Robert AF Thurman
Hailed by the New York Times as the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism, Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. He is President of Tibet House US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, which is dedicated to the translation of the Tengyur, an important part of the Tibetan canon. He teaches at Menla and serves as its Spiritual Director.
The first American to have been ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and a personal friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for nearly 50 years, Professor Thurman is a dedicated advocate and spokesperson for the truth regarding the current Tibet-China situation and the human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under Chinese Communist rule. His commitment to finding a peaceful solution for Tibet and China inspired him to write Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World, which was published in June 2008.
Professor Thurman also translates important Tibetan and Sanskrit philosophical writings, and lectures and writes on Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism; Asian history, particularly the history of the monastic institution in Asian civilization; and critical philosophy, with a focus on the dialogue between the material and inner sciences of the world’s religious traditions.
He is credited with being at the forefront of making Tibetan art accessible and understood in the West, and has collaborated with distinguished art historians in curating several important traveling exhibitions, which set a standard in the art world.
Each year, Professor Thurman leads several Tibet House-sponsored retreats at Menla on a variety of topics.