Robert Thurman: The Practice of Deity Yoga


On this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken travels to upstate New York to speak with Robert Thurman, pioneering scholar and translator in the Tibetan Buddhist world, and professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. Professor Thurman has long been recognized as a leading authority on Buddhist religion, culture, and philosophy. Since this is Wisdom’s second podcast with Professor Thurman, we decided to focus on a topic that is of great interest to our listeners. In this conversation, Professor Thurman shares his expertise on the practice of deity yoga. Specifically, he explains the unique function of creation stage practice, describing it as a high-tech form of genetic engineering in which one is transformed into the embodiment of a buddha. Professor Thurman fleshes out the broader context of this practice, and also sheds light on the potential benefit of engaging in such an elaborate visualization of the mind. Furthermore, he addresses the relevance of creation stage practice in the context of everyday life.

About the Interviewee

Robert Thurman holds the Jey Tsong Khapa Chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. After an education at Phillips Exeter and Harvard, he studied Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism for almost thirty years as a personal student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has written both scholarly and popular books, and has lectured widely all over the world. As president of the American Institute for Buddhist Studies, he convened the First Inner Science Conference with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Amherst College in 1984. He is also a founding trustee of Tibet House New York.

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Michel (CC BY 2.0)

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