The Wisdom Podcast

Jeffrey Hopkins: The Life of a Buddhist Scholar

Jeffrey Hopkins

Jeffrey Hopkins was translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 1979 to 1989 and Professor of Tibetan Studies at University of Virginia, and has published more than forty books.

Jeffrey started meditating while at Harvard and then, inspired by Thoreau and W. Somerset Maugham, spent time in a cabin in the woods in Vermont. He describes this and other adventures as a young man where he discovered the power of the meditative experience, including a wild ocean voyage through the South Pacific. We hear how he developed various meditative practices without any formal knowledge of Buddhism and how he first encountered Buddhism directly when he met Geshe Wangyal. Jeffrey shares amusing and heartening stories about life with Geshe Wangyal and Geshe Sopa in Madison, Wisconsin, and how these two great teachers inspired him to begin delving into the intellectual exercise of Buddhist philosophy and guided him in his study and practice. He then tells of his many private conversations with the Dalai Lama about the books they created together, and how he was one of the first westerners to receive initiation from the Dalai Lama. We also hear about how Jeffrey began translating for the Dalai Lama, and how working with the Dalai Lama has influenced Jeffrey’s thinking and translation. Additionally, our host Daniel Aitken asks Jeffrey to share his thoughts on the definition of emptiness, and the challenging experience and practice of having Lyme Disease.


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Ven. Thubten Chodron: An American Buddhist Abbess

Thubten Chodron is the abbess of Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington, where a group of ordained Tibetan Buddhists live and train together. Wisdom’s Associate Publisher Daniel met with Venerable Chodron at Sravasti Abbey to discuss her journey as a nun, her vision for the Abbey, and her most recent book, Buddhism: One Teacher, Many TraditionsVenerable Chodron also spoke on full ordination for Tibetan Buddhist nuns and her evaluation of Buddhism’s migration to the west.

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Jamyang Rinchen 2: My Guru, the Dalai Lama

Jamyang Rinchen (蔣揚仁欽) travels in the Dalai Lama’s entourage as his principle Chinese translator. In this episode he tells us what His Holiness is like when out of the public eye and shares some special stories of occasions he has witnessed with the Dalai Lama that especially enriched Jamyang’s own faith in His Holiness—stories of genuine compassion, consideration, humility, and non-attachment.


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Jamyang Rinchen 1: Translating for the Dalai Lama

Jamyang Rinchen (蔣揚仁欽) moved away from his family in Taiwan at a very young age to become a monk and study at the Dalai Lama’s Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala. In this first episode of two, Jamyang talks about his early life and education at a monastic institution, and how he later went on to become the Dalai Lama’s principle Chinese translator.

Jamyang also tells the story of his journey to Boston to complete his doctoral degree at Harvard and shares some of the key points from his dissertation.

Jamyang now lives in Dharamsala, India, which is where this interview took place in Jamyang’s home.

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David Loy: Modern Buddhism

Join us for an intimate and wide-ranging discussion with David Loy, Zen teacher and Wisdom author. David tells us how he was introduced to Buddhism, sharing stories from key points in his life and his experiences as a student of Yamada Koun and Robert Aitken. He then discusses how modern spiritual people tend to distort spiritual ideas to their own ends through a process known as spiritual bypassing, and how Buddhists today might engage with issues like the institutionalization of ignorance and suffering.

This is a rare opportunity to hear a leading Buddhist thinker discuss his personal story and the ideas he’s renowned for, including the most pressing issues of Buddhist philosophy in our time.

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