This looks like the first review in quite a while... some things are the same, some different. I first wanna say that Indo-Tibetan Buddhism has so far been the greatest class I've taken at Columbia. Thurman totally pulls the rug out from under traditional Western thought while simultaneously showing how entrenched we are in it... this comes up in his book "Inner Revolution" which you read all throughout the semester. It's a unique course for a number of reasons, beginning with how Thurman doesn't treat the subject matter as some bs theoretical thought experiment, but truly believes what he says. That goes further than might be obvious. His personal connection to the material gives it real depth, and if you're engaged in it you may find that it can... dare I say... make your life more meaningful. No class I've taken so far has been more influential to my everyday thinking, and taking it during the election of 2016 was especially profound... i know i wasn't the only one who found those two days a week the most inspiring.

Thurman's a badass, super funny and self-deprecating, very quotable, very famous, definitely prone to tangents (which almost always DO relate and come back to the material), very political, and seriously knowledgeable. Sometimes doesn't give thorough explanations of the Sanskrit terms, but very thorough explanations of esoteric buddhist concepts, many of which he's made iconoclastic interpretations of, if that's your thing. Unlike some of the previous reviews, I only remember a few days when he read through the readings in class and it was super boring. He only missed two classes, and he did read our discussion posts.

The class focuses mostly on the origins of Buddhism in India and the later advent of Mahayana Buddhism, then pivots to Tibet for the last few weeks, ending in current Tibetan religious/cultural affairs.

It may not be for everyone, especially if you want something very technical or you think politics (or film) has no place in class. The technical is in the reading. Discussion section was kind of a bust. But Prof. Thurman's my man


Apart from reading, just about none. 200-300 pages a week, but not necessary to read it all. Focus on primary texts and "Inner Revolution". Optional 10-page research paper, very manageable midterm and final, and weekly discussion posts.