Written by Margaret Cullen.
Most English speakers who have attended the teachings of the Dalai Lama have actually heard his wisdom through the voice of Thupten Jinpa, who has served as translator for His Holiness since 1985. A highly trained Buddhist scholar and practitioner in his own right, Jinpa’s monastic training at the Shartse College of Ganden culminated in the distinguished Geshe Lharam degree. He then obtained a BA in philosophy and a Ph.D. in religious studies, both from Cambridge University. He has translated and edited more than twelve books by the Dalai Lama and written books of his own. And yet, what is striking about Jinpa’s presence with His Holiness is not only his exquisite fluency with the English language, and the depth of his understanding of complex and subtle aspects of Buddhist philosophy, but the genuine warmth, humor and unstinting affection displayed on stage between these two remarkable men. More often than not, they are leaning in toward each other, the tops of their heads almost touching, until one or the other roars with laughter.
Jinpa was invited to be a visiting research scholar by the recently established Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, where he has developed a program titled Compassion Cultivation Training. This eight-week secular program consists of a sequence of exercises that progressively cultivate mental stability through present-focused attention and compassion for friends and family, self, strangers and disliked people. (To learn more about this program, read the accompanying article Opening the Heart at Stanford, Google and Beyond.)
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