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/

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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

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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

Lama Surya Das – Make Me One with Everything: Buddhist Meditations To Awaken From The Illusion of Separation

Teacher(s):
LAMA SURYA DAS
TEACHER BIO

Date(s): June 27 (Saturday)
Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Description:

“Everything can be meditated – It’s all grist for the mill, worthy of appreciation in its own way. Integrating the View, the bigger picture, the great perspective, with daily life.” ― Lama Surya Das

THE DAYLONG –

In these disconnected, plugged-in yet simultaneously tuned-out times, this unity-yoga of converge-itation, inter-meditative interbeing, which I call co-meditation, is a simple joyful path to overcome the illusion of duality and experience the renowned one-taste of tantric Mahamudra and Dzogchen, the natural Great Perfection.

These practical inter-meditations and tantric exercises open portals to oneness in nature, with others, with your higher deepest power, and beyond notions such as distraction and concentration or the conceptual separation between the sacred and the mundane.

THE NEW BOOK –

Lama Surya Das - Make Me One with Everything
Lama Surya Das – Make Me One with Everything

This, my thirteenth book, is dedicated to InterMeditation, or meditating “with” – Awakening Together – the practice and art of intimacy and union with whatever is, just as it is.

*Books will be available for purchase and for signing.

ABOUT LAMA SURYA DAS: 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. He is an authorized lama and lineage holder in the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism, and a 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 United States. Surya has brought many Tibetan lamas to this country to teach and start centers and retreats over the years.

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, and has recently turned his efforts towards youth and contemplative education initiatives, what he calls “True higher education and wisdom for life training.”

For more details visit here – http://www.insightla.org/1788/make-me-one-with-everything-with-lama-surya-das

A message from Lama Surya Das Join the We Volution

Happy belated Valentine’s Day, mutual lovers and secret spirit-sharers. I hope your heart is full and mind open, wings of spirit unfolding and soul nourished and at home.

Nina Simone sings:

“I wish I could share

All the love that’s in my heart

Remove every doubt

It keeps us apart

And I wish you could know

What it means to be me

Then you’d see and agree

Every man should be free”

I have been thinking about civil rights and society, and human rights in general, all winter, and hope you are too, and moreover eschewing and uprooting the roots of hatred and violence in your hearts and mind, body and soul. Fundamentalist-inspired violence and extreme dogmatic views seems like the bane of this modern world, bringing us all down. Let’s not just sit around twiddling our meditation and texting thumbs, let’s join the we-volution for a better world and brighter future to be possible!

We is the new iye.

Speaking about the weather, I just returned from Ram Dass’ house on Maui to blizzards pilin’ upon blizzards here in the Pilgrim State– What’s Wrong With This Picture? And yet, my heart is afire after co-meditating daily with the old Spiritual Lion himself, and being here now together after all these decades. He remains committed and devoted as ever to “passing Loving awareness on, soul to soul” and to being one with one and all, guru and God. May this year be one of spiritual harmony and attunement, convergitation and communitation. And when our time comes, as it eventually must to all of us, may we pass gently into the Light in a gorgeous manner!

With love,

Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das’s views on Monks going into 200-Year Trances

Lama Surya Ds
                                                                  Monks

How the traditional death and mummification of a Buddhist monk turned into a wild Western fantasy

Recent reports from Mongolia that a recently discovered, 200-year-old mummified monk is not actually dead, but in a deep form of meditation, naturally sparked a good deal of skepticism in Western media.

Rumors of the monk’s non-death, however, have been greatly exaggerated.

The mummified remains of a Mongolian monk, sitting in the Lotus position
The mummified remains of a Mongolian monk, sitting in the Lotus position

First, the only person to have actually claimed the monk is “not dead” is an art professor in Ulaan Baatar. Reading the statement closely, it’s quite likely that the professor, Ganhugiyn Purevbata, was explaining the iconographic symbolism of the monk’s posture: the lotus position, the open left hand, et cetera. “This is a sign” may be better rendered as “this is a symbol.”

Second, it is a common practice in Vajrayana Buddhism (which includes most forms of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as many found in Mongolia) for the bodies of well-known teachers to be entombed sitting in lotus position, and preserved in salt. Indeed, most of the past Dalai Lamas have been preserved in this way, and can be seen to this day in the Potala Palace in Lhasa. It would not be unusual for a respected Vajrayana teacher to be buried in this way.

So where has all this “not dead—just meditating” stuff come from?

“There are no Zombie Lamas,” said Lama Surya Das, a Western-born Tibetan lama who has written several bestselling books on contemporary spirituality. “These aren’t just superstitions from the old world—that this person is immortal in his mummy-body. The point is that this monk was an enlightened meditation master who approached death consciously and with intention, who died in meditation, in posture, sitting up.”

“There are no Zombie Lamas.”

Following death, Surya Das explained, is the traditional period of tukdam, in which the body is biologically dead but the mind may or may not be. “Tuk means ‘Buddha-mind,’ and dam means ‘one with.’ So tukdam is absorption in the Buddha-mind. Tukdam starts when death occurs, and remains for some time—a few days, a week or two at the most. Eventually, the body slumps, and starts decaying, and it’s packed in salt and preserved.”

Most likely, this process is what took place in the case of the Mongolian monk. He entered a state of deep meditation, died, and then resided in the post-death tukdam state before being preserved.

I asked Surya Das—who I’ve known for many years and who, perhaps uniquely among certified Tibetan lamas, speaks with a strong Brooklyn accent and peppers his speech with jokes—what the purpose of such a bizarre practice might be.

For the dying person, Surya Das explained, the point is “to practice the teachings, point the way, model another way of being and of conscious dying and transitioning, and thus … benefit all beings, especially his followers.” In other words, it’s one final act of teaching: showing how powerful contemplative practice can be, how it is possible to meditate even on one’s final breath.

Lama Surya Das
Lama Surya Das

And for the community, Surya Das drew an analogy to preserving “the bones and relics of the great Catholic saints.” Essentially, he said, “people have traditionally believed that physical remains embody or carry some of the spiritual essence and blessings of the original saintly or sagely holy person. … So the body was left, as the master died that way, intentionally and purposefully seated in meditation, even after his tukdam was complete and the signs of physical death manifested more vividly.”

Nor are such practices only maintained in the steppes of Mongolia. Amazingly, Lama Surya Das said that he most recently witnessed a tukdam right in New York City, in the summer of 2014, when the widow of a famous lama passed away, “and sat in tukdam for ten days to two weeks,” while various rituals were performed.

In a nice touch, this all took place at a Buddhist center on West 16th Street, just a couple of blocks from The Daily Beast’s office.

Kenneth Folk, a well-known American Buddhist meditation teacher, had a somewhat more cynical view of the media coverage. “We in the West are often fascinated by Eastern thought, especially Buddhism, and many of us have fallen in love with the image of the Tibetan monk,” he said. The exaggeration in Western media is part and parcel of an orientalist fascination with “those wonderful cave-dwelling ascetics.”

For contemporary teachers like Folk, the real question is the opposite: “What are the real nuggets of Buddhist thought and practice that stick around even after we let go of magical thinking?”

This was Surya Das’s point as well. “This is not about zombies—although what is a zombie, really? Does it refer to the

walking dead, or walking around in this world without a heart or soul? That is the real question.”

And to that, a 200-year-old mummy provides no answers.