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Excerpted from Awakening to the Sacred  by Lama Surya Das. Copyright© 1999 by Lama Surya Das. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"I firmly believe that we've all been touched by the sacred, no matter how fleetingly."

Lama Surya Das, Awakening to the Sacred
Part 2

I firmly believe that we've all been touched by the sacred, no matter how fleetingly. We've known breakthroughs, epiphanies, and blessed times of grace, no matter how ephemeral. Often these vivid moments happen when we are children. People tell me that they remember times, albeit brief, when the smoky veils of illusion and delusion lifted, and they were literally able to "see the light." Others have related childhood memories that include relationships with angels. Still others say they have had no such otherworldly encounters, yet they remember experiencing a sense of cosmic divine love, a magical universe of goodness, interconnectedness, and belonging so profound that it inspired them for a lifetime.

As adults, we also have brief glimpses of a more sacred reality. Sometimes we find it in nature--on a solitary walk in the woods or along a sandy beach. Sometimes it happens when we come into contact with a person whose spiritual energy is inspirational. Sometimes it happens when we attend a worship service, a meditation session, a spiritual retreat, or even something as secular as a fine concert. We come away transported, momentarily transformed by what we've seen and heard. We feel different--more grounded, genuinely real, and "alive," as well as more connected to the divine. We feel as though we have finally come home. We want the feeling to continue, and we think to ourselves, I must do this more often. This is something that should be part of my life--all the time.

Like all things, these glorious seconds of illumination eventually vanish. And when they do, the lives and worlds we have constructed for ourselves come rushing back in like the relentless tide. Our habitual patterns return, and the sublime feelings evaporate. But we retain the memories of those moments that contained the essence of spirituality--true peace, love, freedom, and a sense of belonging. It makes sense that we want to revisit and re-create these spiritual memories. It makes sense that we want to move in and stay closer to the light.

I've spent most of my adult life in various Buddhist monasteries, as well as ashrams and retreat centers, so I feel as though I have a fairly good idea of what it means to want to lead a more centered and sacred life. And I know how challenging it can be to take the first committed steps on such a path. When I give lectures or readings, almost inevitably one or more members of the audience comes up afterward to tell me how much he or she wants to become more committed to spiritual values in his or her life. They usually tell me how difficult it is to find specific day-by-day ways to do so. Often they go so far as to ask me whether I think they have to leave their lives, their jobs, and their mates so that they can do more than merely pay lip service to their spiritual inclinations. Some even ask me to recommend specific sites in the Himalayas.

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