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Awakening To The Sacred August 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Meditation, Mindfulness.
32 comments

In Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Spiritual Life, Lama Surya Das first examines Matters of the Spirit, touching upon common themes and questions at the heart of every spiritual path, including thoughts about faith, doubt, freedom, truth, love, compassion, and enlightenment.

In the remainder of the book, Surya Das offers a variety of spiritual practices for use by seekers of all backgrounds who wish to enhance their journey through life:  Meditation * Mindfulness * Spiritual Study * Yoga * Simplicity * Fasting * Prayer * Spiritual Readings * Journals * Chanting * Gardening * Breath * Haiku * Staying in the Moment.

At the outset, he reminds readers that awareness is the essential ingredient in a spiritual life:  the spiritual path is best walked step by step, very mindfully, with as much consciousness and commitment as one can summon.  He encourages seekers to incorporate daily practices to help get and keep them in touch with the essence of spirituality ~ peace, love, freedom and belonging.

As a Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Surya Das explains the teachings of Buddha throughout the book.  For example:

The Buddha’s teachings were concerned with finding the nirvanic peace and freedom of enlightenment, the end to all forms of suffering and delusion.   He saw these goals as being determined by the cause and effect of individual behavior without divine intervention. (p.23)

As a result of his Western upbringing, he addresses theistic religions with equal clarity and ease:

In all truly sacred traditions there is an essential resolve to cherish life and treat others ethically and kindly.  All these traditions encourage us to be open to divine presence, both within and without, and tell us to practice what we preach without hypocrisy or sleight of hand.  (p. 29)

Surya Das encourages us all to cultivate clear vision, as well as personal authenticity.  In other words, to see things as they are, and to be more fully who we are:

We practice Dharma when we stop clinging to our preconceived notions about what we should do and achieve.  We find truth when we learn to let go, accept, see things as they are, and just be.  We find truth by discovering our inner light, our inner value and values, our authenticity and genuineness.  This is living truly. (p. 114)

First there is enlightenment, when we start to see things as they are, and then, if we work at it, there is transformation, when we learn to live, embody, and stabilize those truths in our daily lives.

To experience either, you must stay awake and aware.

Surya Das emphasizes the need of all seekers to open their hearts and learn how to love unconditionally, without lust,  fantasy, or neediness ~ to love for the radiant joy of simply loving, without expecting a thing in return.  To increase our capacity for unconditional love we focus on its components:

(1) practicing forgiveness to free the heart and mind from excessive burdens so that we can experience this moment anew;

(2) practicing acceptance and understanding and seeing all beings as part of the whole;

(3) cherishing life by doing no harm, alleviating suffering, appreciating and valuing what we have, and generously giving to others;

(4) practicing compassion and empathy in order to open our hearts to the suffering of others;

(5) practicing warmth and kindness by being kinder, gentler, and more loving to those around us; and

(6) practicing joy by recognizing that life is a miracle to be celebrated.

When we are joyful and happy, we spontaneously share love with others.  We exude joy, kindness and warmth.  When our heart is singing, we lift the hearts of those around us:

The path of joy is the path of open-heartedness ~ the path of a heart filled with love.   So smile.  Make somebody happy.  Make yourself happy.  Learn to love.  Spread love.  Be love.  You’ll love it. (p. 151)

Written for anyone who wants to connect with the sacred, this book offers practical advice for incorporating the spiritual into our everyday lives.

May all peace, blessings, good fortune, and delight be yours.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Our essential nature, like the wateriness of water, does not change.  What changes is our capacity to share that essential nature with the world.