Not just an anger issue, it’s a justice issue

I get some pretty interesting e-mails from this site. Some ask me for more information on Naropa’s programs (already working on a detailed discussion of their programs), some share heartbreaking stories of fraud and abuse from Naropa, and some tell me that I must have something wrong with me for wanting to see justice done. This next e-mail I am about to share comes from someone from that third category. Bob writes,

You have a lot of anger. Let it go and move onwith [sic] your life. This blog cant [sic] be spiritually healthy for you.

And he does have a point. I do have anger. When I see someone being abused, I get angry. When I see some con artist lying to people to make a buck off of people who don’t know better, I first work to inform the people and then to see to it that the con artist is punished. This is what I believe in. It is this thing called empathy and I know that when you go to a “school” where instructors and students would sit around in a circle talking about how a woman seizing in class makes them feel, while the woman is still seizing, your empathy is compromised so I understand that you are shocked by my anger.

The thing is, I could just move on with my life and for the last year, I did just that. I have been in therapy and at my last session on Monday, we talked about my negative attitude and my upset with things and there are some things that I am upset about that I need not be upset about. Naropa University’s continued abuse of students was not one of those things. I have an objective reason to be upset with Naropa and I have to speak out and say that it is not right to abuse people like this. I could move on, but I couldn’t like with myself if I did, which is why despite the legal threats and the whole debacle with my previous site, I still persist in working to hold Naropa accountable for it’s fraud and abuses. Naropa needs to stop abusing people.

As for my “spiritual health”, Naropa was bad for my spiritual health. It made me feel worse, not better, and it’s cheap spirituality comes at a high price, your empathy. Chogyam Trungpa didn’t give a shit about the people he hurt and he justified his anti-social behaviour under the guise of “crazy wisdom”. That is the tradition and legacy of Trungpa, and I believe that a positive way of interacting with that legacy is to educate and inform people. I choose anger over apathy because I care. The better question is why don’t you care, Bob?

UPDATE: The e-mail address Bob provided does not work. Why am I not surprised by this?


On the Issue of Objectivity

Hello, readers. I haven’t posted in a while but I figured that I would kick things off with a letter I recently received. Jigme writes:

“No, I am not. You are correct, but I never claimed to be objective. I would rather stick with the facts and live a honest life instead of posting things that I do not agree with.” I am just wondering how one can stick to the facts while at the same time not be objective. Also, i would love to know why someone would attend Naropa without researching its founder, its history, and its vision before spending enough money to go to Harvard, literally go to Harvard. Naropa University was in Trungpa’s own words a “one hundred year project.” If its good enough for Allen Ginsberg, certainly its good enough for you, me, and anyone else who is not yet the voice of a generation. Excuse me, for not being objective, i was being subjective. You are right about one thing, Naropa University is lacking in admittance standards. Wait i’m sorry, you didn’t complain about that clearly and the school you chose after Naropa, is less challenging so you should do very well. People who don’t understand Chogyam Trungpa’s intentions don’t need to be there; so, i thank you for clarifying that people should never pay thousands of dollars to go to a school that they haven’t thoroughly researched. Unfortunately those same people would have to actually do some research to find your blog. But i would like to thank you on behalf of all Buddhist practitioners, because without folks like you, we would have no one to practice patience and compassion with.

So, the first thing the author asks is how I can present the facts and still not be objective? Simple, I am a human being, warts and all, and I have my own opinions, thoughts and feelings. I feel that it is an important duty to expose fraud and abuse so other people will not continue to be abused. I also feel that an important mechanism to do this is to present the evidence and I do my best to get the evidence out there, citing my sources so that you can go and read up on Naropa’s abuses yourself. I have my own opinions, but they are backed with documentation.

As for the research, it is actually quite difficult for people to do the research when Naropa University sics it’s attorneys upon people who dare to speak out online. I know this is true because this is how my previous site on the subject, the Naropa Biz, was taken down.

You know, some people have said that Tom Cruise is the face of a generation. Does that absolve Scientology of it’s fraud and abuses? No? Then how come using celebrities like Allen Ginsberg to shift the attention off of the abuses that Naropa perpetuates against it’s own students?

If it wasn’t for Naropa, I wouldn’t get e-mails every so often from people like yourself who take issue with the evidence that Naropa is actively harming people and misrepresenting it’s programs. I know that Naropa is a fairly young institution and I don’t hold that against them. What I do hold against them, however, is having an anatomy class where the lab requirements are negligible when compared to schools that you denigrate as “less challenging” at best and includes lectures on chakras, meridian lines and the five elements. I hold this against them because this was, and still is, a science class to Naropa under their core curriculum requirements.

You know who I also get e-mails from? I get e-mails from people interested in one of Naropa’s programs but want to hear both sides. I get e-mails from people who are escaping Naropa after realising what they got themselves into. These e-mails encourage me to continue to post an alternative view to Naropa’s glossy brochures and cult-like recruitment tactics. Normally, when someone sends me their personal story, in a gesture of empathy and compassion, I am more interested in figuring out how to help the person escape and heal from their experiences than slapping their story on the Internet and some people flat out refuse to share their story. This is okay, I want people to know that they are not alone. At the same time, however, it would be nice if I had other people’s experiences to add to the objective data that while Naropa has a Harvard like bill, it delivers a sub-community college level of higher education in terms of helping to educate, equip and empower it’s students to face the real world, in whatever way that means for them. Which is why it is so fortunate that I have recently received a story that I have been given the green light to share with my readers here.

Tomorrow, the story will be posted and I am going to start being a lot more active in making Naropa accountable. You can practice patience all you want with me, I will be over here – helping to expose the fraud and abuses of Naropa University and providing people with the necessary information to make a clear decision about whether they should attend Naropa or not.

President Sideways? Not Bloody Likely.

Remember when I mentioned that Naropa University was seeking a new president for the institution and I threw my hat in the ring? Well, I received an e-mail today from the search committee. It was a nicely written form letter that side-steps any of the real issues I brought up in my letter, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Dear Ms. Sideways,

Thank you for your interest in the search for the President of Naropa University. We were pleased to have the opportunity to consider your application. As you might imagine, this opportunity has attracted an array of strong applicants, each of whom would bring distinct strengths and accomplishments to the role. While your background is impressive, the search committee is focusing on other candidates who appear to be a closer fit for the particular requirements of the position.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.


Alan Wichlei
Vice President and Director
Isaacson, Miller

Phillip Petree
Search Consultant
Isaacson, Miller

I wonder what exactly in my background is impressive, apart from my courage to tell them the truth about this institution and how/why it needs reform. But I digress, it was a very nicely written form letter and I decided to write them a nicely written letter as well.

Dear Sirs:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Thank you very much for your nicely-worded form letter. I do hope that you find an appropriate candidate for the position of Naropa’s President. No, I don’t mean appropriate as in a mere continuation of the fraud and abuse that goes on at Naropa on a daily basis. No, I do not mean the suppression of science and the creation of a cult-like atmosphere. I mean a President that has the strength to rid the institution of it’s fraudulent elements and make it an institution that students, faculty, staff and alumni can truly be proud of.

In Ordo Templi Orientis, we do not praise all of Crowley’s words, opinions or utterances. Hell, I think some of the more critical people of Crowley are in the Order. However, I have to say that Naropa University still perpetuates a cult of personality around Trungpa and enables the type of fraud and abuse that Trungpa perpetuated in his Shambhala/Vajradhatu organization.

I hope you can find a President that can make Naropa a good institution. I’m not hoping for a world-class institution (well, not within my lifetime) but I hope they can make Naropa something worth keeping around. Because right now, the abuses and fraud perpetuated by the administration at Naropa is disgusting.

Love is the Law, Love under Will.

Most sincerely,

Jessica E. Sideways

If you would like to let Naropa’s presidential search committee know what you think, you should e-mail them! The e-mail address for Mr. Petree above is In addition, you can find the information for the presidential search committee on MyNaropa.

Having a Little Fun With Naropa’s Admissions Department

Apparently, Naropa University’s admissions department has a Facebook page. Come visit their Facebook page and let prospective victims hear what is really going on with Naropa University! Though, please forward a screencap to me, as Naropa University has a tendency to delete any comments that attempt to tell the truth about Naropa University.

Applying for the Presidency

Apparently, Naropa University is searching for a new President… and since I need a new job, I think this would be a perfect match… if only they weren’t so mired in fraud. So, I write a letter to the search committee and throw my hat in the ring. After all, if I am going to be President of Naropa University, big changes are going to have to be made to the institution. Big changes indeed.

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Jessica Sideways and I am requesting consideration for the position of president of Naropa University. Now, I am certain that a number of you may have heard of me and in less than positive manners. After all, I have been sued by Naropa for the crime of telling the truth about Naropa University online. The reason why Naropa University apparently does not want the truth about itself to be revealed is that Naropa University is an institution mired in fraud and scandal. It hurts a great deal of it’s faculty, staff, student and alumni – as well as the world at large.

So, why in the world would I be applying to a position at a University that I feel is mired in fraud and scandal? Because I believe that it needs to be saved so that the good people that attend Naropa University can actually get value for their educational dollar. Because I believe that Naropa University can function without the fraud and abuse that it has become so intertwined with. Because I am a skeptic, with a clear vision which is not clouded with religious admiration of Chogyam Trungpa and I can tell you the truth. Because I am the best thing for Naropa University and therefore, the least likely person to be considered for the position of it’s president.

You see, I know full well that the Board of Trustees will not have the courage to select me as president of Naropa University – because they are not interested in running a clean house with someone that will stop all of the fraud and abuse and help to make reparations to those harmed by Naropa University. I am pretty confident that the Board of Trustees will select someone that will allow the culture of abuse to go on unchecked, while offering false lofty promises. So I do this in vein, with the glimmering hope that at least one person at Naropa University isn’t interested in perpetuating the fraud and abuse this institution is known for.

So, if you are interested in cleaning house and running a quality institution that provides a quality education, I am the person you should contact. If not, then there are a number of cult-head bozos that you can probably spiff up for the job.

Most sincerely,
Jessica Sideways

Any takers on how successful I could be at getting the job of Queen of Shit Heap Mountain, I mean President of Naropa University? ;-P

UPDATE: I got an automated reply from the search committee. Woot!

Thank you for your interest in our search for the President of Naropa University. If you are an applicant, we want to assure you that we will carefully review your material. If you have nominated someone, we will be sure to share your nomination with our client.

A draft of the position profile has been attached for your review. This draft will be finalized mid-February and we will e-mail the new version to you as soon as it is completed.

A thorough search and serious consideration of all candidates takes time; we appreciate your patience. We will contact you if we need more information.

Again, thank you again for your interest in this exciting opportunity.

***This is an automatic response***

And of course, here’s the document that was attached. So, who thinks I could be in the running. Anyone? No? Okay, then.

The International Symposia for Contemplative Studies and Naropa

English: Naropa University Administration building

Image via Wikipedia

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:///

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?

Naropa University and Environmental Studies

One thing I have been thinking about in recent months is the Environmental Studies program at Naropa University. In case you are wondering what doing this degree will entail, here is what Naropa University’s catalog has to say about the subject:

Core Courses


Choose one field science course:

Choose one focus course:


So, what’s the problem with the program? Here it is: very little of it actually trains you to be competent in the field of Environmental Studies. Most of it is philosophy and, at best, soft social sciences and no hard sciences are required.

True, there are philosophical and justice issues at play when talking about the environment. The thing is though, if you want to be influential in anything, you have to know what you are talking about and this is one of the weaknesses that Naropa University graduates seem to have. Geography, Geology, Biology, Chemistry – all of these things should be things that the Environmental activist has a working knowledge of and NONE of these things are effectively taught at Naropa University. Naropa University simply lacks laboratories to effectively teach Biology and Chemistry, they offer no programs in Geography or Geology and they do not even possess classes in Mathematics!

Their graduate degree in Environmental Studies is not much better. Take a look at what Naropa University requires for it’s MA in Environmental Leadership:

First year, fall


First year, spring


First year, summer


Second year, fall


Second year, spring



So, what did you see? I would like to point out two things, first of which is that “The New Science and It’s Cultural Applications” class that is required in this MA degree. Sounds interesting, but when you read the course description, you will find that they are not talking about science at all.

In a synthesis of the old and new visions in Western science, this course develops understanding of the new material emerging in science regarding the earth as a living system; examines cosmology and Gaian science, as well as key principles of geophysiology; and explores the significant cultural implications and applications. This material provides key tools and perspectives for environmental leaders as well as insights useful for working with organizations and communities. Required for EL MA.

Cosmology? Gaian science? Well, off hand, I know that cosmology is the study of the origins of this planet (hey, I have watched enough episodes of The Atheist Experience to know that much). But Gaian science? Well, the thing is that despite doing a Google search for the phrase, I have absolutely no idea what the hell Gaian science actually is.

Also, the other course that popped out at me was “MAR 500e: Authentic Leadership”. What this indicates to me is that this is a course offered by Naropa’s Marpa Centre for Business and Economics. Kinda like the Shambhala version of the Maharishi University of Management but less developed, less useful and just as cultish. But here’s the course description, just in case you are curious:


Naropa University’s Authentic Leadership program is a transformative leadership course that integrates ancient wisdom with effective modern approaches to management. The format encourages deep personal learning in an environment that makes it possible to assimilate ideas and concepts at an accelerated pace. Executive coaching with experienced professionals is a central component. Professionals with a wide variety of interests and experience attend this course along with Naropa students. Required for EL MA. Course fee.

A religious group offering management courses… sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What comes to mind when I hear that phrase are the Maharishi University for Management (read about this man who worked for the faculty saw some seriously crazy shit), the Hubbard College of Administration and World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (learn how this group is really a front to funnel people into the Church of $cientology).

Do yourself a favor and find an Environmental Studies degree that will allow you to be an effective leader in the field, instead of just another unemployed talking head of Shambhala International.