Spiritual Directors

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Tibet House US was founded at the request of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, who at the inauguration in 1987 stated his wish for a long-term cultural embassy and institution to ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture, whatever the political destiny of the six million people of Tibet itself.

HH Dalai Lama at Menla, Sept 2008
HH Dalai Lama at Menla Mountain Retreat, September 2008.

Menla Mountain’s vision is to draw from Tibetan wisdom sciences to reinforce the new wave of integrative medicine now emerging in Western societies. His Holiness has expressed his enthusiasm for Menla, especially because he believes Tibetan medicine is one of the greatest contributions of Tibetan Buddhist culture.

In 2006 the Dalai Lama visited Menla for a Health & Longevity Conference. He blessed the land and believes that Menla, which was given to him and the Tibetan people, will continue to become a thriving resource for health, healing, and spiritual evolution.

“I believe that the Tibetan medical system can contribute substantially to maintaining a healthy mind and healthy body. Like the traditional Chinese and Indian systems, Tibetan medicine views health as a question of balance. A variety of circumstances such as diet, lifestyle, seasonal, and mental conditions can disturb this natural balance, which gives rise to different kinds of disorders. A Tibetan physician employs his own senses to examine the individual’s general balance of health as a whole. Treatment involves dietary and behavioral advice and medication. Medicines, which have few side effects, are obtained from natural sources such as herbs, minerals, and organic products and prepared under controlled conditions.

As an integrated system of health care, Tibetan medicine can offer allopathic medicine a different perspective on health. However, like other scientific systems, it must be understood in its own terms, as well as in the context of objective investigation. In practice it can also offer Western people another approach to achieving happiness through health and balance.”

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Robert Thurman

Hailed by the New York Times as the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism, Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University.  He is President of Tibet House US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, which is dedicated to the translation of the Tengyur, an important part of the Tibetan canon. He teaches at Menla and serves as its Spiritual Director.

Prof. Robert Thurman and HHDL

The first American to have been ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and a personal friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for nearly 50 years, Professor Thurman is a dedicated advocate and spokesperson for the truth regarding the current Tibet-China situation and the human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under Chinese Communist rule. His commitment to finding a peaceful solution for Tibet and China inspired him to write Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World, which was published in June 2008.

Professor Thurman also translates important Tibetan and Sanskrit philosophical writings, and lectures and writes on Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism; Asian history, particularly the history of the monastic institution in Asian civilization; and critical philosophy, with a focus on the dialogue between the material and inner sciences of the world’s religious traditions.

He is credited with being at the forefront of making Tibetan art accessible and understood in the West, and has collaborated with distinguished art historians in curating several important traveling exhibitions, which set a standard in the art world.

Each year, Professor Thurman leads several Tibet House-sponsored retreats at Menla on a variety of topics.