June 3, 2022
In this episode, Wendy speaks with Buddhist scholar and author Robert (Bob) Thurman. Bob is one of the foremost scholars in the world on Tibetan Buddhism, and played a major role in bringing Buddhism to America. This conversation covers many topics, including:
- his entry into Buddhism, and befriending the Dalai Lama;
- links between Buddhism and science (and why Buddhism is 1/6 religion);
- problems with scientific materialism;
- enlightenment and emptiness;
- stories of the Buddha leaving home;
- four friendly fun facts (noble truths);
- realistic vs. right approaches on the path;
- jumping into bliss prematurely;
- Buddhist ethics;
- practices to push against essentialism;
- the key role of compassion in enlightenment;
- how he thinks about reincarnation and continuation of consciousness;
- the role of science on the contemplative path;
- and Bob’s parting fun fact.
Robert (Bob) A.F. Thurman, PhD, is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor Emeritus of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Bob is also President of Tibet House US, which he co-founded in 1987 (with Tenzin Tethong, Richard Gere, and Philip Glass) as a non profit organization dedicated to the preservation and renaissance of Tibetan civilization. It maintains a lively museum and cultural center in New York City, and offers programs in all aspects of the Tibetan arts and sciences.
Bob has authored of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Circling the Sacred Mountain, Essential Tibetan Buddhism, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Worlds of Transformation, Inner Revolution, Infinite Life, the Jewel Tree of Tibet, Why The Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World, and with Sharon Salzberg, Love Your Enemies. Time magazine chose Bob 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 Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.” The New York Times recently said he “is considered the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism.”
Faculty website at Columbia
Tibet House US
- Book: Wisdom is Bliss: Four Friendly Fun Facts That Can Change Your Life
- Podcast: Bob Thurman Podcast – Buddhas Have More Fun!
View or download a transcript of this episode