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.

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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

Dzogchen Center Summer Meditation Retreat

Dzogchen Center Summer 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 Summer 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.

Click here for information and registration – http://registry.dzogchen.org/event-1808371

Happy Passover, Easter, Spring! Happy day!

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Easter is coming, the light is rising, and the weather here in snowy New England is starting to bring the real promise of spring. It’s the season of rebirth and fresh beginnings as the flowers are starting to break free and the song birds are coming back. Walking beneath the weeping willows around my pond, I feel the good earth growing up green and wild all around me, and rejoice in feeling part of it.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, on his US tour this month, has focused much of his message on the importance of respecting and protecting our environment, developing compassion for all and everything through recognizing that reality of interconnectedness and interdependence. This thoughtful, creative young Karmapa holds dear his childhood memories of growing up in Tibet and his feelings of being in harmony with the natural state. HH shared,

“Lacking in much formal schooling, I have developed a natural care and respect for the world around me. When I talk about protecting the environment, it’s not some abstract idea. I can feel it. I have a strong connection with it. Everything is sacred, and worthy of respect. “

As this holy season greets us, let’s join HH in appreciating and embracing this wonderful, magical, endangered planet we call home.

Happy Passover, Easter, Spring! Happy day!

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.

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.