Ep. 14 ~ KD Chats with Bob Thurman

Robert A.F. Thurman recently retired as Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in theDepartment of Religion atColumbia University,President of theTibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization,Time magazine 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 Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.” The New York Times recently said Thurman “is considered the leading American expert onTibetan Buddhism.Inspired by his good friend the Dalai Lama, Thurman stands on Buddhism’s open reality, and thence takes us along with him into an expanded vision of the world, whether the sweep of history, the subtleties of the inner science of the psyche, or the wonders of the life of the heart.He always shares the sense of refuge in the Dharma, which unfailingly helps us clear away the shrouds of fear and confusion, sustains us with the cheerfulness of an enriched present, and opens a door to a path of realistic hope for a peaceful future.“There’s two ways of looking at the sublime continuum, which is to say the Buddha Nature.There’s one way where the Buddha says, ‘Buddha nature is something we teach to reassure people who are frightened when we say ‘selfless’ and they think there’s no soul.’ So BuddhaNature sort of substitutes for soul. But that’s a lower way of looking at it. A higher way of looking at Buddha Nature is, it is Reality Itself in the form of the fact that enlightened Beings,Beings who are truly enlightened, which doesn’t mean every kind of deity, but some of them, maybe, but enlightened Beings feel, they viscerally feel themselves to be everybody else. So, for example, any Buddha, and there are millions of them, but particularly the one who worries most about us at the moment is Shakyamuni, you know, Siddhartha’s last Shakyamuni, He is you, Krishna Das, and Me, from His perspective. He’s us. He actually enjoys being us. He does.”–Robert Thurman


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