NAKED BUDDHISM, NAKED AWARENESS
How can I
characterize Naked Buddhism and the spiritual teaching of David Deida?
presents the kind of challenge that creative artists, spiritual awakeners, and
innovators in the history of human beings have always posed. When faced with something
new, original, and profound, language fails and the mind is humbled by the lack
of a category to hang it on. I could compare David's work with the Tantric traditions
that it certainly resembles in many respects-or Kashmir Shaivism... Or I could
write of its similarities with my own Dzogchen lineage of Buddhism, for it certainly
shares with our tradition deep insights into reality and what is.
are few categories I know of for an original like David; for his teachings there
is no pigeonhole. He himself is carving out his own territory, like a pioneer,
an explorer. Unlike much of what we find in the spiritual marketplace today, David
does not merely mouth pale shadows of truths from other times, places, and people,
but is in the dynamic living oral tradition of maverick spiritual teachers who,
like free-jazz musicians, can riff directly on Reality, outside of established
forms. This is why I am attuned to his provocative, sacred music.
is the main practice in the Dzogchen traditition of Tibetan Buddhism. We take
refuge in and rely on innate wakefulness and awareness practice to lay bare the
nature of both the mind and all things; this is the ground, the path and the fruit
of the tried and true Buddhist path of awakening. Awareness is the sovereign,
all-powerful and all-accomplishing ruler, the source of all; awareness is the
greatest protection; awareness is the way, the truth, and the light. Homage to
naked awareness, the heart of the Buddhas of past, present and future. David's
book, Naked Buddhism, is such an homage.
Samantabhadara--embodying bare truth,
naked awareness unencumbered by concepts--is the source of the Dzogchen lineage.
Dzogchen actually predates the advent of Buddhism in Tibet. Dzogchen is also the
consummate teaching of the Tibetan tradition, a nondual mystical transmission
providing direct access to ones own innate natural state, the Buddha within. This
primordial Buddha within us embodies the possibility of realization in one instant.
Dzogchen pith instructions tell us: "One moment of total awareness is one
moment of perfect enlightenment." This is the direct path, cutting directly
to the core and touching truly upon the heart of the matter. This is what David
Deida is transmitting and teaching. He comprehends these deep words. He practices
these words by living them, and he teaches what he lives. He has an uncommon ability
to render the most esoteric understandings at the core of the world's great spiritual
wisdom in a form accessible and useful to the modern western mind.
a man with a mission; he is striving to transform the atmosphere of contemporary
tantric teaching and practice in the world today. Although not a Buddhist or part
of any pre-existing spiritual tradition, David Deida's fresh, original teaching
lays bare the essence behind each moment's appearance. His is the exact form of
on-the-spot insight, cutting through to the nature of reality, that traditions
spring up in the wake of. But David is far more concerned with your authentic
realization of openness and love than he is with creating more clothing for yet
another spiritual outfit. His teaching serves to remove any cloaks your heart
might be wearing, especially any garments knit of sexual confusion.
Buddha does not just sit above us all in the remote vastness of heavenly firmaments,
but resides within the heart and mind of each and every one of us. What we seek,
we are. It is all within. This is the naked truth, a veritable fact of life. David
Deida understands this. He speaks from that position. To him, nakedness is far
more than mere nudity, and his kind of tantra reaches far beyond prurient interests,
sensuality, and mere sex.
From the primordial state of infinite, pure and spontaneously
accomplishing awareness arises infinite teachings and manifestations. Timeless
truths reveal themselves in timely new forms, appropriate for today and tomorrow.
In our ancient Nyingma tradition of Tibet, these are called termas, or rediscovered
Dharma treasures, which can come in the form of spiritual revelations of breathtaking
beauty and grandeur as well as more pragmatically in the form of spiritual teachings
and transmissions, empowerments, exercises and practices. This is how the Tibetan
tantric Vajrayana tradition continues to revitalize and continually propagate
itself. I believe that David Deida is actually onto something like this, in his
own inimitable way.
These are big words, but David is a big mind that can step
into such yeti-sized shoes and tread such a nondual mystical path. A gifted and
charismatic teacher, an erudite and wise person of integrity and heart, David
is the one western teacher of tantra whose books I read and whom I send students
to learn from.
He is a bridge-builder between East and West, between ancient
and modern wisdom traditions regarding this least understood of all spiritual
teachings: the mystery of intimacy as a yoga of transformation, transcendence,
Buddha nature is the essence of every appearance and
every moment of nowness. And Naked Buddhism points to the Buddha nature of now
so artfully and so consistently, and in so many different areas of human life,
that you can't help but have glimpses of the Dharmakaya, the Unborn and undying
naked reality shining through your own experience, as you taste it via David's
evocation of each moment's realization of what "is" in the very midst
of what appears to be.
Naked Buddhism functions like the renowned Tibetan truth-method
called Pointing-out Instructions, reminding us that phantasmagorical visible appearances
are a magical, dream-like display of consciousness, energy and light; and that
the only authentic choice is to recognize it Just As Is within love's fearless,
Mark my words: in a future that I hope is not too far off,
David Deida's original western Dharma will be widely known as one of the most
sublime and accessible expressions of the essence of spiritual practice that is
freely offered today. The results of true practice, in any tradition, are unmistakable;
David Deida demonstrates them.
Truths are many, but truth is one. All the great
traditions have this truth at the core. Dzogchen teaching expresses it without
much cultural accouterment or baggage. Not a matter of mere intellection, it can't
really be taught--but it can be caught. When you catch on, then it is truly transmitted
and realized. We can truly awaken in this way.
Spiritual seekers can realize
what masters and sages throughout the ages have always realized: the facticity
of what is, clear vision of things as they are through naked denuded awareness--not
fabricating anything, not constructing, not building anything up, far beyond contrivance
and elaboration. This true teaching on the primordially pure and perfectly whole,
complete and radiant nature of reality, mind and consciousness is as true today
as it was thousands of years ago.
No one has a corner on the market of truth.
It is free and belongs to everyone, to one and all. Truth belongs to those who
cherish it and realize it. Though David doesn't call himself a Buddhist, I do
know that he is deeply rooted in Buddha-nature. His teaching exposes that fact.
I think we are all lucky to find these naked teachings here today, just as I count
myself fortunate to have David as a Dharma friend.
Naked Buddhism is a fresh
and original contribution to an unorthodox lineage tradition of unsullied new
revelations. Much of the book helps us learn how to use our bare awareness and
pure attention to reconnect and relax into the View of things as they are amidst
daily life--with our kids, watching tv, at work and so forth. Beyond our time
on the meditation cushion or yoga mat, spiritual awakening includes transcending
our unfulfilling habitual conditioning, learning to love, and expressing our deepest
heart in the midst of our everyday human lives. Sexuality in particular tends
to hold people back from spiritual progress and development; the second half of
this book is directed at transmuting this limitation into an opportunity, through
skillful means of naked awareness practice and truth-method of self-realization.
do me a favor. Let yourself rest loose, and read Naked Buddhism with the openness
and freedom from preconceptions about Buddhism and religiosity that Zen masters
call "beginners mind". When I read these oral teachings in written form,
I like to remember the ancient Taost philosopher Chuang Tzu's advice, who said:
"I am going to speak some reckless words, and I want you to listen recklessly."
In that spirit, I can guarantee you that these insightful teachings will deepen
your experience of immanent Buddha-nature and shine a new light on your moment-to-moment
Lest we take all this too seriously, I find it helpful to remember
that Buddha is as Buddha does. This is up to you. Naked Buddhism is about naked
awareness: not something to believe in, but something to try out for yourself.
As the Buddha himself used to say, "Come and see."
Lama Surya Das
Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars.
He is a lama in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. His teachers
include the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Kalu Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse
Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche and Neem Karoli Baba. He has spent over thirty
years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism, and has twice completed
the traditional three year meditation retreat at Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's monastery
in France. Surya Das is the founder of the Dzogchen Foundation in Massachusetts
and California; founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network with the Dalai
Lama; and is active in interfaith dialogue and social activism.
Das is also a poet, translator, chantmaster, and the author of the recently released
Awakening the Buddhist Heart: Integrating Love, Meaning and Connection into Every
Part of Your Life, the best-selling Awakening the Buddha Within, and Awakening
to the Sacred. He writes an "Ask The Lama" column online at Beliefnet.com.
More information can be found at www.surya.org.