What is your contribution?
Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of Tibet House US, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. The New York Times recently hailed him as "the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism."
The first American to have been ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk and a personal friend of the Dalai Lama for over 40 years, Professor Thurman is a passionate advocate and spokesperson for the truth regarding the current Tibet-China situation and the human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. His commitment to finding a peaceful, win-win solution for Tibet and China inspired him to write his latest book, Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet and the World, published in June of 2008.
Professor Thurman also translates important Tibetan and Sanskrit philosophical writings and lectures and writes on Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism; on Asian history, particularly the history of the monastic institution in the Asian civilization; and on critical philosophy, with a focus on the dialogue between the material and inner sciences of the world's religious traditions.
Question: What is your proudest achievement?
Robert Thurman: Well I think my proudest achievement I think is a, managing not to be thrown out of the house by my wife for forty years and also having brought up four children who I admire. And a fifth who I wasn’t able to help that much because of a divorce situation but who is also a wonderful person and trying to help her a little bit, and those are my proudest achievements. Now intellectually, I think my translation called “Central Philosophy of Tibet” and my study of the, what is called the Central Wave Philosophy of Buddhism, of India but then Buddhism, and presenting it in the current of contemporary philosophy and helping, leading, I think, different philosophers towards a more critical understanding of the world.
Very related to people like Vidka Sided Deradon, people like that, but not nihilistic like they tend to get maintaining a more positive view of relativity that they all could achieve. I think intellectually that’s my achievement. But, but before that the sort of a phillighten I would consider, and raise a family that’s a great achievement.
Recorded on: June 1, 2007
Beyond not being thrown on the street by his wife and raising children, Thurman is proud of his translation called Central Philosophy of Tibet.
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