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

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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/

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.

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!

A Poor Man Asked the Buddha

Buddhist Meditation  Teacher Lama Surya Das
Buddhist Meditation Teacher Lama Surya Das

A poor man asked the Buddha,

“Why am I so poor?”

The Buddha said, “You did not learn to give.”

So the poor man said, “But, if I don’t have anything to give?”

The Buddha said, “You have a few things:

The Face, which can give a smile;

The Mouth, you can praise or comfort others;

The Heart, it can open up to others;

The Eyes, they can look at the other with the eyes of compassion;

The Body, which can be used to help others.”

About Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das
Lama Surya Das

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.”

Today, he lectures and teaches around the world. With the Dalai Lama, he founded the Western Buddhist Teachers Network, and is the founder of the Dzogchen Center and Foundation in Massachusetts and California. For more information about Lama Surya Das, or about his workshops, books, and classes, please visit his website at Surya.org.

Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now with Lama Surya Das

 

Tune in as Sister Jenna interviews Lama Surya Das on the America Meditating Radio Program.

 
Lama Surya Das is an American-born lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He 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.” He has long been involved in charitable relief projects and in interfaith dialogue.

 

Lama Surya 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 a published author, translator, chant master, and a regular blog contributor at The Huffington Post, as well as his own AskTheLama.com blog site where he shares his thoughts and answers questions from the public each week.

 

Lama Surya travels, teaches and leads meditation retreats throughout the world. He is often called upon as a Buddhist spokesman by the media and has appeared frequently on TV and radio. He has been featured in numerous publications and major media, including ABC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and The Washington Post, to name a few. Lama Surya is the author of thirteen books, including his most recent bestseller, “Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now.” Visit his website at www.surya.org.

 

For more information on Surya’s books- visit www.surya.org/books/

 

You can also follow Lama Surya Das on Twitter @LamaSuryaDas

 

Connect with Lama on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lamasuryadas.