Robert Thurman was the first Westerner to be ordained as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition after studying under the Dalai Lama. This scholar, who teaches Buddhist studies at Columbia University, is also a co-founder of the Tibet House in New York City. On this five-hour presentation taped at the San Francisco Zen Center, Thurman shares his overview of "the politics of enlightenment." He sees Buddhism as an antidote to "the culture of nihilism" that reigns in America. Compassion and loving-kindness offer an alternative to "the demented and demonic circuit of capitalism."

Thurman's presentation is filled with black comic asides, wild invectives, and a Jeremiah-like critique of "the most irresponsible civilization ever." In several meditations, this vituperative scholar calms down and is at once poetic and pensive. Thurman's brand of engaged Buddhism is totally unique.