Robert Thurman has been honored by Time Magazine as one of its 25 most influential Americans. In 1962, Thurman became the first American ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He gave up his robes after several years, however, when he discovered he could be most effective in the American equivalent of the monastery, the university.
Thurman’s work and insights are grounded in more than 35 years of serious academic scholarship and has maintained a forty-five year friendship with the Dalai Lama. A popular professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, students have described his classes as “life changing.” Father of Hollywood actress Uma Thurman, Thurman’s unique take on the relevance of Buddhism to American culture and politics, and his wit and creativity in weaving ancient Buddhist wisdom and popular Western ideals, make his knowledge both entertaining and useful.
Professor Thurman is a riveting speaker and an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness, which Publisher’s Weekly chose as one of the best books of 1998, Circling the Sacred Mountain, Essential Tibetan Buddhism and, most recently, Why the Dalai Lama Matters. Because of his charisma, unique life story, long-time activism on behalf of Tibet, proximity to Hollywood, and optimistic messages about “real happiness” Thurman has been profiled by numerous publications, such as The New York Times, People, and Time, and featured on many television programs including CNN News, Good Morning America, The News Hour, Larry King Live, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Professor Thurman’s writings work toward what he terms a “Second Renaissance,” which he sees currently taking place. He argues that America is uniquely poised to realize the Buddha’s vision of individualism and cultural harmony, that the happiness guaranteed by America’s founders can be secured in an enduring way without depriving others.