Renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and lineage holder, the Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1940-1987) founded the Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in 1974. He was enormously influential in spreading the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, authoring dozens of books and establishing the Shambhala Training program and Shambhala International, a global association of meditation centers.
"Let East meet West and the sparks will fly." -Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, quoted in Recalling Chögyam Trungpa.
Trained as a Buddhist scholar and educated at Oxford University, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche wanted to create a place where students could study Eastern and Western religions, writing, psychology, science, and the arts while also receiving contemplative and meditation training.
He modeled Naropa after Nalanda University, a Buddhist university that flourished in India from the sixth to the 12th centuries, attracting scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and religious traditions.
“Naropa,” was a Buddhist scholar and saint at Nalanda University, who, according to legend embarked on a spiritual journey to find the meaning behind the texts he studied. Like the famous saint, Naropa University was established to help students—through meditation and contemplative practice—find the deeper meaning in their academic disciplines and artistic work.
“’Contemplative’ here doesn’t mean one tames thought or one dwells on some particular theme a lot. Instead it means being with discipline fully and thoroughly as a hungry man eats food or a thirsty man drinks water.” -Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche