using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 65 wrong—no one can know for sure until they become a buddha themselves. But he’s sorely distressed. And he’s possessed by the convic- tion that fundamentalist theism is precisely the wrong spiritual- ity for the Empire of the Potomac. The United States, he says, is founded on a frontier-thesis mythology of American individual- ism that is in contrast to the Buddhist view of the individual. In other words, the notion of a fixed, ascribed individual nature (“Only a Brahman has a Brahman’s soul, an untouchable has an untouchable’s soul”—and an American has an American’s soul) versus the idea that a person has only a temporary individual identity relational to all existence in the universe (an American today, reborn an Iraqi tomorrow). To begin with, says Thurman, the mythology of American individualism is a “totally pathological, flawed, Eurocentric perception. “I have my acid test for the Western individualist,” he says. “If you want to see how individualist New York is, what you do is you take off all your clothes, paint yourself blue, get yourself a big tribal staff, make a hairdo of dreadlocks with cow dung, and— stark naked, painted blue, with some stripes on your forehead— and the Tibetan exile community. “Since you’re so stubborn,” the monk told his young pupil, “I’ll tell the Dalai Lama you want to be a monk. Maybe he’ll think that’s a good idea.” Thurman was twenty-three; the Dalai Lama was twenty-nine. They formed a lifelong bond. “He wanted to see me a lot,” Thur- man once recalled. “I soon found out it wasn’t to teach me but because I spoke Tibetan. Basically he got my Ex- eter and Harvard education over that year and a half. We met once a week. Every talk I’d say, ‘What about this problem in Madhyamaka thought?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, talk to so-and-so about that. Now what about Freud? What about physics? What about the history of World War II?’” Thurman was ordained by the Da- lai Lama in 1965, becoming the first Western Tibetan Buddhist monk. He returned to the United States with a shaved head and maroon robe. His family, as he has said, was “weirded out” by the sight of him. Years later, Uma came across a photograph of her father in his monk phase and declared, “Oh, look at Daddy—he looks like Henry Miller in drag.” The phase lasted only a year. Geshe Wangyal persuaded him that the better course was to become an academic. He returned to Harvard, completed his bachelor’s degree, and continued into graduate work. At a party one night in New York, he met Swedish fashion model Nena von Schlebrugge, who had been briefly married to Timothy Leary and whose mother was immortalized by a nude statue in a Swedish harbor. She and Thurman married in 1967. He went on to become one of the world’s major scholars on Tibetan Buddhism, both through his own writing and his translations of works of some of the great Tibetan masters. THURMAN SEES AN AMERICA today that is ethically con- fused and wandering, pathologically self-deluded and doing it- self harm. He is not offering Buddhist teaching as a magic bullet or a panacea. He insouciantly acknowledges that what he is of- fering may be no remedy at all, that the Buddha could have been “In the long run I am only temporarily an American,” Thurman says. “I will not be labeled or trapped into any collectivity on the basis that I have some fixed essence that belongs to that collectivity.” Robert Thurman (left) with translator Thubten Jinpa (middle) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at the World Leaders Forum at Columbia University last fall. ➢ page 98 APPHOTO/MARYALTAFFER