01 September 2016
How To Meditate: Tips From Lama Surya Das, The 'Buddha From Brooklyn'
June 8, 2015
(RNS) Lama Surya Das, the “Buddha from Brooklyn,” is one of the handful of Westerners who have been teaching meditation for decades. And yet, he says we’re doing it wrong.
“So many people seem to be moving narcissistically — conditioned by our culture, doubtless — into self-centered happiness-seeking and quietism, not to mention the use of mindfulness for mere effectiveness,” he said. True meditation, he said, generates wisdom and compassion, which may be very disquieting, at least in the short term.
Born Jeffrey Miller, Surya Das has had a spiritual journey that is remarkable in its breadth. He was given the name “Surya Das” by the Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba, made famous by Ram Dass more than 40 years ago. But Surya Das shifted gears in the early 1970s to Tibetan Buddhism, subsequently completing two three-year silent meditation retreats and becoming one of the first Westerners to be authorized as a Tibetan lama.
At the time, meditation was still considered pretty weird: foreign, exotic, hippie-ish. Now it’s everywhere. Meditation — especially mindfulness, which trains the mind to observe nonjudgmentally and attentively — has gone mainstream. In secular forms, it’s now widespread in health care, education, the corporate world, even the military. Each year, 1 million Americans take up the practice for the first time.
Religion News Service