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This Author: Lama Surya Das

Awakening Now with Lama Surya Das Podcast by Lama Surya Das

Awakening Now with Lama Surya Das Podcast

by Lama Surya Das

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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.” "Awakening Now" explores topics such as Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism in the context of a Western framework.


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Ep. 40 – Awakening the Buddha Within: Mindfulness into Action


Thu, Mar 23, 2017


Lama Surya Das continues his four-part series on awakening the Buddha within. This week: Mindfulness into Action. Mindfulness is more than just having a presence of mind and "Being Here Now." Lama Surya Das discusses putting mindfulness into action through awareness.

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Ep 39 – Awakening the Buddha Within: the Four Foundations of Mindfulness


Thu, Mar 02, 2017




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Ep 38 - Awakening the Buddha Within: Mindfulness


Thu, Feb 09, 2017


Lama Surya Das begins a four-part series on awakening the Buddha within by analyzing the active ingredient of the Dharma: Mindfulness. Lama Surya Das begins a four-part series on awakening the Buddha within by analyzing the active ingredient of the Dharma, Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to awakening the buddha within. Lama Surya Das brings a fresh approach to mindfulness and helps us look at it in its many forms.

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Ep. 37 - Jay Michaelson


Thu, Jan 19, 2017


Lama Surya Das has on Jay Michaelson to talk about anger, activism, and our responsibility to others. Renaissance man Jay Michaelson is a dharma teacher, author, journalist, lawyer, activist, and rabbi. He brings insight to the political situation in the US and provides guidance on how to approach it with mindfulness and compassion.

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Ep. 36 - Comedy & Consciousness


Thu, Dec 29, 2016


Live from ABC Deepak Homebase; Lama Surya Das is joined by Chris Grosso, Duncan Trussell, and Raghu Markus for a comical chat about consciousness and the spiritual path. The group gets real about enlightenment, overcoming struggles with practice, and the importance of having the courage to start the journey.

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Ep. 35 – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


Tue, Dec 06, 2016


On this special episode of Awakening Now, Lama Surya reflects on the life of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Surya shares his experiences studying under the Dzogchen master who shared his wisdom and grace with all who sought it.

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Ep. 34 - John Bush


Thu, Nov 17, 2016


Lama Surya Das brings on his longtime friend John Krishna Bush, who is a director, artist, and writer as well as being a wise devotee of Neem Karoli Baba.   It was John that took a young Lama Surya on his first pilgrimage and introduced Surya to his Guru. He was given the name Krishna in 1971 by his guru in India – Neem Karoli Baba, introduced in Be Here Now as Maharaji. shares the influence that his spiritual path has on his work. He and Lama Surya Das talk about practice, pilgrimage, and more on this episode of, Awakening Now.  

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Ep. 33 – Father Michael Holleran


Fri, Oct 28, 2016


Father Michael Holleran joins Lama Surya Das this week to discuss the intersection of Christianity and Buddhism. While the two belief systems may not seem similar on the surface, they both share a deep tradition of contemplative practice and shared philosophy. Father Michael Holleran is a Catholic priest, Sensei in the Zen tradition, and scholar. He is also a former Carthusian Monk who spent years at silent Benedictine monastery. There is much insight to be had, as Father Micheal give his unique perspective on contemplative practice, shared wisdom, and the essence of awakening. “Awake sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will give you life.” – Ephesians 5:14

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Ep. 32 – Practicing Dzogchen & Questions on Suffering and the Middle Way


Fri, Oct 07, 2016


In this talk in from a past retreat, Lama Surya Das discusses the Dzogchen principle of basic awareness.Through practice, we become opened to the nature of our mind. We are then able to detach ourselves and become a witness; we experience things as they are. Hearing becomes just hearing and seeing becomes just seeing. Lama Surya Das also answers insightful questions from his audience on suffering and the middle way. How do we come to trust ourselves and what does it mean to apply the Middle Way to our lives? "It is not outer things that entangle us; it is inner attachment and fixation which entangles us" -Tilopa

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Ep. 31 – Wayne Muller


Tue, Sep 20, 2016


Lama Surya Das brings on Wayne Muller to talk about time and how we spend what precious little of it that we are given. How can we lift ourselves from the trance of our mundane lives? Wayne believes the most radical challenge to our culture is to challenge the way we live in time. Wayne Muller invites us to step out of the trance of ordinary time. We associate efficiency with success and acquiring more and more. However, stepping away from that lifestyle is the key to using our limited time best. If we do not step back and give attention to ourselves, we burn out and become unavailable to others. Listen to Lama Surya Das and Wayne's thoughts on time, fulfillment, and more on this episode of Awakening Now!   "When people are on fire about something, they can make almost anything happen." - Wayne Muller

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Ep. 30 - Mindful Child with Susan Kaiser Greenland


Sat, Aug 20, 2016


Author and educator, Susan Kaiser Greenland, chats with Lama Surya Das about teaching the younger generation. How do we not only bring old teachings and wisdom into the modern world but bring it into the secular world as well? Lama Sura Das and Susan discuss the role of family and devotion. The importance of being open to the perspective and wisdom children have to offer is emphasized. How do we teach loving kindness and compassion without raising children to be passive and without boundaries? All this and more on this week's episode of Awakening Now!   Show Notes 01:05 - After a warm salutation and brief introduction, Lama Surya and Susan get right into the topic of bringing mindfulness and awareness into a secular education system. How do we teach our next generation the principals of the practice to bring the more peace, harmony, and wisdom into the world? We also need to remember to listen as much as we teach because young minds have plenty of wisdom to share as well. 3:55 - Susan talks about the now common practice of young adults spending longer periods of their post education life at home. Despite the societal stigmas surrounding the practice, "Failure to Launch", Susan and Lama Surya agree that there are great developmental benefits to the arrangement for the whole family. Lama talks about leaving home for India early on, and how it affected him. How he built a spiritual family and community while he has been away. 10:35 - More talk of how working together with and listening to the younger generation is important for everyone. How our future is interconnected and we need cooperate and work together to forge forward. Susan reflects on how older universal principals and teachings have made their way to the present. But have they been watered down and simplified too much? How do we introduce devotion without seeming hokey or losing the structure? 18:25 - Beyond just modernizing old practices, what does it look like bringing them into a completely secular context? Teaching kindness and boundaries without raising kids to be pushovers. Even as adults we need be mindful of discernment and what really matters and deliver that lesson to our youth. 26:50 - A story of the Dalai Lama visiting President Clinton and the lesson he instilled. He said to the president," You are the most powerful man in the world and everything you do should be full of compassion and the wish to help". How certain words can be loaded and how we should approach them in the modern world. 32:15 - One of the most important lessons that Susan has learned is concisely unpacking concepts to children one piece at a time. The usefulness in breaking things down like this applies not only to kids but to adults as well. 39:40 - How moderation and balance are as important as ever in these times of extreme views and actions. We need to apply the ABC's of mindfulness (attention, balance, and compassion) more often then we do now. Susan explores the concept of balance further and how it is important to recognize your threshold and limits. 44:45 - Mindfulness is readdressed, Susan explains the importance of teaching the skills of quieting, seeing more clearly, and re-framing toward caring and connecting. Susan Kaiser Greenland is a lawyer, teacher, and author from Los Angeles, CA. Kaiser Greenland and her husband founded The InnerKids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that taught secular mindfulness in schools and community-based programs in the greater Los Angeles area from 2001 through 2009. She now tours the country showing educators and parents how to incorporate mindfulness into their teaching and development of their children. Keep up with Susan and read her blog here.   Amazon Recommendations Mindful Games - by Susan Kaiser Greenland                                                                                                            The Mindful Child - by Susan Kaiser Greenlan

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Ep. 29 - On Ram Dass: Friend, Mentor & Spiritual Pioneer


Tue, Aug 02, 2016


On this latest episode of Awakening Now, Lama Surya Das shares on the many aspects of Ram Dass that he has experienced. As a friend, mentor, and spiritual pioneer, Ram Dass has been an inspiration to Lama Surya Das. As a teacher at the forefront of the Be Here Now movement and counter-culture of the sixties, through Ram Dass' own practice and exploration, he has helped millions of seekers find there own truth: "Ram Dass is an axial personality, as Carl Jung called it, someone who brings the divine fire down and transforms it into human language and discourse... a person that brings together the past, present, future and the timeless." Show Notes: 3:30 - Lama Surya Das discusses Ram Dass in the sixties and his first encounters with him at Syracuse and India. 6:00 - Ram Dass as a spiritual pioneer and the greater impact of his teachings, helping to bridge eastern and western approaches to spirituality 9:00 - "Fierce Grace" the movie, and Ram Dass' perspective on being grateful for everything, even having a stroke 10:10 - On how Ram Dass helps us to see past holy teachings and practice and get a sense for the spirit behind the law 14:00 - The clarity of Ram Dass' being helps us to connect to a higher source. 21:17 - Ram Dass' embracing of his humanity, showed us how to walk the spiritual path ourselves, beyond any "-isms" and seek our own truth.  

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Ep. 28 - Reliable Refuge


Mon, Jul 11, 2016


“Our own body is like the Sangha, our energy the Dharma, and our heart-mind the Buddha” Surya Das reminds us that to rest in the empty and luminous nature of mind is to practice the ultimate form of refuge. We are all Buddhas by nature, but we must recognize this fact before we can embody it. Equanimity is revealed in balancing the absolute, the emptiness, and the mystery with the relative causation of karma and compassionate action. To not get lost in the illusion of expectation is to walk the path toward freedom.

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Ep. 27 – Sally Kempton - Merging the Path of Devotion and Wisdom


Tue, Jun 14, 2016


Surya Das and fellow spiritual and meditation teacher, Sally Kempton discuss the merging of the paths of devotion (Bhakti) and wisdom (Jnana) and how they've discovered the true inseparability of the two paths within their own lives. They illuminate on the topics of earnestness in our post-modern secular world, Tantra, meditation practice, the concept of altruistic enlightenment, and their respective Buddhist/Hindu lineages. Surya Das and Sally's conversation also explores how we balance the surrendering to grace that comes with walking the spiritual path, while also living in the world of "effort, energy and motivation." For more on Sally Kempton, please visit her website.

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Ep. 26 - Effortless Effort


Tue, Apr 26, 2016


Surya Das touches on the natural and relaxed qualities of Dzogchen meditation, and answers questions on a variety of topics including decision making, balancing the meditative and contemplative mind, emptiness within awareness, sky gazing, and awareness-based meditation.  

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Ep. 25 - America the Buddhaful


Sat, Apr 02, 2016


Surya Das is joined by fellow MindPod natives, Raghu Markus and Kelly Rego, for a lighthearted discussion about the growing relationship between Western culture and the higher powers that have influenced previous generations. The perceived increase in altruistic sentiment among modern youth is highlighted as evidence for a rapidly evolving cultural consciousness. Other topics include the role and value of service, noble solitude, and the current state of political engagement.

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Ep. 24 - Leave It as It is


Tue, Mar 01, 2016


Uninhibited and inexhaustible, like the ocean’s waves, leave it as it is. There is no ‘self’ for your self-improvement project, but there is room for just being. Through practice we develop the skillful means necessary to both recognize and reside within the illusion, relative and ultimate truth being woven into each passing moment. Of course we can strive to make the world a better place, but we must also balance our ambition with the ease of understanding that we don’t always have to fix everything. Question and answer topics include releasing control, and the cultivation and evolution of the meditation practice.

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Ep. 23 - Enjoy the View


Tue, Feb 02, 2016


Surya Das explains that Dozchen is not just a practice of the mind, but rather an exercise of the Spirit, a dance with the pure and primordial presence that we all have access to. It is the essence of who we are, not just what we become. Don’t bother the mind and it won’t bother you. Open mind, open heart, seeing through and being through. Question and answer topics include immediate versus ultimate enlightenment, relativity, and karma.

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Ep. 22 - Reflecting on Discrimination and Discernment


Tue, Jan 05, 2016


Sound advice on the importance of theoretical and experiential learning within the context of any spiritual framework. The initial inspiration may come through text, but must then be applied and tested in the trials of day-to-day life. Our practice is to plumb the depths, not just skim the surface. Question and answer topics include practical compassion, origination of thoughts and emotions, altruism, and distinguishing between the brain and mind.

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Ep. 21 - Recondition to Decondition


Tue, Dec 22, 2015


Surya Das offers a teaching on the wisdom of allowing, encouraging us to familiarize ourselves with a simple yet engaged lifestyle, learning to live in harmony with a deep appreciation for the full spectrum of our experience. Question and answer topics include the shifting of identity in practice, suffering and illusion, and the difference between separateness and autonomy.

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Ep. 20 - The Middle Path


Wed, Dec 09, 2015


Surya Das reflects on the bigger picture of the Great Perfection, as it relates to the art of acceptance within our practice. A little acceptance goes a long way as we continue to work on ourselves, moving toward the middle path of choiceless awareness. Question and answer topics center around meditation techniques and the evolution of practice.

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Ep. 19 - The Tip of Motivation


Tue, Nov 24, 2015


What is our perspective? How do we nurture a new perspective that is more interconnected with our fellow humans? Lama Surya Das chats with Raghu and they recall the Lama’s first meeting with the “Big Maharajji” - and what that deeper reality represents beyond the body. Also, the Guru as a mirror that reflects true nature and also reflects so clearly that it helps us see through self deception. Lama discusses the concept of “spiritual bypass” - how the ego uses spiritual practices to avoid our human foibles. Finally, Lama discusses the truth of motivation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama quotes from the Buddhist canon all the time, “Everything rests on the tip of motivation.”

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Ep. 18 - Transmission, Lineage, and Reactivity


Wed, Nov 11, 2015


Surya Das responds to audience questions on a variety of topics including transmission from teachers, the role of lineage, and working with reactivity. He explains that it is encouragement and inspiration that is conveyed from the great teachers, regardless of their time and place.

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Ep. 17 - Building Blocks of a Spiritual Life


Tue, Oct 27, 2015


Daily life is where the rubber meets the road on the spiritual path, as we attempt to integrate our takeaways from retreat, travels, and other spiritual endeavors. Bringing the virtues of mindfulness into our home, work, and social environments is a profound offering, as well as an opportunity to both embody and further encourage the cultivation of these qualities. Surya Das outlines practical methods and means for carrying the Dharma out into the world and flourishing in all of our domains.

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Ep. 16 - Fear, Demons and Tonglen


Wed, Oct 14, 2015


Surya Das responds to audience questions on a variety of topics including appropriate responses to fear, working with your demons, and the meditative practice known as Tonglen.

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Ep. 15 - The First Moment of Wonder


Tue, Sep 29, 2015


Surya Das describes the natural and awe-inspiring state of Dzogchen, before we begin to think and conceptualize the world around us. This initial moment of wonder is what we hope to connect with and reside in through our spiritual practice. Chains of discursive thinking tie us down to states of perceptual judgment and negative thought patterns. But a thought can’t distract you if there is no you to judge it. If we can cut the chain, we cut the Karma.

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Ep. 14 - Deviations From The View


Tue, Sep 15, 2015


Surya Das gives a lucid discourse on some of the habits and thought patterns that lead us away from the clear vision of the View. He explains that there is no waiting or hoping, no comparing or competing within Dzogchen meditation. The practice is more about non-doing as we learn to leave it as it is. Question and answer topics include the nature of the mind, working with arising thoughts, and striving within meditation.

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Ep. 13 - Seeing Through, Being Through


Tue, Sep 01, 2015


When we understand that all being is merely emptiness cloaked in material phenomenon then we begin to see for the first time.  Seeing through is the essence of true understanding that allows us to welcome and appreciate all that comes to us. This perspective is not merely passive, but rather requires a quality of intelligence and perseverance for its cultivation and maturation. Question and answer topics include relative versus absolute practice, incorporating visual imagery, discomfort in practice, and awareness within dualism.

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Ep. 12 - The Wisdom of Allowing


Tue, Aug 18, 2015


“Leave it as it is and rest the weary mind”   A timeless reminder to avoid attachment to things we can’t hold on to. We practice to promote perspective, to see through everything, be through everything and remain at home, unhindered. Nothing is to be left out, in that the more awareness we cultivate the greater liberation we experience.  Question and answer topics include working with the overwhelming nature and current exposure of suffering, distraction in meditation, and finding peace, balance, and hope in modern times

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Ep. 11 - Buddha Nature, Sky Gazing, And Dukkha


Tue, Aug 04, 2015


“It is the unenlightened life that is dissatisfying.” Lama Surya Das provides a timeless reminder of the broad and all-encompassing nature of the true Buddha. All beings are endowed with this innate spiritual potential. Sky gazing is described and encouraged as a means for disabling resistance and moving into union with the vast space in which we exist. Question and answer topics include karmic purification, the role of biology in free will, and the subjective nature of existence.

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Ep. 10 - All Natural


Tue, Jul 21, 2015


Surya Das describes the direct access we have to the Great Perfection that embodies all that is, just as it is. This innate wakefulness is a practice of refining our inner gold by looking deeper to discover the light within everything and everyone. Question and answer topics include discriminating between resting in the moment and laziness, and working with fear and anxiety.

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Ep. 9 - Actualizing Freedom


Mon, Jul 06, 2015


Surya Das explains that the mind is not the right tool for moving through the narrow pass in getting from here to ‘totally here’. He encourages us to step out and go beyond the here and now in an effort to actualize the inherent freedom of being. “Naked awareness, pure presence, that is the way”.

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Ep 8. - The Three Practices of Dzogchen


Mon, Jun 22, 2015


Surya Das outlines the three main forms of practice within Dzogchen, which includes Ru Shan(subtle discernment), Trekcho (cutting through), and Togal (being there). He explains the more immediate implications of this particular path in its attempt to bring enlightenment that is congruent with the reality we are experiencing now. Also discussed are the distinctions between the ‘swooping down’ method of Dzogchen in relation to the more ‘bottom up’ approach of traditional Buddhism. A question and answer session provokes discussions of merit, karma, separation and illusion.

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Ep. 7 - Inter Meditation


Thu, Jun 11, 2015


Raghu Markus joins his longtime spiritual friend for an intimate look into Surya Das’ new book, “Make Me One with Everything”. The Guru brothers dive deep into the true meaning of ‘Inter Meditation’, as well as the attitudinal transformations promoted through the Lojong method. Surya Das shares some of his early encounters with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Raghu inquires about the crucial differences between self-compassion and self-cherishing. Our local Lama leads a beautiful meditation to close out this insightful exchange.

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Ep. 6 - The Three Naturals: Body, Breath and Mind


Sun, May 31, 2015


Further Dzogchen teachings from our favorite Lama, who offers incentive for a more natural approach to practice. For now, we can learn to see through the spectacle of our lives, using the natural rhythms of the body and mind. Free of judgment, with clear vision, we come to rely on being rather than doing. Subsequent action moves freely, in the absence of suppression.

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Ep 5. - Awareness is Curative


Thu, May 14, 2015


How much energy do we offer to the distractions in our lives, the temptations and endless stimuli that never cease to arise? Can we learn to simply experience, recognize, and release all of the different thoughts and emotions we encounter? Only through increased awareness can we begin to allow these events to occur without giving way to their gravity. In gaining ground on our immediate reactions we discover the possibility to detach, with objective clarity, and move forward with creative control.

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Ep. 4 - Integrating the Dharma with Daily Life


Fri, May 08, 2015


Integration is the name of the game for those of us living amongst the chaos of the modern world. How can we take the wisdom of the past and actually apply it to our day-to-day existence? Lama Surya Das details the interactive process for cultivating an appropriate balance between contemplation and action, explaining that we are learning ‘to make a life, not just a living.’

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Ep. 3 - Dzogchen Non-Meditation


Mon, Apr 27, 2015


Lama Surya Das breaks down the 3 ‘naturals’ of basic Dzogchen meditation, explaining that our energy moves from effort to effortless and back again, as we turn meditation into action. Questions from the audience reflect a variety of topics including the nature of awareness, fear and anxiety around death, and the stressors surrounding meditation

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Ep. 2 - The View: Meditation and Action of the Natural Great Perfection


Sat, Apr 18, 2015


Seeing through the illusion and simply enjoying the view is the work we have set out to do. In practice we assume our Buddha seat, allowing awareness to proceed unhindered, in observance of our pure and natural state. We are the flow, and can come to rest in the clear vision of what is.

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Ep. 1 - Dreams, Non-Duality & Enlightenment


Mon, Apr 06, 2015


For the inaugural episode of "Awakening Now," Lama Surya Das is joined by MindPod Networkers Raghu Markus and Noah Lampert. Surya Das answers Noah's questions about dreams, the state of the world today, non-duality and shares a bonus story about how Surya Das got his name. Raghu also shares a quote about faith from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche which allows Surya Das the opportunity to compare blind, intuitive and experiential faith.

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