The Gifts of the Tibetans: Sparking New Directions in the Arts and Sciences

The Gifts of the Tibetans: Sparking New Directions in the Arts and Sciences

Photo by Kevin Matthews

In the last of three events aimed at establishing a UCLA endowed chair in Tibetan Buddhist studies, Columbia University's Robert Thurman says that Tibetan perspectives are, or at least ought to be, very much at home in the university. Listen to a podcast of his talk.

Judging by news accounts of the Dalai Lama's recent U.S. visit, western journalists are "amazed" that he "likes to talk to scientists," said Columbia University Professor of Religion Robert Thurman at a Nov. 5, 2007, lecture sponsored by the UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies. In fact, Thurman explained, the intersections between Buddhism and experimental science are large and potentially enormous. The Tibetan tradition in particular has ways of educating people to make them better observers of nature and to "bring out individualism in a true way."
Thurman's talk was attended by about 150 people. Among those were about 20 students and lecturers in Buddhism from the University of the West in Rosemead, Calif. Ven. Jue Wei, a doctoral student there and an ordained nun, said that she especially appreciated Thurman's message about nature as a continuum in which human beings are embedded.

"We have to build on this opportunity to understand for ourselves as well as for the future, and we will be part of that future," she said.

Robert Thurman holds the first endowed chair in Buddhist Studies in the West, the Jey Tsong Khapa Chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. Educated at Harvard, he studied Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism for almost thirty years as a personal student of the Dalai Lama, and became the first American to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He is president of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies and of the Tibet House U.S., and was listed as one of Time Magazine's 25 most influential Americans in 1997. He has written both scholarly and popular books, and has lectured widely all over the world. His special interest is the exploration of the Indo-Tibetan philosophical and psychological traditions, with a view to their relevance to parallel currents of contemporary thought and science.

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Duration: 56:27


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Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2007