Tapestry

Cultivating compassion with the Dalai Lama's translator

Thupten Jinpa's life has had many chapters: he began as a scholar and Tibetan Buddhist monk, became translator to the Dalai Lama, and later professor, husband and father. He brings all these experiences together in his book, A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives.
Dr. Thupen Jinpa is the chief English translator for the Dalai Lama. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Listen27:46
Have you ever changed jobs? Have you changed your entire life?
Thupten Jinpa is the author of A Fearless Heart.

Thupten Jinpa was all set. He was a bright young Tibetan Buddhist monk, who had joined the Dalai Lama's inner circle as principal English-language translator.

But something was missing, something important. Thupten Jinpa felt deep stirrings for a different life - for having a family.

Today, he's a professor at McGill University. He still translates for the Dalai Lama. He has worked to create a course in Compassion Cultivation Training at Stanford University. And, yes, he is married, and has two teenaged daughters.

Jinpa tells Mary Hynes about his long and winding journey from Tibet to northern India to England to Montreal.

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

He shares stories of being teased by the Dalai Lama and of how a Buddhist monk's patience is no match for a two-year-old's temper.

Professor Jinpa has translated many Tibetan spiritual classics into English. It's unclear whether he ever encountered the philosophy of one Yogi Berra, however he would probably endorse the baseball sage's life wisdom: when you come to a fork in the road, take it!

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