Naropa Institute Summer Session

Looking Back

1973 // Preparing for Naropa

"There was no budget and no money. None! There was no plan. But there was also no question. [...] [Trungpa] just kept extending invitations. At any questions arising from the growing fear that someone might actually come, he would reply something like, 'You can do it.'"—Martin Janowitz

August 1974 // John Cage Creates Sparks at Naropa's First Summer

"It was a wild night. It was also the night Nixon resigned, and some of the townspeople may have come thinking it was a party to celebrate that. Also, it being a college town and the evening being billed as a 'Concert with John Cage,' some people may have thought they could just all join in and sing along. The energy was insane, people were throwing cushions around."—Anne Waldman

Late 1974 // Planning a Permanent Naropa

"We kept questioning, 'What is Naropa? Why are we doing this?' We were going around asking people that. Then a couple of months later, Rinpoche gave a community talk to all of us. He was quite upset, actually. He said, 'People keep asking me what is Naropa. Don't ask! Just do it!'"—Jeremy Hayward

Early 1975 // Informal Courses Tide Students Over Until Summer

"I lived in a small house, and in the garage was a small room where I held my classes, one in Sanskrit and one in Buddhism. The room was about four feet wide and twenty feet long, it was like a train! There were three students abreast, and about ten rose, and I was up front, conducting the class."—Reggie Ray

Summer 1975 // Naropa's Second Summer

"It was a time of sparks: east and west, men and women, psychologists and meditators, artists and intellectuals, cynics and love-and-lighters, political activists and the disillusioned. It wasn't the 'contemplative atmosphere' some may have wished for. Many of the discussions were heated, and it wasn't unusual to see someone storm out of a classroom in a dramatic fit."—Judy Lief

Early 1976 // Year-Round Degree & Certificate Programs Begin

Dilley's Dance Class
"There were seven or eight people, and we met every other day. We had the third floor of one of the big houses on Mapleton Hill—we called it the 'wedding cake house.' That was the dance studio—and it was really cold."—Barbara Dilley

Fall 1976 // Naropa Offices Return to 1111 Pearl Street

(Background: Naropa's offices were originally housed at 1111 Pearl Street, but for a short time, they had resided on University Hill. The office space at 1111 Pearl had housed a brothel near the turn of the century, and the offices had originally been bedrooms, each with a large bathroom attached.)

"It was hysterical really, especially in the Finance Office. You'd open the door to the bathroom and there were forms everywhere—on the back of the toilet, piled high in the bathtub. Meanwhile, the pigeons were cooing and scrabbling their claws against the top of the ceiling, since they lived under the roof."—Suzanne Odenthal

Summer 1977 // Collaboration Flourishes at Naropa

"Everybody was very passionately involved with their own subject matter, and also very interested in what other people were doing. So we all naturally collaborated. One summer Kesey did a reading and we had a class of 25 or so t'ai chi students doing the first third of the t'ai chi form in front of him as he read."—Jane Faigao

Late 1977 // Judith Simmer-Brown Joins Buddhist Studies Faculty

Judith Simmer-Brown
"The only faculty member who had an office was Reggie (who was head of the faculty), but the rest of the teachers were pretty much on the streets. I took a booth at the New York Deli, and I was there for four years. [...] I was there three mornings a week in a booth, and that's where I met with students."—Judith Simmer-Brown

Summer 1978 // Dedication Keeps Naropa Afloat

" an inspiring show of unprecedented commitment and support, the staff and faculty wrote off a total of $108,000 in deferred pay as a donation of in-kind services."—The Naropa Bulletin, 1978

September 1983 // A $1 Million Gift Funds Endowment

$1 Million Donation
"One person who managed to surface through that lonely life preserver out at sea with the great good fortune of a human life has also the good fortune to come equipped with the material wealth to facilitate any sort of life. I would like to share that good fortune to enable Naropa to continue the work that I find important. A million dollars is a finite thing—the human mind is an infinite and precious jewel."—Anonymous donor, later revealed to be Martha Bonzi

1984 // Naropa Leadership Passes from Judy Lief to Barbara Dilley

Judy Lief & Barbara Dilley 1984"[Trungpa] mentioned the importance of taking 'king's view,' the view of someone in a castle overlooking the city, or of a pilot flying low over the land. He was transmitting big mind practice, a big view of the situation. The other thing I remember him saying was to 'invite celebration and ceremony into your world.' I thought of them as the two 'c's."—Barbara Dilley

Summer 1986 // Naropa Granted Accreditation

"It's a really good thing to create a school where the basis of the studies is wisdom. I feel proud of that. I feel like I've done something in my life. I feel better than if I was just a poet."—Allen Ginsberg