Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Naropa Institute: Major in Self-Awareness

          Imagine days in college filled with Indian classical music, yoga, nature, meditation and consciousness. Pushing your mental limits and looking within yourself is just part of the experience of Naropa Institute. Located in Boulder, Colorado, Naropa Institute was established in 1974 by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  
Naropa Institute Ceremony

          Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was the eleventh descendant in the line of Trungpa tulkus, who were very influential teachers of Tibetan Buddhism. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche went to England to study comparative religion and philosophy at Oxford University. He later moved to America, publishing six books and establishing three meditation centers and a contemplation university, known as Naropa Institute.

Chogya Trungpa Rinpoche

          Many famous intellectual artists and scholars have attended Naropa Institute, such as AllenGinsberg, Ken Wilbur, Anne Waldman, John Cage, and Meredith Monk. Naropa is especially known for teaching many Beat poets. Ginsberg, Waldman, and Cage later founded a poetry department at Naropa.
Based in the world’s wisdom traditions, the curriculum at Naropa fosters a sense of spirituality and respect of diversity.  Naropa’s students take these basic principles from the institute into the real world, caring for and helping others as well as environmental stewardship. The belief is that each personality will be able to benefit from some way at Naropa. For example, many students are musicians, poets, environmentalists, activists, peacemakers, and bookworms. Each student is unique and creative in his own way.
         At the commencement of the year, each Naropa member bows, signaling respect and thoughtfulness. To graduate, students must perform Warrior exams, which are in-class oral tests in which students speak of their learnings and accomplishments. Most classes are taught on the floor and promote self-reflection in order that students challenge themselves personally and deepen their trust in their own worth and goodness.
         As spiritual and pure as Naropa Institue seems to be, there was supposedly a scandal at a 1975 Halloween party. According to a 1979 account from student editor, Tom Clark,  the founder Trungpa ordered the poet W.S Merwin and his girlfriend to strip. When they refused, Trungpa’s security guards forced them to take off their clothing, ignoring their calls for help. Other scholars complained that students such as Allen Ginsberg had an unhealthy fascination with Trungpa’s preaching of Tibetan Buddhistm. They believed that “Tibetan theocracy created a dangerous exclusivity and elitism in literature.”
         While their has been some obvious controversy about the Naropa Institute, there is no doubt that it has produced some of the greatest minds of the time, especially those to later produce literature. 


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