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The International Symposia for Contemplative Studies and Naropa

English: Naropa University Administration building

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This year, the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies is going to be held in Denver, Colorado. I recently read that Naropa University is co-sponsoring this event, which is likely to be very troublesome. But look at how they are misrepresented on the website of the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies:

Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education. This approach to learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students know themselves more deeply and engage constructively with others. The university comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies. Naropa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. To learn more, visit http:///www.naropa.edu

What are some problems with this statement? Well, firstly – Naropa is NOT nonsectarian. Naropa is strongly affiliated with Shambhala Buddhism and was set up as a way to grant Shambhala Buddhism/Vajradhatu some undeserved legitimacy through scholarship. Secondly, Naropa University operates much like a cult, which does not jive with the statement that it helps students “engage constructively with others”. In fact, the followers of Trungpa in Boulder can be outright vicious and Naropa is a location where they seem to converge. This is especially true during events such as Shambhala Day and Community Practice Day.

So, what is the International Symposia and what are it’s goals? Well, according to it’s website:

The purpose of the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies is to bring together academics and other interested attendees for presentation, discussion, and collaborative networking in the fields of contemplative basic science, contemplative clinical science, contemplative philosophy and humanities, contemplative education, and those domains of contemplative practice that relate to and interact with these fields of research and scholarship. These distinct, though overlapping fields of contemplative study each focus on advancing our understanding of the human mind and how training the mind through the use of contemplative practices can lead to a reduction in suffering, enhanced health and cognitive/emotional functioning, greater happiness, and increased social harmony.

Now, here is the question that you probably started to ask – what the hell does Naropa have with contemplative basic science or clinical science? Furthermore, what does Naropa have to do with research (considering that Naropa University is NOT an institution that does research). Furthermore, Naropa University and Shambhala Buddhism have nothing to do with trying to reduce suffering, enhancing health/cognitive and emotional function, increasing happiness nor increasing social harmony. The concept of Shambhala’s “Crazy Wisdom” and it’s application in our world seem to show that to be the case without a doubt.

So, to the directors of this conference, I must ask this question: how in the world does partnering up with Naropa University work to achieve your goals? Considering that the people that choose to and enjoy working for Naropa University/Shambhala Buddhism seem to have sociopathic tendencies or enjoy being sociopaths themselves, I think that you could have chosen better company to keep. So, the question you have to ask yourselves is whether being in cahoots with Naropa University is worth it? Furthermore, is it worth it to promote a University that has harmed or contributed to the harm of so many people?

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