Thupten Jinpa — Translating the Dalai Lama
February 21, 2013

Esoteric teachings on reincarnation and consciousness; simple teachings on compassion and ethics. Geshe Thupten Jinpa is a man who finishes the Dalai Lama’s English sentences. Meet this philosopher and former monk, now a husband and father of two daughters, and hear what happens when the ancient tradition embodied in the Dalai Lama meets science and life.

(photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

comment

6 reflections
read/add yours

Share

Shortened URL

Video Interviews with Krista Tippett

In the Room with the Thupten Jinpa

Watch our video of Krista's intimate conversation from the campus of Emory University in Atlanta.

In the Room with the Dalai Lama

Missed the live video stream? A front-row seat for a sold-out event at Emory University in Atlanta. Watch a dynamic discussion with four prominent religious leaders on the meaning of happiness.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

To sketchnote Krista's conversation with the Dalai Lama's principal English translator requires many of the same qualities he embodies: attention, compassion, focus, humility, action. No small feat.

Previous "On Being" guest, Adele Diamond, tells a story about meeting the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India at a Mind and Life Institute dialogue. We highlight some of the passages Adele Diamond presented to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala — including texts from Rabbi Heschel, Bashevis Singer, Rachel Naomi Remen, and Henri Nouwen.

A series of portraits of Buddhist monks in silence from a 1966 doc by Arnaud Desjardins.

The work of a fact-checking journalist can feel like sleuthing sometimes.

"I was taught truth had to come from the 'correct' source. Otherwise, it was heresy. Yet there I was, hearing truth from a Muslim scholar, an Orthodox rabbi, an Episcopalian bishop, and the Dalai Lama himself." Who would have thought the Dalai Lama could make such a great running partner?

A "linguistic resurrection" you ask? Krista’s presentation at the United Nations was featured on TED.com! Krista's TEDTalk presents ways in which we can ground + humanize the word "compassion" by using language more fully and by looking to people who exemplify this aspiration. Watch and share what your ideas.

Read highlights of Krista's interview with mention of cultivation of mind, ethical motivation, and consciousness and more.

1

One of the pioneering teachers of Buddhist thought and meditation in the U.S. answers our in-house "wannabe" mindfulness practitioner's questions on techniques and focus, and the balance of new technologies with human connection.

A group of black belts head to Greensboro, Alabama, to participate in Rural Studio home-building projects.

Our weekend exercise. Try this 10-minute bell sound meditation and then share your experience with us.

A complex gender question for the Buddhist tradition.

Our weekly capsule of Krista Tippett's tweets, Instagram pairings, and strange bits of ephemera observed online.

A powerful Zen parable teaching us about compassion and gratitude in the face of death.

About the Image

The Dalai Lama listens to Thupten Jinpa during the Seeds of Compassion Conference in Seattle, Washington in 2008.

(photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Your Comments

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><span><div><img><!-->
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Embed content by wrapping a supported URL in [embed] … [/embed].

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Comments

Ms. Tippett, I just wanted to comment on your interview with Thupten Jinpa and share a painting i was working on while listening to your show. As i was sitting in my office studio painting away, your show came on and i was delighted to hear you were doing this interview with the Dalai Lama's english interpreter. I never knew about him until this interview. On the part where you both were discussing meditation; i just smiled. I use painting as a form of meditation. it's something i really enjoy doing, and love being in the moment with..painting allows my ego to be itself on canvas. and while i was listening to the conversation..i knew i was in the right moment, doing the right thing with the intention of eventually sharing my work with those i love. I appreciate your interview with Thupten Jinpa, and look forward to hear many more of your interviews. the painting i was working on is one that had been in the works for quite sometime(and isn't really finished-the link will say it is, but it isn't.) i am donating it to a silent auction being held in Wilmington, NC for Hope from Helen foundation. It looks a little different now that i spent a little more time with it while listening to your show, but just wanted to share. Thank you once again!

I felt the information on meditation was extremely cool. I have just begun to practice meditation myself and of course have been taught the Western way that meditation is just stilling the mind. This is hard enough in and of itself but to be able to meditate into a state of learning/gaining knowledge is astounding to me. I like the idea of using meditation as a way of integrating your knowledge into your personality to become a better person. It was also interesting to know that the Dalai Lama is invloved in the Mind and Life circles that reflect on meditation and it's physical effects as well as mental and emotional. The question of consciousness and how it relates to us on a physical level is an interesting and debatable topic.

I, too, was touched by the message of the Dalai Lama that because we expect acts of love and kindness we do not see them for what they are. Instead we pay attention to the acts of violence because it is shocking to us. It is not normal. It is easy then to become jaded and believe that we are a horrible species. In reality the vast majority of us are not and we need to remember this.I do not read the paper or watch the news. I was once that story in the papers and on the news. I feel blessed to be able to say that I still get shocked at how horrible people can be to one another. This means that I still believe in the basic goodness of us humans

I appreciated Thupten Jinpa’s explanation of what we in the West call meditation. I find it much more useful and liberating to refer the various spiritual technologies as mind cultivation. One of the appealing aspects of Buddhism to me is that it doesn’t ask me to believe anything. Instead it asks that I do these things, observe, and see what I discover. In that sense, mind cultivation is an empirical process that shares attributes with the scientific method. It investigates with the same rigor the subjective facets of what neuroscience investigates externally.

Beyond that, I really appreciated Thupen Jinpa as a person. Living in Savannah, Georgia I don’t often get the opportunity to visit with Tibetan monks, but every couple of years some pass through as part of a tour and spend a week conducting a number of activities. Many of them exude a sense of serenity, equilibrium, and quiet confidence laced with humor and curiosity that creates a space of grace and well being that is palpable when I’m in their presence. I sensed the quality in Jinpa as I watched the video. In addition, he seamlessly integrates a deep immersion in both Eastern and Western disciplines that he articulate in a thoughtful and appealing way. I researched him after viewing your interview, and discovered that it sells him short to view him as “only” the Dalai Lama’s translator. He’s an accomplished man in his own right, and from the videos I watched of him on YouTube observed he has the capacity to communicate with people of all levels of sophistication, taking complex ideas and explaining them in more simple terms with concrete examples.

I would love to study with him. Thanks for the show.

This morning I have been listening to your interview with Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Of particular interest to me was the discussion of consciousness. Recently I heard Dr. Eben Alexander, neurosurgen with a strong professional history, speak about his 7-day experience in a coma from bacterial (e-coli) meningitis. He methodically described what his brain function was and was not during those days. With that knowledge, he is convinced that consciousness is active when brain function is not ---- that it exists separate from the organic. In the event you are not aware of it, he has described this experience in a book, Proof of Heaven. I am grateful for your journey and your program.

Sir
This morning i was listening to the interview on my i phone via radio VPR, VERMONT. i ENJOYED the show. I am a regular lisener of VPR radio. I appreciae the broadcast of the interview. i keep looking for such inerviews.
Shama Sunder
INDIA

It really fascinates me those concepts of meditation and reincarnation. Although these are not part of Catholic teaching but I think that learning these things can also help a person with regards to his personality . Asian religions really carry with them those "mystical" ideas about life and although justifications presented are refutable if we take it into the context of Christianity, the members of these religions like Christians are also certain of what they believe in. Also, in this broadcast Thupten Jinpa talked about his association with the Dalai Lama. For me, it is very fascinating to interact with the likes of the Dalai Lama that is considered holy in his religion. I think that there is something in him that makes people perceive as holy. As what Thupten said, he has this certain perception of the Dalai Lama because he considers the Dalai Lama "not just an individual person but a representation of the whole institution of the Dalai Lama who inherited all the wisdoms of the successive Dalai Lamas". Moreover, Thupten considers his association with the Dalai Lama as a very very powerful interaction. He pointed out that the Dalai Lama tries to "really reach everybody and there is a kind of deliberate simplification of the message".

I think that all leaders really possess certain similar characteristics such as charisma and this called "powerful presence". Most of all, leaders are good in communicating with people just like Jesus Christ if we are to take in the context of Christianity. Such characteristics are not really learned but inherent in them. We could say it is really their purpose in life. Another notable characteristic is how they would simplify complex things especially on concepts about life. They can present it in a common sense way yet if these were then to be applied one would still be confused. It really amazes me how religious leaders the likes of Dalai Lama can take in all knowledge and see light beyond those information.

Thank you for sharing this interview to the public.

Voices on the Radio

is the chief English translator to the Dalai Lama and is the translator and editor of many books, including Ethics for the New Millennium and Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions can Come Together.

Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Senior Editor: Trent Gilliss

Senior Producer: David McGuire

Technical Director/Producer: Chris Heagle

Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Associate Producer Online: Susan Leem

Coordinating Producer: Stefni Bell

apples