Opening the Heart: A Compassion Training and Dialogue Program

Opening the Heart:  A Compassion Training and Dialogue Program

Opening the Heart:  A Compassion Training and Dialogue Program

Nalanda Events Center, February 14-16, 2020

6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO 80301


Roshi Joan Halifax, Rev. Mark Unno, and Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

Sponsored by Naropa’s Wisdom Traditions Department and Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education:  The Compassion Initiative and Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Foundation

Throughout Buddhist history, the compassion teachings and practices have been foundational for many diverse lineages and cultures.  Each lineage, however, offers distinctive perspectives and meditations to deepen compassion.  This meditation and dialogue weekend brings the Zen, Shin, and Tibetan traditions together with theological context and practical training in compassion.  In addition, the three renowned teachers join in an historic conversation about how we can open the heart and meet the suffering of our world. 


  • Rev. Mark Unno – Shin priest, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Oregon
  • Roshi Joan Halifax – Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
  • Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown –Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies, Naropa University

Weekend Schedule: 

  • Friday, February 14 – 7:00-9:00 p.m.
    • Evening lecture by Joan Halifax Roshi on Buddhism and Science and the importance of compassion
  • Saturday, February 15
    • Morning (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.), Judith Simmer-Brown presents compassion in the Tibetan tradition with practice
    • Afternoon (2:00-5:00 p.m.), Rev. Mark Unno presents Shin view of compassion with practice
  • Sunday, February 16
    • Morning (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.), Roshi Joan Halifax presents Zen view with contemporary compassion practices
    • Afternoon (1:30-4:30 p.m.), closing panel discussion with faculty, followed by breakouts with the students and participants, on compassion practices

Please note that lunch is on your own.

Roshi Joan Halifax, is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, activist, and author. She is founder of the Ojai Foundation and founder, abbot, and head teacher of Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A practitioner of socially engaged Buddhism, Roshi Joan has done extensive work in the area of death and dying for many years. In 1994, Roshi Joan founded the Project on Being With Dying, which has trained hundreds of health-care professionals in the contemplative care of dying people. A distinguished scholar at the Library of Congress, she also has served on the board of directors of the Mind and Life Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the relationship of science and Buddhism.  Roshi Joan studied for a decade with Zen teacher Seung Sahn Sunim, received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Bernie Glassman Roshi. A founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than three decades has focused on engaged Buddhism. Her recent book STANDING AT THE EDGE: FINDING FREEDOM WHERE FEAR AND COURAGE MEET is a powerful exploration of Edge States and compassion. 

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown 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 dharma teacher) by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2000.  Her teaching specialties are meditation practice, Shambhala teachings, Buddhist philosophy, tantric Buddhism, and contemplative higher education.  She has published many chapters and articles on these topics.  She heads the Compassion Training Task Force for the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education at Naropa and serves as one of the compassion trainers.  Her book, Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala 2001), explores the feminine principle in Vajrayana Buddhism.  She has also edited Meditation and the Classroom:  Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (SUNY 2011). 

Rev. Mark Unno is the fourteenth generation Shin Buddhist priest in his family lineage and has led over five hundred Dharma events internationally over the course of his career. He is Associate Professor of East Asian Buddhism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon. His research is in Classical Japanese Buddhism, Buddhism and psychotherapy, comparative religious thought, and interrreligious dialogue, and he is the recipient of the Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievment Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is the author of Shingon Refractions: Myoe and the Mantra of Light (2004), editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures (2006) as well as articles on an array of topics including Zen and Pure Land Buddhism. He has published in Buddhist journals such as Tricycle, Lion’s Roar, and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. His essays can be found at:

The refund policy is as follows for the weekend ticket:

Before December 14:  Full refund minus a $100 processing fee
December 13-January 14:  50% of program cost
After January 14:  No refunds

There are no refunds available for individual event tickets.

Naropa University welcomes participants with disabilities. Persons with questions about accessibility or who require disability accommodations should contact Kristin Anderson-Bohan at 303-546-3593 or at least two weeks prior to the event.