Saturday, December 29, 2007

Robert Thurman on Buddhism

This is a very long introduction to Buddhism by the noted scholar Robert Thurman. I'm only through the first part right now, but I'm looking forward to the second. The intro (below) says these are not for beginners, and I'd have to agree that some background would be useful. But even for novices, there is much here to learn.

"Take refuge in the three jewels, the three precious gems," begins Robert A.F. Thurman's introduction to Buddhism: "the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." Each of these is the focus of one tape in Thurman's three-part lecture series On Buddhism, an extremely thorough introduction to the philosophy, theology, and history of Buddhism. Thurman is well-known as a professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, having also translated The Tibetan Book of the Dead into English. In these lectures, Thurman patiently takes apart each jewel of Buddhism: the Buddha as the teacher of enlightenment, the Dharma as the teaching, or enlightenment itself, and the Sangha as the historical and current community of learners seeking to become Buddhas. The videotapes themselves do not have elaborate production values: these are essentially college lectures, and they are not for newcomers to Buddhism. For people who have done some reading or have some personal experience with Buddhism and want to gain greater insight and understanding from a leading scholar, however, these lectures are an excellent foray into the intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual underpinnings of Buddhism.

Part One:

Part Two:

You can also watch these at Google -- Part One, Part Two.

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