ONLINE • Summer Seminar I: Discovering the Path of Liberation, and II: Living Wisdom and Compassion

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Noel McLellan, Holly Gayley and Loden Nyima

June 16–July 15, 2021

Track I: has been canceled; Track II: July 1 - July 15

Tuition - 400/550/750 per two-week track

The single focus of the Buddha’s teachings was showing living beings the path of liberation from suffering and reconnecting with our natural state of freedom. The profundity and sophistication with which the Buddha expressed this journey have given his teachings a timeless relevance, as deeply needed as ever as we grapple with the challenges of life in today’s world, and as we long to help.

The Summer Seminar engages this path as taught by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, whose approach emphasizes our innate basic goodness and the importance of fully embracing and working with our complete, direct, immediate experience as authentic human beings. Coming as we genuinely are as the basis, and taking the teachings to heart, we can discover the transformative meaning to which they point.

In this third year of hosting the Summer Seminar, there will be two tracks, described below. While you are welcome to register for both if you wish, our experience is that two weeks of online retreat tends to be a full and complete experience, and we expect most participants will choose one track or the other. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions in making this decision:

Summer Seminar I: Discovering the Path of Liberation June 16 – June 30

Track 1 has been postponed until 2022.

Taught by Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown and Noel McLellan

This first track, “Discovering the Path of Liberation” focuses on the Hinayana or foundational teachings, the first phase of the Buddha’s teachings. We will study the life of the Buddha and trace his foundational insights into the nature of mind and emotions, patterns of karma, and the path to overcome suffering. These teachings help us establish a foundation as practitioners, befriending ourselves along with all of our suffering and confusion, and learning how to live a life of liberation and freedom. If you are seeking to strengthen these foundations, or are new to Buddhism and looking for an immersive introduction, this could be for you.

Summer Seminar II: Living Wisdom and Compassion July 1 – July 15
Click here to register for Living Wisdom and Compassion

Taught by Gelong Loden Nyima and Holly Gayley

The track entitled “Living Wisdom and Compassion” focuses on the Mahayana teachings, oriented toward awakening for the benefit of all beings.  Select topics are chosen each year, and practitioners are encouraged to return and continue the journey together. The principal topic of this year’s Seminar will be the teachings of “Lojong” or “Mind-Training.” These teachings show us how to tap into our innate wisdom and compassion in order to engage in personal and social transformation and to be of service in the world. Lojong also offers pragmatic instructions for living with compassion, courage, patience, and wisdom within the challenges of everyday life.

Which Track Is Right for Me?

We very warmly welcome everyone interested in this retreat for whatever role it may play in your path. We have been honored to host a rich gathering of practitioners from many Buddhist traditions, the wide spectrum of the Shambhala community, new practitioners seeking an immersive introduction, and long-time students returning home. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is respected. The only commitment needed is sincere interest in working with our minds and supporting each other to do so during the retreat.

If you are new to the topics described or to Buddhism generally, or are simply seeking to strengthen your understanding at any level of the path (including those on the teaching path), we warmly invite you to apply for the first track, “Discovering the Path to Liberation.”

If you participated in a previous year’s Summer Seminar, or have prior background in Buddhism either through practice or study in Shambhala or any Buddhist community, university studies, etc., and would like to apply directly for the second track, “Living Wisdom and Compassion,” we welcome you to do so and will ask that you describe your background as part of the application.

Registration and Questionnaire

We require that each participant fills out the Summer Seminar Questionnaire before their registration is considered complete. The purpose of the questionnaire is to ensure the suitability of the retreat for each participant and to help the teaching team tailor the program to participant needs.

You will be contacted within two weeks of submitting your questionnaire with confirmation that your registration for the Summer Seminar retreat is complete.

Tiered Pricing and Scholarships

This program offers tiered pricing to accommodate most instances of financial need. If you would be unable to attend at the subsidized tuition rate, we do have a limited number of scholarships available. Please note that scholarships are awarded in the order that they are received, so apply early. You can request a scholarship when you fill out the required questionnaire found in the section above.

If you are able to register at the “Supporter” level, thank you for supporting the ability of others to attend this retreat.

Daily Schedule

During our two weeks together, we will co-create a community online that balances rigor with simplicity, warmth, and openness. This environment will support your journey in deepening your understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, developing your meditation practice, and relaxing the speed and habitual patterns that characterize so many of our daily lives.

Over the course of each two-week retreat, which can be taken together as a full month, we’ll engage in the three trainings taught by the Buddha:

Shila, learning about ethics and discipline;

Samadhi, spending mornings practicing meditation; and

Prajna, studying and discussing the dharma in the afternoons.

Note: Times below are provided in Mountain Time. You may join from any timezone.

9:00 am: Chants and Guided Meditation

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Silent Practice

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm: Dharma Talk

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm:  Shedra Groups (small group discussion)

Evenings – Optional activities include White Tara practice, Shakyamuni Buddha sadhana, and contemplative movement sessions on most evenings.

Please commit to the entire two week program. If you are juggling commitments, please plan to attend the afternoon talks, 2 – 5 pm daily, at minimum. Full tuition is still required.

Heart Gift

Teachers are compensated for teaching this program. In addition, according to Buddhist tradition it is customary, and entirely voluntary, to offer teachers a heart gift at the end of a program.


Portions of this program will be recorded. Registered participants will have viewable access to the recordings during the program. The recordings will not be downloadable and will be deleted at the end of the program.

Source Materials

The principal source we will be using for both tracks is The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma (Volumes I and II, respectively) by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. We will also be drawing from a wide variety of supplementary sources including direct sutras from the Buddha, narratives and stories of great practitioners, classics from the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and accessible readings from several contemporary teachers.

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., has just retired as Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where she has taught since 1978. As Buddhist practitioner since the early 1970’s, she became a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974, and was empowered as an acharya (senior teacher) by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2000. Her teaching specialties are meditation practice, Shambhala teachings, Buddhist philosophy, tantric Buddhism, and contemplative higher education. Her book, Dakini’s Warm Breath (Shambhala 2001), explores the feminine principle as it reveals itself in meditation practice and everyday life for women and men. She has also edited Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (SUNY 2011). She and her husband, Richard, have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Noel McLellan

Noel McLellan is a senior teacher in the Shambhala tradition. He has been practicing meditation for over 30 years and has trained in Kyudo, Zen archery, and other contemplative practices. Noel is a middle and high-school teacher at the Shambhala School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he is the Dean of Mindfulness and Culture. He is the author of Teaching With Bravery: Meditation and Heart Advice for Teachers  ( ). Noel lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with his two children, Gabriel and Esmé.

Holly Gayley

Holly Gayley is Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on Buddhist literature in contemporary Tibet with special attention to gender and ethics. She is author of Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet (2016), co-editor of A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Rimé Masters of Tibet (2017), and translator of Inseparable Across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tāre Lhamo (2019). As a senior teacher in the Shambhala tradition, Holly regularly leads meditation workshops and retreats.

Loden Nyima

Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk.  He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he practiced intensively, completed Shedra studies, and served in various roles including as a Shastri.  He now lives at Shambhala Mountain Center where he serves as Resident Teacher, as a founding faculty member for the Summer Seminar, Werma Assembly, and other programs.  He spends a portion of each year in retreat, frequently travels to continue his own dharma education, and can often be seen jogging around the land at SMC.

Program Details

This virtual retreat will be conducted on Zoom. After registration, you will receive an email with simple instructions for downloading and using Zoom on your computer, laptop, or other device. At least 24 hours before the start time, you will receive another email with a link to join the retreat.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be sure to add "" to your email address book, to ensure that these emails don't get blocked as spam.