Robert A.F. “Tenzin” 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.
Professor Thurman’s scholarly and popular writings focus on the “inner revolution” that individuals and societies successfully negotiate when they achieve enlightenment. He defines this inner revolution as accurate insight into the true nature of reality and determined compassion for the suffering beings. He also works toward what he terms a “Second Renaissance,” which he sees currently taking place as Western culture goes beyond the 14th century European discovery of the natural sciences of the ancient Greeks that catalyzed the “first renaissance” to discover and apply in practice the advanced “inner science” of ancient Indian culture.
Thurman’s work and insights are grounded in more than 35 years of serious academic scholarship. He has a B.A., A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard and has studied in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India and the United States.