Mindrolling – Raghu Markus – Ep. 239 – Reality and Karma with Robert Thurman


Robert Thurman returns to the show for a conversation about facing reality, transforming our reactivity and understanding karma.

Robert Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Find more at bobthurman.com.

Show Notes

Buddhism is Realism (Opening) – Raghu and Robert discuss the need to get real about all the projections and stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis. Robert looks at Buddhist practice as a method of understanding reality and getting at the truth in all things.

“Being realistic is the best approach because the better you understand reality the happier you will be. The less you understand it, the more unnecessary trouble you will put yourself through. That’s why when people ask what Buddhism is, I tell them that Buddhism is realism.” – Robert Thurman

What Arises (9:20) – We look at fear and judgment, two of the most common difficult emotions to come up during meditative practice. Robert shares the way different methods of Buddhist practice address these emotions and transform our reactivity to them.

“We learn to kind of enter into the gaps of the mental reactivity that produce these distressing emotions that cause harm to us and others in the world.” – Robert Thurman

The Seeds of Karma (32:25) – Robert reflects on the karma created by the intention behind our actions and explores the differences between karma in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He and Raghu discuss the integral relationship between getting real with ourselves and the direction our karma takes.

“Karma is evolutionary action, its action that has an evolutionary impact in the sense that it affects your embodiment, your life and spirit in the future. You never stay still, you go up or down in your quality of experience. In order for action to be evolutionary, it has to be intentional.” – Robert Thurman

Rebirth and Reincarnation (50:10) – Raghu and his guest talk about rebirth in the Buddhist tradition and look at the way that our karma and state of mind determine the path of our next incarnation.

“When you are driven to be reborn by that mind that is in control of you, instead of the one you are in control of, then we call that rebirth. Reincarnation is when you are not driven by such an unconscious mind, but you choose to come back.” – Robert Thurman

Absolute Reality (1:01:50) – Neem Karoli Baba was a being that lived completely in reality. Robert and Raghu explore the relation of his presence in reality and the quality of unconditional love that NKB exhibited.

Listen to Robert’s experiences with another being who is living completely in reality, His Holiness the Dali Lama, on Ep. 193 of the Mindrolling Podcast


Image via  CHOTE BKK