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/

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/

Dzogchen center winter 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 Winter 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 – http://registry.dzogchen.org/event-1982956

Meditation with Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das Retreats  Meditation is a solution to all human problems. It is our final destination. It is the ultimate love and final freedom. Meditation in one way is witnessing this world and this moment as it is without bringing in the mind. Meditation is a completely relaxing here and now. Meditation is the end of fear. 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.”

Meditation is an art to transcend beyond mind and close all doors of perceptions. Meditation is the end of all ideas and thoughts. Meditation in its ultimate sense is to know our true nature. Meditation is the end of all beliefs and beginning of truth. Meditation is awakening of a new being. Meditation is end of all desires and regrets. Meditation is the end of time. Meditation is the end of all illusions which are creation of mind. Meditation is a journey towards infinite intelligence.

Meditation is a like a flower that blossoms and gives fragrance without asking for anything in return. Meditation is like a flowing river. It is the end of seriousness and beginning of playfulness, celebration and joy. Meditation is purposeless, effortless and creative. Meditation is to let go completely.

To understand meditation, understanding the mind is a must.

  • Mind in very simple terms is composed of infinite thoughts. Thoughts give rise to imagination. It is thought that gives rise to past and future. Meditation ends all thoughts and brings within us a profound silence.
  • Mind is a desire for a better tomorrow and also the fear of the unknown. Mind is regret for past and for lost time.
  • Mind compares and judges. It is constantly comparing yesterday with today and, it constantly try to judge the other person. We all fall prey to our mind.
  • Mind is a constant chattering voice that never allows us to rest completely. Even in sleep mind is active and manifests itself in the form of dreams.
  • Mind is like a monkey jumping from one desire to the other.

It is the end of this turbulent and ever active mind that gives rise to meditation. Lama Surya Das has spent over forty 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. With guided silent meditation and Buddhist meditation retreats from Tibetan Buddhist master Lama Surya Das awaken your real self.