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Toward American Buddhism ~ Robert Thurman

personperson Don't believe everything you thinkthe liminal space Veteran
edited September 2012 in Buddhism Today
I've listened to a lot of Dharma talks over the years and its been a while since I've gone coo-coo for coco puffs over one. Robert Thurman really does an excellent job of translating the essence of Buddhism for a western audience. Unfortunately the teaching is just audio but even just the first 10 minutes at most he covers the essence of the talk.



  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited September 2012
    It's worth the whole 41 mins. :) ( bowl of cereal, not included)

    His habit of the heart teachings were nice!

    May I one day awaken and realize........ I'm not it.
  • @Vastminds, Better you realize that you are it, but it's not a "you" at all. :D
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Finally got around to watching this, had downloaded it days ago and left it sittin' around on my Desktop. This is indeed an awesome video, very insightful, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Thank you @person very much for sharing! :thumbsup:

    He explains the cause of our suffering quite well as selfishness, ego-centricity or "I'm it" (center of the universe), and enlightenment as the deepest realization and abandonment of this in every way, the breaking down of all barriers (self). This guy really understands that enlightenment is nothing special other than this, that it's essentially simple but not easy to do. People who don't see it will do anything to keep separating life, to have some version of an "I" that has its own existence, and so complicate the teachings either knowingly or unknowingly by way of delusion and craving eternity.

    He explains rebirth in non-rebirth terms as the infinite connection between now and the future... which resonates with the interconnectedness of everything in the "now" (emptiness). So in other words, everything is bound throughout all of space and all of time; all of space-time for us moderns. ;)
    "Infinite interconnectedness; infinite consequentiality." Most eloquent!

    And he talks about the heart opening, how it's basically contagious and it opens up the hearts of others... and that there's nothing else worthwhile in life other than opening that heart, evolving spiritually. I agree, "whole-heartedly" even. :D

  • According to Robert Thurman Buddhism will never make it in America. It has to change which means that it will no longer be Buddhism—it will become American Buddhism. So from the video we learn that Thurman wants to turn Buddhism into a therapy for selfish demented human beings (this is obviously not the same as a path to awaking which connects with the universal substance of the cosmos, call it Mind or the One Mind).

    Some time back, Charles Prebish pointed out that the Dharma is so disguised that it could never be proved in court. This video is proof for me that Thurman intends making Buddhism, Buddhism sans Buddha along with Stephen Batchelor.

    The way I look upon the American scene is that Buddhism has been turned into an odd species of narcissism, as far as its power grabbing teachers are concerned, with a dash of good old fashioned hedonism thrown in and a good portion of materialism with its demand for empirical verification when it comes to such matters as karma, rebirth and nirvana (this is really a clever way of getting rid of them).
  • The hopeful thing to me is that my dharma center resembles neither a secular therapy clinic, nor an exercise in narcissism. All kinds of people come through, including I'm sure those who seek a kind of personal therapy. But the core body of people attending are very serious about their studies--some have been studying there for nearly 30 years. It is a small core, though.

    As for continuity, it was hard when Geshe Sopa stopped giving regular teachings, but then other wonderful teachers stepped in; it seems to me very likely to survive as-is in our area, at least for the time being.
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    @Songhill I've posted stuff critical of Batchelor and in some sense I hear where you're coming from. But even the Dalai Lama talks about a secular approach to help relieve the suffering of individuals who would be turned off by the notion of religion in general or Buddhism in particular. And from what I know of Thurman he isn't a "Buddhism lite" kind of guy either.

    I don't think alot of Buddhists want their dharma to be watered down. But if the goal is to reduce suffering then an approach that uses Buddhist teachings and practices divorced from the Buddhist labels and trappings will reach many more people.

    I think there should and always will be a place for those who want to follow a path to liberation.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    Also he says that in order to accomplish its mission Buddhism must be able to do that without being "Buddhism". Then he says that religious Buddhism is welcome in the US and won't be disappearing.
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