Visiting Scholars and Lectures

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation Distinguished Guest Lecturer in Buddhist Studies and American Culture and Values

Recent event

image of venerable Pannavati


by Naropa University Office of Development

Thursday, March 14 // 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Nalanda Events Center // 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO 


The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for Buddhist Studies and American Culture & Values and Naropa University are pleased to host an evening lecture with Venerable Pannavati.

When we are seeking the spiritual way of life, we agree to abandon the "I" and "my" making. We do this only when we are convinced that "I" and "my" making cannot bring us deep and lasting happiness – cannot uproot our secret fears and hidden faults. Only then can we surrender ourselves to another discipline in anticipation of realizing a further freedom and release.

Venerable Pannavati, founder of Heartwood Refuge & Retreat Center and Co- Abbot of Embracing Simplicity Hermitage is known for her wit, compassion, and laughter. A former Christian pastor ordained in both Theravadan and Chan lineages, she is also a Zen Dharma Holder and Vajrayana practitioner.

She is known internationally for her engagement in global projects of socio-economic upliftment and conducts teaching retreats throughout the country sharing the Dharma in a way that is approachable and relevant to all. Still recognized primarily as a forest monk, she concedes: “People are my forest.”




past Events

March 1, 2018

Lama Rod Owens: The Practice of Love and Rage as Tools for Liberation
Lama Rod Owens HeadshotLama Rod Owens is an author, activist, and authorized Lama (Buddhist Teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Rod is the Guiding Teacher for the Radical Dharma Boston Collective, a teacher with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), a visiting teacher with Natural Dharma Fellowship and the Brooklyn Zen Center. Lama Rod is a faculty member for the iBme’s Teacher Training program and is also a faculty member for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s professional education program in mindfulness for educators and has served as a guest faculty member for the school’s course Mindfulness for Educators. He holds a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School where he focused on the intersection of social change, identity, and spiritual practice and was a recipient of the prestigious Hopkins Shareholder Award honoring his work in ministry. He is a co-author of Radical Dharma, Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, which explores race in the context of American Buddhist communities. Lama Rod is a founding teacher for the Awaken meditation app that offers meditations and contemplations focused on social change. He has been published and featured in several publications including Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Spirit Magazine, and contributed the chapter on working with anger for the recent publication Real World Mindfulness for Beginners. He is a regular guest on SiriusXM’s Urban View hosted by journalist and publisher Karen Hunter. He has offered talks, retreats, and workshops for many organizations and universities including New York University, Yale University, Harvard University, Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Tufts University, University of Vermont, and Boston College. Lama Rod facilitates undoing patriarchy workshops for male identified practitioners in Brooklyn and Boston and his current writing projects include patriarchy in spiritual communities, sexuality and ethics, and fatness and spirituality. Lama Rod can be reached at

March 16, 2017

Lama Surya Das: Make Me One With Everything: Buddhist Meditations to Awaken from the Illusion of Separation

Lama Surya Das is a “foremost Western Buddhist mediation teacher and scholar, one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and a leading spokesperson for the emerging American Buddhism.” Further, “The Dalai Lama affectionately calls him, ‘The Western Lama.’” Lama Surya Das is also the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and its branches found around the country as well as the founder with the Dalai Lama of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network. Most recently, Lama Surya’s work has focused on youth and contemplative education initiatives.

February 18, 2016

Dr. Alfred Kaszniak: Contemplative Practice in a Multitasking World

Al Kaszniak, PhD, is an emeritus professor at the University of Arizona (UA). He previously served as Director of the Neuropsychology, Emotion, and Meditation Laboratory; Faculty and Advisory Board member of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute; and professor in the departments of Psychology, Neurology, and Psychiatry at UA. His work has focused on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurological disorders, consciousness, memory self-monitoring, emotion, and the psychophysiology of long-term and short-term meditation. He has served as Chief Academic Officer and interim CEO for the Mind & Life Institute. A lineage holder and teacher (Sensei) in the Soto tradition of Zen Buddhism, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Upaya Zen Center where he teaches, among other things, Zen Brain retreats and the annual Being with Dying training for clinicians who provide end-of-life care.

March 18, 2015 

Reverend angel Kyodo Williams: Beyon Buddhism: What We Need to Lose To Save What We Love

Williams is a social visionary that sees Transformative Social Change—applying inner awareness practice to broad-based social change—as America’s next great movement. She is an early shaper and leading voice in that work and coined the name for the field. 

April 3, 2014

Sharon Salzberg: Real Happiness at Work

Watch Sharon Salzberg's Full Lecture

In this talk we will explore a path to finding real happiness at work. Despite the many hours we tend to spend working, that arena of our lives may not be the source of great fulfillment or meaning. We will look at the qualities that can turn that around, including mindfulness, compassion, resiliency, integrity, and open awareness, and learn practices that help cultivate each of these. Suitable for both new and experienced meditators, the event will consist of guided meditations, talks and time for questions and answers.

A student of meditation since 1971, Sharon Salzberg is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, playing a vital role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. Ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (loving-kindness) form the foundation of her work. "Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom, and compassion," explains Salzberg. "Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright."

Salzberg's lastest book is Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, published by Workman Publishing. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and has also authored several other books, including the New York Times Best Seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program (2010); Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier with Robert Thurman (2013); Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience (2002); and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995). Learn more about Sharon Salzberg.

March 13th, 2013

An Evening with Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk is a critically acclaimed composer, singer, director/choreographer, and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films, and installations. She has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and two Guggenheim Fellowships. A pioneer in what is now called "extended vocal technique" and "interdisciplinary performance," Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. To learn more about Meredith Monk, please visit

November 16-17, 2011

Gary Snyder

Wednesday, November 16th: Gary Snyder will speak on the topic of Buddhism, American Culture and Values

Thursday, November 17th: Reading and Book Signing

April 5-6, 2011

Joanna Macy

Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with four decades of activism. She has created a ground-breaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application.

April 7, 2010

Paula Green, EdD: Building Peace in a Stormy World: A Journey of Service, Hope, and Faith

Dr. Green is the founder and Executive Director of Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, a US-based NGO focused on international conflict transformation, inter-communal dialogue, and reconciliation. She also serves as Professor of Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training, where she founded and directs CONTACT (Conflict Transformation Across Cultures), an annual Peacebuilding Institute and Graduate Certificate Program for peacemakers from around the world. Dr. Green was selected as a winner of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion, an award that was given to her by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in April 2009.

Dr. Green has decades of experience as a psychologist, educator, and consultant in the field of inter-group relations and conflict resolution. Her work has taken her to many regions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. She is a sought-after teacher and dialogue facilitator, program director, and mentor for a generation of graduate students and activists pursuing professional skills in peacemaking.

September 10-13, 2009

Jan Willis, PhD: Dharma Diversity: The Many Forms and Faces of Buddhism in America

Dr. Janice Willis is a Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University. She is one of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and has published numerous essays and articles on Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. In 2001 she published Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey. She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S., and has taught courses in Buddhism at Wesleyan since 1977. Time magazine named Dr. Willis one of six "spiritual innovators for the new millennium", Ebonycalled her one of its "Power 150" most influential African-Americans, and she was profiled in a 2005 Newsweek article about “Spirituality in America.”

April 7–9, 2009

Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara, PhD: Five Expressions of Zen: A Path to Service

Enkyo Roshi is a Zen Priest and certified Zen Teacher in the Soto tradition. She studied with John Daido Loori Roshi of Zen Mountain Monastery and Taizan Maezumi Roshi of the Zen Center of Los Angeles/Zen Mountain Center. In 1997, she received Shiho (dharma transmission) from Roshi Bernie Tetsugen Glassman and in June 2004, she received inka from him in an empowerment ceremony held at the House of One People in Montague, MA. Roshi currently serves as co-spiritual director of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual, study and social action association, and holds a PhD in media ecology from New York University.

September 22–24, 2008

José Cabezón, PhD: Thinking through Texts: Toward a Critical Buddhist Theology of Sexuality

Dr. José Cabezón is the first XIV Dalai Lama Professor in Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a major center for the study of world religions. Not only is he one of the leading scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Professor Cabezón is active in interreligious dialogue, gender and gay studies, and pioneering insights into the role of the practitioner in the academy. Born in Cuba and raised in Boston, he was the first in his family to attend college. A former monk, he served as Spanish interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In addition to his expertise in Tibetan and Spanish, Cabezón also has some fluency in Sanskrit, Pali, Japanese, Hindi, Latin, French and German.

June 4–6, 2008

The International Conference on Media, Spiritualities and Social Change
In conjunction with the University of Colorado, Naropa sponsored Mark Silk, PhD, director, Leonard Greenberg Center on Media and Public Life, Trinity College. Professor Silk is the author of Spiritual Politics: Religion and America Since World War II and  Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America. He is co-editor of Religion by Region, an eight-volume series on religion and public life in the United States, and co-author of One Nation Divisible: Religion and Region in America Today.

Dr. Silk presented a keynote lecture, Think Locally, Act Globally, on Thursday, June 5th at CU’s University Memorial Center.

Abstract: For forty years, the environmental movement has been animated by the imperative to think globally and act locally. But the challenge of our time is to know how to think locally in order to achieve global objectives. Local ways of conceptualizing community differ profoundly. In a world that often seems overwhelmed by transnational forces and institutions, accomplishing global ends requires profound awareness of the social metaphysics of particular places.