A groundbreaking show of contemporary Tibetan art at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY-New Paltz is the perfect occasion for a talk about the treasures of Tibetan culture by Robert Thurman, one of the world’s leading authorities on Tibetan Buddhism. On Monday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m., Thurman will give a lecture at the SUNY-New Paltz campus titled “Tibetan Culture as World Treasure: What It Is, How It Came to Be, What Are Its Gifts Today.” The 60-year Chinese occupancy of Tibet and the subsequent marginalization of the Tibetan culture gives this subject a special urgency.
Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University and president of Tibet House US, which he co-founded with Richard Gere and Philip Glass in 1987. He’s a longtime close friend of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who ordained him as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in 1965. Named one of the “25 Most Influential Americans” by Time, Thurman has written numerous books on Tibetan Buddhism and has been a tireless advocate of justice and freedom for the Tibetan nation, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writing articles and speaking on national radio and TV programs. Thurman has had a home in Woodstock since 1968.
Like the Dalai Lama, Thurman supports nonviolent resistance and isn’t necessarily calling for China to withdraw – only for a peaceful coexistence in which Tibetans are free to participate in their culture and have equal rights with the Chinese.
Thurman’s personal spiritual quest was prompted by an accident while he was an undergraduate at Harvard that resulted in the loss of the use of one eye. He left school and traveled to Europe, the Mideast and Asia. After an encounter with the Dalai Lama in India, he was so inspired that he learned Tibetan, studied Buddhism and became a monk. Eventually he gave up his robes and returned to academia, earning his PhD at Harvard. His teaching has extended beyond the university to the world at large, through his popular lectures and writings.
Tickets to the lecture at SUNY-New Paltz cost $18 general admission, $15 for college faculty and students. To purchase a ticket, visit www.newpaltz.edu/speakerseries or call (845) 257-3880.
“Tibetan Culture as World Treasure: What It Is, How It Came to Be, What Are Its Gifts Today,” lecture by Robert Thurman, Monday, November 4, 7:30 p.m., $18/$15, Lecture Center 100, SUNY-New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz; (845) 257-3880, www.newpaltz.edu/speakerseries.