American-Born Lama Will Hold Talk for Students at UC Irvine

Lama Surya Das

Students seeking to overcome stress and improve their overall academic and personal well-being have an opportunity to learn about meditation, yoga and other contemplative methods during an on-campus talk by Western Buddhist meditation teacher and author Lama Surya Das scheduled on Jan. 29.

“We know that university students are hungry and thirsty as they seek to discover more about the inner meaning and purpose of their lives, their studies, the current relational experiences in their lives and to their future careers,” said Manuel Gomez, Vice Chancellor-Emeritus of Student Affairs.

Lama Das will be speaking to the campus community about improving one’s relational awareness, or the association between the awareness of oneself and others, through relationship yoga, Pilates and meditation.

UCI Professor of Psychiatry Roger Walsh, also one of Lama Das’s students, invited Lama Das, who currently resides in Massachusetts, to campus during UC Irvine’s Peace Week, a campus-wide initiative for peace building and nonviolent practice which will held during the last week of January.

“For me [Lama Das] has been a repository and transmitter of deep, hard won wisdom and I have learned a great deal about meditation, the mind, how to train and heal it, it’s (and our) potentials, and the possibility of growing beyond conventional levels to awaken to our deeper, truer nature,” said Walsh. “Although I’m a trained psychiatrist, I’ve still learned much from Lama Surya about the mind and psychological well-being, which is not yet part of western mental health knowledge.”

For Lama Das, meditation is a great tool which helps a person attend to his mind, body, soul and spirit. It helps individuals develop self-knowledge and self-awareness through contemplation and inquiry, instead of blindly accepting beliefs inherited from parents or through a religious leader.

Born Jeffrey Miller, Lama Das became interested in Buddhism during college in the late 1960s as he searched for truth and peace. After completing college, he went to India to further pursue his search. Lama Das attended meditation retreats, practiced yoga and studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus and the Dalai Lama. He embraced Tibetan Buddhism in the 1970s.

“A vital component of Buddhism is to be mindful, compassionate, wise and loving, rather than being unhappy, depressed, anxious and alienated, which many people are falling into in these violent, volatile and insecure times,” said Lama Das during a telephone interview on Jan. 9. “We can learn not to just blindly react but respond mindfully as needed, and to use mindfulness and anger management to find inner peace, harmonious relations and unconditional love by treating others from the heart.”

According to Lama Das, because Buddhism is new to the western world, there are many misconceptions about Buddhism and meditation perpetuated today. Many people assume Buddhism is simply about world denial or introspection, but Lama Das stressed that very important components of the faith include “altruism, compassion, volunteering and community service.”

Moreover, Lama Das insisted that meditation is not about stopping thoughts as many tend to believe, but rather about thought awareness. The meditator should be relaxed and breathing, but also aware of his immediate thoughts and sensations.

Lama Das also discussed other practical benefits of meditation, including lowered blood pressure, increased creativity, sharpened focus and an enhanced attention span.

“When I become clearer, everything becomes clearer. That’s the secret of meditation,” said Lama Surya Das. “Whether the world changes or not — it’s hard to say — everything is changing anyway. Getting clear truth, being unselfish, objective, discerning, patient, compassionate and empathizing with others goes a long way in transforming all our relationships and the world.”

Lama Das mentioned that the families and friends of students who began meditation have described the students as becoming more “patient, peaceful, focused and less reactive.”

Lama Das emphasized that, although students may struggle with meditation at first, they should keep practicing it until it becomes habitual, as one of his first teachers in India taught him: “continuity is the secret of success.”

Lama Das has held several workshops for UC Irvine and the surrounding community in the past, transforming many UCI students and members of the community.

“The best research, much of it here at UCI, is re-confirming the ancient understanding of the body and the mind, and Lama Surya Das is an important teacher who has helped many individuals to become more aware of materials and methods to achieve inner peace,” said Gomez.

Lama Surya Das will speak and hold a book signing at the UCI Student Center on Jan. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A full day workshop of meditation techniques will be held on Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Neighborhood Congregational Church in Laguna Beach.

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Lama Surya Das ‘Awakening our hearts’

Everyone needs to feel connected, to love and feel loved, to reach out to others and communicate in order to overcome alienation, loneliness, and a feeling of being disconnected. In AWAKENING THE BUDDHIST HEART Surya Das shows you how to reach inward and outward. For more details about Lama Surya Das visit here –

The 3 minute short meditations – It still works

Daily meditation is great for your body and your mind. Meditation can relieve body and spirit. It’s a time out from the anxieties of daily living and can help you feel more focused. One of the best things about meditation is that it can be enjoyed by all. Setting aside as little as 3 minutes a day can help you stay calm when everyone around you is losing it. That’s why Lama Surya Das created a 3 minute short meditation course. If you desire to relax deeper than you ever have, then try the 3 Minute Meditations. In just 3 minutes a day you can relax your way to a better lifestyle. They’re perfect to practice while you are waiting on your cup of tea to steep or for the water to boil. Try it out, begin today.

Here are tips from Lama Surya Das’ book Buddha Standard Time and how I have adopted these in my full and busy life to short meditations.

Life is a moving meditation: I’ve started trying to sneak in short 3 minute meditation through a given day. Waiting in the grocery line, getting tea, brushing my teeth, sitting idle at a stop light have been transmuted from impatient inconveniences to meditative moments. While my daily meditation may not be the traditional 20 minutes in a meditation chair, I get seven 3 minute meditations and more presence throughout my day.

Increase the hours in the day through meditation: During the times throughout my life when I feel overwhelmed and stressed out my mind replays a time scarcity message over and over again, “I don’t have enough time in the day to get all that I have to complete.” Lama Surya Das recommends that stress periods in our lives are the perfect time to meditate as it results in expanding time. While counter intuitive, my higher Self recognized the wisdom in his words. My own experience approves that when I am ready to wrestle control from my brain and meditate; it results in a more resourceful, clear thinking, and quiet form of me and time grows as promised. As a result, my clear presence allows me to manage my time more effectively.

Synchronize your life to the world around you: I have generally experienced and believed in change from the inside out. However, I’ve learned to appreciate and get curious about the unseen effect on natural changes on my inner condition of being. Living from the outside in. This year I have slowed down and become more present to nature and the changes at a small scale (occasional changes) and full scale changes (planetary orbits). Effortlessness, enchantment, and meaning have been my gift as I have danced with the flow of life versus battling against it.

Meditation calms the mind in order to decrease stress and find inner peace and balance. A daily three-minute meditation is a time efficient and effective way to increase back your inner peace. The advantages are more prominent than you may expect.

1. Less stress – Meditation helps with anxiety by lowering stress, blood pressure and increasing energy levels.

2. Better brain function – Meditation affects your brain activity, fosters your creative thinking, improves your learning performance and can strengthen your memory.

3. Achieve Enlightenment – Through Meditation your achieve harmony in your spirit, brain and body. You achieve a spiritual enlightenment where you get self-acknowledgment, you stop trying to change yourself and become who you really are.

4. A happier you – Meditation consists of a focused reflection of yourself and the emotions in your brain. It’s possibly spent offering gratitude for what you do have, valuing the little favors around you and expressing a loving kindness for yourself and others. It makes you and everyone around you happier and it helps you feel more connected with your friends-family, humanity and nature.

5. Self-Actualization – By practicing Meditation you can keep things in perspective, achieve a peaceful mind state and enjoy a cheerful life. You find your motivation in life, your potential and you turn out to be all that you can be.

6. Enhance Vision – Meditations affect your brain movements, encourage your inventive thinking, enhance your learning performance and can strengthen your memory.

7. Improve Sleep – Taking a few minutes out of your day to clam your psyche and practice gratitude will enhance your personal satisfaction, well-being and your capacity to improve night’s rest.

For more details about Lama Surya Das visit here –

Root of the Bodhi Tree: The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path

Despite the unbelievable variety of scriptures, practices, languages, cultures and approaches, we find at the center of all the customs of Buddhism the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. As the Dalai Lama said, “There is no Buddhism without the Four Noble Truths. If you want to know Buddhism, you must know the Four Noble Truths.” The Four Noble Truths are the facts of life from a Buddhist perspective.

Four Noble Truth
Four Noble Truth

1. Life is Dukkha (Suffering). Suffering happens all through life because people always want more or little bit better than what they already have.

2. All suffering is caused by craving/desire and attachment. Because we don’t have what we want we think and feel trouble.

3. Suffering can be reduced. All delicate desires must be extinguished by the human being who wishes freedom from suffering and it can be extinguished by walking the Path. If we admit what we have and stop wanting more we will become glad.

4. Suffering can be reduced by following the Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path way is the method to end suffering.

The Eightfold Path is to be experienced though the three principles training (sila); meditation training and mindfulness training, (Samadhi) and wisdom and love training (prajna). These three trainings are the tripod-like bases that support all the Buddhist practices on the path of enlightened living.

Eightfold Path
Eightfold Path

Principles training or sila (literally: cooling) includes self-discipline, morality, virtue, selflessness, service, and so on. Mindfulness training includes the calculated development of self-observation and wakefulness, training the attention and concentration, presence of mind and meditation training. The third training, (prajna), means insight, discrimination, and judgment. I would like to say insight and love, for completeness’ sake, since reality and love, or insight and kindness, are inseparable. So sila, samadhi and prajna are the three fundamental ways we guide and expand ourselves on the holy path. The Three Trainings are actually put into practice through the Eightfold Path.

The eightfold path referred to as steps on a path, is not meant as an in order learning process, but as eight parts of life, all of which are to be integrated in everyday life. Thus the atmosphere is created to move faster to the Buddhist pathway. The eightfold path is at the heart of the middle way, which turns from extremes and supports us to seek the simple approach. Wisdom Training is broken out into the first and second practices of the Eightfold Path:

Which Noble Eightfold Path way has to be developed in order to end all suffering?

1. Right view and understanding learning the life of reality and the fact about life.

2. Right ambition making the promise to living in such a way that our distress can end.

3. Right words speaking the reality in a helpful and sympathetically way.

4. Right action and behavior living a life reliable with our morals.

5. Right livelihood receiving a living in a system that does not upset others.

6. Right try just Do it. No cause.

7. Right alertness recognizing the importance of the moment; living everywhere we are.

8. Right awareness expanding our realization through meditation.

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Dzogchen center summer meditation retreat with LAMA SURYA DAS

The Natural Great Awakening

We are all Buddhas by nature–we only have to awaken and recognize who we are and how we fit perfectly in this world. This is the teaching of the innate Great Perfection–Dzogchen. Introducing us to this natural wisdom and compassion is the life-work of Lama Surya Das. For the annual Summer Dzogchen Meditation Retreat, he will teach the View, Meditation and Action of the Great Perfection: timeless and inspiring heart-essence instructions passed down in this contemplative tradition for many centuries.

We invite you to join Dzogchen Lineage Holder Lama Surya Das for a week of awakening to the joy of naturally-arising timeless awareness. Lama Surya will teach throughout the week and offer lively Q&A sessions. In addition to guided and silent meditations, dharma talks, heart-opening chanting and private interviews, this retreat will also feature optional and uplifting Tibetan Energy Yoga each morning.

Outside of the teaching hall, the precious gift of Noble Silence is observed, allowing us the peace and spaciousness to explore the mind, as well as to rest and retreat from the busyness of everyday life & chatter.

In addition to formal sessions, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings preserved by the Open Space Institute on the banks of the mighty Hudson River. Those preferring to stay inside can relax in a lounge looking out, or browse selected postings in the retreat reading room.

Registration fees are inclusive of accommodation and delicious vegetarian meals for this seven-day retreat. Additional discounts are available for students in full-time education. House-Jobs are available for a lower cost and are typically 1 hour per day required work. Registration does not include compensation for the teacher, which will be accepted in the traditional form of dana (voluntary donation) in honor of the teachings.

For more details visit here –

Happy Holydays!

One of my inspirations is the late Boston teacher Howard Thurman (1899-1981),  a great thinker, educator, and peace-activist—Dr. ML King’s mentor– he taught me how important this attitude is for each of us personally and for the well being …of our world. He says: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Those who are alive in this sense look at our suffering world with compassion. Deep inside they know the truth of St. Augustine’s advice: “Look at the whole: Praise the whole.” This vision of the whole triggers an inner singing that echoes on, long after the song of the Christmas angels has fallen silent. Howard Thurman says of it:
“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,

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To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”

Who Decides Who Decides?

Watching the recent election results, I’ve certainly noticed that the pendulum of public opinion seems to swing back and forth in much shorter cycles than it used to — just like in so many other areas of life in this hurried age. A single party used to control the House or Senate for decades, as for example during the FDR era. Now each administration seems to suffer a similar fate through being incapable of satisfying the public by living up to voters’ hopes and expectations.

But who actually decides who’s in charge? And who decides who decides? Is it really the voters? Or is it the lobbyists, or the talking heads? I personally would like to vote for reason and universal consideration and concern being at the helm, challenging as that ideal may be.

Now there is not going to be a single African-American in the United States Senate, which does not bode well for our methods of representation. (There do happen to be two Buddhist members of Congress; one is a woman from Hawaii.) This imbalance and lack of diversity reflects the world of power politics rather than the real day to day which we live in; it is a symptom of selfishness and lack of perspective, which is at the root of inequality and iniquity of all kinds.

Without diversity and the art of compromise, extreme voices sharpen and the decibel level rises without any significant gain in mutual understanding or agreement. I hear too much strident criticism without much in the way of viable solutions to the problems we face. Without meaningful public conversation, tolerance and empathic compassion, short term gains and goals are forced to the fore at the expense of more long term concerns. Instant gratification is the law of the land. Being re-elected becomes more important than governing well, while deeper meaning and purpose-such gets lost in the rush to power and success. Where are the more moderate, reflective, truly constrictive voices attuned to the complexity of life and our issues today?

The speed of life today and our ingrained hyper-reactivity makes so many of us fall prey to small groups of canny strategists bent upon eliciting specific responses conducive to their own narrow ends through buzz words, provocative slogans, and highlighting wedge issues. For example, religion, which was originally intended to be a unifying force, has become a divisive one today. I believe we would do well to focus on finding a middle way of balance and inclusiveness.

The United States of America has for long stood out as the symbol of the free world. So we must be strong, resolute and decisive including vision, compassionate action, and long term planning in our civic lives. We would do well to listen to other viewpoints, focus on the deeper meaning, and remember the purpose and value of our brief life on this fragile planet. In our busy lives, it is ever so important not to get caught up in mere reactivity and end up feeling disempowered or even victimized. When you are able to focus on long term vision and deeper goals, you are the one who decides.

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