As the birthplace of the mindfulness movement in the United States, Naropa University has a unique perspective when it comes to higher education in the West. Founded in 1974 by renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and lineage holder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Naropa was intended to be a place where students could study Eastern and Western religions, writing, psychology, science, and the arts, while also receiving contemplative and meditation training.
Forty-three years later, Naropa is a leader in ‘contemplative education’, a pedagogical approach that blends rigorous academics, contemplative practice, and experiential learning. Naropa President Chuck Lief explains, “Mindfulness here is not a class. Mindfulness is basically the underpinning of what we do in all of our classes. That said, the flavor or the color of mindfulness from class to class is really completely up to the individual faculty member to work on—on their own. So, what happens in a poetry class is going to look very different from what happens in a research psychology class. But, one way or another the contemplative practices are brought into the mix.”
This podcast is for those with an interest in mindfulness and a curiosity about its place in both higher education and the world at large. Hosted by Naropa alumnus and Multimedia Manager David DeVine, episodes feature Naropa faculty, alumni, and special guests on a wide variety of topics including compassion, permaculture, social justice, herbal healing, and green architecture—to name a few. Listen to explore the transformative possibilities of mindfulness, both in the classroom and beyond!
Anne Lamott and Neal Allen: Conversation for Shapes of Truth: Discover God Inside of You
"When that first object that represents the truth of the belief that I have an emotional issue dissipates or disappears from me, I fall into exactly the state of being that Buddhists call equanimity. That state of contentment and self satisfaction that needs nothing at the moment. I don’t just get respite from my emotional issue that I happen to be looking at. I got respite from everything for you know a matter of minutes or hours, or it might stretch a little longer.
And the more times I do it, or the more often that kind of respite can enter into it. Because eventually once I’ve done this 20, 30, 100 times it varies from person to person- I start to believe oh, that’s who I am. I’m not the voice up in my head. I’m actually this collection of body objects that’s — neither is who I actually am. But this one is telling the truth all the time."
Special Guest: Anne Lamott.
Charlotte Rotterdam: Finding Courage in Contemplative Education
"Absolutely. You know we might have an idea about something, but then when you begin to express it from a creative place it's almost like you have to feel into it. If I want to write a poem about sadness it's not just about my ideas about sadness. At some point as I'm writing I need to stop and feel into what does sadness feel like? And then I might even think about a very specific situation in my life that brings up sadness. And then what arises from that place as a poem is coming from a non-conceptual place. Non-conceptual knowing and yet I've expressed something and I might even express it in words like with a poem. So, what we're trying to do in contemplative education is to bring both of those together. So, it's not in spite of conceptual knowing -- concepts are great, thinking is great -- but that there are other ways of knowing that are equally important and maybe if we bring them all together then there's a richness of knowing that begins to emerge."
Special Guest: Charlotte Rotterdam.
Anthony Gallucci: Re-establishing Masculinity
"There's gender identity, which isn't actually a problem. It's when it's forced into a limited paradigm or spectrum it can be an issue or when it's forced into a hierarchy. I see us eventually eliminating the hierarchy within these systems of identity and becoming more for lack of a better term, more merit based in our assessment of people's qualities. The re-establishing masculinity group believes that at Naropa to be foresighted and to support these movements we need to begin to get out of the way sort of speak and actually become allies to the anti-misogynistic movements that are occurring in our world. And to do that we ought to be -- we being people whom identify as masculine ought to be not disempowered to engage in that work. We ought to be empowered in our opinion to engage in that work. And the offering that's available of how masculinity is defined and actualized too often is non virtuous and not empowering."
Special Guest: Anthony Gallucci.
Charles Eisenstein: The Origin of Wrongness
"I read very widely and was trying to put the pieces together to understand this lifelong question that I had carried. What is the origin of the wrongness in the world, which is presented to us as a series of fragmented isolated atrocities and injustices and horrors -- without any synthesizing narrative that explains why the world is the way that it is? And I really wanted to understand so that I wouldn't be part of maintaining the status quo through pursuing insufficiently deep solutions that may be actually part of the problem. I think a lot of our solutions are part of the problem -- or you could even say our solution templates -- I mean one of them is the war on evil. So, I wanted to -- to get really deep and eventually I came to understand that all of the crises and horrors that we see in the world are an outgrowth of the mythology of civilization. The story of separation is what I call it, which basically says it answers the most fundamental questions that human beings ask. Who are you? Who am I? What is important? How is life to be lived? What is real? What is possible? How does the world work? And our culture answers that in a certain way. And other cultures have answered it different ways."
Special Guest: Charles Eisenstein.
Miki Fire: Discovering the Self Through Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy
"I do think here at Naropa specifically we do have a transpersonal orientation, a transpersonal lens that we then incorporate into all of our classes. So, the contemplative education piece is very much interwoven in what we do in the field. And so, we incorporate contemplative practices, we talk about how nature based experiences themselves can be forms of contemplative practice and inquiry. We also do introduce the transpersonal model. So how do we work with those kinds of experiences that the transpersonal orientation has really taken in and not pathologized. And being in the outdoors for many people, depending on the context, also can be quite evocative of experiences that do not fit cleanly into our usual psychological frameworks or when they are they're often pathologized."
Special Guest: Miki Fire.
Carl Anthony: The Urban Habitat Program
"We need to think about a new quality in our organization where we are not only protesting against the things that are really hurting our communities and neighborhoods, but we're also really cultivating expertise on ideas and visions that we might have for the neighborhood and community. Finding ways that rather than having these issues come forth in competition, that we can actually have a big enough solutions put forth that incorporate. And one of the areas that we have been specializing in is something called Movement for Regional Equity and what that basically means is that the decisions that are made at a regional level are taken up by the community and our metropolitan region."
Special Guest: Carl Anthony.
So happy to have found this podcast!
Although I've never attended Naropa, I definitely have admired the school from afar. I was looking for more mindfulness-related content and very happy that this podcast cropped up with such recent, relevant, and high-quality content. Thank you!
Stop interrupting the speaker
I can’t follow when I keep hearing the host constantly saying uh huh, yeah, oh yeah, right while the guest speaker is talking. It feels artificial and not in the moment of awareness. I’m disappointed. I expected a lot more from this podcast. Obviously some people are okay with this. The ratings are high. 😬