Had the pleasure of attending a talk and meditation by Professor Robert Thurman last week. With decades of experience as both a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and as a professor, he has a great knack for presenting these often complex ideas in a simple manner that cut right to the essence of a profound teaching.
Professor Thurman is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s personal representative in the US, and the founder of Tibet House, an organization dedicated to preserving the rich cultural legacy of Tibetans. He also has a wicked sense of humour, and this comes out often during his talks! Many of his lectures are available on the Bob Thurman Podcast, which I highly recommend. Even if Buddhism is not your thing, you might find a lot of value in these talks.
The talk I attended was geared towards the very materialistic, scientific minded engineers of Silicon Valley. He thought it was great that “mindfullness meditation” is becoming all the rage among the corporate world, even if it is a very stripped down version of the practices. It still has the benefit of getting people to be a little more introspective. In a culture of materialism and western science, where the tendency is to live for “this life only” and to negate any deeper look into the meaning of existence beyond making money, this is a welcome foothold into daily life. In such a context, Professor Thurman defined enlightenment as “making the unconscious, conscious.” With nods to Freud and Jung, this was the perfect explanation for westerners.
A very simple meditation practice was given that can be used to enhance the vipassanna styled meditations that have been popularized in the Valley by all the meditation apps (10% Happier, Headspace, Calm) currently making the rounds. Inhale white light, with a sense of healing filling up your cells. Hold the breath briefly, just a few seconds, while seeing it as a rich ruby red light that is vibrant with health and healing. Exhale the breath, seeing it as a deep cobalt blue light that gives out healing to the world and the environment. Tantrik sadhakas may see in this simple practice the deep roots of vajra breathing with the vibrational syllables of OM AH HUNG.