It's Up to You to Change Your Destiny

Question: From where do you draw your inspiration?

Robert Thurman: But where I do draw my inspiration is from whatever I can glean about the nature of the world, you know, Buddha was a person who, confronted reality actually, according to our understanding of what Buddha was, he was not a prophet who was commissioned by a God to go out and proclaim that everybody should believe in that God so that they’d then – because that God could then save them.  Buddha talked to the God and the Gods said, look, we can’t really help, we - we’re very powerful and we help some people in some ways, but we can’t change people’s evolutionary destinies, it’s up to them, and so Buddha taught people that they – if they confront themselves and reality they can understand themselves and reality and when they do, they will be inspired, they will be cheered up, because reality itself is a source of nourishment, it’s a source of health, it’s a source of joy, if you really know it.  All the misery and all the unsatisfactoriness and all the dissatisfaction comes from being caught in different kinds of illusions, and trying to manipulate the world to sort of fit with whatever your illusion is, and fit it into your illusion, and to that of course the world doesn’t react to well, and you can’t do that, and so then you get sick or you die or you suffer and then you – you’re frustrated.  So my inspiration actually comes from, and I don’t claim to be enlightened, but I have had a little better exposure to reality by developing a little more sharp critical mindedness, and focused mindedness, and by doing that I see the world I think more realistically than I did, and by seeing it that way I get inspired and by – and I get cheered up and by being inspired and cheered up I’d like to see other people inspired and cheered up.  But the problem is you can’t just inspire them and cheer them up by telling them to believe in something like a religious thing, you have to encourage them, and that’s why teaching is a great privilege and a wonderful thing to do, because by teaching you – in the true sense, it doesn’t mean indoctrinating and it doesn’t mean sort of brainwashing in this sort of thing.  Truly teaching means  bringing out people’s own intelligence and letting them suddenly feel their own critical mind that they could see through the delusions that they are – that are foisted upon them by their culture and by you know, the media and by all sorts of things, and that is a real thrill that someone said wow, understand something new and has like a profound either aesthetic or philosophical experience, and it’s a real joy to see that happen in someone, really is, so that’s what, that’s where my inspiration comes from is trying to be more aware of reality really.  We know foolish people say ignorance is bliss, but it’s the opposite, ignorance is suffering, and, wisdom is bliss, you know, meaning realistic knowledge of the world is bliss.

Recorded on: 6/1/07

Columbia Professor, Robert Thurman explains some of the teachings of Buddha.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less