Buddhism tends to layer itself on top of whatever culture it enters. Tibetan Buddhism makes use of many elements of the Tibetan Bon religion. Zen has elements from Taoism and Confucianism. So I was hunting for what the American version of buddhism would be like. Surya Das has a great ear for the subtleties of the 'American' religion and what elements Buddhism can enhance. Without being new-agey he mixes self-help style chapters with Buddhist exercises and philosophy to create an american manual on buddhism. This book for me was a great introduction to Buddhist philosophy and I was able to start practicing the exercises and getting results in my life almost immediately.
I have been a follower of Buddhist philosophies for many years and during that time have read all the books of Lama Surya Das. Even if exploring the philosophies of Buddhism takes you into unknown territory, you will find his books easy to follow and understand because the author's concepts have been adapted for the Western World. If you are just beginning to read the books of Lama Surya Das, I would suggest starting with, "Awakening the Buddha Within" as it gives a very general overview of the fundamentals of Buddhism; however, all his books are excellent, leaving much food for thought. In this book, the author helps the reader to understand the importance of integrating love, compassion and understanding into our personal relationships on a daily basis. The limits also go beyond to encompass the relationships we have with those in our community, our country and around the world. By awakening one's own Buddhist heart, one will find inner peace, contentment and...
This is a very fine book on Buddhism in general and Tibetan Vajrayana in specific. I did like his prior "Awakening the Buddha Within" a bit better (I gave it 5 stars). For me, 4 stars is pretty darn good! This sequel is well worth reading. I think that if you are a Myers-Briggs F-type (Feeler) you will especially enjoy it, but perhaps the T-types (Thinkers) might just get more balance from it. Surya Das has a very easy-going style but gets across lots of good instruction and some practical activities as well. He uses lots of personal anecdotes which make the book more accessible than many others that are available. If I were to recommend books to someone first exploring Buddhism or Vajrayana, his would be at the top of the list (followed by Pema Chodron's books). Of course, it's lots easier to attune with a Western Buddhist master who shares more cultural assumptions and conceptions with you. Many Vajrayana books are laced with Tibetan mythology, psychology, medicine, etc...
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