Mindfulness or Mindlessness, You Choose

Got stress? Tension somewhere in your body or a relationship? Mindful attention in the present moment can help a great deal. It’s crucial to understand within your own experience what your stress looks/feels/sounds like, and even more important that you know how to deal with it. Why? Because stress constantly plays interference, easily fogging your mind, clouding your judgement, causing “accidents” through mindless inattentiveness, and stunting both inner peace and harmony as well as creativity.

It’s said that mindfulness—the opposite of mindlessness and heedlessness—is the essence of the path of awakening, the most potent active ingredient in Buddha’s 8-fold path of enlightenment. When properly practiced, mindfulness offers many wholesome, healing, relaxing and edifying benefits. While many of us seek to enhance listening and communication skills, and increase our effectiveness at work and in life, by combining focused concentration with self-knowledge and insight; mindfulness can also tackle many serious health issues, like chronic pain, headaches, and hypertension.

Mindfulness and lucid, nonjudgmental presence of mind opens the door to conscious, choiceful, intentional proactive responses—rather than mindlessness, heedlessness and reactivity based upon unfulfilling conditioned, habitual kneejerk reactions. Socrates would spend hours in what he called deep thought, akin to meditation practice; Leonardo da Vinci would light a candle, lay in bed, and watch the reflection of the candle on the ceiling to go into a deep state of mindfulness. Einstein thought experiments were exercises in deep focusing of the mind. Edison would sit in a chair, focus his mind, and hold a rock in his hand that would fall into a bucket if he fell asleep, similar to Tibetan cave yogis balancing a lit candle atop their head while sitting in meditation at night to help maintain vigilant attentive, alert mindful presence of mind, and stay awake in a multitude of meanings of the word.

Mindfulness allows us to train the mind to be a less stressed place. Because once we let the stress in, it’s really hard to relieve it. Being here now is okay, as far as it goes, but seems to have become a little stale in our commodifying society. But the New Now is much more dynamic, and even proactive. Check it out!

Breathe – relax – focus – center -focus – and smile.
Awaken now. Meditate as fast as you can.

Remember to remember, “My mind ain’t the best place to live in.”

With love and blessings,
Lama Surya Das


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.

We invite you to join Dzogchen Lineage Holder Lama Surya Das for our annual Summer Dzogchen Meditation Retreat at the beautiful Garrison Institute as we awaken to the joy of naturally-arising timeless awareness and discover
the View, Meditation and Action of the Great Perfection: timeless and inspiring heart-essence instructions passed down in this contemplative tradition for many centuries.

Throughout the week Lama Surya will teach 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.

Registration fees are inclusive of accommodation and delicious vegetarian meals for this seven-day retreat. 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.

Welcome spring, welcome new beginnings – A Mesage from Lama Surya Das

Spring greetings from the fragrant hills overlooking Malibu, where we’ve just completed our annual spring Dzogchen Center’s weeklong Southern California retreat. The Franciscan mission-style Serra Retreat Center– built long ago on the burned out ruins of an original hilltop mansion here, called “The Castle of Emptiness”, created a perfect atmosphere of gentle quietude for our week of Dzogchen practice, sangha friendships old and new, and “koinonia” (spiritual communion and transformation). Their lovely meditation hall, complete with huge panoramic windows, coupled with vast ocean and mountain views, made skygazing meditations and prayerful devotions, along with daily mindful nature walks, all the more satisfying, especially in these tumultuous times. A new retreatant said she felt as if she’d “landed here at a retreat for angels.” Another told me, in a private guidance-interview: “I lived in a beautiful ice palace. This practice has really opened my heart, melted the frozenness, and almost ripped my guts out. I go home transformed and curious to see what’s next on this path.”

It was hard to beat the mid-March blizzard and get out of Boston by plane two weeks ago as I headed to Boulder, CO, where I was honored to give Naropa University’s Distinguished Lecture sponsored by the Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. My visit allowed for time to visit with students and staff as well as teach a few classes. How wonderful to see so many avid young folks, and dedicated faculty and staff too. It was refreshing, inspiring, thought-provoking, and a bit challenging as well. Each and every Buddhist community is somewhat different. I finished my time in Boulder at Ken Wilber’s Integral Center, where our dedicated Boulder sangha held a day-long Saturday meditation retreat– the perfect way to end my stay!

This being my first travel in almost five months, unusual for me; it feels so good to be back in the saddle again. I’ve missed communing with my students and teaching actual meditation. And while my hip recuperation period is almost over, I’ll continue on with a bit more physical therapy and exercise, longevity practice, and chanting for a better world and more peace, harmony, mutual understanding, loving-kindness and cooperation. I hope to see ya in July for our next Dzogchen Center meditation retreat in Garrison, NY.

Welcome spring, welcome new beginnings!

With love and blessings,
Lama Surya Das

For more details about Lama Surya Das feel free to visit: https://lamasuryadasmarried.tumblr.com

Love Comes From Loving, Not From Outside

EJ valentine's day piece

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite times of year. The Tibetan New Year is also a favorite, and because the two often fall around the same time, I make a practice of reflecting upon New Year’s resolutions relating to my loved ones, and renewing my commitment to cultivating altruistic compassion and an unselfish open heart—the very essence of authentic love.

These resolutions encompass opening both my heart and mind; listening better; learning to forgive and love even those I dislike; and accepting and blessing the world, rather than fighting or feeing it. Through “co-meditating” with everything as it appears; through “inter-meditation” and interbeing with it—rather than against or apart from “it”—I am able to see through the illusion of separateness. I also remember those who may not feel included in this so-called day for lovers. As Zen Master Dogen says:
To study the Buddha Way is to be intimate with all things.” This is true love.

How can we love and accept others if we don’t have compassion and love for ourselves? Some say we are here in this world to learn and to evolve in consciousness and open our heart as wide as the world. If we are open to this panacean medicine, among life’s greatest lessons is how to love and to love well, and as Ram Dass often says—be love, in addition to giving and receiving it. The answer is learning how to breathe love in and breathe it out, giving and receiving both, while cultivating loving awareness in action. I believe love is the magic ingredient for happiness, growth, harmony and fulfillment.

Many people have asked me, “How would Buddha love?” The Buddha saw every being, human and otherwise, as fundamentally like himself, and was thus able to treat and love them in the way all beings should be treated. We call this infinitely benevolent, selfless love the invaluable bodhichitta or the awakened heart, the very spirit and soul of enlightenment. One can find this taught elegantly in the Loving-Kindness Sutra, in Shantideva’s classic, The Way of the Bodhisattva, and in Atisha’s, Seven Points of Mind-Training and Attitude Transformation.

Through the transformative magic of bodhichitta, each relationship and every single encounter can be a vehicle for meaningful spiritual connection. Buddha taught that this altruistic bodhichitta, or spiritual love, has four active arms, known as the Four Boundless Heartitudes, or the Four Faces of Compassion.

So how can we love Buddha-style? By practicing impartiality to all, freeing ourselves from excessive attachment or false hope and expectation, and accepting, tolerating, and forgiving those around us.

Buddhist love is based on recognizing our fundamental interconnectedness and understanding that all beings are like ourselves in wanting and needing happiness, safety, fulfillment, meaning and connection—and not wanting pain, suffering and misery. The Dalai Lama says, “If you want to be wisely selfish, care for others.” All the happiness and virtue in this world comes from selflessness and generosity; all the sorrow from egotism, selfishness, hatred and greed.

The essence of Buddhist relationship is to cultivate the cling-free relationship, enriched with both warm caring and impartial equanimity. It is essential in intimate relationships to communicate honestly, stay present, tell the truth of your experience using I-statements (rather than accusations and judgments), and honor the other enough to show up with an open heart-mind ready to really listen, feel, and mutually interconnect.

Heated passion becomes warm, empathic compassion when we bring it into the sacred path, when we recognize every moment in life as a possibility of awakening and intimately embrace whatever arises in our field of experience. In that sense, human love and sexual consummation are like the tip of the iceberg of divine love, an ecstatic intimation of eternity, a portal to infinite depths of the groundlessness and limitless space that transports us beyond our limited, egoic selves, to bliss and oneness with all that lives.

People often ask me how to find their “soul mate,” or even if I believe in such a concept. I think that rather than focusing on finding the perfect mate in this world, we would generally do better to work on refining and developing ourselves. Make yourself the “perfect” mate, without being too perfectionistic about it, and you will be a good mate with almost anyone. When your heart is pure, your life and the entire world is pure.

We all feel the desire to possess and be possessed, to love and be loved, to connect and be seen, embraced, and belong. However, I think that the most important thing in being together is the tenderness of a good heart. If our relationships aren’t nurturing the growth and development of goodness of heart, openness, generosity, authenticity and intimate connection, they are not serving us or furthering a better world.

I have learned that to truly love people I need to let them be, and to love, accept and appreciate them as they are—free of my projections, expectations and illusions. This is equally true for loving and accepting oneself. When I peer deeply enough into someone’s heart and see the baby Buddha or innocent, inner child their grandparents and parents cradled oh-so-lovingly in their arms—and how, in that way, that are just like me—who would I harm, fear, resent, put down, persecute or exploit?

I notice that children let go of anger and would rather be happy than right, unlike so many of us adults. Staying present in this very moment, through mindful awareness and paying attention to what is—rather than dwelling on the past or future, or on who I think I am or imagine others to be—helps free me from excess baggage, anxiety and neurosis. This opens me to true love, Buddha’s love, Christ’s love.

For more details about Lama Surya Das feel free to visit: http://www.surya.org/love-comes-from-loving-not-from-outside/

Newness-Awareness for a New Year

As I start to emerge from hip surgery fog of the last few weeks, I am overwhelmed and heartened by the outpouring of loving-kindness, compassion, caring and generosity shared by so many of you, my beloved community. I must admit, being out of it for several days was an interesting and fruitful sort of imposed vacation, although the circumstances weren’t ideal. But, as I’ve continued this personal health and healing retreat at home, by my tree-lined pond, I’ve had the time to reflect on many things, most importantly, the great gift of weakness and dependence—not an easy thing for someone of my age, a helper and caregiver (if not a caretaker), but invaluable as a “late” life lesson. I’m used to helping and being a strong and independent man! Helplessness is much harder to receive, to accept, to allow, to be with things as they are without much control or power of interference. One could almost live like this rather than against it!

Temporary feelings of imbalance and dependence have spurred a new-found level of gratitude and appreciation, for those around me as well as those who are similarly affected, and has forced me to let go in ways I never actually experienced as possible. Genuinely letting go and letting be, melting into the ground of being via surrender and acceptance, trust, vulnerability and openness: the essence of true inner freedom. For this, I am profoundly grateful.

I am also grateful for all of you; those who open my emails, attend my retreats, workshops, and dharma talks, as well as those who take the time to read my books and blogs, listen to my interviews and podcasts, and follow me on social media. While I have always said that my mission is transmission, maybe it’s really been simply to pay attention and maintain positive intention, and share with others how to do the same– because the amount and quality of attention we genuinely bring to bear here and now is what really counts. This is wisdom’s timeless, evergreen secret. Though you may feel far from it yourself, it is never far from you.

Many people are relieved to see this year come to an end, and look ahead to new-found resolve, turning over a new leaf, or even a fresh start. Yet some are simply dreading more of the same spilling over into a new year, fearing that nothing will change for the better because the forces of greed, hatred, intolerance and illusion are simply too entrenched. Many despair of being too ineffectual to make a difference in the face of our massive challenges. So I ask you, how can we each contribute toward building a more harmonious community and world? Let’s be the changes we wish to see in the world, and do something extraordinary by joining hands toward a less divided, more equitable and sustainable world that works for all.

Let’s start by considering how and when to forgive each other and ourselves for whatever missteps may have been made. It’s nearly impossible to move forward and meaningfully evolve if negative energies such as resentment and regrets are still holding us back, weighing one down like old, excess baggage. Gratitude brings in more of the natural good, positive and healing forces; forgiving lets you release what is not healthy. Forgive and remember; learn the lessons so it doesn’t happen again. If you don’t learn now, you might get left back and have to go through very similar experiences again until you do, and can move on.

May peace, wellness and buoyant newness-awareness be with you and your families as we enter a new year!

With love and blessings,

Lama Surya Das

For more details about Lama Surya Das feel free to visit: https://www.tumblr.com/search/lama%20surya%20divorce

A letter from Lama Surya Das on seasonal intensive retreat programs

Dear Dharma Friends,

The Dzogchen Center is deeply grateful for your ongoing participation and generous support in continuing our 25 years of mutual efforts to fulfill the potential of our legacy of timeless wisdom and compassion in action, as well as the Dzogchen view, meditation and action in North America.

We continue offering seasonal intensive retreat programs, both long and short; organizing and convening trans-sectarian international Buddhist teacher conferences; and reaching out to the younger generations through varied social media, podcasts, blogs, lectures and workshops. We are improving our Dzogchen Center website, which will afford us a larger presence on the Web, and continuing our retreat scholarships fund, personal mentoring, teacher training and the like, as we strive to carry on our lineage transmission and practice-oriented teachings, intent upon furthering a more sane and peaceful, just and equitable world.

My Lamas Lineage & Legacy Project (“3LP”), begun in Massachusetts in 2014, is dedicated to preserving and providing the teachings, transcripts, text and translations of historic Grand Masters’ (Tibetan Rinpoche) audio cassettes and videotapes, as well as their sacred art and my gurus’ blessed relics. In their current condition, many are in obsolete formats and disintegrating recorded mediums; these rare assets will disappear to posterity if we do not preserve them now!

Through generous donations, we have already digitized about 180 teacher recordings, exclusive only to 3LP. We hope to continue this important work with the remaining recordings, and have partnered with TBRC (Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center) to preserve these invaluable materials online through their pioneering efforts in the forefront of this field, ensuring the maintenance of our work through successive generations of programs, software, etc. With the creation of the 3LP virtual library archive, featuring a micro pod environment, along with my personal sacred art collection—interactivity, scholarship and spiritual education will be advanced.

Without your generous support, we cannot accomplish these transformative wisdom, peace-making and healing initiatives. Please consider making a gift that will ensure the sustainability and further adaptation and application of these teachings.

To make a tax deductible contribution go to: http://registry.dzogchen.org/donate, or mail your check to: Dzogchen Center, PO Box 400734, Cambridge, MA 02140.

The Dalai Lama says: “We need each other to become enlightened, to develop empathic compassion and altruism as well as enlightened wisdom.” Buddha himself said that the patron-benefactors and the monastic practitioners are as if harnessed together, helping pull each other towards enlightenment. This connection between head and heart, body and soul is what’s needed for peace and harmony to flourish in our violent world.

Thank you, thank you for your contributions, generosity, practice and loving support. Happy holydays: May you and all those we embrace as family enjoy a healthy, harmonious and auspicious new year.

With love, prayers and blessings,
Lama Surya Das

Please join us at one of our upcoming meditation retreats:
Spring – March 19-26, 2017 -Serra Retreat Center, Malibu, CA.
Go to http://www.dzogchen.org to register on-line.
Summer – July 16-22, 2017 – Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY
Go to http://www.dzogchen.org to register on-line.

For more details feel free to visit: http://askthelama.com/

Can’t wait for this to be over!

Since the debate season, almost everyone I know says something like “I can’t wait for this to be over!” I feel similarly, but also realize that it ain’t just gonna be over when the election occurs or even when an inauguration takes place. There’s no real end in sight; this is just more of a beginning of the endless, if one looks deeper, both practically and spiritually speaking. A wise man said: “The endless knot of eternity is round as an apple.”

Until we ourselves change and transform this very partisan, entrenched political process we’ve been stuck in for quite some time, and have a genuine change of heart– and evolve our thinking and communications, furthering dialogue rather than mere diatribe, threats and rhetoric– not much is really going to change, at least not for the better. Not this year, and not next. How will we be able to heal our societal rifts and solve our systemic problems, and elevate our lives as well as our compatriots’, especially the least unfortunate among us? This is my prayer, hope, and heartfelt intention.

No one can do it all alone—not a leader, not a citizen– yet none are exempt from participating. Let’s be informed citizens and get out and vote our values to make a positive difference in this, our divided country and interconnected, beleaguered world.

Let’s not give in to fear just ’cause The Night of The Dead is almost upon us. Better to unmask and authentically show up this year, and every year.

Change is inevitable but meaningful transformation is optional!

For more details about Lama Surya Das feel free to visit: https://www.facebook.com/lamasuryadas/

Prayers for Belgium


Please open your heart and join me in sending loving thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters in Belgium as they try to navigate a path thru this hideous day.

We stand with you, we embrace you, we pray for peace in our troubled world.

Let peace begin with Lama Surya Das.

One Day Retreat – Make Me One with Everything

Date and Time – 16 April at 09:00–16:00 in CDT

Location – Highland Park Country Club
1201 Park Ave W, Highland Park, Illinois 60035

Ticket availablehttp://infinityfoundation.org/courses/spiritual-inquiry-practice/make-me-one-with-everything.aspx#register

Lama Surya Das

Join Lama Surya Das, bestselling author and recipient of the 2003 Infinity Foundation Spirit Award, in his newest work from his most recent release “Make Me One with Everything: Buddhist Meditations to Awaken from the Illusion of Separation”.

Lama Surya Das is one of the most learned and respected Buddhist teachers in the West and he invites you to experience a remarkable integration of traditional and original inter-meditation practices that allow you to see through the illusion of separation. If you have ever felt ‘at one’ with something—your beloved or your child, a forest trail, or a favorite song—then you have experienced inter-meditation.

Open to all levels of meditators

Ram Dass & Lama Surya Das – What is the Way?

Watch Ram Dass and his longtime brother Lama Surya Das playfully explore the meaning of Sadhana (daily spiritual practice) in their lives. Join them from May 4-9th on the healing island of Maui for a transformational retreat, accompanied by daily yoga, chant, meditation and spiritual talks at an exotic beachfront paradise.