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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June 11, 1998
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Excerpt from Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das
Once the holy Hasidic master Baal Shem sent Yacov Yosef, his second-greatest pupil, an outstanding scholar and Kabbalist, to test the learning of Yechiel, a prospective son-in-law for Baal Shem's daughter, Udel. Yechiel, like the holy master, came from a simple German Jewish family. When Yacov Yosef returned from his mission, he reported back to the Baal Shem Tov: "Yechiel answered, 'I don't know' to everything I asked him. I wonder about this guy..." The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Oh God, I'd love to have such a man as my son-in-law." The young man told the simple truth, which is sometimes easier said than done, and the old rabbi recognized his wisdom. Words can be gifts, words can be weapons, words can be magic; words can be prayer, poetry, or song. What is traditionally known as Right Speech is the third touchstone on the Eight-Fold Path. So speak your truth. Tell it like it is. There is no reason to do otherwise. Everything You Say Can Express Your Buddha-Nature In a world of exaggerated advertising campaigns, exploitative talk shows, hate radio, and political spin doctors, Right Speech and impeccable expression may seem to be a rather tall order. Yet if we are sincere about embodying the Dharma, our words ideally will become a reflection of our desire to help others. Think kindly; speak gently and clearly. The wisdom of cause and effect--or karma--teaches us that everything matters--every breath, every syllable, every sentence. As we walk the path to enlightenment, nothing is meaningless, and it all counts. Imagine that all the thoughts and fragmented sentences that are just now swirling through your head were printed out on a giant chalkboard--like the daily menu in some restaurants. Which thoughts do you sincerely want to express? It's a choice we make--sometimes hundreds of times every day. With your words you confirm to the world, and yourself, what you think is important. Words help concretize our thoughts and concepts; they define our priorities, reify our ideas and opinions, and express our worldview and intentions. Words have power; to be specific,yourwords have power. We can use speech patterns to help us communicate with others in a more considered, conscious way, or we can be careless and create trouble with our words--trouble for ourselves as well as others. In the context of Dharma, speech is a particularly compelling issue because to reflect upon speech is to think about self, non-self, and others. Don't most of us use speech as an expression of ego and the need to hang on to and confirm our illusory self? Don't we use speech to communicate that we exist? "I'm here," we say, confirming and marking out our territorial space. To some extent, we all habitually use words to express ego and a false self. By putting forth our views, we use speech to shore up the concrete citadel of ego and the notion of "me" and "mine." We tell ourselves and others stories about ourselves and our lives. We speak to others; we speak to ourselves. What do we say? And why do we say it? When the Buddha talked about Right Speech or impeccable speech, what he meant was excellent speech that reflected inner wisdom, clear vision, and Buddha-nature. The instructions that come down to us from the Buddha concerning everyday speech are simple yet profound. On a mundane level, we are instructed as follows: Speak the Truth, Tell No Lies