Naropa Magazine Spring 2014
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Celebration and Ceremony
Photos: Marc Piscotty

Celebration & Ceremony

by Lindsay Michko

In 1984, when Barbara Dilley sought guidance from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who had recently appointed her The Naropa Institute’s next leader, he reminded her, “invite celebration and ceremony into your world.” These “two ‘c’s,” as Dilley calls them, have remained an invigorating element of Naropa, even now, as we embark on our fortieth year.

February’s launch of Naropa’s eighteen-month commemoration of forty years had no shortage of celebration or ceremony. The afternoon began with an energetic, dancing procession set to lively drums, and concluded with the obligatory birthday cake. To open Naropa’s celebration, community members created an offering space to honor our lineage, invoking its wisdom by furnishing the altar with symbolic objects:

altarCandles // One symbolizes the initial pilot light ignited by Trungpa, and a second illustrates the continuity of that ignition, burning with passion, dedication, and purpose

Fan // Evokes the beauty, elegance, and bravery of Trungpa’s ignition, “fanned by the winds of our own yearning for truth and understanding”

Sacred Text // Represents the transmission of wisdom and experience, passed down by our lineage holders, which include teachers of the past, present, and future

Crystal Ball // Expresses our inherent clarity and brilliance, and the insight to apply our intelligence to furthering our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship

Flower Bouquet // Signifies Naropa’s embrace of diversity, and a strengthening of our commitment to building a multicultural institution

Mirror // Symbolizes Naropa’s mission to recognize each being’s inherent goodness and wisdom through academic excellence and contemplative insight

Musical Instrument // Attunes our hearing to voices of wisdom, and allow us to produce a lasting song to overcome ignorance

Perfumed Water // Encourages us to “sniff out hypocrisy and falsity,” guiding Naropa on a path to compassion and social justice

Food Offering // Allows us to offer a safe place for all to nourish body and spirit

Ribbon // Illustrates our sensitivity and vulnerability, allowing us to remain open and flexible to change, and nurture the Naropa community with gentleness

Eagle Feather // Honors the world’s indigenous traditions, offering gratitude and expressing the desire to include more of these traditions at Naropa, in their own context and with respect

Giovannina Jobson, Naropa's contemplative practice coordinator, wrote the text for ritual.

“HAVING OFFERED THESE, WE INVOKE THE WISDOM LINEAGES OF ALL THOSE THAT, THROUGH THEIR DEVOTION AND DEDICATION, HAVE CAUSED NAROPA TO FLOURISH, AND WE ASK FOR THEIR BLESSINGS. INSPIRE ALL OF US PRESENT HERE TODAY TO JOIN IN THE CELEBRATION FOR THE PROSPERITY AND EXPANSION OF NAROPA UNIVERSITY.”

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