Help Yourself, Help Us All – Lama Surya Das

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And so, here we are, living in volatile times, even capable of eradicating ourselves from the face of the planet. If we are paying attention, days like these can provide us with a genuine learning opportunity for conscious evolution and enhancing our discernment, combined with a heartfelt need to build community for solace in kindred spirits and meaningful connection.

To help muster the energy required to face the challenges of our complex world, I rely on what Buddhist activists call

The Three Freedoms:

Freedom from undue hope & expectations
Freedom from fear & anxiety
Freedom from selfishness & bias

Buddhism teaches that nothing is more dangerous than an untrained or unhealthy mind, and nothing more conducive to great happiness and wellness than a well-trained clear and wise mind. Yet it’s not only all about mind and intellect, our emotions, body, energy and soulful dimension also come into play. Right action can be a way of achieving one’s goals. Practicing patient forbearance in the face of harm and abuse, without being overly passive in our pacifism, we find that nonviolence is and can be a dynamic multi-dimensional means of persuasion, a technique for political activism, and a recipe for peacemaking and harmonizing—a fearless and forceful way of living authentically as well as speaking truth to power. Right action equals appropriate morality, it carrying with it a sense of discerning wisdom, precision and skillful means.

That is why I am calling for a grassroots arising of a heartfelt and committed Lobby of Compassion, a participatory mandala of persons who are willing to link hands, heads and noble hearts in a measured, focused and sustained effort to develop sufficient clear vision and appropriate action to find and pursue another way—as an alternative to the slippery slope of partisan politics and vestiges of Cold War thinking that has afflicted us for centuries. So we may have a century of dialogue upon the heels of the last century of wars, bloodshed and environmental degradation.

You are the most powerful person in your world. Everything you do could be motivated by compassion. A better and more just and equitable world depends on your own clarity of mind, purity of heart, and a decisive spirit. It is within your reach and special power.

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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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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!

For more information visit here –

Lama Surya Das: Make Me One with Eveything

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 – 6:30 PM

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars, one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and a leading spokesperson for the emerging American Buddhism. The Dalai Lama affectionately calls him “The Western Lama.”

Surya has spent over forty five years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with the great masters of Asia, including the Dalai Lama’s own teachers, and has twice completed the traditional three year meditation cloistered retreat at his teacher’s Tibetan monastery. He is an authorized lama and lineage holder in the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism, and a close personal disciple of the leading grand lamas of that tradition. He is the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its branch centers around the country, including the retreat center Dzogchen Osel Ling outside Austin, Texas, where he conducts long training retreats and Advanced Dzogchen retreats. Over the years, Surya has brought many Tibetan lamas to this country to teach and start centers and retreats. As founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network with the Dalai Lama, he regularly helps organize its international Buddhist Teachers Conferences. He is also active in interfaith dialogue and charitable projects in the Third World. In recent years, Lama Surya has turned his efforts and focus towards youth and contemplative education initiatives, what he calls “True higher education and wisdom for life training.”

Awakening the Mind and Opening the Heart

Sundays at the Shala:
Afternoon Meditation Practice & Study Group
“Awakening Mind, Opening Heart:
the Attitude Transformation Tradition”

This weekly session explores different aspects of meditation practice from those covered in the regular Tuesday evening meetings.

As usual, we will practice in the Dzogchen tradition of Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche and Lama Surya Das.

We are continuing the new series: Awakening the Mind and Opening the Heart, based on the mind training and attitude transformation teachings of the Tibetan lineage.

An introduction to these teachings can be found in Lama Surya’s book Awakening the Buddha Within (under Step Two: Right Intentions) at Page 151.

Each week we will continue examining and practising these extraordinarily skillful ways of transformation in our lives.

For more details visit here –

What About The Spiritual Life?

I’m getting tired of hearing from Christopher Hitchens in the media, and his fervid and all-too-familiar religion-bashing. I happen to like the guy, and also very much appreciate such diverse opinions–he is brilliant, after all, and has some valid points, which is why I bother to read him–-but overall he goes way too far and keeps grinding the same ax ad nauseum. God Is Not Great is a fine book title but a weak thesis. Rest assured that I myself have plenty of similar criticism about religions, including my own; but doesn’t he know that there are hundreds of millions (and have been billions) of very spiritual people, as well as intensely religious ones, who need little or no deity in order to pursue a spiritual path and live and embody a beautiful, wise and loving spiritual life, both within and outside the formal traditional religious denominations? Moreover, there are plenty of theists who have a much more subtle and sophisticated understanding of the divine, of prayer, and of reality than that which he lumps all deists together with.

There is a difference that can be made between religion (organized, for the most part) and spirituality itself, which is the heart of it all; and moreover, spirituality has no Crusades, Inquisitions, book burnings, isms and schisms, and so forth. Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and their skeptical post-modern atheist ilk seem far too extreme to convert true believers or even to sway the moderate middle; their dogmatic arguments are more often than not one-sided monologues lacking in balance. Although their points of view and critical analyses and reflections are certainly not without merit, and deserving of serious consideration, one might also notice that scientific-minded ultra-rationalists are not without their presuppositions, blind spots, superstitions and beliefs, not unlike those very people of faith whom they roundly criticize. Hitchens himself seems to evince little or no expertise on the subject of Eastern spirituality and practice, although he did live in Rashneeshвs ashram for a little while–in order to write about it–an extreme example of a place to study in India, if there ever was one. I have read things about the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere from Hitchens that I personally know to be inaccurate.

For more information visit here –