Lama Surya Das (Part 2) – The Essence of Awakening: Who Are We Really—and How Can We Find Out?

Lama Surya Das Essence of Awakening

Lama Surya Das, beloved meditation teacher, scholar, pioneer of bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West, and author of the bestseller Awakening the Buddha Within among many more, shares bright gems of wisdom from his extensive experience practicing Dzogchen, his long immersion in meditation retreats, and studying in person with the great spiritual teachers of Asia. Lama Surya is dedicated to getting the word out, and to young people especially, that the timeless teachings of the great masters are every bit as important and transformative in today’s modern world as they ever were. One doesn’t need to go on retreat to come to a place of wonder, understanding, and appreciation for life; Lama Surya assures us that daily practice of attentive awareness on the path of “awakefulness” is doable and effective in today’s world. This is the path that leads to self-knowledge, and we just need to explore and investigate to discover for ourselves that realization of the Great Perfection, of oneness, is never far away.

Lama Surya embellishes his teachings with humorous tales of his early explorations with psychedelics, his spiritual adventures in India, how he came to undertaking not one but two 3-year silent retreats in the great Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen, and coming home afterwards with a mission for transmission. He talks about divine love and how amazing and influential it was to hang out with spiritual teachers who actually practice unconditional love, here and now. Lama Surya Das’ own deep caring and compassion shine through his words, and his well-known “jolly lama” humor often elicits laughter from Roger and John. “There are a lot of lanes on the highway of awakening, you just want to watch you don’t go off into the ditch.” His authentic, endearing humility shines through as well. He is certain that “if I can do it, you can do it, anyone can do it.” Recorded September 7, 2022.

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Going to India, discovering the practice of of Vipassana and the cave retreat yogi tradition of Tibet (01:31)
  • What timeless teachings did Lama Surya Das discover in his 3-year Dzogchen retreat? Love is not the same thing as light (05:21)
  • Mother Teresa on loneliness and love, and meeting spiritual teachers who really lived the talk (07:44)
  • Living, practicing, surrendering: learning that love is greater than any dichotomy of like or dislike (08:36)
  • Teaching of Pema Wangyal Rinpoche: “Don’t expect the struggle to end.” (10:45)
  • Coming back after the long retreat (11:47)
  • We need an applied dharma that works for the postmodern world today (13:08)
  • Continuing the practice with a second 3-year Dzogchen retreat (14:04)
  • How Lama Surya Das became a Dzogchen teacher and started the Dzogchen centers (16:57)
  • The importance of spending more time with daily practice and integrating it into your life: retreats are not for everyone (18:21)
  • How long does it take to awaken? Awakening is very personal (21:08)
  • Pointing towards awakening: absolute truth and relative truth, the middle way (23:44)
  • What’s next for Lama Surya Das? The 3 H’s: healthy, harmonious & helpful—teaching young people, spiritual activism (26:46)
  • Epistemological or logical debate: clarifying the meaning of how we know what we know (28:30)
  • Cherishing life: cockroaches in the monastery (30:40)
  • The timeless question: How should we live? (33:01)
  • We have to accept the implications of our actions and the law of karma (35:32)
  • Moving towards interdependence, interconnectedness (37:00)
  • What are Lama Surya Das’ practices today? The joy of meditation: catching the updrift (38:51) 
  • A poem and a prayer (42:54)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Lama Surya Das Essence of Awakening

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars. The Dalai Lama affectionately calls him “the American Lama.” Lama Surya has spent over forty-five years studying Zen, Vipassana, Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with many of the great old masters of Asia, including some of the Dalai Lama’s own teachers. He is an authorized lama in the Tibetan Buddhist order, a leading spokesperson for Buddhism and contemporary spirituality, a translator, poet, meditation master, chant master, and social-spiritual activist.

Lama Surya Das is the author of the international bestselling Awakening trilogy: Awakening the Buddha Within, Awakening to the Sacred, and Awakening the Buddhist Heart, as well as his latest release and first children’s book, The Yeti & the Jolly Lama: A Tale of Friendship, and eleven other books. In 1991, he established the Dzogchen Centers and Dzogchen Retreats, and in 1993, with the Dalai Lama, he founded the Western Buddhist Teachers Network and regularly organizes its International Buddhist Teachers’ Conferences. Today, Lama Surya Das teaches and lectures around the world, conducting dozens of meditation retreats and workshops each year. Lama Surya can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; his own podcast Awakening Now can be found on the Be Here Now Network. For more information on Surya, as well as his lecture and retreat schedule, go to Lama Surya Das resides in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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