Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Founding Vision

"Let East meet West and the sparks will fly."
~Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, quoted in Recalling Chögyam Trungpa

Naropa founder Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1940-1987) was a renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and lineage holder. In 1963 he attended Oxford University and experienced learning at one of the West's most prestigious universities. While he loved the dignified atmosphere of learning and had great respect for Western academic pedagogy, he felt something was missing. This experience indelibly influenced his vision for a new university, one that would join traditions of West and East.

At the opening Convocation of Naropa Institute on June 10, 1974, Trungpa spoke about the value of studying ancestral traditions from Greece and Rome to ancient India. But too often, he remarked, Western education has preoccupied itself with objective study of our ancestors without really exploring the wisdom that animated them.

Trungpa Rinpoche's aspiration for a new university was to "reignite the pilot light" of wisdom which he believed had been extinguished. For Naropa University, the key to relighting the pilot light has been honoring the wisdom traditions of the East and West, and joining them with the discovery of our inner wisdom by joining contemplative practice and disciplined academic study.

“‘Contemplative’ means being with a discipline fully and thoroughly, as a hungry man eats or a thirsty man drinks water. It’s genuine, immediate.” —Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Meeting with Naropa Institute Faculty and Staff Nov. 30, 1982

As expression of Trungpa’s original vision has evolved, Naropa remains committed to his intent of bringing wisdom into focus for higher education.

Read more about the history of Naropa.