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Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,640 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The beloved American Lama, a spiritual leader whose inimitable light and
lively universal teaching style has awakened the spirituality of thousands, now shares an enlightened approach to change and loss, dealing with difficult emotions such as fear, grief, and anger, and the role of crisis in uncovering our authentic selves.

For many people, recent years have been characteri
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Broadway (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  2,640 ratings  ·  62 reviews


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Sara
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lama Surya Das is one of the wisest, most gentle people on this earth, and this book helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. Going through the loss of the love of my life not withstanding, this book changed me as a person and changed my outlook on life - even in a time of great pain and suffering. I recommend it to anyone dealing with loss or change, both of which are inevitable in this life. This book will change you, it will speak to you, and it will touch your heart.
Nikki Magennis
I've been having an odd time reading this. The first chapter started off in fairly standard cliched self helpish, and then suddenly veered into random chanting (a bit startling, considering there was no introduction to or explanation of the particular strain of Buddhism the author follows).

Along the way there have been some fair insights and a few worthwhile quotes and ideas, but I can't get past how American it is. The cultural references, phrasing, the stories. All seem very rooted in a parti
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April
I never would have read this book if I hadn't joined a book club where it was "assigned." I'm so glad I did. It was excellent. I've always been interested in Buddhism but struggled with the concept of detachment. Lama Surya Das explains Eastern concepts in a way that makes it easy for Westerners to understand. He bridges the gap between two extremely different worldviews, bringing some of the world's oldest wisdom to a new audience.

The Lama's greatest messages on loss are to accept them, grieve
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Leslie
Lama Surya Das does a great job of linking non-attachment to awareness and letting go whenever facing anything difficult in your life. He has a nice balance of both stories from different people's lives as well as general teachings on the topic. I have two other books of his that I haven't either started or finished but this book has really motivated me to dig into them. ...more
Willow
Nov 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, 2011
I thought it was a very simple and easy to read book with excellent anecdotes. The subtle incorporation of basic meditation methods were very helpful and relatively easy to comply. For anyone wanting to start practicing meditation, at the same time wanting to understand the "how and why," this book will be a great tool. ...more
Sham
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wise mentor gave me this book... I'm learning! Good read about loss and life. ...more
Nikki
This book is written from a Buddhist perspective mixed with a post-modern and Western understanding. I appreciate that Lama Surya Das integrates philosophies from various religions, mythologies, thinkers and writers (from Thoreau to Jung to Campbell). He acknowledges the complexities of letting go of problems & difficulties (big and small). He also acknowledges there's some experiences you don't get over, and you don't need to... but you can still let go. What's really great about this book is t ...more
David
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Lama Surya Das, an authorized lama in the Dzogchen lineage of Tibet and author of the best-selling book Awakening The Buddha Within, offers practical advice about dealing with change, loss, and spiritual transformation in the book Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be.

The book is broken into sections that focus on different aspects of the main topic, such as "Naming Our Losses", "Letting Go of the Person You used to Be", and "Being Heroic in the Face of Loss". Each chapter opens with a thought
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Craig Williams
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Surya Das' book "Awaken the Buddha Within" and so very much looked forward to reading this. Fortunately, I was not disappointed! Although a short read, Das manages to encapsulate a lot of Buddhist wisdom in ways that are both relatable and easy to grasp. When people ask me what they should read to get into Buddhism, Surya Das books are always at the top of the list for those very reasons. It can be difficult to relate to the life experiences of monks who have only known life in ...more
Kara
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was longing to read a book on transformation because of all of the emotional changes I've experienced in the last few years. Within the last year it seems all of the changes somewhat came to a boiling point and bubbled over but just when I thought the waters were calm another surge of change from all directions came flowing through. And yet another and I'm expecting another internal change any minute now. It is all so very exciting. This book served to feed that longing and help me relish in t ...more
Jasmine
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
I'm apparently too tired not to give a book five stars tonight. No I actually did like all of these books. This book has a new age title, but thankfully the content is far more traditional. There is no karma drive through in das' world. This is a very "religious" book which for me is always slightly of being that I am not a very religious person. I don't believe in Tibetan Buddhism and am drawn to secular Indian and Zen for very specific reasons. But none of that negates the meaning of the Tibet ...more
Angelique
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off a little slow for me. As a friend stated, "it seemed like he was trying to work into the topic." However, as he got going he gave so many great exercises and examples that it made the topic very accessible. I also like how Lama Surya Das puts a western spin on Buddhism, not dumbing it down in any way, but making it more relevant to the daily lives of Americans. He provides a lot of stories and examples that are very easy to relate to. This is definitely one that I'll keep o ...more
Sommer
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has taken me quite some time to finish due to life happenings and other books I am reading in addition to, but it has been nothing short of a joyful journey to read. I have been looking for a book to help me grow on my spiritual path and self development for quite some time and I am happy to say that Lama Surya Das has been a profound spiritual teacher on my personal journey. This book is definitely a must read for those trying to reach self actualization or grow as a person. There is ...more
Stephanie
Oh my gosh...I can't express how much this book has influenced my way of thinking lately. It's inspirational and didactic. I love how it helps you to look at life from a whole new perspective and to let go of things that seem so overwhelming. I think it is a great read as well for anyone experiencing a loss of a loved one, a loss of self or direction, or just generally feeling lost in general. Highly recommend it!! ...more
Jennifer Campaniolo
Nothing terribly new here if you've red other Buddhist philosophy books, and Surya Das relies on a few too many cliched phrases, but his message is innocuous, even comforting. Basically we all lose things/people whom we love in this life, so we need to cherish what we have now. Also there are all sorts of love beyond just romantic love--love of nature, animals, children, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to welcome new forms of love into our life. ...more
Tina
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was excellent. I plan on reading his other books on Buddhism as well. Over the past two years I went through a rough time, I had a relationship end badly, I lost a very dear friend to cancer and I have been finding peace and strength through Buddhist meditation practices. It has truly helped me work through some of the things that I need to work through and this book was a very helpful read. Highly recommended.
Kenya
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book in 2014 because I thought it would help me deal with getting past some family issues I was dealing with. Well... it didn't. However, after going through a traumatic life altering medical condition, I couldn't put the book down. This is definitely one of my favorite books. If you are trying to recover from trauma I highly recommend this book. ...more
Michael Stacey
Do things just happen by accident? The way that I came to read this book made me question that statement. Is there some sort of intentionality behind them? Sometimes. Perhaps. Let me explain the circumstances and see what you think.

It was a balmy autumn Saturday in 2004 and I was looking forward to my usual Saturday morning ritual, to have my breakfast of toasted Turkish bread, smothered in butter and vegemite out on the balcony while I read the Sydney Morning Herald, something I couldn’t manage
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Staff Recommendations at the Hendersonville Public Library
We have all experienced change and loss during this pandemic, some of us more than others. Getting lost in depression, suffering and confusion, I (Miranda J. Riley, Non-Fiction Clerk at HPL) picked up this book in hopes of overcoming one of the hardest tragedies of my life: losing a best friend during a time when friendships are needed the most.

Lama Surya Das depicts a world where change is possible, and it starts in the heart and mind. Using wisdom from the Buddhist teachers and biblical alleg
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Miranda Riley
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We have all experienced change and loss during this pandemic, some of us more than others. Getting lost in depression, suffering and confusion, I picked up this book in hopes of overcoming one of the hardest tragedies of my life: losing a best friend during a time when friendships are needed the most.

Lama Surya Das depicts a world where change is possible, and it starts in the heart and mind. Using wisdom from the Buddhist teachers and biblical allegories of the Christian faith, I began to feel
...more
Serena Long ﺕ
Learning to consciously direct, focus, and take the flighty, restless and confused mind is the heroic challenge of life; learning to understand and realize that the ultimate nature of the flighty, restless and elusive mind is the heroic task we all face. “Working on ourselves”; when we do “work” on ourselves we are trying to become stronger, more accepting of ourselves and more internally resilient. We are trying to further develop our mental health and well being. The spiritual path is similarl ...more
Taylor T
This book is a little too spiritual for my current taste, but I appreciate the balance with philosophical and psychological views. I've read another book by Lama Surya Das; he provides good insight into Buddhism/mindfulness for westerners, but I don't feel as compelled to write down a million quotes like I do with books by Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Sharon Salzberg. I have yet to do the meditations in Letting Go, but as I read, those practices stood out as the most essential takeaways. W ...more
Esther Nagle
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Changing my life

I found this book after coming across a quote on the breath. I looked up the book, and knew that I needed to read it. Exactly what I needed at exactly the time I needed it. I know I will come back to this again, and that my life has been changed for the better by reading it. I have started to heal things in me I didn't know still needed healing. This book is wonderful
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Carolyn Keiling
I appreciate the author sharing his personal experiences in his book. I was able to benefit from the reading, taking bits and pieces from here and there. However, I found it hard to get through and filled with too many anecdotes.
Amanda
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is a little dramatic, but the message of living with change is worth the awkwardness of carrying the book.
Katie
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
My second read of this very powerful book. I’m sure I’ll read it again through my life.
Katie Kenig
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism, non-fiction
This book took forever for me to finish! Even after renewing it twice at the library, it still went a week overdue. It is a slim little volume, but it is extremely dense, and each chapter took me some time to think over, reflect on, even meditate on before I could move on. In hindsight, I should have bought this book, but I didn't realize how much meaning I would find packed into the pages.

I have had a couple of years of change in my life. I wasn't very happy about the person that I had become,
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Em
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has been our UU Meditation book and the group finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I'd missed a few weeks here and there so I was always dashing through to get caught up. Consequently I'm not sure I got the most comprehensive read of this book and may read it again after a time. The portions that stuck with me were the stories of loss and his own description of the loss of his first love, not due to death, but that she had taken vows as a Zen nun before he had committed to becoming a Budd ...more
Christy Baker
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a mixed book for me in that I picked it up and put it down several times over the last year. There were sections that felt a bit slower or perhaps they just didn't hit me in the right mood, yet other times i found I deeply resonated with some of the practices Surya Das recommends for cultivation of mind and practice of a Buddhist pathway through mindful attention in daily life. Perhaps the book itself most perfectly represents the on-going nature of precisely the dailiness of practice, ...more
Amy
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The good:
There were lots of quotes I'd not heard before.
There were a couple of lists of journal questions to help 'process' losses or see what we're attached to.
There was some repeating of points I've heard good spiritual teachers mention.
There were a couple of 'practice advice' sections; like homework assignments you could try doing.

But....
There were too many examples. I felt like I could see the author laying out post-its or index cards with each example written on them under each title's cate
...more
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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.”

His most recent book is Make Me One with Everything: Buddhist Meditations to Awaken from the Illusion of Separation. He is well
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Believe it or not, we're halfway through 2021! As is our tradition, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial team burrows into our data to...
107 likes · 79 comments
“With every breath, the old moment is lost; a new moment arrives. We exhale and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In doing so, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and breathe in the moment that is becoming. In doing so, we welcome the person we are becoming. We repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. This is life.” 23 likes
“Non-attachment is not complacency. It doesn't imply a lack of caring and commitment. The philosophy of non-attachment is based in the understanding that holding on too tightly to those things, which in any case are always going to be slipping through our fingers, hurts and gives us rope burn.” 16 likes
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