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

Acharya Susan Chapman, Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Acharya Holly Gayley, Acharya Daniel Hessey and Gelong Loden Nyima

June 12–July 10, 2020

Tuition $0 + 28 nights
Registration requires completion of a questionnaire, please see below.

Acharya Susan Chapman

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

Acharya Holly Gayley

Acharya Daniel Hessey

Loden Nyima

Note: The Mahayana Track for this program is moving online, and will be held June 12 – 26. More information coming soon. 

The single focus of the Buddha’s teachings was showing humanity the path to ending suffering and reconnecting with our natural state of freedom and openness. The profundity and sophistication with which the Buddha expressed a path of liberation has given his teachings a timeless relevance, making them as practical today as ever.

Over the course of this month-long retreat we will live with the intention of mixing our minds with the teachings and directly experiencing our inherent wisdom. We’ll spend this time practicing the disciplines of the complete path taught by the Buddha: Shila, practicing the 5 traditional precepts daily in a commitment to refrain from taking life, taking what is not offered, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants, Samadhi, spending mornings practicing meditation, and Prajna, studying and discussing the philosophical and psychological frameworks described by the Buddha in the afternoons. 


A Month In Community

During our month together, we will co-create a community that balances rigor with simplicity, warmth, and openness through our body, speech, and mind discipline. 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. Our mornings are spent in silent meditation, giving the program a retreat atmosphere, and our afternoons are dedicated to study in talks and small study groups. Optional evening activities include practice in the stupa, and there are opportunities for contemplative movement and yoga on most days.

One element of this retreat which may be new to some participants is that we will have the option and opportunity to work with the Five Householder Precepts which have been practiced since the time of the Buddha and introduced to the Shambhala community by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Their intention is one of kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, helping us maintain healthy conduct or discipline (shila) which is conducive to harmony, to not causing harm, to liberation, and which supports our cultivation of meditation (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna).



Discovering the Path of Liberation & Living Wisdom and Compassion

This is our second year hosting the Summer Seminar, and there will be two tracks:

Summer Seminar I: Discovering the Path of Liberation

The first track, is the entry point and focuses on the foundational, or “Hinayana” teachings, including topics such as the Life of the Buddha, the 4 Noble Truths, Karma and Causation, Calm-Abiding Meditation, and the practice and study of the Refuge Vow.  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 path of liberation and freedom.

Summer Seminar II: Living Wisdom and Compassion

The second track, “Living Wisdom and Compassion” focuses on the Mahayana teachings, including topics such as Buddha Nature, the cultivation of Bodhichitta (the mind of awakening), the practice of Lojong (mind training), and the Paramitas (transcendent actions).  These teachings show us how to rouse the courage and compassion to orient and bring everything in life onto our path of enlightenment for all beings. In so doing, they are also very pragmatic instructions for living with compassion, courage, patience, and wisdom in the challenges of everyday life.  

These are classic Buddhist topics common to many traditions and passed down through millennia of practitioners.  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, with 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 including Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Which Track is Right for Me?

If you are new to the topics described or to Buddhism generally, or simply seeking to strengthen your foundations 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 last year’s Summer Seminar, or have previous 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. In both tracks, we will relate classic Buddhist topics to the Shambhala teachings on basic goodness and to contemporary issues and challenges in the world today. 

You will be able to select your track in the questionnaire below. 


Who Should Attend?

This retreat is appropriate for beginning to advanced meditation practitioners, including those on the teaching path. Limited to 45 participants.


Registration Process

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. Here, you will specify which track you are applying for.

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


Lodging, Attendance, and Scholarship Information

Lodging Recommendation

We recommend selecting lodging in the Red Feather Cabins or Tent options as these are closest to the program which will be held on the Red Feather Campus.

Partial Attendance

We are accepting requests to attend the first two weeks of the retreat, June 12 – 27. Partial attendance requests will be processed on a rolling basis as we are giving preference to attendees who can commit to the full month-long retreat. To indicate your interest in attending the first two weeks of the Summer Seminar please fill out Partial Attendance request form and the Summer Seminar Questionnaire.  Your request for partial attendance will not be considered complete until a questionnaire is also submitted.

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

Scholarship Information

Click here to learn more about Financial Assistance and Scholarships.

If you would like a scholarship, please first fill out the Summer Seminar Questionnaire above. Once you have been confirmed, please apply for a scholarship.


Tentative Daily Schedule

7:00 – 8:00 am        Morning Chants, Meditation, and Movement
8:00 – 9:00 am        Breakfast
9:00 – 11:30 am      Meditation
11:30 – 12:30 pm    Tea and Study
12:30 – 1:30 pm      Contemplative Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 pm        Work Period and Rest
3:00 – 4:30 pm        Teachings
4:30 – 5:00 pm        Break
5:00 – 6:30 pm        Small Group Study
6:30 – 7:30 pm        Dinner
7:30 – 9:00 pm        Evening Meditation



Acharya Susan Chapman

Acharya Susan Chapman, author of The Five Keys To Mindful Communication, is a retired family therapist, contemplative psychologist and meditation teacher. She completed Gampo Abbey’s three year retreat and served as Druppon, retreat leader, for six years.

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., is 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 had her husband, Richard, have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Acharya Holly Gayley

Acharya 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 (Columbia University Press, 2016) and co-editor of A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Rimé Masters of Tibet (Wisdom Publications, 2017). As a senior teacher (acharya) in the Shambhala tradition, Holly regularly leads meditation workshops and retreats.

Acharya Daniel Hessey

Acharya Daniel Hessey has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism since 1973. He has lived at Shambhala dharma centers for over 20 years. He served as director of Shambhala Mountain Center for 6 years, and has been a senior teacher, Shastri, and Acharya. He has translated and written a commentary of the I Ching as a map of social development. He is currently the resident Acharya at Shambhala Mountain Center.

Gelong Loden Nyima

Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he completed shedra studies, practiced intensively, and served in various roles including as Shastri. He now lives and teaches at Shambhala Mountain Center, and spends a portion of each year in retreat.

Program Details

Registration takes place from 2– 5 pm on your program start date. All participants and volunteer staff must check in at our Guest Registration house. Please arrive before 5 pm to check in and settle into your accommodations. Your program begins with dinner, followed by an orientation. The Guest Registration house closes at 5 pm after which no one is available to provide information or orient you to your accommodations. This program formally ends on the second to last day with the final day being a departure day only with no formal programming. Further specifics regarding your program's schedule will be available upon arrival. If applicable, you will receive an email from the program coordinator in the week prior to your program with any additional information you may need.