As a black gay kid growing up in Texas in the 1990s, poet Saeed Jones remembers getting negative messages about his identity from every aspect of his life. It was around the time of Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming, and Jones felt alone and unsafe.
Barbara Brown Taylor is an ordained Episcopal priest who left the pulpit to become a professor of religion. She is also the author of a couple of best selling books. Her new book is about how teaching the religions of the world changed her understanding of her own faith, and how her Christian students responded when she took them to mosques, synagogues, and buddhist temples.
Richard Bernstein has served as Time Magazines Beijing Bureau Chief as well as the New York Times National Cultural Correspondent and now, book critic. He has published several books including –From the Center of the Earth,— a book on modern China and –Dictatorship of Virtue,— which examines multiculturalism. His newest book is –Ultimate Journey: Retracing the Path of an Ancient Buddhist Monk Who Crossed Asia in Search of Enlightenment.— In it, Bernstein traces the monk Hsuan Tsangs legendary journey through seventh century China and India.
Religion scholar Karen Armstrong. The best-selling author of The History of God, and The Battle for God, has a new book about the life of Buddha. From North India, Sidhatta Gotama, renounced normal life, leaving his wife and child to live alone and attain enlightenment. He found it through his own experiences, did not rely on a supernatural God, and fought against the cult of personality that would turn him into a leader. Instead the Buddha taught his disciples to discover the truth within themselves.
Jetsun Pema, sister of the Dalai Lama. She's written an autobiography about Tibet and her work there,"Tibet: My Story" (Element). In it she recounts life in Tibet before the Chinese occupation, exile from Tibet, and her work as the president of the Tibetan Children's Village, which encompasses over 11,000 Tibetan refugees in India. Pema also plays the role of the mother of the young Dalai Lama in the film "Seven Years in Tibet."
Writer and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Nhat Hanh became a Buddhist monk at age 16, worked on a globally for peace in his native Vietnam during the war, and has written over 75 books on peace. Some of his best-known are "Peace is in Every Step," "Being Peace," and "The Miracle of Mindfulness." His 1995 book, "Living Buddha, Living Christ" (Riverhead) is now available in paperback.
Thupten Jinpa was a refugee in India as a child, became a monk at a Tibetan monastery, and is the translator, editor and annotator of "The World of Tibetan Buddhism," written by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Film director Bernando Bertolucci. He broke new ground with his 1972 film "Last Tango in Paris." Pauline Kael called it "a landmark in movie history." In the 80's, he became dismayed by the pervasive materialism he saw in the West. His focus turned to the East. He made "The Last Emperor" set in China and "The Sheltering Sky" set in the Sahara Desert. His new movie is "Little Buddha." It's a fable. A Tibetan monk travels from the Kingdom of Bhutan to Seattle to visit a young American boy.
We discuss Tibet with Robert Thurman. Thurman is professor of Indo-Tibetian Buddist Studies at Columbia University, the organizer of the Year of Tibet activities, and the first American to be ordained a Tibetian Buddist monk by the Dalai Lama.
Dr. Robert Thurman, the first American to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He later returned to the United States and established The Institute for Buddhist Studies at the University of Massachusetts. He visited Tibet in the fall of 1987 and is now setting up a Tibet House in New York City.