Awakening to the Sacred is further proof that Eastern thought continues to influence a certain kind of American mind one formed by Western religious values, but not content with the usual Western answers to key questions of meaning.

In the 19th century similar aspects of Indian thought influenced Emerson and Thoreau, as they attempted to deepen their spiritual lives. With this book Indian thought has gone through a Tibetan filter and returned again to New England (where the author lives) and to American mainstream spiritual seekers: readers of all faiths who seek a deeper spiritual life, who, like Emerson and Thoreau, are looking for answers to life's big questions.

Author of the best-selling Awakening the Buddha Within, Lama Surya Das started as a Jewish American seeking spiritual growth. He spent several years in India training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and also trained in Japan as a Zen monk. Das's purpose in this book is to help the reader see if some aspects of Tibetan Buddhism might encourage spiritual growth. Because different people have diverse spiritual needs and dissimilar backgrounds, Das provides an exceptionally wide range of behaviors and practices from which to choose.

All the practices are based on a simple perspective: enlightenment is about the daily experience of reality, not some otherworldly experience. For example, Das quotes the great Zen master Dogen about the value of meditation: Don't doubt its possibilities because of the simplicity of its method. If you can't find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you'll find it? For the mainstream spiritual seeker, this book has achieved its purpose to provide specific advice for the beginning steps on the path to awakening. Provided they practice the exercises, readers using this book can develop a deeper spirituality in daily life. As the Buddha said: Try it and see that is the best approach.

Douglas J. Durham has practiced Theravada Buddhism since 1992.

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