46 Invaluable Lama Surya Das Quotes

Lama Surya Das is an American Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and a leading spokesperson for Buddhism in the west. He is a poet, chantmaster and spiritual activist. His name, meaning “Servant of the Sun’ was given to him by Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba. Here is a look at some of the most memorable and invaluable Lama Surya Das quotes ever recorded.

“And the corollary of that – and this was my real lesson – is that you start to realize that you can love even the people you don’t like and must love and help everyone.”

“Before speaking, notice what motivates your words.”

“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.”

“But you know the difference between sex and love. And sex can be part of love, but what moves your heart, what’s really intimate, that’s the real spirit.”

“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.”

“Don’t wait to find solid ground. Dance in emptiness.”


“Embracing our environment is a good direction, a very spiritual direction. It’s too Aristotelian to separate man from the animals and man; humans from the environment.”

“Enlightenment is not about becoming divine. Instead it’s about becoming more fully human. . . . It is the end of ignorance.”

“Everybody wants, or cares about, and has values even if they don’t talk about them all the time explicitly, like some noisy preachers do with their foghorn voices and dogmatic views.”

“Everything passes, nothing remains. Understand this, loosen your grip and fine serenity…”

“I realize that was becoming a contradiction in terms, especially after my friend Alison Krauss was shot and killed in Kent State in 1970 on campus by the National Guard.”

“I started to think more about becoming peace rather than fighting for peace, and the contradiction in terms, and the anger and violence that we were prey to and involved in to some extent in those days.”

“I think it’s very important to really find the wheat amidst the chafe and not give into superficialities, to not get caught up the commercialism or the fads, you know, the”over-popularization” of some things that we might see today.”

“I think that’s what’s important, to see how we ourselves can become all that we are and can be. Everybody says they want to change, but it’s not that simple, it’s not that easy.”

“If we accept and internalize the fact of our own mortality, then, by definition, we have to deal with the essential questions of how we live and spend our allotted time. We have to stop procrastinating, pretending that we have forever to do what we want to do and be what we long to be.”

“It almost seems as though this roiling world is conspiring to test our patience at every turn. In fact, it is.”

“It constantly shows us that we need to be patient on an ongoing basis, not just every now and then, if we´re going to realize true inner peace, happiness, and fulfillment.”

“It’s not impersonal, it’s beyond any of us, it’s transcendent of any of us, yet imminent in dwelling, imminent to each of us.”

“Learning how to love is the goal and the purpose of spiritual life – not learning how to develop psychic powers, not learning how to bow, chant, do yoga, or even meditate, but learning to love.”

“Like many others, I sometimes find that cooking can be naturally grounding.”

“Love is the truth. Love is the light.”

“May all beings everywhere with whom we are inseparably connected, be fulfilled, awakened, liberated and free. May there be peace in this world and throughout the entire universe, and may we all together complete the spiritual journey.”

“Not airy fairy vague mystical experience, but transformative, intimate experience that really touches your heart with love, and not just sex.”

“On the other side, is a substantial, more materialism, everything is real long to the extent we can see or measure it, and things are as real as I think they.”

“One-half plus one-half does not equal one; one whole plus one whole equals relational wholeness.”

“Other people can’t cause us to be impatient unless we let them do so. In other words, others don’t make us impatient. We make ourselves impatient, through our expectations and demands, fixated attachments and stuckness.”

“Our lack of compassion stems from our inability to see deeply into the nature of things.”

“Sex, creativity, music, art, family, love, beauty, and creative imagination are all part of the spiritual path in the tantric traditions. So I think that for today that has a lot to say to us about not dividing ourselves from ourselves.”

“So we have to be ready, willing, and able to really transform ourselves, and each other in the world, not just say it and affirm it,”Oh, I want to change”. Intention is important, but so is action.”

“So we’re all living spirit. It’s not about isms and schims or religions. Religions are almost like political institutions, but the heart of it is the spirituality.”

“Spiritual joy is devotion, it’s like a virus you know? It’s a benevolent virus, but it spreads. It’s infectious. Ram Dass was like a mentor in those days.”

“Spiritual seekers particularly are on a quest to understand life; we want to examine our own lives and find meaning in what we do and who we are. … We find meaning in the seeking itself. Every step along the way is the Way…”

“Spiritually speaking, everything that one wants, aspires to, and needs is ever-present, accessible here and now – for those with eyes to see.”

“Taking the decision-making process away from people disempowers them. It also makes them much less likely to buy into the decision, however right it may be. One’s own conscience remains the ultimate arbiter.”

“The heart is an organ of perception.”

“The Pearl Principle – no inner irritation, no pearl.”

“The religions are the buildings or the institutions, the groups, but inside of that is what moves, is what’s alive, is the beating heart of spirituality, and really, the heart’s blood is the mystical experience.”

“The secret, or innermost, level of wisdom is pure intuition, clarity, lucidity, innate wakefulness, presence, and recognition of reality.”

“There’s plenty going on that’s substantial and transformative, beneficial and authentic. Just because somebody is in the media, it doesn’t mean they’re bad.”

“This transcendental wisdom is within all of us—it just needs to be discovered and developed, unfolded and actualized.”

“We all have spiritual DNA; wisdom and truth are part of our genetic structure even if we don’t always access it.”

“We cannot expect miracles of mindfulness in our own lives without preparation, commitment & continuing to energetically progress along our spiritual way.”

“We each need to make peace with our own memories. We have all done things that make us flinch.”

“We’re human beings trying to understand and cultivate what it means to feel divine love. We have to start with small, realistic goals.”

“Who’s ready to change and give up? Who’s ready to get out of their rut and leave it behind, not just pour honey or syrup over their heads and over the rut? Who’s ready to change and give up that rut, who’s ready willing and able?”

“You have to go through the darkness to truly know the light. This may sound like a cliche, but it’s true nonetheless. Often the greatest doubts occur just before a breakthrough.”

Lama Surya Das speaks during a retreat where he reviews the power and benefit of enlightened living.