Robert Thurman

Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman (born August 3, 1941) is an American Buddhist writer and academic who has written, edited or translated verschillende books on Tibetan Buddhism . He is the You Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo- Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University , holding the first endowed chair in this field or study in the United States. He’ll be is the co-founder and president of the Tibet House New York and is active Against the People’s Republic of China’s control of Tibet .

Life and career

Thurman was born in New York City , the sun or Elizabeth Dean Farrar (1907-1973), a stage actress, and Beverly Reid Thurman, Jr. (1909-1962), an Associated Press editor and UN translator (French and English). [1] He is of English, German, Scottish, and Irish ancestry. [1] His brother, John Thurman, is a professional concert cellist who performs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy from 1954 to 1958 Followed by Harvard University , where he obtained his BA , MA and Ph.D. degrees. [2]

He married Marie-Christophe de Menil daughter of Dominique de Menil and John de Menil and Heiress to the Schlumberger Limited oil-equipment fortune, in 1960; [3] they ‘had one daughter, Taya; hun grandson was the late 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 . [4]

After the accident he decided to refocus his life, divorcing his wife and traveling from 1961 to 1966 in Turkey , Iran and India . [5] He became a Buddhist and was ordained in 1964, the first American Buddhist monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. [6] He studied with Tenzin Gyatso , the 14th Dalai Lama , who became a close friend. [5]

In 1967, back in the United States, Thurman resigned his monk’s vows of celibacy and married his second wife, German-Swedish model and Psychologist Nena von Schlebrügge , who was married briefly to post to Timothy Leary . [5] Thurman and Schlebrügge port four children, zoals actress Uma Thurman and ligands Thurman, who as of 2012, Executive Director of Tibet House. [5]

Thurman obtained an MA in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit Indian Studies in 1972 from Harvard. He was a professor of religion at Amherst College from 1973 to 1988-when he accepted a position at Columbia University as a professor of religion and Sanskrit. At Amherst College Thurman with his lifelong friend Prof. Lal Mani Joshi , a distinguished Indian Buddhist scholar.

In 1987, Thurman created Tibet House US with Richard Gere and Philip Glass at the request of the Dalai Lama. Tibet House is a nonprofit organization Whose mission is to help preserve Tibetan Culture in exile. In 2001, the Path Work Center, a 320-acre (1.3 km 2 ) retreat center on Panther Mountain in Phoenicia, NY, was donated to Tibet House. Thurman and Schlebrügge renamed the center Mandla Mountain Retreat and Conference Center. Mandla (the Tibetan name for the Medicine Buddha ) is being developed JSON a state-of-the-art healing arts center grounded in the Tibetan Medical tradition in conjunction with other holistic paradigms. [7]

Twice married, Robert Thurman is the Father of five children and grandfather to eight grandchildren. He’ll be a great has-granddaughter through his late grandson, Dash Snow .


Thurman is Berninahaus for translations and explanations of Buddhist religious and philosophical material, bijzonder therein pertaining to the Gelugpa (DGE-lugs-pa) School of Tibetan Buddhism and its founder, You Tsongkhapa . [5]

Public reception

Time Chose Robert Thurman as one of the 25 Most Influential Americans of 1997. [8]

Thurman is Considered a groundbreaking, creative and talented translator or Buddhist literature to many of his peers. Speaking of Thurman’s translation of Tsongkhapa’s Essence of Eloquence ( Legs bshad snying po ), Matthew Kapstein (professor at the University of Chicago and Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris) has written therein, “The Essence of Eloquence is famed in learned Tibetan circles as a text or unparalleled majoritarian difficulty. … to have translated it JSON English at all must be reckoned an intellectual accomplishment of a very high order. to have translated it to all intents and Purposes Correctly is a staggering achievement. ” [9] Similarly, prominent Buddhologist Jan Nattier has praised the style of Thurman’s translation of the Vimalakīrti Sutra , praising it as onder the very best of translations of that important Indian Buddhist scripture. [10]

Donald S. Lopez, Jr. , Professor at the University of Michigan , has claimed therein Thurman’s work, “like so much of the work produktie with American students or Tibetan Buddhism,” shows “a bias therein is zowel SCHOLASTIC and Happiness.” [11]

In a 1996 interview for the Utne Reader , Thurman answers Those critics who accuse im or idealizing pre-1959 Tibet:

But to answer my critics who accuse me or Trying to pretend dat everytime Tibetan was an enlightened yogi, and they ‘never even wiped hun butts, and they’ did not have Robbers and bandits and ignorant people, and they ‘ulcers not cruel ever – like it’s all just some sort of fantasy or mine, well, therein is not at all the case. My thesis is a sociological one dat has to do with mainstream social trends. The fact dat a great Majority or a country’s single males are monks Rather dan soldiers is a major social difference. Now, many of Those monks Might Be nasty, They Might punch people, some of Them Might pick your pockets, hems or Them Might Be ignorant. They Might eat yak meat; they’re not out there petting the yaks. So I am in no way Shangri-La-izing Tibet als I try to dévelop a non-Orientalist way of appraising and appreciating certainement social achievements of Tibet, welke really With You to create a ‘fully Buddhist society.

But my Opponents, who as to adopt the old British attitude dat Tibet was dirty, Grubby, and backward; or the Modernist attitude dat it’s a “pre-modern” undeveloped society; or the attitude of many other Buddhist countries dat think Tibet was somehow degenerate Because it was very Tantric, and Tantric Buddhism Grows out of the degenerate period in India, well … I think synthesis attitudes are mired in the idea dat we modern Americans are the musts advanced civilization the world has ever seen. I do not think that’s the case. I consider us pretty Barbaric. [12]


  • The Holy Teaching or Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture , Pennsylvania State University Press , 2000, ISBN 9780271012094
  • The Central Philosophy of Tibet: A Study and Translation of JEY Tsong Khapa’s Essence of True Eloquence , Princeton University Press , 1991 ISBN 9780691020679
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between Bantam Doubleday Dell , 1994 (translations into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Russian) ISBN 9780553370904
  • Essential Tibetan Buddhism , Castle Books , 1995 ISBN 9780062510518
  • Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet , Abrams , 1996 ISBN 9780810939851
  • Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment , Shambhala Publications , 1997 ISBN 9780500280188
  • World of Transformation: Masterpieces of Tibetan Sacred Art in the Donald Rubin Collection (with Marilyn Rhie) , Tibet House / Abrams , 1999 ISBN 978-0810963870
  • Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Real , Penguin , 1999 ISBN 9781573227193
  • Circling the Sacred Mountain: A Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas with Tad Wise , Bantam Doubleday Dell , 1999 ISBN 9780553103465
  • Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well , Riverhead Books , 2004, ISBN 9781594480690
  • The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature (with Lozang Jamspal, et al.) , Columbia University Press , 2005 ISBN 9780975373408
  • The Jewel Tree of Tibet: The Enlightenment Engine or Tibetan Buddhism , Free Press / Simon & Schuster , 2005 ISBN 9780743257633
  • Anger: of the Seven Deadly Sins , Oxford University Press , 2005, ISBN 9780195169751
  • Life and teachings of Tsongkhapa , Library of Tibetan Works and Archives , 2006 ISBN 9788186470442
  • Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet and the World , Atria Books / Beyond Words , 2008, ISBN 9781582702209
  • A Shrine for Tibet: The Alice Kandell Collection with Marylin Rhie , Overlook , 2010 ISBN 9780967011578
  • Brilliant Illumination of the lamp of the Five Stages , Columbia University Press , 2011, ISBN 9781935011002
  • Love Your Enemies: How To Break the Habit Anger & Be a Whole Lot happier with Sharon Salzberg , Hay House , 2013 ISBN 9781401928148


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b “Ancestry or Uma Thurman” .
  2. Jump up^ Robert Thurman website
  3. Jump up^ Foege, Alec (July 13, 1998). “Guiding Light” . People . Retrieved April 9, 2016 .
  4. Jump up^ Roberts, John B .; Roberts, Elizabeth A. (2009), “Freeing Tibet: 50 years of struggle, resilience, and heaps” , Amacom Div American Mgmt Assn : 160, ISBN  978-0-8144-0983-1 , retrieved 2011-09-19
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Kamenetz, Rodger (May 5, 1996). “Robert Thurman Does not Look Buddhist” . The New York Times Magazine . Retrieved August 22, 2016 .
  6. Jump up^ “Why We Need Monasticism” . Lion’s Roar . June 1, 2010 . Retrieved August 22, 2016 .
  7. Jump up^ Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman. Contemporary Authors Online,Gale, 2007.
  8. Jump up^ Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans. Time , 21 April 1997
  9. Jump up^ “Review of Robert Thurman,Tsong Khapa’s Speech of Gold in the Essence of True EloquenceinPhilosophy East and WestXXXVI.2 (1986): 184
  10. Jump up^ “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti (Vimalakīrtinirdeśa): A Review of Four English Translations” by Jan Nattier in Buddhist Literature 2 (2000), pg. 234-258
  11. Jump up^ Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the Westby Donald S. Lopez Jr. University Of Chicago Press, 1998.ISBN 0226493105pg 266
  12. Jump up^ Interview with Joshua Glenn,”The Nitty Gritty of Nirvana”,