Radical Compassion Schedule

See the schedule for:

Pre-conference Intensives & Opening Keynote — Thursday, October 16

10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Pre-conference intensives:

These day-long programs give you a chance to spend extended time with a teacher exploring a particular topic in depth. These programs will combine teachings, experiential work, and group discussion.

Pre-conference intensives are registered for separately and are not included in the conference fee.

Intensive #1:
How Do We Live a Meaningful Life?
Bernie Glassman, Roshi

In his own special and engaging way, Roshi Bernie Glassman will share his experiences of living the life of a homeless person during street retreats and other social activism projects, such as the Bearing Witness project. Through spiritual teachings, personal stories, and a good dose of humor, he will inspire you to take action and make your life matter to you and to others.

Intensive #2:
Feeding your Demons
Lama Tsultrim Allione

Inspired by the ancient Tibetan practice of Chod, Feeding your Demons is a five-step process created by Lama Tsultrim Allione that allows us to offer compassion and understanding to our own inner demons rather than engaging in battle and struggling with them. This process is of great benefit when working with a wide variety of personal demons and other dilemmas of modern life. In this intensive, Lama Tsultrim will introduce and teach this powerful process.

Intensive #3:
Leading with Compassion in Difficult Times: Engaging Change with Authenticity, Compassion and Humor
Susan Skjei

Leadership can provide a powerful path to express who we are, engage with others and have a positive impact on the world. But the challenges in today's complex and interdependent world can seem daunting for any leader. Drawing on the disciplines of neuroscience, Buddhism, complexity science, organizational learning and leadership, we will practice methods that can help us cultivate self-awareness, self-care and creativity; enhance kind and genuine relationships with others; and effectively promote the changes we envision for our organizations and a more compassionate world. The program will include meditation practice, contemplative dialogue and application to workplace issues. Read Susan Skjei's bio.

7:00-9:00 p.m.
Opening Keynote
Compassionate Society: Building an Enlightened World
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Revealing humanity's natural worthiness and strength is the key to creating good society. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche will lead a group exploration, delving into this inherent vitality, awakening compassion—the spark that illuminates our world.


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Seeing the World As It Is — Friday, October 17

In this first day, we take stock of where we are—personally, socially, and globally. We explore compassion as a willingness to see things as they are and to bear witness with an open heart to the full range of human experience, including suffering, fear, violence, and despair.

8:00–8:45 a.m.
Contemplative Practice Sessions


9:00-10:30 a.m.
Opening Gathering
Setting our Intentions, Creating Community
Symposium Weavers: Susan Skjei, Arawana Hayashi and Barbara Bash

We begin our day by articulating our intentions for the weekend, both for ourselves and with each other. An initial foray into community-building, we begin to weave a tapestry of shared and diverse questions and issues of interest that will lay the ground for our discussions, practice and inquiry throughout the gathering.

Our Symposium Weavers will facilitate this session, and will track our exploration of Radical Compassion at key points throughout the weekend. Read their bios: Susan Skjei, Arawana Hayashi, Barbara Bash

11:00-12:15 p.m.
Plenary Keynote
The Courage to See, the Power to Choose
Joanna Macy

Non-stop war-making, climate chaos, lost harvests, poisoned seas and bodies, refugees in the millions pouring over borders while millions of Americans are locked in prison... How do we relate to such immensities of suffering? How can we dare to see the pain when we don't know how to stop it? The helplessness of the bystander falls away as we discover that the pain is our own. What willingness arises then? And what clarity of choice? Read Joanna Macy's bio.

12:15-2:00 p.m.


2:00-3:00 p.m.
Plenary Dialogue
Opening our Hearts to the World As it Is

A Conversation with the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown CampbellJoanna Macy, and Vandana Shiva, moderated by Melvin McLeod.

3:15-4:45 p.m.
Workshops I: 'The Descent' (Choose one)

Workshop A:
Suffering: Gateway to Compassion
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

The Buddhist teachings suggest that human life is particularly conducive to spiritual practice and awakening because we have just the right balance of comfort and suffering. With the rich creative potential of our minds and bodies, we are prodded by the difficulties of our lives and the suffering we see in the world around us to search for transformation and healing. Rinpoche will share some key teachings on how our willingness to witness and feel suffering can be the portal for opening our hearts to radiant compassion. Read Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's bio.

Workshop B:
The Heart of the Matter: Life, Death, and the Awakening of Compassion
Judy Lief

In this workshop we will focus on how we as individuals relate to our own mortality and how we as a society care for the dying. We will examine some dominant paradigms and views about death and dying, and how they take form in institutions and actions. In response we will introduce contemplative values, insights, and practices that have the power to transform our relationship to death and our way of working with others. We will begin to envision how that changed relationship with dying might manifest in new approaches to end-of-life care. Read Judy Lief's bio.

Workshop C:
An Afternoon with Bernie Glassman

This session offers the rare and special opportunity to sit in open conversation with one of the great spiritual activists of our time. Bring your questions and reflections. Read Bernie Glassman's bio.

Workshop D:
Forgiveness: The Practice of Liberating the Heart and Mind from Hatred
Noah Levine

This dharma talk and meditation focus on the process of freeing the heart/mind from resentment. The Buddha taught that Forgiveness was an integral part of developing a loving heart. Through a process of attending to our own pain and the pain of others we can come to have enough compassion to offer and ask for forgiveness. Read Noah Levine's bio.

Workshop E:
What's Your Calling? Are You Living in Service of Compassion and Justice?
Adam Bucko

Great African American mystic and mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. Howard Thurman said "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." True action comes from a place of our true aliveness in God, where we become the person we were born to become and act from our deepest calling. When we live as an expression of that aliveness and engage it in service of compassion and justice, we are truly working for a new world. In this workshop, Adam Bucko shares his own struggles and stories, stories of the homeless kids he has worked with, as well as lessons he has learned from his mentors. He proposes a set of practices that can help us touch the essence of our calling, build communities of friends that can affirm our callings for each other, and through prayer and heartful presence, build courage to live as expressions of our true aliveness in the world.

Workshop F:
Trauma and the Neurophysiology of Healing
Dr. Robert Scaer

Suffering induced by life traumas is core to much of our human experience. The roots of trauma are most closely linked to negative early childhood experiences. Studies of the brain in childhood, including MRI imaging, reflect a unique effect of early childhood mal-attunement and trauma that lay the template for emotional dysfunction and physical disease later in life. Dissociation, the perceptual equivalent of the freeze state, is the prevailing state in late, or complex trauma, and is associated with severe disruption of cognitive function, perception of self and others, and a myriad of somatic complaints. Over the course of an extensive career and through ongoing study, Dr. Robert Scaer has developed concepts that involve compassion and attunement, and are designed to mitigate the symptoms of long-standing trauma and trauma-induced diseases. Our ability to become aware of and heal our traumas becomes the foundation for compassionate healing and relationship with others.

Contemplative Practice Sessions


Evening Keynote
Earth Democracy: Living as Earth Community
Vandana Shiva

Read Vandana Shiva's bio.


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Changing the World for the Better — Saturday, October 18

This day is devoted to exploring inner and outer resources for engaging compassionately in the context of our personal lives, work, community and broader society. We now investigate compassion as a capacity to respond, and some of the contemplative and practical tools for embodying kindness.

Contemplative Practice Sessions


Workshops II: 'Open Heart Activism' (Choose one)

Workshop A:
Practices for Today's Bodhisattvas
Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy will share stories and practices from her Dharma-inspired Work That Reconnects, used around the world to awaken people to their power and responsibility.

Workshop B:
Against The Stream: Buddhism as the Path of Spiritual Revolution, From the Inside Out
Noah Levine

Practicing the Dharma is an act of rebellion. In the beginning it is internal, going against our survival instincts of craving and aversion, and in the middle and end it becomes externalized into engaged compassionate action for the benefit of all living beings. Read Noah Levine's bio.

Workshop C:
Harmony, Difference and Interreligious Dialogue: An Introductory Workshop
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently wrote, "understanding and harmony between the world's religions is one of the essential preconditions for genuine world peace." This workshop teaches the living practice of interreligious dialogue from Naropa University's heritage, a practice of listening, respecting and exchanging our deepest convictions and curiosities about religious and spiritual differences and belonging. This practice has proven the strongest support for the kind of harmony that His Holiness advocates. We will identify the habits that have characterized our spiritual communities, and through dialogue, redraw their boundaries to include rather than exclude religious and spiritual others. By tapping into our shared humanity and heart, we will develop the foundation for deeper communication across religious and spiritual differences, tools that will benefit our lives in human community. Read Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown's bio.

Workshop D:
Social Presencing Theater
Arawana Hayashi

Social Presencing Theater is an awareness-based practice that enables a person, team or organization to get a clearer sense of the relationships and deeper connections present but often hidden or "stuck" in our present situations. By attending to the feeling-sense of the individual body and the social space, practitioners can collectively gain insights that lead to creative and fresh ways of ensuring better, kinder and more compassionate futures. This is not theater in the conventional sense, but does use simple body postures and movements to dissolve limiting concepts, to communicate directly, and to make visible both where we are now and where we want to go. Read Arawana Hayashi's bios.

Workshop E:
Rewilding our Hearts
Marc Bekoff

In wildlife conservation work, rewilding — to make wild once again — refers to the creation of corridors between preserved lands that allow declining populations to rebound. In this workshop Marc applies the concept of rewilding to human attitudes and personal transformation. Unless and until we rewild ourselves by undoing the unwilding that results from being alienated from nature and become profoundly reconnected to nature, our conservation efforts will have but limited impact. When we make the effort to not just see, but to empathically become "the seen," our perspective on animals and their homes/habitats changes in profound ways. As we shift to acting from the inside out, our efforts move beyond simply reacting to current crises and become powerfully proactive. Ultimately, Rewilding Our Hearts invites people to become re-enchanted with our world, and by dissolving false boundaries, to truly connect with both nature and ourselves. Read Marc Bekoff's bio.

Workshop F:
Embodied Compassion in Action
Melissa Michaels & Ramon Parish

Melissa Michaels and Ramon Parish weave a tapestry of diverse inner and outer resources that are relevant to compassionate action in the world. They have worked together for over a decade creating ripples of peace through body-centered rites of passage programs serving youth from diverse communities around the world. Drawing upon their diverse perspectives, they will offer a moving experience illustrating how embodiment can be a powerful doorway into compassionate action across complex borders.

11:00-12:30 p.m.

Workshop A:
Effective Action for Environmental Justice
An Intimate Gathering with Vandana Shiva

Share conversation with recognized activist Vandana Shiva, renowned for her work with local communities in her native India and elsewhere to support cultural and bio-diversity, bring about effective and long-term social and environmental sustainability, and contribute to a vision of 'earth democracy'.

Workshop B:
Lojong: Teachings and Practices for Compassion in Everyday Life
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

The 11th century Buddhist Lojong, or 'mind training,' teachings were designed for lay practitioners to apply wakefulness and compassion in the activities of daily life. At the heart of these teachings is the invitation to use every situation, however ordinary, difficult or delightful, as an opportunity to become more fully present, release our agendas, and rise to the needs before us. Rinpoche will also teach tonglen, a simple breathing practice that fosters compassion for ourselves and others. Read Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's bio.

Workshop C:
Brilliant Sanity, Radiant Compassion: A View from Contemplative Psychotherapy
Karen Kissel Wegela

The teaching of brilliant sanity, a term coined by Naropa's founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, proclaims that all of us are by nature wise and compassionate.  In this workshop, we will explore both brilliant sanity and how we lose touch with it.  "The Empty Mirror" exercise, a compassion practice originally designed by Naropa students in the M.A. Contemplative Psychotherapy program, will be introduced. Read Karen Kissel Wegela's bio.

Workshop D:
Engineering with Soul: The Nuts and Bolts of Compassion in Action
Bernard Amadei

Engineers without Borders founder Bernard Amadei shares stories and insights from his work on and off the ground, drawing on fifteen years of international development work. Bernard calls on a new model of development engineering that is not just about technology; it is also about people, value, ethic, culture, commitment, engagement, passion, and other issues that are not traditionally associated with engineering education and practice. Only this way can we ensure that projects are not just done right but are the right projects and actually of benefit. He shares his vision of a new generation of global engineers and individuals who are not simply value-neutral experts, but rather engaged with creativity and innovation, authenticity and heart, recognizing their work as compassion in action.

Workshop E:
Mindfulness and Bodyfulness Practices that Promote Compassion: Research and Applications
Christine Caldwell and Peter Grossenbacher

Wisdom traditions as well as modern research demonstrate that contemplative practice can contribute to the development of well-being, equanimity, and compassion. Two of Naropa's researchers will offer scientific perspectives, experiential examples, personal suggestions, and new directions regarding both sitting and moving meditative practices, with an eye toward practical applications in daily life.

Workshop F:
Spiritual Radicals: Learning from Sacred Activists Across Traditions
Adam Bucko

Great spiritual and moral leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X and Dorothy Day led many of the most influential social and political movements of the 20th century. The inception of these movements was rooted in personal transformation, as reflected in Gandhi's quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world". This workshop will explore the relationship between personal evolution and participation and leadership in movements for a more just and compassionate world. By deeply exploring the moments of transformation that brought these great leaders to their commitments to working for a better and more sacred world we can develop a framework that helps us to reanalyze and reinterpret our own lives. Their stories can help us to name our own sacred stories and experiences and then build a strategy for how we ourselves can live in service of authenticity, compassion, and justice. This workshop will also include a great deal of lessons that Adam Bucko has learned from mentors, contemporary spiritual teachers, and activists who made a commitment to being spiritual radicals in the 21st century.

12:30-2:00 p.m.


2:00-3:15 p.m.
Plenary Keynote
Feeding your Demons
Lama Tsultrim Allione

The ultimate compassion is to nurture and love, rather than resist and destroy our enemies, obstacles and demons. Lama Tsultrim Allione shares the teachings and practices of Feeding Your Demons, a 5-step process that enables one to compassionately engage with one's demons, rather than continue the cycle of struggle and suppression.

3:45-4:45 p.m.
Concurrent Dialogues (Choose One)

Dialogue I:
Spiritual Activism for a New Generation
With Noah Levine & Adam Bucko // Moderated by Candace Walworth

Dialogue II:
Compassionate Business
With Jerry Colonna, Amy Hall & Tyler Norris // Moderated by Chuck Lief

5:00-5:30 p.m.
Contemplative Practice Sessions


7:30-9:30 p.m.
Evening Keynote
Mindsight and Neural Integration: How Kindness and Compassion shape our Relationships and our Brains
Dr. Dan Siegel

Dr. Dan Siegel offers insights from the field of interpersonal neurobiology and discusses the power of mindsight to promote compassion, kindness and well-being in our personal lives, our relationships and our communities. "Mindsight" is the ability to perceive our own mind, and that of others, thus freeing us from habitual, reactive patterns. At the neurological level, mindsight has been shown to promote the growth of integrative fibers in the brain. Neural integration – the linkage between differentiated aspects of the brain - allows for flexibility and adaptability, and expresses itself outwardly as harmony, kindness and compassion. Dr. Siegel will share principles and practices that offer a bridge between the science of relationships and the brain and contemplative and spiritual traditions.

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Next Steps — Sunday, October 19

This final morning allows us to share and reflect on new insights and open questions gathered over the weekend, and to set our intentions and formulate next steps for taking our explorations into the practical reality of our daily lives.

8:00-8:45 a.m.
Contemplative Practice Sessions


9:00-10:15 a.m.
Plenary Dialogue
Creating a Compassionate Society
with Elias Amidon, Elizabeth Rabia Roberts, Dan Siegel, and Judith Simmer-Brown // moderated by Melvin McLeod

10:45-12:15 p.m.
Community Session
Symposium Weavers: Susan Skjei, Arawana Hayashi, Barbara Bash

We gather for a final exploration and integration of what we have experienced over the weekend. What questions remain? How do we take fresh insights into our daily life? What opportunities exist for partnerships and collaborations with fellow participants? What is our inner resolve and our outer intention as we 'return' into our lives and communities?

12:30-1:00 p.m.
Closing Ceremony
Anne Waldman


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