, timeless mystery instantly makes me feel grateful, standing awe-struck right amidst the miracle and amazing grace of it all. Immediately I feel enveloped in what a Christian mystic once called the cloud of unknowing, and know I don’t really need to know. In this state I sit naturally to meditate, in the very heart of the matter, at home and unalone. This is what I term co-meditation, implying meditating with. All my lineage teachers and gurus are there, all the enlightened ones and spiritual benefactors, the entire invisible array. This co-meditation embodies sublime solitude and sacred silence. You too are invited and welcome to join, any time, any place spirit happens to find you.

Prayer and classical chanted liturgy plays an important role in Tibetan Buddhism, although it was not much emphasized by the Buddha himself 2,600 years ago in his basic mindful awareness-cultivation teachings. Sometimes I like to enjoy indulging my natural, innocent penchant for looking up to someone or something by praying and contemplating in a theistic manner. It makes me happy and fulfills my inner needs and longings, and-momentarily, at least, “All is well and all shall be well in this, the best of all possible worlds.” I’m sure many of my friends and readers can relate to this, one way or another. In fact, most western Buddhists are a lot more theistic in their thoughts and feelings than they might think. I pray in many ways, and not necessarily as my parents did or as I learned in synagogue growing up. Or even as found in sacred books and Scriptures. There are so many ways to kneel and worship, as the good poet-saint Rumi sings. Who can limit this radiant/buoyant spirit? “Attentiveness is the natural prayer of the soul” (Nicolas Malebranche).

Personally, I like to co-meditate with my higher, inner power and sacred source by simply awakening in the Presence. After all, how long does it take to wake up? Only he is truly alive who is truly awake. It feels a little exposed and vulnerable to share the intimate details of my spiritual life, but people have been asking me for years and years; and now that I approach the latter stages of life, perhaps it’s time to get more real and stop hiding my light under a bushel. It could be illumining.

Simply making the resolve to awaken in the Presence invokes That for me. It’s not very complicated. Of course this is quite personal and may not work well for everyone. I’m one man alone before the Ultimate, and that’s my true existential situation.

I have visited, prayed, chanted, bowed and meditated in many, if not most, of the great houses of worship of this evanescent world. I resonate with the idea that a sacred space is one which feels larger inside than outside — for it makes us feel that way, too. In that moment, that experience, is one’s inherited acre of heaven, our backyard nirvana and inner citadel, just as one’s own home is greater than the architectural wonders of the world — or at least should feel so.

The ultimate aim in Buddhism is freedom from delusion and its attendant suffering. The path of awakened enlightenment is one of daily, moment-to-moment spiritual awareness practice, and the compassionate life that is naturally ensured as we find our selves interconnected and interdependent with others and the entire universe. The purpose of Buddhist prayer is to consciously focus our attention, refine our intention and elevate our altruistic enlightenment aspirations, thus awakening our inherent inner capacities of strength, compassion and wisdom — rather than to petition external forces based on fear, idolizing, and worldly and/or heavenly gain. Buddhist prayer is actually a form of contemplation akin to meditation, and a practice of inner reconditioning and deconditioning. Buddhist prayer replaces the negative with the virtuous and orients our hearts and minds, body and soul, energy and spirit toward the blessings and wonder of life. Christian “centering prayer” is very similar to Buddhist meditation.

In Western terms, Buddhism is known of as a non-theistic tradition. Across the spectrum of the different Buddhist lineages, there is no reference or recourse made to a creator deity. But then, who do Buddhists pray to, and what do they pray for? Buddhists pray for blessings from Buddhas, lineage gurus and Bodhisattvas (beings who live to serve). And, being human, they pray for many of the same things people pray for in other religions: for healing, safety, for light and strength, for understanding and for ordinary things as well.

People may ask, “Isn’t this all imagination?” which is a very good question. I believe it is up to those of us who are interested to answer it.

At this holy time of year I send my warmest wishes and prayers for your health and well-being and share with you my favorite anonymous prayer:

I am the place where God shines through
He and I are one not two
He needs me where and as I am
I need not think nor fear nor plan
If I can be relaxed and free
He’ll work his plan of love through me

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