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Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars, one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and a leading spokesperson for the emerging American Buddhism. The Dalai Lama affectionately calls him “The Western Lama.”

Surya has spent forty years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with the great masters of Asia, including the Dalai Lama’s own teachers, and has twice completed the traditional three year meditation cloistered retreat at his teacher’s Tibetan monastery. He is an authorized lama and lineage holder in the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism, and a close personal disciple of the leading grand lamas of that tradition. He is the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its branch centers around the country, including the retreat center Dzogchen Osel Ling outside Austin, Texas, where he conducts long training retreats and Advanced Dzogchen retreats. He has brought many Tibetan lamas to this country to teach and start centers and retreats over the years. Founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network with the Dalai Lama, he regularly helps organize its international Buddhist Teachers Conferences; he is also active in interfaith dialogue and charitable projects in the Third World. He has recently turned his efforts towards youth and contemplative education initiatives, what he calls “True higher education and wisdom for life training”.

Surya Das is a sought after speaker, and teaches, lectures, and conducts retreats around the world. He is a published poet, translator, and chantmaster. (See Chants to Awaken the Buddhist Heart CD, with Stephen Halpern). He writes a regular Ask the Lama column online at and an online blog at the Huffington Post, as well as his newest blog site on the web where he answers questions from the public every week.

Surya is the author of many books, including his latest release, Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now (May 2011), The Mind is Mightier than the Sword: Enlightening the Mind, Opening the Heart (August 2009), Buddha is as Buddha Does: The Ten Transformative Practices of Enlightened Living (April 2007), Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World (July 1998), Awakening the Buddhist Heart: Integrating Love, Meaning and Connection into Every Part of Your Life(November 2000), and Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Spiritual Life from Scratch (May 1999) are the three books that comprise his best selling Awakening Trilogy; the first trilogy of American Buddhism.

His newest books are Words of Wisdom (June 2008). The Big Questions: How to Find Your Own Answers to Life’s Essential Mysteries (October 2007) Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss and Spiritual Transformation (August 2003). Natural Radiance: Dzogchen Pith Instructions (including seven guided meditations on cd) (August 2005). and Buddha Is as Buddha Does:The Ten Transformative Practices of Enlightened Living.

Lama Surya Das presents the Buddha’s original eight steps to enlightenment in Awakening the Buddha Within, and the ten core practices that we can all use to live a meaningful and fulfilling life in Buddha is as Buddha Does. These books offers a thorough, tried and true map to the richest treasure a human being can find. “We are all Buddhas by nature: we only have to awaken to who and what we truly are.”

Surya Das has been featured in numerous publications and major media, including ABC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, New York Post, Long Island Newsday, Long Island Business Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, The Jewish Free Press, New Age Journal, Tricycle Magazine, Yoga Journal, The Oregonian, and has been the subject of a seven minute magazine story on CNN. One segment of the ABC-TV sitcom Dharma & Greg was based on his life (“Leonard’s Return”). Surya has appeared on Politically Correct with Bill Maher, and twice on The Colbert Report.

The Lama lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

​Watch Lama Surya Das’s Bedtime Stories