Tibetan Wisdom For The West with Robert Thurman, Ph.D.

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More than 1.3 million Tibetans have lost their lives and over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed since the Chinese invasion in 1959. One of the positive legacies of this tragic story is the release of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual wisdom, hidden for thousands of years deep in the Himalayas. Robert Thurman believes this legacy is meant for you and me, here and now, as we struggle with the unhappiness and lack of meaning inherent in a materialistic society. He envisions the possibility of a "tremendous worldwide renaissance" if "enough of us can take the hint of the emergency nature of our present world system and the unviability of the material, industrial machinery." (hosted by Michael Toms)


Thurman is chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University, and president of the Tibet House in New York, a cultural and educational institution which he co-founded with actor Richard Gere.

He is the author of several books on Tibet including:

  • Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet (Abrams 1996)
  • The Central Philosophy of Tibet (Princeton University Press 1991)
  • Essential Tibetan Buddhism (HarperCollins 1996)
  • The Jewel Tree of Tibet: The Enlightenment Engine of Tibetan Buddhism (Free Press 2005)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is the history of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism
  • What Buddhism offers us in today's world
  • What are the distinctions between Buddhism and other religions
  • What are the different levels of Buddhism
  • Why are karma, emptiness, compassion, death and rebirth important
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 3/14/1997      Program Number: 2619