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             Guest For  WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9, 2009

                                         (Originally aired: 12-24-02)

                               ROBERT THURMAN PhD



                                Scholar & Author






                     Authority on Buddhism & Tibet 




You can view the program in its entirety by clicking on the you tube link below:  

   Robert Thurman - Air date: 12-24-02 - ROBERT  THURMAN,  PhD



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Robert A. F. Thurman is a scholar, author, former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Director of Tibet House in New York City, a close personal friend of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and father of five children including the actress, Uma Thurman. He has lectured all over the world; his charisma and enthusiasm draw packed audiences.

Robert Thurman's flair for the dramatic may be attributed to the weekly Shakespeare readings hosted by his parents, in which Robert participated alongside such guests as Laurence Olivier. He managed to get himself kicked out of Exeter just prior to graduation for playing hooky in a failed attempt to join Fidel Castro's Cuban guerrilla army in 1958. Harvard University admitted him anyway, but a deep dissatisfaction and questioning led him to drop out and he traveled on a "vision quest" as a pilgrim to India. Returning home to attend his father's funeral, he met a Mongolian monk, Geshe Wangyal, and thus began Thurman's life-long passion for Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1964, Geshe Wangyal introduced Thurman to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and described Robert as, "...a crazy American boy, very intelligent and with a good heart (though a little proud), who spoke Tibetan well and had learned something about Buddhism [and] wanted to become a monk…. Geshe Wangyal was leaving it up to His Holiness to decide." Thurman became the first Westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He was 24 and the Dalai Lama 29. They eventually met weekly and His Holiness would quickly refer Thurman's questions concerning Buddhism to another teacher and turn the conversation to Freud, physics, and other "Western" topics of interest to him. Thurman describes this phase of his life: "All I wanted was to stay in the 2,500-year-old Buddhist community of seekers of enlightenment, to be embraced as a monk. My inner world was rich, full of insights and delightful visions, with a sense of luck and privilege at having access to such great teachers and teachings and the time to study and try to realize them." But when he returned to the United States, Thurman found that his career as a monk was not viable, so "I decided that I wanted to learn more Buddhist languages, read more Buddhist texts.… The only lay institution in America comparable to monasticism is the university, so in the end I turned to academia."

Robert Thurman currently holds the first endowed chair in this field of study in the United States; he is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. He is a prolific translator and writer of both scholarly and popular works, including Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold: Reason and Enlightenment in the Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Essential Tibetan Buddhism, and his most recent, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness.

Thurman is not only a scholar, but a champion of the preservation of Tibetan culture. In 1987, he and actor Richard Gere founded New York City's Tibet House, a nonprofit institution devoted to preserving the living culture of Tibet. Thurman writes, "What I have learned from these people [Tibetans] has forever changed my life, and I believe their culture contains an inner science particularly relevant to the difficult time in which we live. My desire is to share some of the profound hope for our future that they have shared with me."



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Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important texts from the Tibetan Tanjur.

Professor Thurman also translates important Tibetan and Sanskrit philosophical writings and lectures and writes on Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism; on Asian history, particularly the history of the monastic institution in the Asian civilization; and on critical philosophy, with a focus on the dialogue between the material and inner sciences of the world's religious traditions.

Time chose Professor Thurman as one of its 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a "larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the dharma, the precious teachings of Siddhartha, from Asia to America." The New York Times recently said Thurman "is considered the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism." But it's Thurman's unique take on the relevance of Buddhism to American culture and politics, and his wit and creativity in weaving ancient Buddhist wisdom and popular Western ideals, that make his knowledge entertaining and useful as well as informative.

Professor Thurman's scholarly and popular writings focus on the "inner revolution" that individuals and societies successfully negotiate when they achieve enlightenment. He defines this inner revolution as accurate insight into the true nature of reality and determined compassion for the suffering beings. He also works toward what he terms a "Second Renaissance," which he sees currently taking place as Western culture goes beyond the 14th century European discovery of the natural sciences of the ancient Greeks that catalyzed the "first renaissance" to discover and apply in practice the advanced "inner science" of ancient Indian culture.

This is evident in Professor Thurman's Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness, which Publisher's Weekly chose as one of the best books of 1998, in which he argues that America is uniquely poised to realize the Buddha's vision of individualism and cultural harmony, that the happiness guaranteed by America's founders "should be ours and that there are methods for discovering which happiness is really reliable and satisfying, and then securing that in an enduring way without depriving others."

Popularizing the Buddha's teachings is just one of Thurman's creative talents. He is a riveting speaker and an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, including Circling the Sacred Mountain, Essential Tibetan Buddhism, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Worlds of Transformation, and, most recently, Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well. He is credited with being at the forefront of making Tibetan art accessible and understandable in the West and, with distinguished art historians, he collaborated in curating several important traveling exhibitions, including "Wisdom and Compassion," "Mandala," and "Worlds of Transformation," which set a standard in the art world.

Thurman's work and insights are grounded in more than 35 years of serious academic scholarship. He has a B.A., A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard and has studied in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India and the United States. A long-time advocate of Buddhist monasticism, in 1962, Thurman became the first American ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He gave up his robes after several years, however, when he discovered he could be most effective in the American equivalent of the monastery, the university. He is a popular professor in the Religion Department of Columbia University where he holds the Jey Tsong Khapa chair in Indo-Tibetan Studies. Students have described his classes as "life changing", and a college president recently said, "If I could be a student again, I’d want to be in his classes at Columbia."

Thurman’s knowledge of Tibetan history and culture is often sought by policy makers. He has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Additionally, a plan he authored, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1998 as an op-ed piece entitled "Freeing Tibet Is in China’s Interest" is regarded by many as a practical plausible blueprint for peacefully ending the human rights violations and cultural destruction in Tibet. Thurman’s charisma, wit, unique life story, long-time activism on behalf of Tibet, proximity to Hollywood, and optimistic messages about "real happiness" for everyone have also placed him front and center with the news media. He is regularly interviewed by newspapers and magazines throughout the world and has been profiled in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, People, and Time, and on many television programs including CNN News, Good Morning America, The News Hour, Larry King Live, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His main hobbies are carpentry and landscaping. He is the husband of 34 years of Nena von Schlebrugge, the father of five children, Taya, Ganden, Uma, Dechen, and Mipam, and the grandfather of five, Dash, Caroline, Max, Maya, and Levan.

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Robert Thurman

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the baseball player, see Bob Thurman; for the novelist, see Rob Thurman
Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman (right) in January 2006
Born August 4, 1941 (1941-08-04) (age 66)
New York, New York, United States
Residence New York, New York, United States
Citizenship Flag of the United States United States
Field Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies
Institutions Columbia University
Alma mater Harvard University
Religion Tibetan Buddhism

Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman (born August 4, 1941) is an influential and prolific American Buddhist writer and academic who has authored, edited or translated several books on Tibetan Buddhism. He is the Je Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, holding the first endowed chair in this field of study in the United States. He also is the co-founder and president of the Tibet House New York and is active against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.



[edit] Life

Thurman was born in New York City, the son of Elizabeth Dean (née Farrar), a stage actress, and Beverly Reid Thurman, Jr., an Associated Press editor and U.N. translator.[1] He attended Philips Exeter Academy from 1954 to 1958, followed by Harvard University, obtaining an A.B. in 1962.

He married Christophe de Menil, an heiress to the Schlumberger Limited oil-equipment fortune, in 1959; they had one daughter, Taya; their grandson is the artist Dash Snow. In 1961 Thurman lost his left eye in an accident while he was using a jack to lift an automobile, and the eye was replaced with an ocular prosthetic. Following the accident he decided to re-focus his life, divorced his wife and traveled from 1961 to 1966 in Turkey, Iran and India. He converted to Buddhism and became an ordained Buddhist priest in 1964, the first American monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He studied with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who became a close friend. In 1967, back in the United States, Thurman resigned his vow of celibacy and married his second wife, a German-Swedish model, Nena von Schlebrügge, who had previously been briefly married to Timothy Leary. Thurman and Schlebrügge, now a psychotherapist, had four children, the second oldest being actress Uma Thurman.

Thurman obtained an A.M. in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit Indian Studies in 1972 from Harvard. He was professor of religion at Amherst College from 1973 to 1988 when he accepted a position at Columbia University.[2] Time chose him as one of the 25 most influential Americans of 1997.[3]

[edit] Ideas

Dr. Thurman is highly-regarded for his lucid, dynamic translations and explanations of Buddhist religious and philosophical material, particularly that pertaining to the Gelukpa (dge-lugs-pa) school of Tibetan Buddhism and its founder, Je Tsong Khapa including: Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold: Reason and Enlightenment in the Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Essential Tibetan Buddhism, and his most recent, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness followed by the seven secrets of buddhism in todays world.

[edit] Works

[edit] Multimedia

  • The Bob Thurman Podcast
  • Thurman, Robert (1999). Robert A.F. Thurman on Buddhism. DVD. ASIN B00005Y721.
  • Thurman, Robert (2002). Robert Thurman on Tibet. DVD. ASIN B00005Y722.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Ancestry of Uma Thurman
  2. ^ Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2007.
  3. ^ Time's 25 most influential Americans. Time, 21 April 1997

[edit] External links



                            Wednesday December 9, 2009

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