“I am not limited to any group,” he said. a 2009 interview For website Sonshi.com. “I want to be independent and reach people who want to learn directly through my books.”
Dr. Thurman said Mr. Klee’s great contribution was to “bring the insights and sensibilities we have gained in Asia to a life that is luminous in our culture, enriching our understanding and expanding our sensibility.”
Thomas Francis Cleary was born in New Brunswick on April 24, 1949, his father, also named Thomas, and his mother, Shirley Jane (Klein) Cleary, were chemists.
He grew up in Summit, NJ, graduating from Summit High School in 1967. He earned a bachelor’s degree in East Asian languages with a concentration in Japanese at Harvard College in 1972, and then went on to earn his Ph. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in 1975. Thirty years later he earned a law degree at the University of California, Berkeley.
The law degree, he said in a 2009 interview, grew out of his interest in discovering new solutions to systemic problems.
“The American system is in flux and new ideas are needed,” he said. “The current system is based on the power of precedent, so change is slow. By looking at other systems around the world we may be able to address issues, for example, in a more humane way.”
He became interested in Buddhism as a teenager and began translating at the age of 18. Jesse Cleary, in an unpublished memoir about his brother, who was two years younger, said that his schooling was heavy on science and mathematics, but that his discovery of Buddhist writings revealed an entirely different truth.