Religion Department James & David Orr Lecture on Culture & Religion at Dartmouth

Dartmouth Events

Religion Department James & David Orr Lecture on Culture & Religion at Dartmouth

Robert A. F. Thurman (Columbia): "Buddha: Scientist, Educator, Social Reformer"

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Filene Auditorium, Moore Building
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

If "science" as an enterprise means "organized quest to gain knowledge of reality," and is not unreflectively assigned to "scientific materialism," which is rather a specific philosophical worldview that guides specific scientific initiatives, then Buddha was a "scientist" (Sanskrit vidyadhara), as his whole quest from the time he left his palace home was in order to discover the reality of life, the world, and himself. Once he felt that he had discovered it (and he might have been mistaken, of course), he was pleased to announce that the reality discovered was surprisingly good, and also that other human beings could also discover it for themselves. Not only that, but they would eventually have to do so if they wanted seriously to ameliorate their situation as sensitive beings. This way of understanding things forced him to become an educator, rather than founding a new religion to compete with the brahminical Vedism of his era. And, as we all know, educators must constantly seek to reform their societies, as otherwise their work of learning and teaching will quickly tend to be considered merely a low priority luxury.

Robert A. F. Thurman is a recognized worldwide authority on religion and spirituality, Asian history, philosophy, Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is an eloquent advocate of the relevance of Eastern ideas to our daily lives, and was named one Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans and has been profiled by The New York Times and People Magazine. See his website at

Free and open to all. Reception follows.

FIND Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall on the campus maps:


For more information, contact:
Marcia Welsh
(603) 646-3738

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.