Ordained American Buddhist Proclaims the Virtues of Buddhism for US

March 19, 2005

Source: Los Angeles Times


On March 19, 2005 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Robert Thurman has been called the Billy Graham of Buddhism. But not long into lunch at a Toluca Lake restaurant this week, Thurman — a Columbia University religion professor famed as the first Westerner ordained by the Dalai Lama — makes a startling declaration. His tradition is not appropriate for most Americans, he says, and he has no intention of spreading it... It may seem an odd stand for a man credited with helping to popularize Tibetan Buddhism in America. For more than 40 years, Thurman has studied and shared his tradition through his books, talks, academic activities and high-profile friendships with the Dalai Lama and Hollywood Buddhists, including actor Richard Gere, with whom he helped found the Tibet House cultural center in New York. But the point is not for people to become Buddhist, he says. It is to use the teachings to become compassionate, liberated and wise."