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Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Personal Spiritual Life [Paperback]

Lama Surya Das
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 9 2000
Lama Surya Das, author of the bestselling Awakening the Buddha Within, is the most highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition. In this elegant, inspiring book, he integrates essential Buddhist practices with a variety of other spiritual philosophies and wisdom traditions, to show you how to create a personalized spiritual practice based on your own individual beliefs, aspirations, and needs. Through reflections on his own life quest, thoughtful essays, and entertaining stories, Surya Das examines the common themes at the heart of any spiritual path, including faith, doubt, love, compassion, creativity, self-inquiry, and transformation. He then explores prayer, yoga, chanting, guided meditations, breathing exercises, and myriad other rituals, providing practical examples of each that we can use day-to-day to nurture our inner spirit.

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Surya Das is like a Buddhist Johnny Appleseed, galavanting across the countryside, planting seeds of spirituality in bare patches of ground. He believes that we are all fertile soil for cultivating the sacred in everyday life. "We all have spiritual DNA," he says. In Awakening to the Sacred, Surya Das heightens his efforts to increase the planet's spirituality quotient by teaching people how to take advantage of their own spiritual resources. Whether Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or atheist, we can all enhance our spiritual side. Certainly meditating is a good way, and there's no one better to teach us than this limpid lama. But even more familiar activities can help, like praying, creating a spiritual notebook, or reading spiritual books--even gardening and walking count. Surya Das excels at demystifying the mystical and urges the reader to capitalize on resources closest at hand. No need to look too far when we can draw inspiration and practices from our own traditions. So take that apple seed, thumb through Awakening to the Sacred, and nourish those precious roots of spirituality. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The truth is that I feel as though I learn as much from my students as they do from me, writes Surya Das, an American lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and the author of the popular Awakening the Buddha. Here in the West, he adds, it seems appropriate that student and teacher should share Dharma in this way, finding their way together. In this affable, conversational tour of spiritual ideas and practices, the author, calling himself a spiritual player-coach, reaches out to the broad audience in this country who experience spiritual longing yet arent harnessed to a particular teacher or tradition. Dividing his book into three sections, Surya Das moves from a discussion of such major themes as rebirth and faith to spiritual practices, giving clear, simple instructions in meditation and the cultivation of the moment-by-moment awareness that Buddhists call mindfulness. With a disarming lack of pretension or reticence, the author explains his personal take on fasting, psychotherapy and prayer. Some of the prayers that I use include the concept of God or Divine Source or spirit, he writes. As a Buddhist and a Westerner, I am completely comfortable doing this. Others may feel differently. The book concludes with Surya Dass description of his own Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen: Dzogchen is about recognizing and realizing who we are. The author emphasizes that Dzogchen is grounded in principles of naturalness, openness and authenticity, and he demonstrates these qualities throughout. Offering the reader fresh, authentic impressions that are clearly the result of his own spiritual work and reflection, Surya Das emerges here as a genial post-denominational spiritual teacher, one whose straightforward approach to the esoteric deserves to reach a wide readership.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From theory to practice... March 19 2002
It's relatively easy to find a dozen books that lecture in technical Buddhist language, many written by authors that have spent a lifetime in spiritual isolation and many written by foreign authors that might not understand the depth of the difference between the American culture and the Buddhist philosophies. His excellent books provide both the theoretical background and the practices that any seeker on the Buddhist path yearns for - he prepares you for challenges and doubt, assuages your concerns and fears, empowers you to find your own path and seek in your own way, and strengthens your courage while helping in subtle yet powerful ways to diminish your ego.
This book is primarily about practice. The first section provides some additional theoretical background about Tibetan Buddhism (the Dzogchen lineage in particular) and then segues cleanly into literally dozens of meditations, prayers, chants and mantras that we can integrate seamlessly into our American lives. He provides plenty of information surrounding the more active forms of meditation such as Tai Chi or yoga. If you are looking for innovative ways to inspire or renovate your spiritual practice, his words may provide the kickstart that we all sometimes need to break free from a rut.
If you can't take years out of your life to study in a monastery, yet still want to find happiness and freedom, Surya Das may provide the tools that you need. This book is a classic, and will be lifted from my bookshelves many times in the coming years.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Awful, awful, awful... Aug. 8 2002
In light of other reviews here I may sound like a lone voice of dissent, but I really do have problmes with this book and much of Das's other watered down 'Buddhism for Treehuggers'. This is - in my opinion - a cosey, reassuring little tome for people who dont want to to go the effort of learning real Buddhism.
Stay well clear of this book - apart from anything else it portrays little of true Dzogchen practises.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to check this out from the library first Feb. 7 2009
I have mixed feelings about this book...

I do think this is a good book for those how still believe in their existing faith but perhaps have lost their way from their spirituality. Lama Surya Das provides many inspirational Buddhist practices to bring the Western-reader back to their spirituality without having to loose their existing religion.

For practicing Buddhists, I think you may find some value in reading this book, but perhaps there are many other books solely for Buddhism with its own special practices.

I enjoyed reading Part 1: Matters of the Spirit, which Lama Surya Das briefly touches on some of the Buddhists practices and truths. He, also, blends God and Buddhism quite nicely, for those who believe in God.

I didn't particularly like Part 2: Approaches to Spiritual Practice. I did find a few gems of practice, so it was still worth the read for those, but mostly I thought there was a lot of fluff. Plus I found the text was laden with Lama Surya Das' opinions. Some...a little outlandish. Without going into too much boring detail, I've give two quick examples: Lama Surya Das states that people should only do hatha yoga poses for spirituality, not for just exercise. That seems like a silly statement, as we all know every one has different goals in life. Another example is he promotes the use of drug treatment in therapy situations. While this may or may not be true, and though I am not entirely certain, however, I do not think Lama Surya Das is a certified therapist and has no authority on this matter.

Part Three: Coming Home to Your True Nature has some good suggestions, especially for the beginner.

All in all, before taking the time to read this rather lengthy book, check out all the reviews and perhaps peruse the table of contents before buying this book. Perhaps simply loan it out of the library.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover your spirituality, and yourself May 12 2003
In this book, Lama Surya Das acts as your guide to discovering spirituality and what it means for you. "Awakening to the Sacred" is like a guided tour through the world of spirit and soul, with Surya pointing out the sights along the way. "On your left, you see the mechanics of Karma..."
While this book draws heavily on Buddhist views and beliefs, it is refreshing to see that Surya Das does not ever try to force any views upon you. He merely describes the beliefs, techniques, and background, and allows you to decide for yourself. Even if you don't buy into the idea of reincarnation, for example, at the very least Surya will get you thinking about the possibilities.
This book is essentially a guide for those who wish to custom craft their own spiritual life. It allows you to decide how best to discover truth, and to discover yourself. Don't think this is a Buddhist book, because it is not. The lessons you take away from "Awakening to the Sacred" can be integrated into any lifestyle. You may not find yourself meditating at dawn and chanting while you shower, but you will certainly learn something about yourself as you journey through this book.
Definitely a must-read for those seeking truth and happiness.
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This book gives great insights into following the path of Buddhism and guides you through problems in everyday life when you think , your Buddhist principals are about to go out the window. It allows you to be yourself but still find the Buddha waiting inside.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The Pretentious Path to "Enlightenment"
Words can not describe how utterly disappointing this book was. The language is arrogant and assuming. Absolutely not intended for the begining Buddhist. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, yet striking.........
This is the second book I have read recently, authored by Lama Surya Das.

He puts things very simply, yet in a real manner. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2001 by Shine
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed My Way of Thinking
I spent a long time asking around for good book to introduce me to Buddhist thought practice. This book was simply wonderful. I can't give it enough praise. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brain Basher!!! Beware...
I read the book. Fine. Before I read the book, I was a Libertarian for Harry Browne. After I read the book, I voted for Ralph Nader and became a "Green". Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2000 by Bill Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars good advice for spirtual seekers
Lama Surya Das has a way of taking spirituality and bringing it to a level where anyone who is interested can learn. Read more
Published on July 5 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!
This one won't get dusty on my book shelf! A GREAT book to refer back to on a daily basis and to share with friends! WONDERFUL work!
Published on July 4 2000 by Crystal Rose, author of The Turning Point
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enlightening Experience
Lama Surya Das gives excellent advice, taken from thirty years of spiritual study, on how to bring the sacred into your everyday life. Read more
Published on May 17 2000 by Bret Gillan
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Insightful and Inspiring Journey
I couldn't put this book down. Its artful combination of wit and wisdom are a pure joy. Surya Das offers a taste of spiritual-real life through amusing and powerful anecdotes,... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 1999
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