True Eloquence: Pretas, Puppies + Dreams – Ep. 141

Using Tsong Khapa’s Tengyur text, Essence of True Eloquence Professor Robert Thurman discusses the Buddha’s central teachings & concepts as preparation for the 2014 Beacon Theater teachings given by the H.H. the Dalai Lama.

Podcast includes a discussion of Robin Williams’ “What Dreams May Come” and an introduction to non-dualism found at the heart of all of the Buddha’s teachings: overtly or through implication.

Thubten Jinpa Thubten Chodron Essence of Eloquence Teachigs in New York City
H. H. the Dalai Lama gave an historic discourse on Nov. 3 & 4 2014 in New York City at the request of Tibet House US on “Essence Of True Eloquence”, and the masterpiece text by Jey Lama Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) that is considered a classic presentation of the profound view of reality that is foundational for opening the floodgates of universal compassion.

The text is known as the Essence Of True Eloquence: Distinguishing the Interpretable from the Definitive Meanings of the Buddha’s Sutra Discourses (Tibetan– Drang nges legs bshad snying po), which is lucid and detailed expansion of the Short Essence of True Eloquence, the poem Jey Tsong Khapa wrote on the morning of the dawning of his full enlightenment in 1398.

From the course description listing:

“We are offering a preparatory course which will go over some of the main points of the text, with a view to providing a basic familiarity with the territory of the realistic worldview—first branch of the eightfold path of the fourth noble truth—as understood and taught by the Indo-Tibetan Nagarjuna–Chandrakirti–Tsong Khapa–Dalai Lama tradition. The point of preparing for the Dalai Lama’s own discourse is to be familiar with the main concepts about and outlines of the most important insights, so that when His Holiness, the living transmitter of the authentic tradition, gives his discourse, the prepared recipient can listen with a better understanding.

The essence of this realistic worldview is the nonduality of nirvana and samsara, wisdom and compassion, emptiness and relativity. As long as the slightest trace of separation of these two levels remains in one’s mind, wisdom of emptiness does not reach the ultimate depth, and great compassion cannot spring forth from the wholehearted commitment to the amelioration of the condition of suffering beings in the emptiness/relativity nondual reality of their world, blocked by some version of an escapist concept of some sort of absolute release.

The text delves deeply into this essential focus, first briefly from the perspective of the seemingly dualistic Individual Vehicle Realist schools, then in more detail from that of the Idealist (“Mind-only”) schools, and then finally from the perspectives of the Dogmaticist (Svatantrika) and Dialecticist (Prasangika) Centrist (Madhyamika) schools. The course will proceed with lecture, Q & A, and some contemplative sessions, with a final day-long retreat on Oct. 11.

Recommended reading for this course is in R. Thurman, Central Philosophy of Tibet, (Princeton paperback), especially the Introduction, but one can come to the course without having done so, as a summary pamphlet will be made available during the course. It is also recommended that one attend the entire course; but, space permitting, walk-in attendance might also be possible.”


“True Eloquence: Pretas, Puppies + Dreams” is an audio excerpt from the Tibet House US Member Archive Video “True Eloquence: Profound Wisdom + Vast Compassion Introduction with Robert AF Thurman”. Recorded at Tibet House US September 2014 in New York City.

To watch the full video please visit the Tibet House US Member Archive.

To listen to more recordings from past programs with Robert AF Thurman at Tibet House US in New York City + Menla in Phoenicia, New York in the Catskills please consider becoming a Tibet House US Member.

The song ‘Dancing Ling’ by Tenzin Choegyal from the album ‘Heart Sutra‘ (2004) by Ethno Super Lounge is used on the Bob Thurman Podcast with artist’s permission, all rights reserved.

Podcast Extra

Watch Previews from “Profound Wisdom + Vast Compassion Introduction with Robert AF Thurman” THUS Member Video please visit the Tibet House US YouTube Channel.

The Central Philosophy of Tibet

This is the first full study, translation, and critical annotation of the Essence of True Eloquence by Jey Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), universally acknowledged as the greatest Tibetan philosopher. Robert Thurman's translation and introduction present a …