“The Art of Empathy” at a school with none

I recently learned that Naropa University is going to be holding an event on Friday called “The Art of Empathy” and the presenter is Karla McLaren. I don’t know if she knows abut Naropa or not, but here is the message I sent to her all the same:

Dear Karla,

My name is Jessica Sideways and I recently learned that you have been scheduled for an event at Naropa University on Friday, the 25th of October. I hope that you will reconsider and cancel your appearance at Naropa University because it’s leadership is not empathetic but sociopathic.

Recently, I was contacted by a woman whose child was a student at Naropa a few weeks ago. Her daughter was having seizures in class and the instructor gathered the class in a circle and held a discussion on how the other students were feeling about this, while this student was having the seizure! The instructor told her that he was at peace with the student having seizures. I posted the letter I received on my website, where I expose the fraud and abuses of Naropa University here:

https://boulderbuddhistscam.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/michelle-she-was-seizing-in-class-and-nobody-helped-her/

I do hope that you will reconsider speaking at Naropa University. Most sincerely,

Jessica Sideways

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?

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

SUBTOTAL 30

Choose one field science course:

Choose one focus course:

TOTAL CREDITS 36

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

SUBTOTAL 9

First year, spring

SUBTOTAL 9

First year, summer

SUBTOTAL 3

Second year, fall

SUBTOTAL 9

Second year, spring

SUBTOTAL 9

TOTAL CREDITS 39

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:

MARPA CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS (MAR)

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.

Goss-Grove Creates Mural, Daily Camera Makes a Connection to Include Naropa University

According to an article on the Daily Camera’s website, the Goss-Grove neighbourhood in Boulder is creating a mural on the street to mark itself as the geographic centre of Boulder. How they surveyed that, I have no idea, given the fact that their neighbourhood is further west than centre but I digress. The thing that irritated me the most about the project, and the really insidious thing about it, is that they say that the crystals and lotus flower that they have painted into the mural resemble Naropa University. Yes, that’s right, the beacon of fraud and abuse that emanates just south of their neighbourhood from it’s Arapahoe campus. If you want my opinion, and I assume you do which is why you are on this particular website, I honestly feel that Naropa University should not be something that is honoured as a part of Goss-Grove. Especially since the Goss-Grove community is so close to the centre of fraud and also contains Snow Lion, Naropa University’s Student Housing Community. It is shameful how the Daily Camera makes such a connection to include Naropa University in the mural when the fact of the matter is that Naropa University drains the life out of this community.

Naropa University inspires the worst in politicians and “civic leaders”, which comes at no real surprise when you look at their history. When they started scouting for a bigger site outside of Boulder because they wanted to combine all three of their campuses, for what reason, I have no idea. After all, Naropa does not want to clean up it’s act and become a honest University that offers degrees to students at a fair price for their value. No, I am certain that what they probably want to do with the new campus is to avoid all of the expensive property taxes that come with owning four different properties at various locations throughout Boulder, Colorado while continuing to raise tuition rates sky high. However, when this plan was announced, Boulder’s City Council bent over backwards to try to keep this hot bed of fraud from leaving their city. I wonder if they would do the same for all of the cocaine dealers and ponzi scheme companies? I wonder what the hell the deal is with these Boulder politicians embracing Naropa University’s fraud and abuse?

If the Goss Grove neighbourhood really did intend to honour Naropa University, then you are honouring the fraud that keeps many of Naropa’s “students” unemployed and mired into deep debt, long after graduation. If the Goss Grove neighbourhood did not intend to honour Naropa University, they should call for the Daily Camera to print a retraction, saying that Goss Grove does not support the fraud and abuse committed by Naropa University on a day to day basis. But the thing about it is, I really, honestly think that it is the latter given how much of the Trungpa koolaid has been drank in that area…