cover image Awakening to the Sacred

Awakening to the Sacred

Gutierrez, Author, Lam Kam Chuen, Author, Lama Surya Das, Author Broadway Books $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0274-8

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. (May)