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Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  11,368 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
Lama Surya Das, the most highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition, presents the first comprehensive book of Western Buddhism for the modern-day spiritual seeker.
Buddhism offers a profound yet practical path to enlightenment. In this loving and generous book, the American-born and Tibetan-trained Lama Surya Das offers at once a definitive and nonsectarian guide
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 15th 1998 by Harmony (first published 1997)
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May 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a very un-Buddha-like way, my wife manipulated me into reading this. She also talked bribed me into accompanying her to a meditation center. I promised her I wouldn't ask the meditation instructor about tantric sex. I didn't keep my promise. To avoid incurring negative karma, I gave this book an extra star.
Heather Doherty
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all seekers
This is the book that turned me on to Buddhism. I read it originally in 1999, at my therapist's recommendation and it changed my life. I started meditating twice every day and shifted my focus away from how miserable I felt and toward how I could be a positive force in the world. This shift pulled me out of a major depression, improved my relationships with my family and allowed me to find my soul mate. Since then it has been a sort of Bible for me. Whenever I need help in dealing with a diffic ...more
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book tells you how to live like a Buddhist, without being a monk. There are behaviors in life we can all practice and you don't have to renounce Christianity to be a part of it. Treat others better, find meditation in everything you do, and be a better person.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism, favorites
This is one of those rare, mind-boggling books that has the power to stay with you for a very long time. While I have read other books on Buddhism before, this was an excellent introduction and refresher that covered everything from the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path to the power of meditation. There are many aspects of Buddhism that resonate with me, and very few that do not. Here are some of the notes that I took while reading- about ten pages of notes (some are direct quotes from t ...more
Steve Minard
This is my favorite spiritual book ever, and in fact, my favorite non-fiction book of all-time. If I can only suggest one introduction to Buddhism from a Western perspective, this would be it. Lama Surya Das simply and effectively presents the principles and outlooks of the East, with a foot firmly planted in our "real world" of the West.

I always highlight all of my books with my favorite passages and quotes to turn back to. This one has beeen re-read so many times it is highlighted, starred, do
Linda Hollingsworth
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have already read this book twice on my Kindle, so you know I value the wisdom and light shown on the history of Western Buddhism. If you want to better understand how Buddhism came to the US and its ongoing evolution in our culture, this is a very readable description of how that is coming about. If you want to better understand the tenets of Butddhism, the eightfold path, and the three enlightenment trainings present in all types of Buddhism, this book will painlessly heighten your understan ...more
Katie Curlee Hamblen
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A friend lent this book to me some six months ago. I held onto to it for most of that time, and only began it about a month ago. This often happens when I put a book on my "to read" list-I have to wait for the time to be right.

There is so much information in this book. It is, in some ways, a primer of Buddhism, and it was helpful for me to really get a window into that tradition for the first time. I've read many things in the past about Buddhism and mindfulness, but this book has been one of th
Jennifer Laurent
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will remain with me throughout my life. I have read it a couple of times and listened to it as well. It is a definite must read for anyone seeking growth and spiritual awakening.
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There are a number of books which follow this book's format (4 noble truths and the 8 fold path) in illustrating Buddhist philosophy. This version was just right for me. The writing is clear, personal and instructive. The author's observations and anecdotes are effectively woven into this standard introduction to Buddhism. I haven't read any of the author's other books, but I imagine they're worth reading as well.
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was the first buddhist book I ever read. It is the reason for me finding my home in spirituality. It is well written, clear and moving. You will learn a lot from this book and it will help you find your path. I recommend this book to anyone searching for a spiritual direction.
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Full review at

In this short book, Lama Surya Das introduces readers to Buddhism, and the process of Awakening the Buddha Within. It is subtitled Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World, which is an accurate description. Lama Surya Das tells how a guy from Long Island ends up in Tibet and India studying Buddhism in the 1970s. He escapes the psychedelic era for one of contemplation and compassion.

However, this book isn’t a memoir. Das just provides readers with the context of what
Jan 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not for me. I didn't get very far into it before I became bored. I was expecting something along the lines of Buddhism-lite....maybe some EZ-step beginning approaches that a modern, urban person actively participating in life could incorporate - to channel more inner harmony and all. Obviously I would have to have more patience, but right off the bat it seemed heavy handed on the religious aspect and the alleged superior wisdom of lamas who live heirarchical, cloistered lives and yet possess all ...more
Doug Dillon
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Written by an American who became a Tibetan Lama, this book gives readers a solid course in Buddhist concepts. Giving clear step-by-step explanations, the author uses an engaging and even humorous tone that makes him as much of a friend as he is an expert in this field. His stories are wonderful and very instructive.

The steps mentioned above are actually the Buddhist Eightfold Noble Path to enlightenment but greatly expanded upon. Lama Surya Das continues to enlarge his explanations with the fol
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been looking for my spiritual path for quite some time, and I've always been interested in Buddhism, but so far, I've found books on Buddhism to be inaccessible for me. My husband suggested that I try reading this. I feel like I finally understand what Buddhism is meant to be and that there is such a thing as contemporary, Western Buddhism. Lama Surya Das distills the four noble truths and the eight fold path in a comprehensible fashion for a western reader. I know I will be coming back to ...more
Alda Petrocchi
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For me, this is the quintessential life guide. I have read it a few times throughout the years; I re-visit it when I feel I need a refresher, and will continue to do so probably for the rest of my life. It's so simple and approachable, yet intricate and profound at the same time. Highly recommended.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was recommend as an introduction to Buddhism. Suyra Das writes of his experiences learning from elders in Tibet, spending years in silence and bringing his teaching to the modern world. He breaks down core principles and applies an ancient "religion" to our fast paced western culture.
A decent introduction to Buddhism. Surya Das does a nice job of translating practices and traditions into more easily understood concepts for Westerners. He addresses issues like trying to meditate during a busy day on the subway and compares the Buddha mind to a pan coated with teflon. He pays attention to the idea of a new Western Dharma that is evolving out of the synthesis of traditional Eastern practices and the Western mentality. There's a lot of emphasis put on practice and especially on ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a Great Read.

For anyone considering either practicing Buddhism or gaining a general understanding of the philosophy of Buddhism, I would recommend this Book.

Regardless of your religion, beliefs, etc. you can gain a great insight into a way to view the world and more importantly, as Buddhism drives, View Yourself!

The insight into meditation, calming your mind, practicing Awareness and Mindfulness are beneficial to anyone in any walk of life. Whether it be with your family, your friends,
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zen
Lama Surya Das is a Jew, before he travelled to Tibet and converted to Buddhism, now he is a leading Buddhist leader in America. This book is a "relaxing" read because I feel he is sincere on what he is talking, no wonder to many, it even "enrich their spiritual lives". It contains many wits, wisdoms as well as humours. I love nature and all of Emerson & Thoreau's thoughts, so I enjoy reading this book, that's all I can say.
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm rereading this book SLOWLY. I tend to read very fast and loose the content days later.

This is an amazing book on Lama Surya Das' journey from Long Island to Tibet. And a great Buddhism for beginners book though that that description does not do it justice.

Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have learned how to live... and breathe.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
The author was born Jeffrey Miller to a Jewish family from Long Island. In his 20’s he began a spiritual journey that took him to Tibetan Buddhism where he eventually became a respected scholar and teacher, he now goes by the name and title of Lama Surya Das. His objective in this book is to explore and explain Eastern wisdom and practice to a Western audience. His emphasis is in Dzogchen, which is a Tibetan non-sectarian tradition of Buddhism. I found it a great compliment to Thich Nhat Hanh's ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
What did the Dalai Lama say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.

A thorough exploration of a Buddhist conceptual framework for being spiritually awake. Some surprising resonances with other faith traditions, such as the passage that reminds us, "Spiritual masters are able to be in the world but not of it. They are sometimes likened to graceful, snow-colored swans who travel the lakes of the world without making waves. . . . [they are like] the lotus, which grows up through the wate

Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I think a lot of people I know who would read this book would think "Yeah, that makes sense" or "I knew that innately but now here are the words to confirm it."

I studied Buddhism - among other religions - while in college so the concepts were familiar to me. What I like about this book, though, is that it is clever, has fun and practical anecdotes that are easy to relate to and is a great resource. One to keep in the nightstand and read a bit before bed or in the morning so that every so often,
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoy this book. Very interesting. I liked the first half of this book very much. I enjoyed learning about some of the reasons behind the practices I see around me. I'm impressed with spiritually and loving-kindness. To Live in Love. The 8 steps flow from love and are intuitive. I would only give the second half of this book a three. It was on different meditations. Since I don't see myself meditating for hours everyday it wasn't as much fun to read.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who is interested in the basic/fundamentals of Buddhism, this is the book for you. It is written in lay man terms and easy to understand. THis book lays out all the fundamentals of practice in a clear and concise manner, adding to it a sense of humor. It takes the precepts of Buddhism and places them in our modern day world and teaches one how to begin and stay on the path.
Natalie Wright
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book really opened my eyes and helped me regain my spiritual path. You don't have to be Buddhist to benefit from Lama Das's words. If you are interested in uplifting and inspirational spiritual message, I recommend this book.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was helpful to me in understanding Buddhism better. I've finally got the 8-fold path down and understand the 3 jewels. I get the 4 Noble Truths better. Altogether helpful. I'm glad I read it. I think having it explained by a Westerner was really good for me.
Lisa Dion
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read this three times, at least. I find myself reaching for it a chapter or a segment at a time, over and over. It is very grounding and resonates so well with me.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
I got about halfway through this book and then got distracted and haven’t finished it yet. I think it was more work to read and take in than I had energy for at the time I was reading it. I was trying to understand karma and was wondering if the depression and unhappiness I was experiencing at the time were the result of past life influences and unfinished business. I was really desperate to understand why I was so depressed and for so long. Guess I stopped reading this midway because I wasn’t g ...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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“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgments and opinions. Die to all that, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness.

Let go. Let Be. See through everything and be free, complete, luminous, at home -- at ease.”
“before speaking, notice what motivates your words.” 41 likes
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