AcademicsExtended CampusCynicism & Magic

Cynicism & Magic

Intelligence and Intuition on the Buddhist Path

Free Event: October 4th 2021 // 1 Evening // Live Online

Full Course: October 4th – November 15th 2021 // 7 Weeks // Live Online

About This Program

In the summer of 1974, Chogyam Trungpa looked out on a throng of spiritual seekers gathered in Boulder and urged them to get real and be cynical. The U.S. had become a supermarket for Eastern spirituality, so he emphasized the positive cynicism in the Buddha’s original teaching—be skeptical, be suspicious, especially of shortcuts, and see for yourself. At the same time, he emphasized the discovery of genuine freedom and openness. Cynicism lays the ground for great promise—real magic—and Chogyam Trungpa outlined a wakeful approach to both spirituality and to ordinary life.

In this course, we invite you to explore Cynicism and Magic, the newest volume of never before published talks by Chogyam Trungpa, based on his first seminar at Naropa. The course will focus on Buddhist teachings for uncovering intelligence and insight, for transcending both nihilistic thinking and naïve faith, as we progress on the path of meditation. Each class will feature presentations and dialogues with the book’s editors, trained in the Opening the Dharma Treasury workshops offered by The Chogyam Trungpa Institute. There will also be group discussions and close reading of selections from the book.

Meeting that spiritually naïve moment with an ethic of scepticism was fitting for the time. But today, in a culture of conspiracy theories, and cynicism to the point of nihilism, what do we do? What is the antidote to a scepticism that rejects the heart of gentleness and empathy?

Program Format

  • free-to-attend book celebration will be held live online via Zoom to begin the course. All are welcome to attend this evening event.

  • Participants who register for the full 7-week course will have access to 6 additional weekly class sessions, held online via Zoom.

  • It’s not too late! Registration will remain open for the duration of the full 7-week course, and videos for completed sessions will be provided to all who register after October 11.

The first step for you as a student is to sharpen your intel­lect and not buy anything that is presented without question. To wake yourself up, cynical thinking and critical questioning are extremely important. Otherwise, you are completely helpless. You are just being fed through an intravenous system.

—Chögyam Trungpa

Program Schedule

These courses are offered live online via Zoom. Zoom meeting links will be provided after registration.

Free Book Celebration

Monday | October 4th 2021| 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Presenters: Diana Goetsch, Charles Lief, Judy Lief, Diana Mukpo, Nikko Odiseos, Matilda Perks

Full 7 Week Course

Includes book celebration, plus 6 additional class sessions

It’s not too late! Registration will remain open for the duration of the full 7-week course, and videos for completed sessions will be provided to all who register after October 11.

Monday | October 11th | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Positive Cynicism and Spirituality

What is the role of a questioning intelligence on the genuine spiritual journey?

Presenters: Diana Goetsch, Daniel Nguyen, Matilda Perks

Monday | October 18th | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Ego’s Game

The three marks of existence and the development of ego

Presenters: Carolyn Gimian, Dr. Amelia Hall, Travis May

Monday | October 25th | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Borrowing the Budhha’s Heart

Compassion in Action

Presenters: Charles Lief, Carla Burns, Ramon Parish

Monday | November 1st | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Meditation and the Fourth Moment

Working with insight -vipashyana- in meditation and everyday life

Presenters: Jane Carpenter Cohn, Matilda Perks, Regina Smith

Monday | November 8th | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Poetry, Song, and Desire

Meditation, realization, and artistic expression

Presenters: Diana Goetsch, Lewis Hyde

Monday | November 15th | 5:30-7:00pm Mountain Time

Less Ego, More Magic

The freedom and creativity that come from the real magic of non-ego

Presenters: Gimian, Judy Lief, Assorted ODT Editors and Faculty

Program Cost

October 4th Book Celebration



Full 7 Week Course

General Public Rate: $215

It’s not too late! Registration will remain open for the duration of the full 7-week course, and videos for completed sessions will be provided to all who register after October 11.

Naropa Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumnx: Please reach out to  to request a discount code.



Carolyn Rose Gimian is a book editor, an archivist and a teacher of meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. She is the editor of The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Mindfulness in Action and many other volumes of his work.

Carolyn was the founding director of the Shambhala Archives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a major repository of Trungpa Rinpoche’s archival legacy, and she is the Executive Director of the Chögyam Trungpa Institute at Naropa University. Since 2013, she has helped to organize and teach at the Profound Treasury Retreats, presenting Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings in retreat settings. She also teaches extensively online.


Carla Burns, MDiv, is an Instructor in Naropa’s Core College, and Graduate School of Psychology, with an emphasis on the exploration of loving-kindness through the wisdom of the body, emotions, and the elements. She is particularly passionate about the ways in which contemplative practice communities can come to understand and hold multiple ways of being and knowing, and how we embody and utilize space as a means to personal, collective and cosmic liberation. In addition, she is certified Mindfulness Instructor at Naropa University, she co-developed Naropa’s Embodied Mindfulness in Teaching Training program and is the Program Manager for the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education.


Jane Carpenter Cohn, MA, is an Associate Professor and Director of the Naropa Center for Bhutan Partnerships at Naropa University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Buddhism, Buddhist Psychology, Contemplative Education and the Arts. She works collaboratively with the Royal University of Bhutan faculty in the development of the Bhutan Study Abroad Program, curricular design and implementation of Counseling Programs. As a contemplative artist practitioner and teacher she specializes in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Jane is a Komon in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana.


Diana Goetsch is an award-winning poet and essayist, and longtime meditation practitioner. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The American Scholar, Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize anthology. She served as the lead editor of Cynicism and Magic.


Dr. Amelia Hall became a student of Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and Lama Tharchin Rinpoche in 2001. In 2005 she embarked upon a masters of philosophy degree in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies from the University of Oxford. She then obtained her doctorate from Oxford in 2012, her dissertation, Revelations of a Modern Mystic: The Life and Legacy of Kun bzang bde chen gling pa 1928-2006, translates and reflects upon the biography of this Tibetan Buddhist visionary and the assimilation of the Tibetan revelatory tradition in contemporary North America. She is an Assistant Professor of Indo- Tibetan Buddhism and the Chair of the Wisdom Traditions Department at Naropa University. In addition, she directs research projects for the Naksang Foundation, Arunachal Pradesh, India. She is an affiliated scholar at the Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Centre at Wolfson College, University of Oxford.


Lewis Hyde is an essayist, translator, and cultural critic with a particular interest in the public life of the imagination. Best known for his 1983 book, The Gift, he has more recently published A Primer for Forgetting, an exploration of the many situations in which forgetfulness is more useful than memory. The Disappearing Ox, out last year, translates and comments on the medieval Buddhist classic “Oxherding Series.” Hyde lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, the writer Patricia Vigderman.


Charles Lief became president of Naropa University in 2012, He was a student of Naropa’s founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is a teacher in that lineage. He also served as Naropa’s lawyer and chair of the board of trustees. Naropa’s mission is to create a more just world by nurturing student insight and awareness, courage and compassion. It is the higher education leader in integrating the contemplative tools of mindfulness and compassion with academic study and service learning.

He was the founding president of the Greyston Foundation which provided housing, health care, and employment to thousands of homeless, formerly incarcerated, mentally ill and low-income people in the Northeast. He has been elected to many other boards including current service as chair of the Lions Roar Foundation.


Judy Lief is a Buddhist teacher who trained under the Tibetan meditation master, Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She has been a teacher and practitioner for over 35 years, and she continues to teach throughout the world.  Judy is known for offering insights and practices stemming from the Buddhist tradition as a support for ordinary people facing the difficulties and challenges of modern life. Judy leads retreats and workshops as well as presenting online teachings.


Travis May is the Director of Practice & Education at the Boulder Shambhala Center. He has been a member of the Opening the Dharma Treasury editing group since it began in 2016. Travis has a master’s degree in English Education from the University of South Florida and is a professional editor. Travis lives in Boulder, Colorado and is the father to two adult children, Azia & Isiah. 


Diana Mukpo, the wife of the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was born Diana Judith Pybus in 1953 in England. She first saw Chögyam Trungpa at a Free Tibet rally in London. Within a year, she and the Trungpa Rinpoche met and fell in love. They were married on January 3, 1970. A few months later, they left England for North America. They had been married seventeen years when Rinpoche died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1987.

In addition to pursuing her own career and raising their five children, Lady Diana often accompanied the Vidyadhara when he travelled and taught with him at some seminars and retreats. Lady Diana is the author of Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chögyam Trungpa. Since Rinpoche’s death, Lady Diana has taught throughout North America and in Europe, presenting both her personal experiences with the Trungpa Rinpoche as well as sharing her knowledge of the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings.


Daniel Nguyen discovered the works of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche as a teenager, and they have been for him a source of delight and curious exploration. He is helping to organize this year’s Profound Treasury Retreat, and he is a board member of its Profound Treasury Dharma Foundation. He has been privileged to study under the tutelage of Judy Lief and Carolyn Gimian in their Opening the Dharma Treasury Editors Group. He enjoys practicing the Sadhana of Mahamudra with the online CTR Ocean community.

He resides in Montreal and works as a physician in Family Medicine Group clinic, a CHSLD, as well as practicing and teaching palliative care at a hospital. In his free time, he tries to understand the mind of his cat. 


Nikko Odiseos is President of Shambhala Publications.


 Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish is an assistant professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Naropa University. He focuses on the equity dimensions of the sustainability movement through courses in food and environmental justice. He also teaches foundations in embodiment, contemplative learning and theory, diversity and social identity and community learning.    

Ramon is committed to the revival of rites of passage and other ceremonies and practices of cultural, natural and cosmic regeneration, through his work with organizations like Golden Bridge, Youth Passageways and his recent role as board chair of Frontline Farming.


Matilda Perks is a Ph.D. student at McGill University who studies the history of Buddhist modernism(s) and Tibetan Buddhism outside of Tibet with a focus on the life and works of Tibetan lama, Chögyam Trungpa (1940-1987), and the development of the Vajradhatu community. She was born into the Shambhala community and has been a practitioner of Buddhist meditation for 25 years.


Regina Smith is known for her magical creativity, intellectual clarity, and mission-centered collaborative leadership. As an equity-informed coach, she is passionate about supporting leaders in navigating complex power dynamics with heart, and as a consultant and trainer, she brings radical honesty and expertise in mindfulness to helping organizations create inclusive cultures for the greater good. A life-long student of humility, she is the student of her beautiful and brilliant five-year-old son, Zen. She currently serves Naropa University as Vice President for Mission, Culture, and Inclusive Community and is the Queen Dreamer at the Center for Radical Connection.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.