Frequently Asked Questions
What is the connection between Buddhism and the contemplative education methods at Naropa?
Naropa's founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was a Tibetan Buddhist, and many early and current faculty have an interest in Buddhism or are practicing Buddhists, so Naropa's roots are Buddhist-inspired. The most explicit connection lies in the design of contemplative education itself. The three inspirations of contemplative education—Traditional Academics, Experiential Learning, and Contemplative Practice—are expressed as the "three areas of inquiry," which are Third-, Second-, and First-Person Inquiry.
Is Naropa only for Buddhists?
No, Naropa is open to all--whether you identify with a religious or spiritual tradition or with none at all. Students of many traditions study at Naropa and learn to appreciate the richness of religious and spiritual diversity.
Do I have to engage in religious ceremonies or prayer?
No, but you will be asked to learn sitting and movement meditation in the form of simple mindfulness practices. Most classes and gatherings include contemplative practices like taking a moment to bow together in silence to open and close classes.
What do I say to people who think a Naropa education is too soft or not rigorous?
There is no doubt that Naropa asks students to spend time on things and work in ways that fall outside of the traditional assignments of mainstream universities. But for most students, the traditional academic environment of the mainstream does not require genuine personal engagement. Students may have to study hard and write long papers, but they can hide within objective information and not investigate their own personal experience outside of their "comfort zones." Naropa not only relies on traditional academics, but also on much deeper levels of challenge that ask students to examine themselves in ways that promote deeper learning. We speak of this as contemplative or personal rigor.
Similarly, students are challenged to explore and come to know themselves and to cultivate self-awareness in ways that most other university ventures do not. Looking inward is often considered threatening, and most work to shield themselves from such an experience. However, self-awareness is an effective and powerful way to unleash creativity and, most importantly, clarity, which allows for students to know their path and set forth on it with confidence and the wisdom to engage effectively and contribute.