Author Topic: Robert Thurman - the inside stories  (Read 27034 times)

beggar

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Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« on: August 06, 2012, 04:06:44 PM »
It seems Robert Thurman has a few skeletons in his closet... and there are a few new articles up on the website about him.

Most interesting is this one, below, about how he is known to have begged for Dorje Shugden initiation from several very prominent lamas and how they promptly denied him, due to his fickle nature. This is certainly interesting, considering his very pro-Dalai Lama stance and the considerable rudeness and lack of support he has shown towards Shugden practitioners in recent times.

How sad times have become that one of the leader scholars and writers on Tibetan Buddhism and someone so publicly close to the Dalai Lama has displayed such discouraging, fickle behaviour towards Shugden practitioners. Is this how Buddhists (and a former monk!) acts towards fellow Buddhists?

Share your thoughts - what do you think of Robert Thurman?

 

THE TWO FACES OF ROBERT THURMAN
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/the-two-faces-of-robert-thurman/

Anyone interested in the subjects of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama will know of Robert Thurman, a self-professed “personal friend” of the Dalai Lama and prolific writer about the Dalai Lama and his teachings.

In light of the Dorje Shugden issue over the last decade or so, Robert Thurman has remained significantly quiet on the subject, refusing to answer any open letters to him nor engage in debate. He is even known to have launched accusations against Dorje Shugden practitioners, calling them Chinese spies. He seems to be very stoically on the side of the Dalai Lama, and not at all empathetic to the plight of Shugden practitioners suffering under the ban.

Now, we learn that in fact, Thurman was known to have “begged” very prominent high Lamas for Dorje Shugden initiation.

In his paper, “Dalai Lama Dorje Shugden”*, respected translator Helmut Gassner – who worked very closely with the Dalai Lama as his translator for many years – recalls,

"For his part, Robert Thurman thought it appropriate to portray for Newsweek magazine a murderous Dorje Shugden cult describing it as “the Taliban of Buddhism.” Yet Robert Thurman, presumably before he begot Uma, had been one of the first Western monks with Buddhist vows and had tried twice to obtain Dorje Shugden initiation from revered masters well before the controversy began. Both masters, however, had refused on grounds of his fickle character. Thurman should know quite well what Dorje Shugden actually is about."

(It is interesting to note also that Robert Thurman was one of the first Westerners to have been ordained as a monk in the Tibetan tradition. However, he was also among the first to disrobe, returning his vows only 2 years after taking them. Fickle? It certainly seems so.)

An online commentator and former supporter of the Dalai Lama who goes by the moniker “Thomas Canada” further confirms that these Lamas who denied Thurman the initiation were the renowned Dromo Geshe Rinpoche and Gelek Rinpoche. He writes,

"Gelek told me […] that Thurman even begged him, and it was no. For however that is decided. [Dr. Ursula Bernis] (personal attendant to Dromo Geshe Rinpoche) told me Dromo Geshe Rinpoche denied Bob several times. [She told me] that Bob used to push and connive for the Empowerment and he was always denied. Dromo Geshe said, Bob crawled across his floor begging and crying for it and he told him no way.”"

Interestingly, it wasn’t that these lamas had denied everyone the initiation. Thomas Canada himself reveals that he had received the initiation, along with other prominent personalities at the time, such as poet Alan Ginsberg. Also, these lamas did have close connections with Thurman; they were not just lamas that he met in passing.

For example. Dromo Geshe Rinpoche founded the New York and New Delhi Tibet House and Thurman is very much involved in running the New York branch. So their decision not to have given him the initiation cannot have been an arbitrary one, but one they made in full knowledge of how Thurman is or how he would maintain the practice.

Observing the way he now behaves towards Dorje Shugden practitioners, it is clear why the lamas had refused him the initiation “on grounds of his fickle character”. Would he have done even more harm if he had been given the initiation? Perhaps. And if he did, he would have damaged both his own spiritual path and the faith of the many thousands who read his books and follow his writings.

The information in this article was extracted from the blog http://robertthurman.wordpress.com For more interesting reads on the subject, please visit the blog directly.


############
Other articles:

Robert Thurman meets Kelsang Pema (and is extremely rude to her): http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/robert-thurman-meets-kelsang-pema/

An open letter to Robert Thurman (and how he never answered it): http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/an-open-letter-to-robert-thurman/

Robert Thurman: American monk or Tibetan puppet: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/robert-thurman-american-monk-or-tibetan-puppet/

Tenzin Gyatso

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 04:52:50 PM »
I find this more entertaining than plausible. I mean Bob Thurman crawling across the floor begging for Dhogyal empowerment? Does that really sound real?

How do you know Bob crawled across the floor? Canada or whoever said so? Just on the basis of one person saying so and it becomes so? Gotta think harder people. I don't buy it. Sorry.  :(

beggar

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 05:37:19 PM »
It wasn't just one person, as you will see in the article. It was also the very credible Helmut Gassner who spoke about Thurman wanting initiation and being denied it.

Here is the quote again:

"For his part, Robert Thurman thought it appropriate to portray for Newsweek magazine a murderous Dorje Shugden cult describing it as “the Taliban of Buddhism.” Yet Robert Thurman, presumably before he begot Uma, had been one of the first Western monks with Buddhist vows and had tried twice to obtain Dorje Shugden initiation from revered masters well before the controversy began. Both masters, however, had refused on grounds of his fickle character. Thurman should know quite well what Dorje Shugden actually is about."

And you can read the full paper "Dalai Lama Dorje Shugden" here: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/articles/HelmutGassner01.pdf

Big Uncle

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 05:45:43 PM »
I find this more entertaining than plausible. I mean Bob Thurman crawling across the floor begging for Dhogyal empowerment? Does that really sound real?

How do you know Bob crawled across the floor? Canada or whoever said so? Just on the basis of one person saying so and it becomes so? Gotta think harder people. I don't buy it. Sorry.  :(

Well, the point is that Thurman had requested Dorje Shugden practice several times and was denied the practice. Now, we know why. He had obviously been denied the practice due to his character and he wouldn't be able to hold the strict commitments of Dorje Shugden. It would be doubly bad if he went back on his commitments on Dorje Shugden as what he is doing right now. What would be interesting to hear from him when the Dorje Shugden ban is lifted. What kinda statement is he going to issue about his mistaken view of Dorje Shugden at that time?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

harrynephew

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2012, 02:46:38 AM »
I find this more entertaining than plausible. I mean Bob Thurman crawling across the floor begging for Dhogyal empowerment? Does that really sound real?

How do you know Bob crawled across the floor? Canada or whoever said so? Just on the basis of one person saying so and it becomes so? Gotta think harder people. I don't buy it. Sorry.  :(

Well, the point is that Thurman had requested Dorje Shugden practice several times and was denied the practice. Now, we know why. He had obviously been denied the practice due to his character and he wouldn't be able to hold the strict commitments of Dorje Shugden. It would be doubly bad if he went back on his commitments on Dorje Shugden as what he is doing right now. What would be interesting to hear from him when the Dorje Shugden ban is lifted. What kinda statement is he going to issue about his mistaken view of Dorje Shugden at that time?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

I think more than just keeping his commitments, his motivation behind begging for the empowerment is definitely questionable which makes it so hard for him to even receive such an important empowerment. If you read this person well, he is just using HHDL's name and fame together with Tibetan Buddhism to make his name.

Buddhism is more than just a scholarly approach, when the highest of the high's teachings are involved, it is about LIFE! It is about living the Dharma and not using it for selfish reasons.

Harry Nephew

Love Shugden, Love all Lamas, Heal the World!

Ensapa

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2012, 05:17:03 AM »
Well, well well! This is an interesting discovery about Robert Thurman. He has wrote so many books about Buddhism but unfortunately, he also wrote a lot of not so nice things about Dorje Shugden as well, and the worst part of them all is that the materials that he has written against Dorje Shugden were based on lies and twisted interpretations. Just because he was denied the initiations, he reacted so badly and went on the Dalai Lama's camp on the whole thing. Imagine if he got the initiation and he betrayed Dorje Shugden after that. Imagine the magnitude of his negative karma when that happens. In reality, the Lamas who denied him is very kind because they do not want him to suffer the consequences of broken samaya. What I still find it hard to believe is how he wanted Dorje Shugden so badly and then can write lies about Dorje Shugden a few years later. He also has a huge hand in spreading the rumor of Pabongkha Rinpoche being sectarian and he was the same person who played up the rumor regarding the incident where Pabongkha Rinpoche's students threw Guru Rinpoche's statues in to the river. Wow! And he wants a Dorje Shugden initiation?! Talk about flippant.

For Dalai Lama supporters, this might sound hard to stomach, but based on his flippant history such as giving up the vows of a monk after just a mere two years, all of these sounds so plausible. And to imagine bob crawling on the floor, requesting for the initiation when it has been denied is rather hilarious, but I guess it just shows how desperate he is to collect initiations and practices as if they were buttons or stamps. That's a very wrong reason to do Dorje Shugden or to have his initiation in the first place. I dont think Dorje Shugden's requirements are strict at all, if you would want success and results in Dharma practice that is and not just someone who just wants empowerments and initiations to fill up a void of insecurity. I wouldnt take any initiation for that reason, and perhaps out of compassion the other Lamas obliged, but not the real Dorje Shugden Lamas who really care about Dharma practice. Too bad, bob. go get more initiations because you wont get any results from them.

vajrastorm

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 08:24:20 AM »
Having read the articles on Robert Thurman on this website, I can only conclude that his harsh and unsubstantiated condemnation of Shugden practitioners(in particular members of the Western Shugden Society) as "Buddhist Talibans" and "spies of the Chinese", are politically motivated. As he has refused to show evidence to support these wild claims, he can be  proclaimed a liar. Being a liar, he has broken his basic Refuge commitments of 'not lying' and 'not speaking harsh words'.

 I also find it most unexceptable and disturbing that he(who had been a monk of two years) should speak to a Sangha member, like Kelsang Pema, so harshly. How could he have harshly told off Kelsang Pema(a nun and member of the Western Shugden Society, engaged in a peaceful protest), using words like:" You ought to be ashamed of yourself" and "You're funded by the Chinese" ? This amounts to violating the Refuge Vows. Furthermore, when Kelsang Pema asked him for proof of his accusation that they were funded by the Chinese, his response was so ridiculous: "You use the same terminology as the Chinese like "feudalism" and " theocracy"!

It's most worrying that an academician of renown, holding the position of Je Tsongkapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and an acclaimed writer of many books on Buddhism, has made inflammatory remarks against Shugden practitioners. He has the effrontery to make these remarks publicly to the Newsweek magazine , which has a worldwide circulation. Yet, he refuses to respond to the open letter from the Western Shugden Society requesting him to substantiate his wild remarks with evidence.

Ensapa

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 02:29:39 PM »
Having read the articles on Robert Thurman on this website, I can only conclude that his harsh and unsubstantiated condemnation of Shugden practitioners(in particular members of the Western Shugden Society) as "Buddhist Talibans" and "spies of the Chinese", are politically motivated. As he has refused to show evidence to support these wild claims, he can be  proclaimed a liar. Being a liar, he has broken his basic Refuge commitments of 'not lying' and 'not speaking harsh words'.
It is sad that mr bob does not hesitate to say nasty things to others under the pretext that people who "broke" the refuge vows (according to the inji view of Dorje Shugden people ) so people who broke their vows are suddenly not humans and does not deserve to be treated like one? As a learned scholar of Buddhism, such behavior is shameful indeed.

 I also find it most unexceptable and disturbing that he(who had been a monk of two years) should speak to a Sangha member, like Kelsang Pema, so harshly. How could he have harshly told off Kelsang Pema(a nun and member of the Western Shugden Society, engaged in a peaceful protest), using words like:" You ought to be ashamed of yourself" and "You're funded by the Chinese" ? This amounts to violating the Refuge Vows. Furthermore, when Kelsang Pema asked him for proof of his accusation that they were funded by the Chinese, his response was so ridiculous: "You use the same terminology as the Chinese like "feudalism" and " theocracy"!
The very fact that he could only hold his monk vows for a mere two years speaks volumes of his person. It shows that he is a flippant person who is unable to hold vows of any capacity. And the fact that so many high lamas denied him the Dorje Shugden initiation should tell you a bit on his persona, character and spiritual attainments. I can see how stupid he sounds now...its sad to see a 'scholar' who has written so many books about Buddhism become somewhat of a mere lapdog to the Dalai Lama. I dont think thats what the Dalai Lama wants...and i bet HHDL is very disappointed with that statement. He could have done better than accusing people of being funded by the chinese. Lets see if the Chinese government allows him to go to china now for his 'research'. lol.

It's most worrying that an academician of renown, holding the position of Je Tsongkapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and an acclaimed writer of many books on Buddhism, has made inflammatory remarks against Shugden practitioners. He has the effrontery to make these remarks publicly to the Newsweek magazine , which has a worldwide circulation. Yet, he refuses to respond to the open letter from the Western Shugden Society requesting him to substantiate his wild remarks with evidence.
Bob thurman seems more like the archetypical inji with a crusader complex that behaves that he is the savior of the tibetans and its culture, and therefore whatever they say must be right. I dont know, it is a very sad thing for me to see, i dont mean to be disrespectful but it does appear to be that way for these 'scholars'. I find it very disappointing that such intellectual people can go down to that level.

Gosh! I did not know about that incident with bob thurman. disappointing indeed. I mean, what kind of samaya can he possibly have now anymore since he has done so many damaging things to his own lineage gurus? I am very sure that the Dalai Lama will not go that route or teach his students to do that, so it must be out of bob's own will.

honeydakini

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2012, 09:41:23 AM »
hi everyone,
yes, it's quite surprising to read these and to think that this kind of contrary character is one of the leading authorities in Buddhist writing today. I'm not sure if you're aware that there's another article on the website about an open letter that was written to Thurman, and his blatant disregard of it, he made no response to it. It can be read here:
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/an-open-letter-to-robert-thurman/

I suppose we can't really expect him come out, guns blazing, in support of Shugden practitioners, seeing how much of a Dalai Lama supporter he is, but as such a respected authority in the Tibetan Buddhist world (especially in the west), you'd hope that he would at least give a response on the matter. It is a big issue, after all.

Thurman aside though, this thread calls up the much larger, more serious issue of stability in our practice. It is more surprising than anything to hear of how fickle Thurman is in his practices. The fact that he would beg for a practice and later turn around and insult people pursuing that very practice is reflection enough of where he stands, his devotion to his teachers (or lack of it) and how far he will or won't get in his practice. He may choose now to NOT pursue Shugden's practice for whatever reasons he has (he hadn't received initiation, so we presume there had not been any commitments and therefore nothing broken in his choice not to practice). But I also believe there are ways to respond to this situation and Shugden practitioners with kindness and empathy, not in the rude and dismissive ways he has. As the article asks, is this how someone of such "authority" within Buddhist communities would treat a fellow Buddhist? It is sad times, and it seems that we're fulfilling Buddha's prophecy, that Buddhism will destroy from within, not without

Ensapa

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 03:06:08 PM »
hi everyone,
yes, it's quite surprising to read these and to think that this kind of contrary character is one of the leading authorities in Buddhist writing today. I'm not sure if you're aware that there's another article on the website about an open letter that was written to Thurman, and his blatant disregard of it, he made no response to it. It can be read here:
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/an-open-letter-to-robert-thurman/

I suppose we can't really expect him come out, guns blazing, in support of Shugden practitioners, seeing how much of a Dalai Lama supporter he is, but as such a respected authority in the Tibetan Buddhist world (especially in the west), you'd hope that he would at least give a response on the matter. It is a big issue, after all.
I dont expect him to do that either, but I do expect him to at least be neutral about the whol issue. That is the very least he can do. Glenn Mullin has been neutral about Dorje Shugden in all of his works, why cant bob? Glenn did not distort anything at all in his papers and works, and even shows support for Pabongkha Rinpoche. Neutrality is a very important quality for a scholar as a scholar who is not neutral is just another propaganda writer.

Thurman aside though, this thread calls up the much larger, more serious issue of stability in our practice. It is more surprising than anything to hear of how fickle Thurman is in his practices. The fact that he would beg for a practice and later turn around and insult people pursuing that very practice is reflection enough of where he stands, his devotion to his teachers (or lack of it) and how far he will or won't get in his practice. He may choose now to NOT pursue Shugden's practice for whatever reasons he has (he hadn't received initiation, so we presume there had not been any commitments and therefore nothing broken in his choice not to practice). But I also believe there are ways to respond to this situation and Shugden practitioners with kindness and empathy, not in the rude and dismissive ways he has. As the article asks, is this how someone of such "authority" within Buddhist communities would treat a fellow Buddhist? It is sad times, and it seems that we're fulfilling Buddha's prophecy, that Buddhism will destroy from within, not without
In any case, like what you have mentioned, instability in Dharma practice is the cancer that is killing Buddhism. coupled with new age beliefs that it is allright to switch traditions and Gurus anytime whenever you want and when you're not happy, and the CTA (sadly) supporting that notion/belief, the world will see no non tibetan practitioners sooner or later. Samadhi is the development of stability in the mind, and it also happens to be core and crux of any tradition in Buddhism. The very fact that thurman lacks it shows us that his teachings should not be taken seriously.


However the case, it still shows how flippant and unstable bob thurman is, both as a dharma practitioner and as a person. He can be convincing as a writer, but whether or not his words will actually benefit people or confuse people more would be a different story.

dondrup

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2012, 04:06:13 PM »
One would think a scholar like Robert Thurman has the intelligence and knowledge to understand the whole issue surrounding HH Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden.  We do not need a rocket scientist’s analysis to understand that His Holiness and CTA are totally wrong about the ban.  Instead Robert had chosen to go against Dorje Shugden and Dorje Shugden practitioners.  This is unbelievable!  Robert Thurman had remained silent even when challenged by Shugden supporters like Thomas Canada.  This shows that either he has no grounds to defend his stand on this issue or he is being political by favouring his good friend His Holiness Dalai Lama. 

Robert Thurman's integrity is at stake now.  He will lose his career a Tibetan scholar!  When the truth prevails, i.e. when the ban on Dorje Shugden is lifted,

WisdomBeing

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2012, 05:17:44 PM »
I completely agree that Robert Thurman’s anti-Shugden stance is political. He is blatantly a Dalai Lama sycophant and clearly has no basis to support the ban. There can be no other reason because the ban has no basis. No intellectual or academician of note would be able to substantiate the reasons for the ban because there are no concrete reasons. As a result, those critical of Dorje Shugden, like Thurman, have to resort to childish behaviour such as name-calling. The Chinese spy allegations are really ridiculous and it is about time the anti-Shugden gang come up with new and original ideas.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Ensapa

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2012, 04:38:08 AM »
I completely agree that Robert Thurman’s anti-Shugden stance is political. He is blatantly a Dalai Lama sycophant and clearly has no basis to support the ban. There can be no other reason because the ban has no basis. No intellectual or academician of note would be able to substantiate the reasons for the ban because there are no concrete reasons. As a result, those critical of Dorje Shugden, like Thurman, have to resort to childish behaviour such as name-calling. The Chinese spy allegations are really ridiculous and it is about time the anti-Shugden gang come up with new and original ideas.

You're right. both thurman and dreyfus were great scholars, they did publish much material about Tibetan Buddhism and they did expose the world to Tibetan Buddhism, but it is extremely unfortunate that they would resort to name calling and the presentation of warped facts in order to 'prove' their point. Thurman uses name calling, while dreyfus passes off lies and opinions as facts. How can any scholar do such a thing? Scholars are supposed to uphold the truth and facts, so why are they doing such a thing!! This goes against the very basis of scholars. It is sad to see how scholars degenerate into mindless drones who can no longer think straight and think in a neutral way.  Perhaps, for thurman to be that unstable, all that he wanted was just some recognition and love from some high lama around and for that he was willing to sell out his beliefs, as we have noticed.

No one else can come up with any new and fresh material to support the ban, because the ban itself was based on a net of lies and distortions. Fresh material would most probably be more lies and insubstantial facts that people can easily debase, as a result, these 'scholars' will need to come up with more and more believable information the next time until the point where they can no longer come up with anything or talk about anything at all and they have reach that point now. Whatever fresh material they can come up with is probably from a twisting of some historical facts, or the words of a previous master and they will ruin their own credibility. They already have by indulging into the Dalai Lama's camp and fabricating lies for the Dalai Lama. I would never take anything these two people write about Dorje Shugden seriously.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2012, 05:51:05 AM »
These articles are very credible. Especially the the accounts from Helmut Gassner. Robert Thurman is one of the person many westerners including myself regarded as a credible Dharma teacher. So knowing the way he disparaged Dorje Shugden practitioners is really shocking and disappointing. I remembered in one of talk, he said the way to see if a Dharma practitioner is really practicing well; as a way to check ourselves, is the impact Dharma has change our lives. Disparaging others' religion, beliefs and practices is certainly not something with can associate with any goodness or positive change that we want from Dharma practice and certainly not from a Dharma teacher.

The irony is that , one of the reason the HHDL banned the practice is because of sectarianism. But people like Bob, are creating exactly this. Who is the Taliban here?

michaela

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Re: Robert Thurman - the inside stories
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2012, 04:43:57 PM »
Dear All

I have been thinking of the Robert Thurman’s issue for several days now.  It is very intriquing to see that this person who have been an authoritative figure, academics, and wrote several books about Tibetan Buddhism pictured DS practitioners in such a way.  He, as a scholar sshould have used his senses to investigate the matter better.

However, this is my view of the whole situation.  Please do not let this man’s statements about DS practitioners completely destroy his credibility and undermine his other work.