ONLINE • Summer Seminar I: Discovering the Path of Liberation

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown and Noel McLellan

June 16–30, 2021

Tuition - 400/550/750

This first track of Summer Seminar, “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.

This is the page for Summer Seminar I: Discovering the Path of Liberation. If you want to register instead for Summer Seminar II: Living Wisdom and Compassion, July 1 -15, taught by Holly Gayley and Gelong Loden Nyima, please click this link.

If you would like to return to the main landing page, please click this link.

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.

Registration, Attendance, 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.

Please click here to fill out the Summer Seminar Questionnaire


You can complete the questionnaire before or after you register, though your participation in the program will be confirmed only after the faculty give approval. You will be contacted within two weeks of submitting your questionnaire with confirmation that your registration for the Summer Seminar retreat is complete.

Registration will close two hours before the start of the program.

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.

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 next paragraph.

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

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.

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.