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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. And my guest today is Lama Surya Das, who was an actual Buddha’s. I’ve had far too few of those considering the name of this show. So it’s great to have you on Yeah, well, I’m assuming
Lama Surya Das: you don’t need more Buddhists on the show but more guests true going. Good for that. Yeah. See,
Rick Archer: got a bit of that myself sometimes. Especially if I’m eating a lot of dried fruit.
Lama Surya Das: I’m thinking about like hot air you know, that, that that kind of
Rick Archer: people say in Australia that you know, gas implies and they call it petrol, you know, so, so gas implies some digestive disturbance or so yeah,
Lama Surya Das: we have that. shortage. Natural gas we call it.
Rick Archer: Let me read you a little bio here. Lama Surya Das is referred to affection by the Dalai Lama as the American Lama. He spent over 40 years studying with the great spiritual masters of Asia. He’s an authorized Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist order and the founder of the Zope Zen Center. So you Das is the author of the international bestseller awakening the Buddha within Tibetan wisdom for the Western world, and 12 other books, including his latest release, Buddhist Standard Time, awakening to the infinite possibilities of now, his blog, ask Bulama can be found at Escalon when.com and dot o it says.com on this thing assalamo.org to see his lecture, and I’ll be linking to all this stuff from my website, search turiya.org Is your site. And I listened to, I don’t know, six or seven hours worth of your talks over the past week, mostly while cross country skiing. And I really got the sense that you Well, first of all, I feel inclined, you’re one of these people to whom I feel like saying, congratulations on a life well lived, even though it’s far from over, hopefully, but you’ve really given it your all.
Lama Surya Das: I feel I feel happy and grateful. Thank you. And same to you. I understand. You’ve been meditating and following your teachers and gurus since I don’t know if I say when you’ve ever but I don’t know how old we are. I’m thanking 66. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Good got into it when I was. Well, I kind of first of all got into drugs a bit, as many of us did. And partly through the inspiration of your friend rom Das, who was Richard Alpert at the time,
Lama Surya Das: the 60s 60 consciousness expansion,
Rick Archer: did a bit of that for a year and then realized that was gonna kill me. And so I learned to meditate in 68. And you Yeah, I was kind of reminded Forrest Gump when I thought when I heard of your life, because, you know, not in the sense that you’re dumb or anything.
Lama Surya Das: I know. You’re saying wherever was happening. Yeah, you were there by accident, not by
Rick Archer: I mean, you know, here you were Jeffrey Miller, growing up on Long Island, studying Judaism, you know, a little bored with that. And then he ended up Woodstock and I suspect you probably inhaled. Then next thing I hear you’re in India with Neem Karoli Baba and the DAS brothers so my name Yeah. Surya das rom Das Krishna Das vitamin that’s all those guys. And then you end up like, I’m sure I’m skipping a lot. But you ended up in Tibet, and studying in monasteries and doing three year intensives and actually learning Tibetan. So you’re not really taking this stuff? Seriously.
Lama Surya Das: Yeah, my girlfriend in the 70s used to nicknamed COVID Sirius dots. But I’m much younger now.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Sounds like Dylan.
Lama Surya Das: If we take ourselves too seriously, life ain’t much fun. So I learned and you know, there’s a lot of joy and buoyance and lightness in the path in the Spirit. So it’s coming. It’s coming. Yes.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think we get more and more natural as time goes on. I should hope so. Less benches and less stuffing. I mean, look at you know, look at the Dalai Lama. Look at the new pope Ani. These guys are just sort of so natural. That’s what
Lama Surya Das: very inspiring both of them
Rick Archer: Yeah. Others.
Lama Surya Das: So it’s no there’s no shortage of inspiring models in the world. I People say there are no where are the gurus today? You know, but some of us they were the AVID seekers today. Of course, there’s both. And anyway, it’s not majority rule in the spiritual world, as you know, Rick, you know, to save one soul is to save the world, as it says in the Jewish wisdom, the Talmud, and the Buddha’s bodhisattva thinking is similar, as Buddha said, when I was awake is what were awakened, even the rocks and the trees. So that’s a little hard to understand rationally. But I could retranslate that loosely and say, when I’m clear, everything is clear. That’s understandable. So I think it’s very important, you know, what they call today the power of one, not to over emphasize the self with the ego, but the power of what if I can do it? If the Dalai Lama or the Pope or Jesus Buddha, anybody can do it? You can do it. Anybody can do it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I, one of the things I was listening to, you said that millions of people have gotten enlightened. And I wondered whether you guys I’m sure, I wondered whether you met throughout history or contemporaneously? Or what
Lama Surya Das: up in generally throughout history, you know, I haven’t taken a poll yet. contemporaneously, as you said,
Rick Archer: that’s not the right word. I think so. Many days.
Lama Surya Das: Doesn’t matter. Okay, who’s counting? poetic license here? You should use it. Just to say it’s not just one only begotten Son of God. There’s the Christos, the light, the divine in everyone, the Christ principle, the Christos in everyone and everything, not just only one begotten son, and then what about the daughters, etc. There’s not just one Buddha, there are infinite numbers of Buddhists as you can find in the Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. This isn’t just me wailing in the wind here, being you know, gassy, so there’ll be millions enlightened but of course, also, you know, what Enlightenment is how enlightened who knows, I’m not here, you know, I’m not trying to wait, the spirit with the postal scale. But just to say, it’s not that it’s closer than we think. You know, we may feel far from it. We may feel far from God, the path Dharma, we may feel far from Enlightenment. But let’s say let’s use the American word god, it’s just a placeholder anyway for the highest, which is, you know, so few can really understand and penetrate. We may feel far from God, but I assure you God’s never far from us. Not far at all. Yeah. You know, this is not original, but it’s a good saying, as people say, God hides in the last place that most of us will look inside ourselves.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Marshy. Mahesh Yogi said something similar. He said, God may be omnipotent, but there’s one thing he can’t do can’t take himself out of your heart.
Lama Surya Das: I never heard that. Thank you. That’s a nice one. That’s good. You know, that’s one Forrest Gump like scene that they must have cut out of my life movie. I never met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but I was at his ashram in Rishikesh. He was in America at the time, but I was there in 71 You know, when I was visiting those Rishikesh in those places, and doing yoga and living in ashrams. So I was at his ashram with The Beatles, etc, met him but I’ve never really done TM, you know, a lot of friends do it. Of course, it’s very popular and important. Dharma Western spirituality.
Rick Archer: Well, I’m sure that feeling you’re doing just fine.
Lama Surya Das: Right? Like a spiritual slight. I’ve done it with them all. Originally.
Rick Archer: Well, we’re talking about Enlightenment here, let’s, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing and that people understand what we use by the word, because it’s one of those words that gets thrown around. And if we don’t define it, then we might be saying one thing and 1000 different things are being heard. I’m
Lama Surya Das: sorry, I even brought it up. But now we’re stuck. We have to talk about It’s
Rick Archer: okay. I mean, we should talk about it. That’s ultimately what this game is supposed to be all about. So what is your understanding?
Lama Surya Das: Well, rather than give you tried out the traditional Buddhist or Tibetan Buddhist definition, I’m gonna use I’m using it like a placeholder for the ultimate. You know, even the word achievement is not the right word. The ultimate actualization of where we are and can be, you know, it’s a placeholder like the word God as I mentioned before, for something the rational mind can’t can scarcely grok or grasp comprehend. So, of course in Buddhism Enlightenment, we saw Anantara Samyak. Sam Bodie, full, complete unexcelled, irreversible Enlightenment, not just having an epiphany, a peak experience, a sad story or breakthrough to reality, but actually living there So that’s, you know, supposedly I wasn’t there. If I don’t remember Buddha got enlightened like that under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya miles outside Banaras in northern India, 2600 years ago, he’s the icon or archetype embodying Enlightenment, full Enlightenment, not that nobody else got it ever. I’m just saying. So that’s full, supreme unexcelled Enlightenment in English. You know, in theistic traditions, we might call it, God realization, Ramana Maharshi, practical Self Realization, you know, it’s the ultimate, quote, spiritual achievement. But you how to f the ineffable. You can’t really express these things. It’s not an achievement. It’s not like getting from here to there from here to heaven. It’s like getting from here to truly and completely here, 100% here, 200% here, how do we do that? And that’s more about being as well as doing balancing the doing and the achieving and the getting there with the being. Being there while getting there. Being there here while getting there. Being there while getting there every single step of the way. Every step of the way to heaven is heaven, as a saint said, I think was St. Catherine of Siena, Christian mystic. It’s a great
Rick Archer: martial goal is all along the path.
Lama Surya Das: That’s right. Every step of the way to heaven is heaven as Katherine Satsang. Katherine said, That’s a great reminder for us. People practicing mindfulness or hearing now Ness or presence or authenticity and aliveness, not to think Enlightenment to shine, you’re on the other side of the world or in heaven after we die. Heaven is on earth. There’s Nirvana, Enlightenment within samsara delusion as the Mahayana Buddhist scriptures say, but it still remains for us to confirm that rumor. Even though it says in the scriptures, we have to confirm it for ourselves, otherwise, it ain’t much good. It’s like reading menus doesn’t alleviate hunger. We have to eat.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and, but it seems to be I mean, for instance, when I was interviewing Joseph Goldstein a few months ago or something, and he alluded to Mahayana Buddhism as outlining four stages of awakening four primary stages, and we didn’t really have a chance to get into what those were, maybe maybe you can tell us about him, but the journey, but to my understanding, Enlightenment should be I mean, even though the you can’t really convey any experience in words taste of an orange and you can write 1000 words about it, but you’re not going to convey it anywhere near like, you know, the the vividness of actually eating one. But nonetheless, there should be certain characteristics of Enlightenment, which which can be discussed and described,
Lama Surya Das: much discussed. Yeah,
Rick Archer: millennia, right? For instance,
Lama Surya Das: often written down and also authoritatively, not just random, like Joseph was saying, and Joseph is a great authority among you know, Western teachers. He’s a real pioneer of Western Buddhism, as we call it, since he was Jewish on his parents side, like me, but Buddhist by training and choice. Joseph was alluding to and he’s, you know, very knowledgeable about this, but this is not any secret, I mean, that there are different kinds of Buddhism. And there are different schemes of the path. Just like there are different roadmaps. There are different projections of the world. The markets are projection of the globe as one but there are other ways of looking at the Globe. There are different ways of looking at the path in the old original route Buddhism, Theravada, and Buddhism. There’s the four stages leading to liberation, Enlightenment. I could detail them more in Mahayana Buddhism, which came a little later, later development and more including lay people and more pantheon of archetypes goddess like godlike archetypes, iconography, and so on my Yatta Buddhism, including Zen does the 10 stages of the path leading to full Enlightened Buddhahood involves Rihanna, Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, pottery on a Buddhism, so called Tibetan Buddhism, diamond path, tantric Buddhism, there’s the four stages of like cosmic awareness holder, full Enlightenment. So these are different stages on the path and each is characterized by different, let’s call them enlightened qualities, you know, transcendental virtues, not just ordinary virtues, you know, divine like virtues. So in this first four steps of the path and the first step, you have to experience nirvana. That’s called stream entry when you touch for however long a time was moment or minutes or hours, even the stream of Nirvana it’s called stream entry sotapanna and that uproots some of the base Like obscurations, like dualism, but not greed. So in the second or third dips in river of Nirvana, this is just the metaphor. It’s a deeper dunk. You know, it’s like the first dip is like, this is a ridiculous but wonderful, let’s say, New York Jewish analogy. It’s like if you have a cucumber and you want to pickle it, you can dunk it in vinegar. It doesn’t become pickled in one dunk, or in one half hour. But it has to sit in it longer and to pickle it, but once it’s pickled, it can’t go back to cucumber hood. To be funny. Yeah, so similarly, with this scheme of the four steps leading to Enlightenment and the original Buddhism, stream entry, once return or to this world, rebirth, non returner, and then our hot liberated St. Enlightenment. So that’s one scheme. And at each step, you gain more enlightened powers and qualities, psychic powers, enlightened powers or qualities like ego, lessness, selflessness and selfishness, like uprooting greed and lust and so on, like uprooting the illusion of duality, and so forth. So once it’s, that’s the path of purification, according to let’s say, Josef’s original school, the old school of original school Theravada Buddhism In Mahayana Buddhism, there’s the 10 steps of boomy steps stages leading to full Enlightenment. And each stage, you uproot some of these collations or obscurations, covering the inner light, if you want to call it that, where some coolant leaks, you plug or you dry up some of these leaks, you know, like well leaking less than we’re leaking, distracted energy, and we’re leaking here and there, and so that your spirit is more intact. It’s just another metaphor. But you burn off the obscurations, covering the innate Buddha within the Buddha nature in a fuzziness to guard the guard but the Buddha nature within that will reach Buddhists by nature, we only have to recognize and realize who what we are. So in the Mahayana scheme, it’s more emphasizing that and our Buddha nature and burning off the dross, the obscurations covered like the clouds covering the innate sun of Buddha Enos, of wholeness and completeness, or uncorruptible time was beginningless and endless, unborn Buddha nature. Dharmakaya says we’re all Buddhas. By nature, we only have to recognize or realize that fact. That’s the meaning of Enlightenment experience. And then when we really stabilize that mature that realize that unshakably reversibly, we get to attend the 11 stage of Buddhahood. So there’s different kinds of Enlightenment in each level, not just remove some of the obscurations, defilements, negativities, whatever you want to call them, veils, some call it, but comes with it. Many powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal monks, like the Superman saw, like the power to heal. But I’m not just to my power of power tripping or megalomania, the power to heal the power to read minds know what others need, and how to help them. The power of mag, you know, magnetize brings things together, whatever is needed to fulfill the needs and wishes and aspirations of all the beings. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the power to restore the Earth, the globe, environment, to health and balance, wouldn’t that be nice. So their psychic powers their other spiritual powers. siddhi, as we call them, says, at each level, they say I’m missing Buddhist doctrine. At the first level of the bodhisattva is the awakening spiritual warrior on the path of Buddhahood. You can manifest like 10 beings, at the second level, you can manifest like 100 beings powers at the third level 1000. Let’s think about it. We don’t know what level the Dalai Lama is on, he doesn’t talk about himself. And we’re not this is not like an army or Catholic Church where you know what rank everybody is entirely you can judge that. But he has a lot more power than the average monk or the average person, power to help power to inspire power, purity, you know, so on. So maybe he’s at the second, third, fourth or eighth level, I don’t know. So he can manifest like 1000 or 10,000 ordinary people. So it’s not just mysterious psychic powers that one may or may not believe in, but very practical powers like the like leadership power, like the power, the ability, the talents to inspire others, empower others, and so forth. It’s very relational all of this. So yes, in light as you said, Enlightenment should have some characteristics or qualities and it’s a path where you develop them, you cultivate them, which important part of Buddhism not pray. Think through some creator or source for blessings and powers and until about power so much it sounds like you know, not praying for Enlightenment, but not praying to become a better person, although we do. But cultivating being a better person, like Buddha’s is Buddha does, which is one of my book titles about this subject of the 10 how to be a bodhisattva in life, spiritual, altruistic activist bodhisattva world,
Rick Archer: the reason I find it an interesting topic, the idea of defining Enlightenment carefully and clearly and precisely and, and all the stuff you were just saying about all the different levels and stages, is that, you know, obviously, these days in the West spirituality is all the rage, there are a lot of people who wish well, you know, at least you’re saying, among our circles, anyway, there are a lot of people who are, you know, sincerely enthusiastically dedicated to or interested in spirituality that are a lot of people are having awakenings. I mean, I guess I get emails from people all the time, who, maybe many of whom hadn’t even done any spiritual practice, and just out of the blue one day boot, something big happen, and they don’t know quite what to make of it. And then there’s a Tibetan saying, which I’m, which I often quote, which you may have heard, which is, don’t mistake understanding for realization, don’t mistake, don’t mistake realization for liberation. And I think that in a way, the, you know, understanding of the full range of spiritual possibilities in our western culture is fairly fledgling state. And this creates a lot of confusion of, you know, people having some little awakening and thinking its final, setting themselves up as the supreme such and such, you know, on the basis, that’s some generic thing. It, it results in, you know, people putting people up on pedestals and just all kinds of, and kind of shortchanging themselves really in a way by assuming that just gaining some understand intuitive understanding and sticking to that for the final attainment is their shortchanging themselves. So I think that the more we can infuse a clearer understanding of the full range of possibilities. And know the various stages that one traverses, going through that range, the more valuable bullet will be for our spiritual engagement and the
Lama Surya Das: West. Well, that’s what we’re working on, isn’t it? Yeah. But the more you know, profound, meaningful, transformative spiritual engagement.
Rick Archer: And obviously, a culture like Buddhism, which has been around for 2600 years, has worked this out to a great degree. I mean, he asked about 730 names or so and the brightest having been at this game for so long, have really kind of nuanced it to a great degree,
Lama Surya Das: because we have 100 words for mind, or consciousness or spirit or inner light and things like that. But you know, what I detailed some of those things before in a semi scholarly way, because he asked me about the four stages that Joseph Goldstein was talking about. So that’s the path of purification and the path of Enlightenment and in gradual terms, but it’s a cut through all that. Like Lao Tzu says, in the Tao Te Ching, which I greatly recommend to everybody, it’s not a Buddhist text is maybe the wisest book ever written. And I like Stephen Mitchell’s translation for my students. The doubt to Ching says the way that can be weighed is not the true way. You know, the name that can be named the meaning of the ultimate is not the true ultimate. And that’s why some religions and I’ll give a nod here to Islam, they’re good at that. But, you know, also Judaism, says, there’s no there shouldn’t be any image of God or of the one because any image is not the real image. It’s a human. You know, fabrication. There isn’t shouldn’t be any name. Of course, there’s 1000 Names of God, but they’re all just placeholders or nicknames. I would say, if you’re Jewish, you might know that. Theoretically, we’re not supposed to write the word God out because you can’t really say the name so use a hyphen, G W D if you’re writing like a little report in Hebrew school, GW D and in Hebrew. So in Hebrew, we call them Hashem the name it doesn’t, you know, so you don’t say named God, Yahweh? burps Oh, that’s me. So it’s impossible to express it Wordsworth for the rational mind to comprehend it, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been talked about discussed and experience. So as you were saying, there’s a difference between and this is a spectrum of development of wisdom and realization, information and learning and understanding ending and knowledge and experience and insight, and even further insight, self realization, you know, surgery relies on realization, liberation and Enlightenment. So wisdom is over here, and information which we live in the over information age, but I don’t know how much good it does us on the spiritual side, a lot of information, so a lot of understanding or a lot of knowledge, but not that much insight, self knowledge and wisdom. So the spiritual path to move, you know, again, to cultivate wisdom and develop wisdom we can develop and it’s like our muscles, we all have it within, but they’re not all. Firm, they’re not all very healthy, some are very flabby from disuse. So cultivating that, and not just mentally, experientially, you know, both sides of my brain to talk modern, the intuitive as well as the rational sides of our brain, the masculine feminine energy is very important to include the body and so the heart and mind. So I think that’s important to remember. And, you know, if we were to theistic tradition, to really bring God into our lives or become closer to god or goddess, and to realize it, not just in ourselves, but in each other, and all in everything, to see the world that way as like an altar. And everyone and everything is the gods and goddesses on it a bit. aluminous perception of, of oneness, when we call on Tibetan, the natural, great perfections Oh, Jen, everything perfect and complete as it is, even though we could still use a little tweaking, you know, we’re still working to become better people and work for a better world. And yet, there’s a deep acceptance or equanimity or centeredness, amidst it all, taking in the big picture, you know, developing gradually through time on the gradual path of Enlightenment, as well as, in the fourth time, the holy now, divine time that bisects every moment in horizontal, linear time, timeless time, the fourth moment, being totally here now divine time, not just the changing times in every moment. So it’s not so that’s called sudden Enlightenment. And in Buddhism, least has been 1500 year old debate about whether, you know, Buddhism, Nepalese Enlightenment is sudden or gradual, and I think it’s sort of both ends. Well, wasn’t it so gradual cultivation, sudden realization is not contradictory compliments. Yeah,
Rick Archer: exactly. I mean, there are some Buddhist fellow you probably know his name, who contemporary who said, Enlightenment may be an accident, but spiritual practice makes you accident prone.
Lama Surya Das: Yes, yeah. Robert Akin, Roshi Zen master, very wise, say. So in Tibetan Buddhism, we say, you know, similarly, and because because we don’t live in the world of oneness and non duality. We live in the world of, you know, we’re animals and we’re human beings, and we have rational minds, we live in a world of duality. Well, no, that is actually the oneness itself. But you know, the one is in the many and so forth. But in the world of duality, there’s cause and effect and karma, and is helpful in harmful acts, and so on. So even in the great perfection, you know, that’s the view from above, but the view from below is climbing up the mountain, you know, through ethical practices and mind training, and good deeds and help altruism, developing loving kindness and compassion and everything, all the spiritual virtues common to pretty much all the spiritual, sacred traditions in the world. So balancing that swooping down from above, we call it in Tibetan Buddhism, swooping down from above with the big picture, the view, oneness, equality, great emptiness, we call in Buddhism, while climbing up the spiritual mountain or path from below through relative practices, ethical morality, good deeds and so on, trying to get a better rebirth, as they say, In Hinduism, trying to ascend the ladder of Enlightenment, as they might say, In Buddhism, you know, climbing up the path from below, according to our past relative capacities and aspirations. So swooping wall climbing, not just looping, like skiing straight down the mountain and having a crash landing, and not just climbing and losing sight of the whole forest. Chris will last in the trees and fighting all the way over whether with the other religion is whether you should go left or right. It might look like you’re going in different directions, but as well as sending the same mountain with the same goal. So you know, generally speaking, not theologically, even the Dalai Lama says let’s not argue about the difference between heaven and Nirvana. Let’s just recognize the very similar same goal for now. Leave the those new theological nuances and differences for the theologians to work out So I think it likes looping while climbing like being there while getting there. Like five, seeing the one in the many seeing our Buddhist practices, seeing the Buddha with a Buddha Ness, the Buddha, nature, the perfection, the beauty in all and everything, not just the people you love and like your kids and your mother and your mate and your dog, cats, dog, all beings, not just human beings. This is a challenge. And it’s where Buddhism maybe has a little bigger purview than Christianity, I don’t know. This is my, you know, I’m rooting for my team here. You know, all beings, the Buddha nature in all beings, all beings endowed with the Spirit, not just human beings. That’s why we don’t kill animals and so on, or even become vegetarian, not just human beings have this inner light, I don’t want to say so it’s not a Buddhist word, but inner light the spirit. Well,
Rick Archer: if the, if this inner light or spirit or pure Self, whatever we want to call it is the ultimate reality. If it’s the ground state of the universe, then obviously, it’s probably from one perspective, it can be said to be all that exists, actually. But if we want to sort of concede to duality, then at least it’s got to be at the core of everything. You know, it’s all pervasive. These all rocks,
Lama Surya Das: everything. Buddhist teaching nothing, this is not nihilism. It’s not it’s not a thing. You know, these things are not a thing, but also it’s everything. Yeah. So if we can hold that at the same time, then we have a bigger mind, you know, the book, excuse me, both hands, you electric. Electrons are both waves and particles. You know, they’ve been arguing for years, whether it’s wave or particle, but they’re both, and neither, because it’s hard to print it down. Just like when neither one nor separate. We’re not entirely one, but we’re not entirely separate.
Rick Archer: It’s the paradox. It’s paradoxical. That’s why it’s the certain members of circus commercial search as a Candyman. No search is a Breathnach.
Lama Surya Das: Yes, search is two minutes in one. Click, getting back to the two in one, the duality in the unity, the unity and the duality works both ways to God in, I don’t want to say man, that’s all right with God, and in us, all beings and all beings in God, if you want to use those words, it’s very, it’s like fingerpaint, these kind of imprecise, but what it does is this fingerpainting, the songs and poems and scriptures, and all of this is very imprecise, once it’s translated and watered down into language, human and rational thought, which is, you know, the intellect is an excellent servant tool, but a poor master. The problem is with too much under Thrall, so that’s why silence, or other irrational kind of like art are beautiful. It’s like spirit, alive at work outside of religion, outside of organization, outside of politics, and churches, you know, the church is a political institution, every church, every religion, that’s that, like the building, but the living spirit inside the building, or the Church of the people, the living spirit is what’s important. Not the building, or the group, the group is important community is important. But the real church you know, is the living spirit and inside the living spirit, the heart of it, the hearts blood is like the mystical experience or the experience the isn’t the author. In the beginning was the logos, you know, that’s what it says it doesn’t say was the word was logos and what is logos mean? The law, reality, as it is, truth is hard to translate. Not in the beginning was the word like love, it’s like oh, in the beginning was the own but what is own it’s just cosmic vibration,
Rick Archer: kind of primordial impulse or something
Lama Surya Das: primordial vibration or energy, undifferentiated even its own, it’s already like become differentiated.
Rick Archer: Getting back to the swooping and climbing for a minute. What what I have seen is that there are definitely people who are smokers, and others who are climbers and who haven’t quite integrated the two. In other words, there are people who take, I think, a largely intuitive intellectual view of the ultimate reality and go on to say things like, well, you know, since there is no person, there can be no valid practices, because practices are only going to reinforce the notion of a practice or a person and therefore you really can’t do anything and they go on and on like that.
Lama Surya Das: Yeah, that’s okay. But this is what I have to say that. Why are they talking about this? Yeah, why are they giving so and practice their way.
Rick Archer: Well, a lot of them they would probably
Lama Surya Das: raise this also away. The formulas is one more form.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m sure you’ve run into this
Lama Surya Das: middle way, I’m not saying Buddhism, middle way of balance, not too much nihilism, nothing is it not too much material realism, everything is what it seems to be the middle way. And there’s many lanes in the middle way, not just the razor’s edge down the middle as many lanes, let’s just try to stay out of ditches. On one side, idealism on the other side, sort of materialism or realism, everything is just what it seems to be, because things are not what they seem to be. But as it says, In the Buddhist scripture, things are not what they seem to be. Nor are they otherwise, yeah.
Rick Archer: I’m going to be interviewing a physicist, it is I’m going to be interviewing physicists next week. And, you know, a physicists would tell you that, ultimately, and if you analyze a bus, there’s no bus there. You know, it’s, it’s just sort of, kind of unmanifest probabilities or something, you know, in the backing state. But to try stepping in front of one, you have to kind of respect the laws of nature at every level of creation.
Lama Surya Das: So that’s why we like sleeping and climbing is being there while getting here’s an example of just a general doctrine of two levels of truth or reality, like absolute and relative or conventional, like in old language, God and man, you know, there’s Heaven and Earth, but they’re not that separate, they’re inter mingle, I think is the way to look at it. So in the absolute, nothing matters, we’re gonna die, you know, planets are gonna go back to the sun and the sun is just a tiny.in, the Milky Way, which is just a tiny.in the universe, let’s not forget that perspective. So how do you know? How much does it matter if I have a bad hair day or a bad hair life? In the scheme of billions of beings life just on this tiny.of A globe? And yet, does it not matter a lot, whether you kick will kiss your child on when you send them out the door to school in the morning? Of course it does. And it’d be insane to think otherwise. So balancing the absolute picture, what we call shunyata, badly translated as emptiness or voidness kind of subjectivity, with the relative truth of karmic formations and cause and effect, that one thing leads to another and different parts. And you know, the nucleus is different than the atom, the protons and the neutrons to go to your physics level. And there are parts that comprise the atom and the atoms comprise the molecule and the molecules, you know, the elements and the elements comprise, whether it’s buses, cars, like you said, step inside of in front of a bus, see what happens. Yeah, and a bus is different than a motorcycle and a motorcycle is different than an orange. That’s the world we live in of duality. As soon as there’s two there’s 2 billion Myriad’s in the oneness, there’s no differentiation. There’s certainly better, right. It’s just vanilla
Rick Archer: one. Other flavors. There’s a Sanskrit saying, I know Rania Maha toma here, which means greater than the greatest smaller than the smallest. And I think they should add everything in between, like you were just painting this picture of the galaxies. And recently NASA said they think that it might be about four 40 billion planets that potentially are inhabitable. In our in our galaxy alone.
Lama Surya Das: In our galaxy ally, little galaxy alone. Yeah,
Rick Archer: of course, there are billions of galaxies. But the cosmic picture but then you know, as you say, you don’t take your child you know,
Lama Surya Das: it was a difference between virtue and vice, let’s bring it down to that level, kiss or kick you choose.
Rick Archer: And we are trying to define Enlightenment earlier, I would say that one definition would be the having established the ability is the right word, but the capacity to incorporate within what the right ones range of experience, the cosmic vastness and the minutiae at the same time, you know, that every every little, you know, iota of experience in our human life. And having those two so perfectly integrated or balanced, that one does not usurp the other, but they’re all kind of harmonious to support one another.
Lama Surya Das: So that’s what we call the Middle Way or way of balance and integration. Integration is very important. And Ken Wilber has a life work about this called integral theory, and it’s his 20 books are a wonderful contribution to modern thought. But I think to be practical, the question is always how do we bring it down to our life? How do we live in a more enlightened way? And even bigger, create, you know, contribute to a more enlightened society, family world?
Rick Archer: So how to do it? What do you advocate? Oh,
Lama Surya Das: I advocate very simple day to day practices cultivations,
Rick Archer: which you teach.
Lama Surya Das: Well, teaching is one of them, perhaps, but
Rick Archer: I mean, you teach the such practices for people. Yeah, I,
Lama Surya Das: I met meditation and chanting and prayer, and yoga, Tibetan yoga, self inquiry. And also I encourage questioning and shaking the tree, you know, not just believing what you hear. And openness, always trying to cultivate or maintain, you know, he’s just words, an open mind and upbeat attitude, a positive attitude. Even to what the dark side where we don’t like, you know, bit love is big, unconditional love is huge. That’s what we’re cultivating much bigger than the polarities over here, like in this life, much smaller, love, and liking this life. So very practically living a sane, mindful, unselfish life. If I use boring words, you know, ethical moral life words. Yeah, I’m just saying, you know, people, like you said, spirituality is hot today. I don’t think ethics is. But these are timeless, Evergreen subjects very important. You try to give your children care, to try to help your children grow up and have character and dimensions, you know, real decent people, not the opposite.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, I mean, maybe ethics, ethics should be hotter, because I mean, there have been so many instances in spiritual circles, where there has been a lack of it, when people have gotten in trouble. And crazy.
Lama Surya Das: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But yes, that’s true, you know. So if you ask what I do, or what I you know, believe in or advocate was your word, then having a spiritual life. First of all, you have to say that because a lot of people say, you know, you know, I don’t go to church, synagogue, whatever, I don’t believe you know, we live in a postmodern era. So, you know, people are too smart for their own good or something. And so mental, and losing touch with the heart, and love. So, I think, you know, finding a real way of life that what Native Americans got hose out, harmony and beauty, not just out of beauty, but inner beauty and character and beautiful relate harmonious, loving, meaningful, meaningful, authentic relations. So in Buddhism, we have, you know, Buddhism, we don’t pray to God for these things we cultivate we practice them cultivate Bhavana is the key word cultivate. We cultivate mindfulness, being open and aware and everything in my moment, here now, like dogs are good at doing goes may have other weaknesses,
Rick Archer: I think that she’s thinking of breakfast.
Lama Surya Das: You know, that’s one reason we love little children and pets. So in the moment, of course, we have to become again, like little children, not stay in a state of Arrested Development, we have to become more childlike, not childish, right? So there’s a certain discrimination to be made. So mindful living and ethical, loving, and generous, loving, and compassion, and action, and so on. And so mindful relations, also beautiful and not just mind heartful soulful relationships also is a big part of it. So that’s what I advocate for islands and loving kindness and action is very, very important. I want to mention in our violent times,
Rick Archer: some people say that you can only act from your level of consciousness that that’s that, you know, you can’t necessarily be ethical if you have a level of consciousness that just doesn’t sort of spontaneously Express ethical qualities and so that the, the, the horse versus the car is raising the level of consciousness. Absolutely. And then the car, namely ethical behavior will follow.
Lama Surya Das: Absolutely, yes, that’s where that’s what I said about spiritual life. I advocate, cultivating and having a spiritual life, which anybody can do. You know, people joke and say, Oh, my wife has the spiritual gene, but I don’t you know, it’s not a matter of a gene.
Rick Archer: You have a spiritual lifestyle.
Lama Surya Das: And it doesn’t have to be a spiritual religious life. It could be a secular, ethical and impeccable life. You know, I don’t know who would be a good example of that.
Rick Archer: Nelson Mandela who just died. Yeah.
Lama Surya Das: Nelson Mandela is not a religious leader. He, but he’s very, you know. Wonderful. Yeah. How without defeat
Rick Archer: rabbit he taught by his example of forgiveness, and yeah had an influence on the whole country by virtue, he could have gone the other way. Yeah, so retribution,
Lama Surya Das: right, or, again, you know, there are secular saints also. So, inside and outside the religious traditions, they’re still humanism and human values, and other great virtues. So I think it’s important to be open to that. And of course, education is the key is the silver bullet. And so have to get get, you know, bring these things into the home, through our own example, not just the words, because the kids learn from what we do, and you say, what we be, not just what we say, right? They get they learn, and they become, they model what we be. And that’s about consciousness, that’s about the inner, not what we say and what we do. And at the home, and then in education, we need to bring the wisdom back into education, not to mention higher wisdom higher and higher education today, it’s just like me a vocational training. So I think, ethics and you know, attention and concentration exercises could be helpful. I’m not, you know, you mentioned bring religion into the classroom, because that’s such a hot topic. But in this country of ADHD, children and Ritalin, or prescriptions, concentration and attention exercises, non competitive sports, like martial arts and yoga and things could be so helpful for kids in their mind, body and mind, heart, and so attention span, concentration, focus, all of these things, and then later, leading to self inquiry and self knowledge, and spiritual realization. So that’s kind of thing I’m writing and thinking about these days, beyond my, you know, 15 books on Buddhism and meditation and Eastern thought,
Rick Archer: yeah, there are some good programs like that. I mean, you’ve seen that movie doing time during the past. Yes, teaching the past and in the prisons. And I know, there’s a lot of programs like that in the US. And the David Lynch foundation is tg TM, and prisons and schools in the inner cities. So
Lama Surya Das: there’s a lot of mindfulness, mindfulness without the Buddhism necessarily component, mindfulness and awareness, prac, contemplation and every hospital, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and mindfulness in schools. And, you know, this is all good. And so I think we try to bring this into the mainstream by making it very secular. And today, it has to have data attached to it for people believe it’s a scientific, there’s a lot of good new neuroscience techniques and studies about the benefits, especially the health benefits of these things. mental and physical health is a huge new Dharma Doer gate from Western society that these practices and values are coming in through.
Rick Archer: Well, it’s interesting, you know, because you mentioned the Ritalin and all the kids with ADHD and stuff like that. It’s almost like the way we’ve been doing things has gotten to the point where it’s proven to be so deficient and so inadequate, and that to the point, and that, in itself has made people open to other possibilities and you know, open to things which might have seemed to out there to unconventional a few decades ago. So the stuff that you’re mentioning is it’s seeping into the culture rather quickly, as far as I can see,
Lama Surya Das: it definitely is. And it’s been well studied and researched as much less threatening than it was some time ago. You know, when people were worried and had to kick the Goonies off campus or out of the Harry Krishna, dancers and chapters out of the airports, and, you know, mindfulness and the new neuro dharma as I called neuroscience, about neuroplasticity, and how intention and consciousness can change your mood and your, your, you know, happiness quotient and things like that this is all very much acceptable now today, and this is a good direction. But it’s not without its downside, you know, it can be a bit reductionistic because there’s not a lot of Enlightenment or sacred values in it, but there’s good mental and physical health values in humanistic values. And so I’m all for it, as long as the rest doesn’t get lost. You know, like modern Judaism, Christianity in this country has become so watered down that we’ve lost the mysticism although the mysticism is still there, no doubt on the ground. So with the Eastern thought traditions that are newish in this country last 100 years, I’d like to just keep an eye on not being overly reductionistic and scientistic. And also keep alive the mystical or hard to measure elements and the goal and purpose which is total transformation, God realization, self realization, so called Enlightenment Buddhahood, Enlightenment by any other name. It’s still a sweet that it did become a Buddha than a mere Buddhist. That’s what I would say.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, that’s all I’ve certainly been my motivation or orientation all these years. But you know, one thing kind of leads to the next then, if you want to come into a school system and offer complete Enlightenment and Buddha, you probably get the block. But if you start with, let’s say, a yoga class and why people do that for a while, and then what more to this and then we’ll kind of they start getting motivated to look a little deeper.
Lama Surya Das: What chanting and breathing as concentration exercises are walking meditation. You know, even without the word meditation, just walking on a line on the tennis court or on the rug, or on the beach is a great concentration, practice focused for kids, and can be done in a group as well as individually, it’s very easy, and there’s no beliefs or theology attached to it. So it’s really important to be bringing these things in to our child rearing and education, but also, to circle back to what you’re saying, into our own lives. Not just what we do, but our state of consciousness, who we are and what we be. That’s crucial. So it comes back to practicing was walking our talk, practicing what we preach. So since us what I advocate, I’ll take another cut at this at the same pie really, I teach besides the three trainings of Buddhism, ethical character development, meditation and concentration, and wisdom and self knowledge, the three trainings the Eightfold Path and Buddhism. I teach a non Buddhists who are sort of not just Buddhist, six building blocks of Enlightenment or six building blocks of a personal spiritual life. First, having a daily ish spiritual practice, like meditation or yoga or prayer or something daily ish, personal individual where we do it means not just go on Sunday, once a week, daily is personal spiritual practice, like we meditate every morning and night, or some things like that. And second, some form of study or learning. Otherwise, you don’t know what you’re doing some learning to do do it and do better. So study and practice or theory and experience goes together experiential learning, theoretical, study, and practice. And third, if you’re not a book, person study could mean opening the book of nature, introspection, studying your relationships and things. And third, some form of working on yourself like therapy or men or women’s groups or journaling, creative work, some form of inner growth work. So these first triad of the six building blocks of a spiritual life is more alone ish, daily spiritual practice study or theoretical background, and inner growth work and inquiry. And the next triad of the six is more with others ish. Fourth, community practice, it takes a village, it’s hard to do it alone, maybe you have kids jobs, in laws and so on to take care of your old elders in your mother’s apartment. So it’s hard to do alone practice, but group practice family community volunteering. And fifth, a teacher practice having some elder or teacher advisor spiritual mentor can be very, very helpful. And six, service giving back. Very important. So these with others practices group or community practice teacher working with elders and those who are a little further along on the path practice. And the last one last but not least, save a service to God through serving humans save a serving the highest or serving the lowest save, volunteering, generosity, compassion, and action. Well, good parenting being an informed citizen who votes participating. So all of this, so three, aloneness and three with others, and six building blocks of a spiritual life, like an non sectarian Enlightenment program for the postmodern era. Don’t be overwhelmed listeners, if you do any one of that, or two of them, it’ll definitely change your life. Everybody doesn’t need to have a teacher guru. Everybody doesn’t need to want to belong to a group. Everyone doesn’t isn’t a study or, but just look at the idea. It’s a kind of balanced, well rounded program. So pick up what you can and the good news is my friends were already doing it. Some of us are doing parts of it a little bit already. This is not very far and so rejoice and fortify those parts of your life.
Rick Archer: And sometimes it’s different things at different stages a person will go through a stage where they’re doing a whole lot of saver for instance, and another maybe a different stage where they’re reading a lot of books and then they get they feel I can’t read another book. I gotta go out and you know, do this. So you really simultaneous So
Lama Surya Das: when you’re young and single, you can study a lot of do solitary things or go on retreats and pilgrimages by yourself. As I said, when you’re older, maybe you have kids and in laws and applause and downloads, and enabled to take care of. So it’s hard to do alone, but you do the group practices. And any one of these can take you all the way. By the way, that’s the secret of the eight limbs of yoga. Not just physical yoga, but service, you know, yoga and devotional yoga and philosophy, yoga and Mantra, yoga, meditation, yoga, and all of these Yogi’s any one of them can take you on the way devotion service can take you all the way. That was the path of Mother Teresa. She wasn’t an intellectual theoretic I guess, study can take you all the way I don’t know who to quote on that. But there are some philosophers like I don’t know who were very rational like Krishna Murthy may be your, I don’t know St. Thomas Aquinas, it seems like studying took the ball away. It
Rick Archer: kind of depends on how you’re wired. You know, I mean, yes, different different strokes for different folks. Some people are intellectual, some people are devotional emotional, some people are simple and they just want to I mean, Shankar is main disciple was named Troika. And there was a story where Shama had four main disciples and the other three were sitting with chakra waiting for the discourse to begin, and they were the big intellectuals and chakra Titiksha was down by the river, washing the clothes, and the other three were saying, Why are we waiting for this guy doesn’t understand the discourses anyway. And then, at a certain point, they heard this beautiful melody coming from the river getting closer and closer, this unknown new way of, of devotional singing and it turned out of its throat again, through his devotion in his service, he had spontaneously attained Enlightenment. And he was the one who became the principal of the four chakras chakra chart is established the seat and Dzogchen. So it didn’t know that story. That’s marble, yes, that he was just a simple guy who’s
Lama Surya Das: like that to Buddha had a disciple who couldn’t memorize and learn anything. So Buddha gave him the job of sweeping the mud off the sandals and everything you know, and his brother, this dumb monks brother, the monks name was John Zikr, Chandika, the dumb monk, let’s call him for simplicity sake. His brother was a very learned pundit, but this guy couldn’t memorize anything but he got enlightened by sweet. He said, The Mantra the Buddha taught in this Mantra, sweeping the dirt, purifying the mind, sweeping the dirt, purifying the mind. And somehow that Mantra purified is obscurations and he got enlightened just like his brother, who was more of a thinker philosopher.
Rick Archer: And I’ll bet you that when he did get enlightened then he had all that sort of refinement of intellect and wisdom and all that other stuff that you know, would ordinarily be associated with having studied a lot. Is it I don’t
Lama Surya Das: know if it all comes together like that, but it doesn’t have to because, you know, like, poet, let’s let’s put let’s name names. I love to name names. very abstract. Everybody knows Krishna Das today, my dear brother from Long Island, Jeff Cagle, Krishna Das, the great chanter. What’s the point of telling him he should study philosophy? He’s gotten his practice and his guru. So it doesn’t mean that when he realizes God through bhakti, devotion and oneness and all that, that he’ll be a great philosopher. I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is that everything is it. It doesn’t have to be diverse or complicated. You know, complexified, everybody doesn’t have to be a renaissance spirit, like Ramakrishna, who had a vision of every saint of every religion, somehow.
Rick Archer: Well, you pull any one leg of a table and whole table comes along all the other legs on the table itself. So, you know, I know you have to go someplace today. And you may be getting a little nervous about time, just let me know, when you get to that point where you feel like, oh, we gotta wrap this up, because I can I have a few more interesting things we can talk about. But if you’re getting short on time, please let me know. I don’t want to
Lama Surya Das: when she asked me. Since now, you’ve talked to me for a while, Ricky, you know, we want you to ask me something that you think would be particularly interesting for us. So for people that you know, to ask me, not all of your guests kind of thing. I don’t know what I mean, like, I’d like to chance something at the end to take us out of just the mental realm. But the end is not yet. So I will get
Rick Archer: there. Well, I could ask you when
Lama Surya Das: it’s not over till the fat llama sings.
Rick Archer: I could ask you what they asked Bill Clinton Boxers or briefs, but I’m off that would be too relevant.
Lama Surya Das: But both and nothing.
Rick Archer: Other things and Bill Clinton
Lama Surya Das: two questions.
Rick Archer: Well, one thing that I find interesting, maybe this takes us back into the sort of theoretical but I kind of find it interesting that I don’t know a heck of a lot about Buddhism. But I always hear that well, Buddhism doesn’t concern itself with God and doesn’t even maybe believe that there is a God or something. And yeah, I bet yeah, if you got right down to it put put Jesus and Buddha, and you know, some of the great Hindu leaders and Muhammad and so on in the same room, there wouldn’t be a heck of a lot of disagreement, if any among them. So I sort of think that maybe it’s a matter of what we mean by God. Or maybe it’s maybe it’s a matter of relevancy. Maybe Buddha just felt like Don’t, don’t sort of spend your time thinking about things that aren’t immediately germane to your to your realization,
Lama Surya Das: that food is that food is point to the people he was talking to, he thought he was Hindu. Like Jesus was Jewish, grew up Jewish. Buddha was a Hindu. And so for him, there was no point talking more about God and the gods that was all around. So he didn’t find what he was looking for that way, he found that by meditating, and by realizing, I don’t know, the ultimate, which he chose to call Enlightenment, rather than Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma are those things that he was brought up and and studied and very familiar with. So when people asked him about God, he said, That’s not part of the path of Enlightenment that I teach. That’s all, but they didn’t ask him about God, God is a Western word to go back to my very relevant point in the beginning God, the word God, as we’re using as a placeholder, they asked him about Brahma. So he said, Brahma is not part of the Enlightenment I teach, it doesn’t mean there’s no higher power. Using Brahma is not the point. You know, this notion of God, separate from us or the creator, God is not part of the Enlightenment I teach. Enlightenment I teach is possible through this three trainings, it’s a full path, developing, you know, total wisdom and compassion and so on. And that’s something we can do with cultivating what’s in us. That’s like the whole message. So Buddhism is not atheistic, ignorant, people would say it’s agnostic. Buddha did not take that position, okay, didn’t take position on God, because he didn’t need to. And all around him was the many gods of Hinduism of the time.
Rick Archer: So so like, you’re in an algebra class, and you’re supposed to be studying algebra, you raise your hand, say, Oh, tell me about trigonometry. Right? And the professor is just gonna say, oh, sorry, this is an algebra class. So basically, that’s what Buddha was saying, it’s this is not part of the like, Man, I teach this. Here’s the way I’m presenting it. Is that would you say?
Lama Surya Das: Yes, except, I would not use that analogy. So I think people you know, don’t pass that on exactly by listeners. Because, you know, mathematics, algebra, trigonometry is kind of a hierarchical essential thing. Yeah. Let’s use this analogy. To psychoanalysis believe in God. Not just do all the talking. No. Psychoanalysis is a certain kind of science. Some people, you know, medical, mental health science. Some people believe in God, there may be Jewish, or whatever they are, and some are atheist. But psychoanalysis itself is not a religion or a theistic tradition. It doesn’t believe in God, but it’s not atheistic. It doesn’t say there’s no God, does medicine believe in God? Some doctors do. But you know, medicine doesn’t need God. And it doesn’t say there’s no God. So Buddha’s Enlightenment. And therefore the Buddhism that came from him, he didn’t really start it, you know, who wasn’t particularly Buddhist. But Buddha was enlightened teacher, people started Buddhism based on his teachings. It doesn’t really deal with God in that sense. But then you have to find what does it mean by God? So it doesn’t really believe in or use the idea of a creator god or tribe a three part God like in Hinduism, creator Sustainer transform a distorted God, what a god separate from ourselves, god or goddess separate from ourselves, or some ultimate being, you know, a notion of being kind of anthropomorphic size, like a person with a white beard or buxom goddess, I don’t know. Well, here’s a different idea of the ultimate. But when people say that, how is it a religion you say? Well, you know, religion doesn’t have to be defined by having a god that was and doesn’t have a god in it. You know, he’s a religions, so they’re amongst their rituals. It’s one of the seven great world religions but it’s not a theistic, it’s a non theistic, not atheist, doesn’t deal with God. But it doesn’t deny God it’s not atheistic, and it doesn’t preclude being like a Jewish Buddhist, like some rabbis are practicing Buddhist meditation or Catholic Buddhists. They’re even Catholic priests in good standing with the church who are Zen Buddhist masters, some friends gather round. They’re well known. This is not, you know, unknown, just like their, I don’t know, Jewish or Catholic or whatever, probably Hindu, yoga tea. You don’t have to be Hindu to be a yoga teacher. But you can be in India they were but here who knows you could be a Jewish yoga teacher, you could be a psychoanalyst yoga teacher, you could be a scientist, yoga teacher. So it’s a non theistic Path of Awakening. Why use the word religion? It’s a path of Enlightenment. And that’s, that’s the whole thing in a nutshell about God. Interestingly, one of the fundamental, not fundamentalist, one of the original and good, best Buddhist journals the inquiring mind, which is sent out free from the Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, nexus of insight meditation, the enquiring mind you can Google it, I just did a whole issue called the God issue, where they ask different Buddhist teachers and not Buddhist about this. What is assessing these things, whether God is, you know, necessary or not necessary, some people took a more fundamental stance, like, there’s no room for God and Buddhism. And some people took a more, I don’t know, interfaith stance.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, the reason I raised the question is that, you know, when I, we started up this interview, talking about what Enlightenment is, and to my understanding, Enlightenment, with a biggie would be, you know, the complete fathoming and incorporation of reality in and that is, as it is, you know, just a complete experiential appreciation of the full range of, of creation of reality, from unmanifest, through through all the realms of manifestation, and incorporating that within one’s human experience, to the extent that’s humanly possible. And as I grow, in my own experience, over time, I just find myself appreciating more and more and marveling more and more, the vast intelligence that seems to permeate every particle of creation, every cell, you know, I mean, even look at your hand, it’s such an amazing contraption, you know, that if you if you look at a cell in detail, it’s like, it’s as complex as a huge America how modern sit, Aleksey, and we only understand a little tiny fraction of so on every level, you look, if you’re looking, there is this unfathomable intelligence. And that, to me, is God. And I feel that and they’re scriptural, and, you know, historical precedents for this, that one can come to appreciate and experience that intelligence. Much more richly, intimately than I do, certainly, that it can really, that can be and that’s why you have these great bhakti butters like, you know, nearby and undermine, and so on who are just drunk with us. Yeah. And so anyway, when when Buddhism doesn’t address that, and I admit it,
Lama Surya Das: addresses that, okay. Yeah, Buddhism, we call that buddha mind. Okay, so realizing that is Enlightenment. You can call that God or God’s mind, or God’s heart with God’s eye. You know, what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the transparent eyeball. That was his big mystical experience that he said, everything he taught and wrote came out of that his experience of himself as God, transparent eyeball.
Rick Archer: So if you’re, so if you really understand what Buddha Buddhism means, but buddha mind that it’s not some flag, divine, plain vanilla thing, it’s something really rich and profound, and it’s not empty.
Lama Surya Das: Right? It’s shunyata. It’s not a thing, but it’s a luminous void. It’s cosmic consciousness, your definition of God sounds like cosmic consciousness to put in, quote, one word, okay? And that’s not a bad one. That’s good. That’s fine. And that’s like Enlightenment. That’s not the Buddhist definition. But that’s close to the point, you know, it’s just it’s not a Buddhist, cosmic is not a Buddhist word exactly. But we would say, you know, like total Enlightenment that was, that’s what cosmic means, like total complete. So I think that’s a very good definition. And I liked that. But since we’re doing my definition of Enlightenment, again, let me give you the traditional Tibetan definition, which is succinct and a little boring, but it’s to the point, it has two parts. Sangay means Buddha or Buddhahood, or enlightened in Tibet song means purified, something’s purified all the negative or the obscurations or whatever has to go. Whatever is extra, whatever is false, and gay means blossom. So fully developed evolve actualized All the positive of all the potential of validity can be
Rick Archer: at one time leads to the next dozen. durations, the more the potential blossoms. Yeah,
Lama Surya Das: well like them what the youth in the clouds, the more the sun shines, there. So the more the inner light shines, Dad, if you want to look at that way, so the Buddha is impressed. There’s no higher power in the traditional sense, but there’s the inner power. But then that sounds like there’s a difference between inner and outer. So it’s really not the inner power either. But it’s the deeper power or the ultimate power. And here I am talking about power again. Maybe I have a megalomaniac portrait side for a bit. So he asked me if I always say is my final statement about God and Buddhism is thank God for Buddhism. I love it. It’s good for me. That’s why I think it’s the only way because for me, it’s the only way. For me, it’s definitely the best way. For you, me.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So you asked me, if I might want to ask you a more personal question. I think that’s what you’re asking. So, you know, here’s one, you’ve been on this trip for over four decades. What is your moment to moment experience of lifelike and compared to what? What is it? Like? What is it like compared to what it might have been? Like? Can you just, you know, continue to Jeffrey Miller on Long Island lived an ordinary life, what is it like to experience through your eyes to to, you know, through your heart, right now, and throughout the day,
Lama Surya Das: it’s great, it’s good. I love this, what we’re doing right now, this is what I do. Not always on Skype with an interviewer. But this is what I do the Dharma,
Rick Archer: but not, not all of what you’re doing. What I’m getting at is your state ID, your state of consciousness, that’s what
Lama Surya Das: I am. So it’s great. You know, it’s wonderful. It’s, it’s wonderful.
Rick Archer: So there’s some sort of fighting bliss or abiding awareness or, you know, I mean, it’s
Lama Surya Das: just ideas, I don’t know, how would I had the fish doesn’t know the sea. He’s just, you know, he or she just cruises around with his mouth open. Like friends making bubbles and gas
Rick Archer: silence. Most people have a very busy mind. And that’s more or less all they’re aware of is their busy mind and their perceptions. But someone who has some spiritual maturity, that share their mind is thinking thoughts and they’re engaged in action. But there’s, there’s a whole deeper dimension to their experience to their life, that may not be so evident to outside observers.
Lama Surya Das: Everybody has that deeper dimension, but everybody’s not that aware of it in themselves, or in others, or in every particle of life. So it’s not like you see different things, although you might have visions or other things, or travel the world, see odd things, you know, great things, whatever. But you see things differently. Yeah. So
Rick Archer: what I’m trying to do is put you on the spot and stare and say,
Lama Surya Das: Why don’t you ask the question, you really dying test that you would never ask? Because it’s not very sophisticated. Are you enlightened?
Rick Archer: Well, yeah, I’m trying to beat around the bush because I asked all right, what, tell me
Lama Surya Das: ask me that in public now. And then, okay,
Rick Archer: are you enlightened?
Lama Surya Das: I’m enlightened enough,
Rick Archer: enough for what not for primetime?
Lama Surya Das: enough for me. I’m doing everything I can about it. And I’m satisfied with that, to the extent that I can be now and you know, it’s a process. It’s an Infinite Journey. And it’s not about me, as you were saying, so, you know, there’s no person, there’s no one to get enlightened, but that’s part of Enlightenment. So you live out your personhood in this relative world as Joyce Miller’s son Jeffrey. But yeah, that’s just part of me. It’s like, I’m part animal like Hanuman, and part God like ROM. That’s why Hanuman is a God, because he gives his animal nature and service to the divine. So when Han Amman remembers who He is, He is God, when He forgets who he is he serves God.
Rick Archer: Nice answer. That’s kind of more or less the way I would answer it somewhat ambivalent Lee and as a work in progress, you know, it’s like,
Lama Surya Das: because the rest of my life is like so I say, it’s good. It’s happy enough. It’s not just about happy it’s fulfilling. I love what I’m doing. I love the people I’m being with like, I love you what we’re doing together. What’s better to do than chat Dharma would note all Dama friend even though we just met this way, yeah, what’s better?
Rick Archer: And what if he got to put what he got put in jail for some reason, and you couldn’t do what you’re doing anymore. You just had to sit in a jail cell with with pretty much nothing to do.
Lama Surya Das: They can print imprison my body, but they can’t imprison my heart mind. So I can still do what I’m doing. Yeah, so you know, I
Rick Archer: don’t feel like that was admitted this year. fulfillments.
Lama Surya Das: I can pray. You know, there have been people who have been in jail like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And Jesus and Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo. They were freedom fighters trying to free India from the British rule and they They were in jail in the black hole of Calcutta. And you know, they said you can imprison my body but you can’t imprison my mind. Yeah. So I
Rick Archer: met Jonatha cross he was stuck in a little closet for 14 years couldn’t, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t sit down this tiny little horrible thing
Lama Surya Das: was that his dark night of the soul and so, it was
Rick Archer: under an unbelievably miserable situation. But, you know, I guess maintain the light of God through all that?
Lama Surya Das: Well, wherever the light is brightest, the shadows are darkest, as you know. So although I’m sound like Pollyanna about what, how beautiful life is, there’s a lot of shit. And I was just in India, and dark side, and dark side and our own psyche to mindset. I was just in India last month on one of my pilgrimages, to see my yo friends in monasteries and go to Bodhgaya and other place in the pile and just met, and I visited what they call the world’s biggest slum dwellers. In Bombay, where there’s 10 to 12 million people, slum dwellers where the Slumdog Millionaire was shot. And the swan people were I hate that movie, because it’s so romanticized about and also shows it worse than it is. But it’s the world’s worst slum. But there’s life there. There’s parents loving children, his children are in school. Let me tell you something positive. That is the place in India where Muslims and Hindus get together and live in harmony the best because they have to and that slum millions of each interesting. It’s awesome. Fantastic. So it’s not that everything is lotus blossoms and sunlight, you know, but just because it’s raining doesn’t mean it’s a bad day, maybe it’s a good day for the farmers.
Rick Archer: Beautiful? Well, I’m feeling a little nervous, because I know you have to thank you,
Lama Surya Das: you have the chance, please. Since you asked what I advocate, advocate for spiritual life, and finding your own spiritual life, whatever that is, you know, whether you do your own or you following something that’s there.
Rick Archer: And you know what, before you start chanting, let me let me play usual concluding remarks now so that I end this with the chanting and not have the stock taunting again, go out singing. Yeah. So you’ve been listening to an interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump, which the implication of that title by the way, if it’s not obvious is that in this day and age there, people awakening in ordinary ordinary people in ordinary circumstances. And so you know, don’t consider it to be something that’s far fetched and out of reach. The this is part of an ongoing series, there are over 200 of them now, you’ll find them all firstname.lastname@example.org Bat gap, there is both a alphabetical and a chronological listing of them there. You’ll also find a chat group area for each interview and a link to that from the page of each interview. So I’m sorry, he does not have his own page and on the link to his websites and his books, and so on, and also to his the chat room period of that gap for for this interview, there is a link to an audio podcast, and people like to just listen to the audio. There’s a Donate button, which I appreciate people clicking, there’s a place for people to sign up to be notified by email of each new interview. So that’s about it. Thanks for listening or watching. We’re gonna conclude with some chat.
Lama Surya Das: Thank you. It’s been beautiful, Rick, thanks for your beautiful good works. I liked your title Buddha at the Gas Pump because I’m a fan of Buddha. But also in one of my books, I think was awakening the Buddha within but it might be no it’s probably Buddha’s as Buddha does how to be a bodhisattva warrior. I talked about Exxon can the the Woodstock we just take care of everybody’s cars and not send bills to the poor people in Woodstock and but he was kind of a redneck and you know, shout Archie Bunker shouting kind of beer drinking kind of rough, rough guide but with a heart of gold. He was like the bodhisattva at the gas pump. Woodstock in the 60s and 70s. He would give snow tires to welfare mothers and stuff like that not charged them because they need to snow tires to drive their kids around the winter and snowy Catskill Mountains.
Rick Archer: Kind of reminds me of Forrest Gump again. He said I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.
Lama Surya Das: Yeah, that’s the most important thing Sam could info check. Mark G pa neon pa may pa gun show May the lamp of Enlightenment be ignited where it has not yet arisen and where it has arisen maping fanned into flame, Blaze up and illuminate well beings, the hearts and minds bodies and souls of all beings throughout the universe, that we may all together completely fulfill the spiritual journey and homage to the Buddha, the Buddha newness in your seat. Don’t overlook it Thank you. Thank you. Have a safe trip. Thanks. Stay in touch. I will say bye bye bye