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Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment [Paperback]

Lama Surya Das
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 15 1998
Lama Surya Das, the most highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition, presents the definitive book on Western Buddhism for the modern-day spiritual seeker.

The radical and compelling message of Buddhism tells us that each of us has the wisdom, awareness, love, and power of the Buddha within; yet most of us are too often like sleeping Buddhas.  In Awakening the Buddha Within, Surya Das shows how we can awaken to who we really are in order to lead a more compassionate, enlightened, and balanced life.  It illuminates the guidelines and key principles embodied in the noble Eight-Fold Path and the traditional Three Enlightenment Trainings common to all schools of Buddhism:

Wisdom Training: Developing clear vision, insight, and inner understanding -- seeing reality and ourselves as we really are.
Ethics Training: Cultivating virtue, self-discipline, and compassion in what we say and do.
Meditation Training: Practicing mindfulness, concentration, and awareness of the present moment.

With lively stories, meditations, and spiritual practices, Awakening the Buddha Within is an invaluable text for the novice and experienced student of Buddhism alike.

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If you dropped the Buddha into a modern metropolis, would he come off sounding like a 16th-century morality play or more like a drive-time disc jockey? Lama Surya Das doesn't spin platters for a living, but he does have a hip delivery that belies his years of sheltered training in Buddhist monasteries. In Awakening the Buddha Within, he borrows a time-tested bestseller format for a 2,500-year-old tradition that comes off as anything but ancient. With the "Five T's of Concentration," the question of "need or greed," and the story of the monk who bares his backside to prove a point, Surya Das invokes a path of wisdom that is as accessible and down-to-earth as a worn pair of loafers. It's not an easy path--it demands thought, effort, and discipline. But Surya Das is there for you, lighting the way to wisdom training, coaxing you into ethics training, and laying out step by step the path of meditation training. And if that's not enough to get you to live in the now, consider these words of the enlightened lama: "You must be present to win." --Brian Bruya


"A warm, accessible, deep, brilliantly written exploration and adventure along the Buddhist path." --Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

"[T]his is a great achievement and I feel deeply grateful for it."
--Thich Nhat Hanh, author of Living Buddha, Living Christ

"This open-hearted offering of the Buddha's teachings ranges from fundamentals to magic. It is a wonderful gift."
--Sharon Salzberg, author of Loving Kindness

"Wise and wonderful, gentle and profound. . . . This is surely one of the finest spiritual manuals meant for a larger public and it succeeds brilliantly."
--Ken Wilbur, author of A Brief History of Everything

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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a jug on his head and carry it up the hill and leave it outside my hut. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Handbook to Living Feb. 4 2001
Lama Surya Das has masterfully written an enlightening introduction to Buddhism, which should prove to be an enduring classic on the subject for years to come. He takes the ancient teachings of Buddhist traditions and wisdom and delivers them succinctly and wholeheartedly to the Western mind.
His astounding work is a source of inspiration and awareness that serves as a "handbook for living" that should be carried with us at all times and used often on our spiritual path. Regardless of the reader's religious or spiritual affiliation, these simple golden rules could change your life.
His introduction to the classic Buddhist teachings of The Four Noble Truths and The Eight-Fold Path are the most comprehensible and understandable that I have yet read. Finally, we are presented with a rich compilation that makes absolute sense and many readers will understand, for the first time, how to integrate this ancient Tibetan wisdom into everyday life.
Often, those of us curious about Buddhist philosophy and practice, find it hard to get beyond the dogma of the many teachings. Lama Surya Das succeeds in bringing the reader the most simple and fundamental ideas and lessons of Buddhism. Throughout the book, he reminds us to be responsible for our own thoughts and actions and to find the kindness, compassion and grace that are inherent in all of us.
For those challenged by meditation, Lama Surya Das strips away all the confusion and mystery around the practice of meditation and brings to the reader a profound understanding and "how to" guide to meditation -- the importance of which must be realized and embraced.
Toward the end of the book, he further reminds us that "We are modern mystics - living in monasteries without walls. The entire planet is our heaven on earth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars part of a great trilogy... Jan. 4 2004
I recommend Lama Surya Das' three books to anyone interested in Buddhism, spirituality, or the search for happiness. His background as a Jewish kid growing up in NY allows him an understanding of the Western world that even the Dalai Lama doesn't have.

His books are written in a plain-talk style instead of a textbook style.

But, most importantly, he explains how you can incorporate Buddhist practices and beliefs into your daily life without abandoning your native religion and/or converting to Buddhism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start Here Jan. 19 2009
What an amazing book! In this hefty volume Lama Surya Das explains, in great detail, the Buddha's teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-Fold Path. I've read similar teachings from other books, but what sets Awakening the Buddha Within apart is Lama Surya Das' Western view. Four hundred pages full of fabulous wisdom for the Westerner wanting to start a secular spiritual life using the ancient teachings of the Buddha.

Lama Surya Das writes very well, and is highly engaging, making this book an absolute pleasure to read, especially with all his colourful tales from his experiences in India learning from Tibetan monks.

Aside from the historical Buddha teachings, the Tibetan teachings, and his own experiences, Lama Surya Das also provides many suggestions on how to incorporate these practices into our own lives, with lots of marvelous guided meditations, each one building on the previous meditation, plus providing many, mainly Tibetan, fulfilling mantras. So, if just starting out, this one book will build your practice for several years without needing any other book.

One thing to note though: Lama Surya Das writes about how enlightening the practice and teaching of Lojong (compassionate living) can be, but he doesn't go into much detail, only providing several of his favourite "slogans", so if you are interested in learning more (or obtaining) all of the 59 Tibetan "slogans" you will need to find them in another book. Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron goes through the "slogans" in detail. Lama Surya Das does provide a lovely Tonglen meditation though.

This book is so great! It provides such a wealth of inspiration and practical information, I could write so much more about Awakening the Buddha Within...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't misunderstand what this book is about Aug. 7 2003
Like many other reviewers I have found Lama Surya Das' book a wonderful introduction to Buddhism. It gave me the inspiration, motivation and the means to bring a theoretical interest in Buddhist philosophy into my daily life. It showed me how I could give meaning to my desire for growth. In particular how I could integrate spiritual practice into my busy Western lifestyle.
The main thing in reading this book is to understand its role and purpose. It is an introduction, a stepping stone from which those interested in Buddhism can move forward. It demystifies, on a basic level, the complex concepts and ancient language that are inherent in Buddhism. It is not a substitute for more detailed scriptures and analyses, nor is it meant to be. It is certainly not a substitute for direct teachings of a qualified spiritual master, nor would Lama Das claim it to be. As a fully qualified master himself, he knows the difference.
To fully engage with Buddhism you will need instruction and guidance. You will need to develop practice as part of your life. You will need teachings and initiation from a qualified teacher. This book will not give you these things. It will however give you a thirst for these things and will provide a solid foundation for your growing understanding and practice.
It is also a wonderful source of ideas and "informal" practices for those who want to grow spiritually without necessarily taking refuge in the Three Jewels.
No-one expects to become enlightened from reading a single book, and anyone who expects this book to provide that is missing the point. If the book leads to even one person committing themselves to becoming a better person for the sake of all others, then it has done its job. The fact that it has done this for many, many people is good news for all of us.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I read this book slowly and practiced the meditations along the way. Great book.
Published 4 days ago by Barbara WEst
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great product, quick shipping - thanks !
Published 2 months ago by Fabie Dupéré
5.0 out of 5 stars ...
Everytime I re-read it I uncover more valuable lessons on how mindfulness and Buddhist wisdom transform the human mind. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mashenka
5.0 out of 5 stars Really easy and informative read
I've read a few books about buddhism and it's teachings and this was by far one of the most easy reads. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Eugenia Triandos
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you explain buddhism to those living a deeply integrated life...
Some say you don't, or you can't. Others, like the author of this book, say you should at least try. Read more
Published 8 months ago by David Lark
3.0 out of 5 stars Buddha Novel
I liked the quality of the writing and the modern outlook of a traditional concept. I will be purchasing again.
Published 10 months ago by Lorelei
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy for the mind
Very good book. Lots of interesting ideas and ways of thinking that can help sprout clear vision. Highly recommended. Meditate and be at peace!
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome stuff.
one of the best books on buddhist philosophy. Not necessarily a religious book though. Read it three times, it's that good.
Published on May 6 2010 by lafleurpetite
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and easy to read introduction to the core elements of Buddhism
Surya Das simplifies the concepts of Buddhism in everyday terms for the western world. He clearly and simply explains the basics of Buddhism, including the Three Jewels of the... Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2009 by Jerome Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone in search of warm and thoughtful guidance...
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It is the first book I've read on Buddhism. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something to tap into in order to... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2006 by Magda
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