Thomas Cleary, prolific translator of oriental texts, dies at 72

“I am not confined to any group,” he said in a 2009 interview for the website. “I want to stay independent and reach out to those who want to learn directly from my books.”

Dr Thurman said that Mr Cleary’s great contribution was “to bring ideas and sensibilities acquired in Asia to a luminous life in our culture, enriching our understanding and expanding our sensibilities”.

Thomas Francis Cleary was born April 24, 1949 in New Brunswick, NJ. His father, also named Thomas, and his mother, Shirley Jane (Klein) Cleary, were chemists.

He grew up in Summit, New Jersey, and graduated from Summit High School in 1967. He received a BA in East Asian Languages, with a concentration in Japanese, from Harvard College in 1972. , then got a doctorate. in East Asian Languages ​​and Civilizations in 1975 at Harvard University. Thirty years later, he earned a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

The law degree, he said in the 2009 interview, arose out of his interest in exploring new solutions to systemic problems.

“The American system is changing and needs new ideas,” he said. “The current system is based on the power of the previous one, so change is slow. By looking at other systems around the world, we may be able to solve problems, for example, in a more humanitarian way. “

He became interested in Buddhism as a teenager and began translating at the age of 18. JC Cleary, in an unpublished memoir on his brother, who was two years younger than a completely different reality had revealed.

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