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America’s 2 Most Prominent Buddhist Teachers in DC

Well, aren’t we lucky?

Thanks to the National Cathedral, Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg are returning to the DC for a seminar on Working with Our Enemies: Finding Freedom from Hostility and Fear. What an appropriate subject for this age of fear and hostility.

Here’s an excerpt describing the subject:

Enemies—habitual, painful mind-states and people toward whom we steadily feel antipathy or fear—consume tremendous energy that we can liberate for powerful, healing change.

These pioneers in bringing Buddhist practices to the West guide us to explore our inner and outer enemies, and the stuck mode of “us” and “them” that constricts our lives. Through lecture, dialogue, and meditation practice, they show us the way toward the potential boundlessness of lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity—the four sublime states of mind known as the Brahma Viharas.

Format: both lecture and workshop.
Date & Time: Friday June 27th at 7:30 pm.
Saturday, June 26th from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Sponsor: Cathedral College
Location: the Kay Spiritual Life Center at American University (at Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues).

It’s sure to fill up fast so register at the link above. It is possible to attend either Friday or Saturday or both. Special senior, student or limited income fees are available.

These are two great teachers. Salzberg books are well loved. I feature one on my web site:
Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Some find her writing too personal, too confessional. But I find her writing on Buddhist precepts to be practical, when other writers on the same subjects can be abstract or elliptical. As one intelligent friend remarked, it seems the counsel is simply: be truthful. Well, Salzberg provides further helpful guidelines.

I’ve never heard Thurman speak, but he is well-reputed as well. He teaches at Columbia University. He did have some recent notoriety in testifying against his daughter’s stalker and evidence some self-deprication, as reported in the New York Times back in April:

In spite of the stressful subject, their testimony was sort of a star turn for the Thurman parents, who gave a strikingly poised, sometimes compassionate and even humorous accounting of grappling with Mr. Jordan.

“I’m known as the father of Uma,” Dr. Thurman testified, with whimsical pride. “It’s my major accomplishment in life.”

Reading excerpts from 19 e-mail messages he received from Mr. Jordan, Dr. Thurman described his growing sense “not as a psychiatrist, but as a literary critic,” that Mr. Jordan was delusional. “I imagined us in a cave a long time ago, Shiva Parvati carved or mummified in that stone temple with the elephant outside of it,” Mr. Jordan wrote in one e-mail message, referring to a Hindu god and goddess that he equated with himself and Ms. Thurman.

“By this time I’m trying to remember the telephone number of the
F.B.I., frankly,” Dr. Thurman testified.

In one e-mail message, Mr. Jordan addressed Dr. Thurman as “Ten zen Thor man.” Mr. Jordan’s lawyer, on cross-examination, asked whether that might be a typographical error, derived from Dr. Thurman’s nickname, Tenzin, given to him when he was a Buddhist monk.

“Not likely,” Dr. Thurman said, adding that it seemed to him that “there was a mythic thing going on.”

If any of you register to go, please let me know!