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Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation Paperback

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Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation + Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (August 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767908740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767908740
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Das, an American-born lama in the Dzogchen lineage of Tibet and author of the bestseller Awakening the Buddha Within, here explores the losses and changes that inevitably mark our lives. He argues that what is important is not that difficult things happen (Buddhism's first truth, after all, is that life is suffering), but how we deal with them. Pure detachment from loss and sorrow is not sufficient, he says; the goal is non-attachment to circumstances that are by nature impermanent. Despite losses and pain, we still need to be fully engaged with the world: "Spiritual detachment or equanimity should never be equated with indifference or complacent resignation." One of the strongest sections of the book is Das's simple chronicle of various losses he has suffered, both enormous (the death of his father) and mundane (a stolen bike). Thus acknowledged, his echoing pain prevents the book from being self-help pabulum about how bad things make good people stronger. The writing style, composed mostly of short, choppy sentences, seems well suited for effective public speaking, but unpolished for a book. Many of Das's recommendations-meditating, journal writing, "naming" your feelings, visualizing attachments, chanting a healing mantra-are fairly standard self-help ideas, as are the classic and familiar Buddhist anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. But there are also great and original nuggets of wisdom here, as when Das advocates the ancient Tibetan practice of chod, a hero's quest-like ritual to confront personal fears.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“During these challenging times when fear and self-doubt become our constant companions this beautiful book provides the guidance we all need to use change and loss as a catalyst for our spiritual evolution.”
–Cheryl Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of Take Time for Your Life

“It is inevitably painful to deal with transition, change, suffering, death, and other losses.  They are realities we would prefer to avoid, or minimize, but they are essentially part of life.  We must face them with courage, grace, clarity and wisdom.  Lama Surya Das teaches us how to do so in the spirit of enlightenment, great practical wisdom, humility and effective compassion.  Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be is a further tribute to his masterful talents as a spiritual teacher.”
Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart

Praise for the landmark Awakening Trilogy by Lama Surya Das

Awakening the Buddha Within

“Lama Surya Das communicates the wisdom of Buddhism to the people of his times and environments. To me this is a great achievement and I feel deeply grateful for it.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, author of Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

“This open-hearted offering of the Buddha’s teachings ranges from the fundamentals to magic. It is a wonderful gift.” --Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Our Own Deepest Experience

“Wise and wonderful, gentle and profound.…This is surely one of the finest spiritual manuals meant for a larger public and it succeeds brilliantly.” --Ken Wilbur, author of A Brief History of Everything

Awakening to the Sacred

Awakening to the Sacred will bring great gifts into the lives of its readers. It is user-friendly—filled with beautiful teachings, gracious stories, dozens of practices, humorous takes and wise practical ways to invite our hearts to awaken to the highest wisdom in every part of our lives.” --Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

“Lama Surya Das offers a fresh and invigorating approach to the perennial quest which gives natural spirituality its rightful place at the center of things.” --Mitchell Kapor, founder of the Lotus Foundation

Awakening to the Sacred is a feast for the soul.” --Mark Epstein, author of Going to Pieces without Falling Apart

Awakening the Buddhist Heart

“In Awakening the Buddhist Heart, Lama Surya Das brings the depth of wisdom and understanding to the realities of our everyday life. This is a helpful guide for all those walking the path to awakening while living in the world.” --Joseph Goldstein, author of Insight Meditation

“When we come to the end of our lives, what will matter most are the relationships we’ve shared with loved ones. Awakening the Buddhist Heart takes you on a spiritual journey that will return you to this important priority.” --Cheryl Richardson, author of Take Time for Your Life

"Lama Surya Das makes the Buddha nature seem very real and accessible. I feel lighter, I feel calmer, I feel more peaceful. This book is a blessing on my bookshelf and a blessing on my heart." --Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love

From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

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."

Surya has spent nearly forty years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with the great masters of Asia. He is an authorized lama (priest and spiritual master teacher) in the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its affiliated branches. He is the founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network annual conferences with the Dalai Lama.

As a best selling author, sought after speaker, teacher, and lecturer, he conducts retreats and workshops around the world. Surya is also a published poet, translator, and chant master. He has been featured in numerous publications and major media, including ABC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, New York Post, Long Island Newsday, Long Island Business Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, The Jewish Free Press, New Age Journal, Tricycle Magazine, Yoga Journal, and The Oregonian.

One segment of the ABC-TV sitcom Dharma & Greg was based on his life ("Leonard's Return"). Surya has appeared on Politically Correct with Bill Maher and on The Colbert Report.

Customer Reviews

We must cherish and love all that is, while being prepared to let go at any moment.
Swing King
These transitions may be reconciling oneself to the loss of a loved one, a job, financial losses and any time of disappointment.
Eleanor Rose
Like Lama Surya Das's other books, it is an easy to read, well written book with the occassional funny, dry humor that I enjoy.
Simple Tin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Lama Surya Das is a profound teacher when it comes to Tibetan Buddhism. He remembers that his teachers always observed that the most important step in dealing with grief and suffering was to look at the losses pragmatically. Surya Das adds: "Like the Buddha, we want to find the lessons that lie buried in suffering and pain. Questioning is an essential part of the spiritual path: self-inquiry, introspection, philosophy - all involve genuine doubt and skepticism as propellants fueling the spiritual journey. We find meaning in the seeking itself." In short, we must find the answers for ourselves. No text, as wonderful as it might even be, can do this exploration for us. As opposed to trying to escape from bereavement and hindrance, we can face them with insight and strength.
There is an enormous breadth of teachings stories in this book. From something jotted down in a Nursery school by a toddler, to Zen allegories-Surya Das unabashedly draws from the best of so many sources to bring us a book so full of the good teachings. As he's done in his earlier books, Surya Das proposes precise practices in his dialogue of the circumstances we may all find ourselves in. For instance, mention how the loss of a loved one can make us "wrap up" or become solitary, he counsels using prayer to confirm our aspiration to keep our hearts unlocked and free. Like the old saying, "A bird only can stay in your hand without you killing it if your hand is open." We must cherish and love all that is, while being prepared to let go at any moment. This is how we should practice. Letting go. The Hindu text The Bhagavad-Gita states: "Death is certain for anyone born, and birth is certain for the dead. Seeing how this cycle is inevitable, you have no cause to grieve." Those are some really sobering words. This book answers a lot of our toughest questions in life with a kind and gentle hand. Enjoy it!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Truth Seeker on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Lama Surya Das has given us a handbook on living. "Letting Go" is an excellent book for anyone going through loss, change, illness, or a desired transformation of being. This book is easily read and has been written like he is talking to you in person. While it is very Buddhist in background, this is a book anybody from any religious background can gain from. I resell many of my buddhist books but this is one I will be keeping in my library to re-read in the future. Surya Das has a easy way of explaining Buddhism in a more westernized way that makes this an excellent book for newcomers to this faith and way of being. I also loved the Medicine Buddha section which gives full instruction on a healing mantra and visualizations for physical, mental, and spiritual healing. It reminds me very much of guru yoga for those of you familiar with Dzogchen practice. Read this book for yourself and give out several for gifts. Surya Das, I can't wait for more of your writings. You are one fine writer! Bodhi Leaf, Buddhist and Reiki Master.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dr. V. Brockhurst on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been pursuing Buddhist literature for many years and I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed with this book from Lama Surya Das. Whilst I hold his other two in higher regard (Awakening the Buddha within, Awakening the Buddhist Heart), I thought this particular rendition was lacking in substance. The title was somewhat misleading. Whilst Surya Das does discuss one of the virtues of Buddhism (if I can call it that)of letting go, it is purely a description of anecdotes of people who haven't let go. Letting go is such a simple thing and yet is also one of the hardest. If you're looking for instructions as to how to achieve 'letting go', there isn't any here. Anecdotes don't stop there - there are sprinkled everywhere throughout this book.

The rest of the book looks at other elements such as loss and heroism. It's a bit of a mish mash of this and the other. I thought that there wasn't enough here to relate to the title of the book. Maybe a different title would have been more fitting, such as 'More Buddhist talk about Mindfulness'.

If you are new to Buddhism and need evidence that you are not alone in your pain, then this book will provide you with stories of others like yourself. Compassion and understanding is yours to be gotten. There's nothing much more here.

I'm of the impression that Surya Das is a stout practising Buddhist and a lot of his writing is geared towards participating in the solid practice of specific medidations and rituals. However, if you're like me and you find that Buddhist views resonate within you without becoming a devout follower, then I'd recommend you seek out other great works, such as those of Charlotte Beck or Pema Chodron.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Chandler on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
A friend gave a copy of this book to me about three years ago, when I was in the depths of depression. It helped me tremendously, and, no, I didn't have to become a Buddhist in order to feel better.

"Letting go of the person you used to be" does not mean completely changing everything about your life, nor does it mean attempting to forget or no longer to care about people you love and have lost. The book's focus is, in fact, on accepting grief and sadness as not only natural, unavoidable aspects of living, but as opportunities for emotional (or spiritual, if you will) growth.

I won't attempt to describe the specific content of the book further, with one exception: For me, one of the most effective passages was that in which Surya Das writes that of course it is difficult to effect change--or even to think about change--when one is really struggling with grief, loss, or sadness. But, he writes, what's the alternative? Just to wallow in, deny, or suppress the pain? Clearly, none of those is an effective or healthy course of action. Therefore, the only reasonable option left is to accept the pain and deal with it as best you can.

This book helped me deal. And it may help you.
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