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Origins of Contemplative Education at Naropa

Playlist: Origins of Contemplative Education at Naropa

Naropa has been at the forefront of Contemplative Education since its founding in 1974. It continues to be a leader in this area, and a Naropa education is infused with contemplative education for every student who attends the institution.

The early development of contemplative education at Naropa was presented and shaped by Chogyam Trungpa and other early faculty, staff, and students, who connected diverse areas of study and endeavor with contemplative practice and insight. The Contemplative Education playlist gives you the opportunity to see, hear and read about how contemplative education was first articulated and practiced at Naropa University.

First Convocation of Naropa Institute
June 10th, 1974

VIDEO 58 minutes

The opening convocation at the very first session of Naropa Institute. Trungpa Rinpoche speaks about his vision for Naropa Institute.

Open Secret: Spirituality in America (“Sparks”)
July 8, 1974

VIDEO 60 minutes

PUBLISHED in The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol. 2: Selected Writings: “Sparks”

Panel discussion with Chogyam Trungpa, Ram Dass, and others recorded for the Open Secret radio program. Trungpa Rinpoche describes the experience at Naropa Institute as being like fireworks, rather than the smooth blending of a spoonful of sugar in lemonade.

Open Secret: Interview with Trungpa Rinpoche

AUDIO 27 minutes

This Interview with Chogyam Trungpa, one year after the founding of Naropa Institute, focuses on his role as a teacher in America and his vision for Naropa. He says that his teaching style is based on a long-term plan, to be accomplished in 100 years.

Public Talk: The Way of the Buddha in America
June 13, 1975

VIDEO 62 minutes

A public talk about the challenges facing American culture, and how Buddhism might help address them.

First Faculty Seminar at Naropa Institute
July 17-19, 1975

A workshop with faculty members at the newly formed Naropa Institute, held during the summer of 1975.

Talk 1
July 17, 1975

AUDIO 51 minutes

Chogyam Trungpa speaks to how Naropa is drawing on the best features of existing educational models, as well as on the heritage of traditional Buddhist education as a foundation.

July 18, 1975

AUDIO 79 minutes

Comments and discussion about the role of the teacher. Also, comments on the long-term vision for Naropa as an institution where education becomes personal and also has practical applications.

Talk 2
July 19, 1975

AUDIO 70 minutes

The faculty comments about communication issues and ideas for Naropa Institute’s development. Trungpa Rinpoche notes the courageousness and responsibility of being a teacher.

Public Talk: The Myth of Education
August 13, 1976

VIDEO 79 minutes

Chogyam Trungpa suggests that the “revolutionary” approach to education in America was a “myth of freedom,” and contrasts with traditional Buddhist approaches to education. Chogyam Trungpa concludes by saying that the Naropa model creates appreciation and a sense that education is a life-long learning process, rather than something to be “rid of” in a few years.

Meeting with Naropa Institute Core Faculty
January 12, 1978

AUDIO 61 minutes

A substantive exchange between Trungpa Rinpoche and department heads at Naropa Institute. In his final remarks, Trungpa Rinpoche defines Naropa Institute as more “a way of life rather than a struggle.” For faculty, personal sanity and genuineness are key. Being true and honest brings strength and delight, being fully who you are.

Meeting with Naropa Institute Staff
January 20, 1978

AUDIO 88 minutes

A meeting of Chogyam Trungpa with administration and faculty of Naropa Institute. Topics include how the staff’s meditation practice affects overall vision and day-to-day workings of Naropa. Basis of Naropa Institute as introducing “gentleness, confidence, and wakefulness to students and ourselves.”

Meeting with Naropa Institute Core Students
February 15, 1978

AUDIO 70 minutes

A meeting between Trungpa Rinpoche and Naropa’s core students. Students ask about meditation and education, definitions of Buddhism, Naropa’s place in the educational world, clinical psychology, academic credentials. Trungpa Rinpoche defines Naropa’s approach as bringing intellect and intuition together. Other topics include the purpose of meditation; how art fits with the vision of Shambhala; mental health clinics based on Buddhist ideas. Naropa as constant exploration, not “taking over the world.”

Public Talk: Education for an Enlightened Society I
June 16, 1978

AUDIO 43 minutes

Education is presented in the context of Naropa Institute and creating enlightened society. Education as nurturing a state of mind, creating environment that sparks students to experience their individual neurosis in the midst of enlightened atmosphere. Message of Naropa Institute is “enlightened confidence and wakeful education.”

Public Talk: Education for an Enlightened Society II
July 23, 1978

AUDIO 48 minutes

PUBLISHED in The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol. 2: Selected Writings, “Education for an Enlightened Society”

The second of two talks Trungpa Rinpoche gave in 1978 on education for an enlightened society. He describes education as “bring[ing] about the enlightenment of the whole world.” Clarifies he is not speaking of a utopia, but rather that the audience itself is the potential enlightened society. This talk occurred the same day the directors of Naropa Institute presented the school to NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) for accreditation, July 23, 1978.

Celebration of Naropa Institute Achieving Candidacy for Accreditation
July 25, 1978

AUDIO 11 minutes

Brief remarks by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and others. Trungpa Rinpoche speaks about how Naropa is trying to establish enlightened education. Also, that doubts and questions people had about Naropa Institute have turned into material to go further. He concludes with a toast to the Great Eastern Sun — dignity and appreciation of self and the world.

Naropa Institute Graduation 1978
August 18, 1978

AUDIO 44 minutes

Second graduation ceremony of Naropa Institute, in August of 1978. Naropa’s Executive Director Jeremy Hayward led the event. Speakers include Dr. Edward Podvoll of Psychology Department, Barbara Dilley of Dance Department, graduating class representative Daniel Montgomery, Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin, and Naropa’s founder Chogyam Trungpa. He notes that the year was  the most remarkable one thus far, “where we found out and realized what Naropa Institute is all about.” He thanks the students for their exertion and genuineness, acknowledges faculty, administration and parents, and encourages everyone to continue their journey.

Meeting with Naropa Institute Students and Faculty
March 12, 1979

AUDIO 56 minutes

Chogyam Trungpa speaks of learning process  at Naropa as “furthering”; becoming true to one’s self, genuineness. Knowledge is there but has to be uncovered. Vision of Naropa Institute — sense of discipline and “awake” in whatever one is doing. Don’t give up; take delight.

Meeting with Naropa Institute Faculty
June 28, 1979

AUDIO 64 minutes

Comments on the journey students make at Naropa Institute, of becoming friends with themselves and their scholarship, which leads to an understanding or “road map” of where they should be going.

Meeting with Buddhist Path Intensive Group
July 9, 1979

AUDIO 43 minutes

A compelling exchange between Chogyam Trungpa and Naropa’s Buddhist Path students. Trungpa Rinpoche describes meeting Suzuki Roshi, “the first genuine teacher” he encountered in America. Students ask what the main issue is for Westerners studying Buddhism. Trungpa Rinpoche replies “impatience” and not being able to stick with practice. He gives powerful explanations of how the mind works, how meditation transforms neurosis into wakefulness, and how to bring mindfulness into post-meditation. He emphasizes the importance of having a meditation schedule to “cut your karmic chain reactions.”

Meeting with Naropa Institute Faculty
August 16, 1979

AUDIO 59 minutes

A  discussion with faculty, primarily debriefing about a conference held just previously entitled, “Comparative Approaches to Cognition: Western and Buddhist.” Trungpa Rinpoche does not himself speak at length, but asks faculty to present their observations and thoughts. In this meeting we hear perspectives on the intersection of science, art, intuition and Buddhism from faculty of multiple disciplines. For more context, see the Lion’s Roar article “Two Sciences of Mind” by Barry Boyce, about that conference and its aftermath.

Meeting with Naropa Institute Students and Faculty
February 20, 1980

AUDIO 54 minutes

A talk that conveys the heart of Trungpa Rinpoche’s vision for Naropa Institute. Its educational approach is not so much about gaining credentials, but is about students deepening their understanding of themselves and their relationship to the world. Discusses why the school was named after the historical Naropa, explaining that he was a scholar who rejected pure intellectual learning for an understanding of the nature of mind, or “nowness.”

Public Talk: Why Buddhism in America? (“Hearty Discipline”)
July 26, 1980

AUDIO 52 minutes

PUBLISHED in The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol 2: Selected Writings, “Hearty Discipline”;
and The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol 10: Selected Writings, “Why Buddhism in America”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche begins with a description of the evolution of Naropa Institute since its first summer, and where it currently stands. Discipline and appreciation for tradition as necessary parts of the educational system.

First Annual Naropa Institute Alumni Dinner
August 5, 1980

AUDIO 39 minutes

Remarks by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche; Judy Lief, dean of Naropa Institute at the time; and past director William McKeever. Trungpa Rinpoche talks about the individual and personal journeys of alumni as being important to the success of Naropa Institute. Also, that alumni can be very helpful to the purpose and vision of Naropa Institute in rethinking and correcting the educational system of North America and the rest of the world.

Naropa Institute Graduation 1980
August 17, 1980

AUDIO 42 minutes

Held at an outdoor location that at that time was planned to be the future site of the Naropa Institute campus. In his written remarks, read to the audience, Trungpa Rinpoche talks about education as an exchange between teacher and student. It is not just about passing down information, and education at Naropa Institute is not about pleasure seeking or confirmation.

Interview for Foreword to “Buddhist and Western Psychology”
December 27, 1980

AUDIO 41 minutes

PUBLISHED in The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology: Prelude: “The Meeting of Buddhist and Western Psychology”; and in The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol 2: Selected Writings, “The Meeting of Buddhist and Western Psychology”. Originally published in the foreword to Buddhist and Western Psychology by Nathan Katz, now out-of-print.

An interview with Chogyam Trungpa conducted by Edward Podvoll and Charles Lief, for the book Buddhist and Western Psychology, by professor and writer Nathan Katz. Trungpa Rinpoche recounts his first impressions of Western psychologists and psychology at Oxford; working with mentally disturbed people at Samye Ling; and his study of Christian meditation. Notes challenges that Western psychologists face in incorporating Buddhist principles into their practice, including confusion around the word “egolessness”, and the relationship between theory and practice in applying Buddhist psychology.

Art and Sanity
Summer, 1981

A seminar that was co-taught with the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin (talk 3) and with other key teachers at Naropa Institute, including the Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje, Jose Arguelles, Barbara Bash, Jeremy Hayward, and Judith Lief. Trungpa Rinpoche gave talks 2, 4, and 6. However, the audio for Talk 4 is not available.

Talk 2
June 25, 1981

AUDIO 77 minutes

Art as arising from fundamental basic goodness, and as key to stopping aggression. Mind as the beginning of art: primordial, first art is just being here, with good posture and with sense perceptions open. Out of that comes insight, which is the starting point of being an artist.

Talk 6
July 9, 1981

AUDIO 96 minutes

Fear of oneself as the main obstacle to producing art. In contrast with traditional educational models described as being based on fear, teaching style at Naropa Institute promotes strong teacher-student interaction. Description of Trungpa Rinpoche’s own schooling, including learning through memorization exercises. Seven steps of kyudo (Japanese archery practice) as model for “how to go through the process of life, how to let go.”

Naropa Institute Graduation 1981
August 23, 1981

AUDIO 46 minutes

The fifth graduation ceremony of Naropa Institute. Naropa’s dean, Judith Lief, led the ceremonies. Trungpa Rinpoche describes the intensity and discipline of his own education, and encourages the graduating students to use their education as a reference point of sanity in their life, as he himself did. He also discusses and thanks the students for their contribution to Naropa Institute.

Nalanda Foundation Meeting
November 30, 1981

AUDIO 95 minutes

Not yet available: Coming Soon…

Educating Yourself Without Ego
September 23-25, 1983

A three-talk seminar presenting the path of taming one’s mind through meditation and opening oneself to the appreciation of everyday life.

Excerpts from all three talks of this seminar were edited into the article “Taming the Horse, Riding the Mind,” available in The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol 2: Selected Writings; and in The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology: Chapter 2.

Talk 1: Working with Ego and Opening the Heart
september 23, 1983

AUDIO: 40 minutes

Educational approach of combining intellectual study with meditative discipline. Training based on body, speech, and mind working together.

Talk 2: Meditation: Training the Wild Horse of Mind
September 24, 1983

AUDIO: 68 minutes

Discussion of everyday life as path. Discipline is the energy that allows one to progress on the path. Process of training the mind is like taming a wild horse. Presentation of basic meditation technique.

Talk 3: Vipashyana and Seeing the Sacred in Everyday Life
September 25, 1983

AUDIO: 51 minutes

A discussion of  “vipashyana”, insight or awareness practice. Appreciation of everyday world and seeing things as they are, without adding passion, aggression, or ignorance. The combination of learning through meditation and learning from everyday experience creates further learning.