When asked, “What is meant by ‘The answer is within’?” Lama Surya jumps right in. “Within what?” is his first reply. “Within or without, it is very arbitrary.”

Similarly, he adds, “We have to become the bridge between Heaven and Earth, and Heaven is right here. Where does the sky start? It’s not just up there.”

Yet, looking within does mean to introspect and look at our innermost self. It is beyond the physical. It’s not our physical heart but our Heart center that we seek. This is the path of self-inquiry. To accomplish this, he recommends that we learn to take a breath, take a step backward, pay close moment-to-moment attention and be mindful. This can be done through brief moments throughout the day. It doesn’t have to rely only on the big practice—an hour-long meditation—that we may or may not do every day or on spending time in a house of worship. Lama Surya calls this co-meditating with present reality. This is a vital response to our culture’s extreme materialism and extroversion.

Our challenge, he says, is to discover how to make a life, not a living. “We are all going to die, but who is going to truly live?” There is more to life than focusing just on selfish concerns, like how much can I get and accumulate. Consider the value of loving kindness and service to others. Service, he explains, is the rent we pay for inhabiting this world.

These practices support an inner maturation that shifts our focus from Me to We and helps us see that we are all interconnected, that we are all in this together, and that one cannot do it all alone.

Self-inquiry shows us that health and wellness are the natural state. Ultimate health is within. It doesn’t come from doctors, medications or health foods. And contentment, according to Lama Surya, is the ultimate state of health and wealth.

This commitment to self-inquiry is vital. Returning to the teaching, ‘The answer is within’, Lama Surya says, “If you know yourself all the way to the bottom, you know God.”


Lama Surya Das is one of the most widely recognized Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West. The Dalai Lama calls him “The American Lama”. He has spent over forty-five years studying Zen, Vipassana, Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism, world religion and mysticism. Through his many books and meditation retreats, he guides spiritual seekers to “make every breath a prayer, make every breath a spiritual moment.” For Part 1 of our conversation with Lama Surya Das, click here.

Join us for America’s premier conference on mind-body-spirit healing, Building Bridges of Integration for Traditional Chinese Medicine conference, October 13-16, 2016, Reston, VA, Hyatt Regency Hotel. This year’s theme is Oneness, Consciousness and Everyday Health.

The TCM World Foundation was honored to have Lama Surya join us for The 2013 Building Bridges for TCM conference.


Mind, Body, Spirit, Speakers

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