Who are you?

Question: Who are you?


Robert Thurman: My name is Robert Thurman.

I’m the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Colombia University.


Question: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?


Robert Thurman: New York City. Well, it was like growing up in a lunatic asylum, a bunch of theatrical people with their theatrical emotions. I was a middle son and I was the family peacemaker, and they were all having their storms and drunk all over the place. But my father was more mild than my mother, basically her and my older brother were kind of wild and they were, thespian, acting, theater in old thyme, so it was a little bit nutty, but, it was stimulating.


Question: When you were a child, you once tried to enter Cuba, what was your intention?


Robert Thurman: Well it wasn’t really childhood, I was seventeen years old, and I was, I had a thing, I went to Phillips Exidor, a various Nodby school, but I had a lot of friends from Latin America, and, the kind of young boys who would be in such a school in Latin America would be from the wealthiest classes in the different Latin American countries. And my friends were romantic therefore rebelling against their parents, and we were idolizing Fidel Castro, who was a poet and he didn’t win yet, you know, he was a rebel and a poet, and I was speaking Spanish with them, we were reading Spanish poetry, and one day we got into a “dare you” sort of competition, and I and a Mexican friend tried to join up with Castro.

Heavens knows why, it was just a sort of hormonal impulse at the age of seventeen on April 17th, having more than finished school and just waiting to go to college senior year you know, but they didn’t accept us so we went to Mexico for a year.


Question: Was there a pivotal moment in your development?

Robert Thurman: Yes, that was not before. When I was twenty years old and I met my teacher, first teacher, serious spiritual teacher, Mongolian Yishe, who I mention on purpose, name is Yishe Yon Jhau, in New Jersey, then he sent me, that was three years later, he sent me to the store to buy milk, and I had been studying with him the Buddhist Concept of the Begininglessness of the universe. The idea that the Western idea that there has to be a first cause, that the universe comes out of nothing, there was no Big Bang theory in those days, but there was a religious idea and then there were various astronomical ideas.

And so one was not accustomed to the idea that the universe could be begininglessness without it feeling sort of weird, and so I had been studying it, and thinking about it, and as I was walking I had the epiphany where I suddenly realized that I had not – was not beginning at a certain point and being driven towards another point in a certain way, and I felt almost like a pressure in my spine or something released, and I was suddenly just floating along in a more relaxed manner without so – such a determination to reach a destination, and without a sense of having been pushed from some sort of first beginning in a certain way, it was really a wonderful releasing feeling.


Recorded on: June 1, 2007


Robert Thurman talks about his crazy New York household.

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Keep reading Show less