Mirror of Zen Blog

Robert Thurman: “There’s no dead people.” A Beautiful Recent Teaching on “MINDFULNESS, RESPONSIBILITY AND THE MIDDLE WAY — The Tibetan Book of the Dead” [ audio teachings ]

Photo by Christopher Michel

This conversation is so worth your time. Great, precious teachings on consciousness and the condition of death-states/sleep-states by the truly great Prof. Robert A. F. Thurman. Nearly every single sentence coming from Prof. Thurman’s golden lips is gold, gold, golden words of guidance and true, living, infinitely precious and inspiring wisdom.

Joined by author Andrew Holecek during the introduction to their on-going online “Death and the Art of Dying” retreat series, Prof. Thurman leads a dialogue exploring the materialist and spiritual perspectives on subtle states of consciousness before, during and after life. 

Opening with a discussion of Charles Eisenstein’s essay “The Coronation” and the impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic, this episode is an all levels introduction to clear light and dream yoga, bardo states and the practical lessons passed down through the Liberation Through Understanding in the Between: Tibetan Book of the Dead teachings and by wisdom traditions across the ages.

Focusing on the transformational teachings of Buddhist inner sciences, Professor Thurman and Dr. Holecek share personal stories from their time studying Buddhism with His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Dr Nida Chenagtsang,Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, providing practical advice for anyone of any background, faith or religion.

Episode concludes with a guided Menla clear-light sleep meditation.

Mindfulness, Responsibility and The Middle Way: Tibetan Book of the Dead with Andrew is excerpted from the “Journey into the Bardos of Life and Beyond” with Robert A.F. Thurman and Andrew Holecek introductory talk, originally broadcasted May 2020 from Phoenicia, New York. To learn more about the on-going “Death and the Art of Dying” Tibet House US Menla Online series, please visit: www.thusmenla.org.

PLEASE read this essay referred to in the conversation, an essay which Prof. Thurman feels so enthusiastic about: “The Coronation”. Excellent reflections on Corona and responsibility:

Its opening words:

For most of my life, I have had the feeling that humanity was nearing a crossroads. Always, the crisis, the collapse, the break was imminent, just around the bend, but it didn’t come and it didn’t come. Imagine walking a road, and up ahead you see it, you see the crossroads. It’s just over the hill, around the bend, past the woods. Cresting the hill, you see you were mistaken, it was a mirage, it was farther away than you thought. You keep walking. Sometimes it comes into view, sometimes it disappears from sight and it seems like this road goes on forever. Maybe there isn’t a crossroads. No, there it is again! Always it is almost here. Never is it here.

Now, all of a sudden, we go around a bend and here it is. We stop, hardly able to believe that now it is happening, hardly able to believe, after years of confinement to the road of our predecessors, that now we finally have a choice. We are right to stop, stunned at the newness of our situation. Because of the hundred paths that radiate out in front of us, some lead in the same direction we’ve already been headed. Some lead to hell on earth. And some lead to a world more healed and more beautiful than we ever dared believe to be possible.

I write these words with the aim of standing here with you – bewildered, scared maybe, yet also with a sense of new possibility – at this point of diverging paths. Let us gaze down some of them and see where they lead.

I am always grateful being able to receive teachings from Robert Thurman. He is certainly one of the voices I am most grateful for having met in this life — easily. (And that’s right up there with the Buddha, Zen Master Seung Sahn, Mahler, Jesus, Schopenhauer, Emerson, Cioran, Shakespeare, Beethoven, the first trips on LSD, et al.) He is just pure mind-expansion in itself, and so practically useful for life and practice.

This is such a profoundly useful conversation, whether you have some knowledge of Buddhism or not. I cannot recommend this enough.

Share this on:

Related Posts: