Compassion for a World in Crisis
by Watch Staff
Jun 23, 2011 | 1564 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – Building on its July 2010 Language of the Mental Life conference in Telluride, the Telluride Institute has organized a three-day conference, Compassion for a World in Crisis, for Friday, July 8-Sunday, July 10, at the Sheridan Opera House.


Speakers from three categories – neuroscientists from the world of academia; Native American teachers and healers and Tibetan Buddhist monks – will come together for three days of seminars, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions – on the subject of compassion.


From the world of neuroscience come Dr. Cliff Saron from the Center for Mind and Brain, at U.C. Davis; Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, assistant director of theCenter for Compassion and Altruism Research Education at Stanford University and Dr. Janis Dickinson from Cornell University.


Presenting the Native American view of compassion are Damien Jones, Navajo medicine man and teacher; Grace McNeley, who has been passing on her Navajo language, history and philosophy to students at Diné College, in Tsaile, Ariz., for 30 years; and Lorain Fox Davis, Blackfeet/Cree, the founder/director of Rediscovery Four Corners, a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to serve Native American youth and elders, as well as adjunct faculty for the American Indian Studies Program and on the Advisory Council for the Environmental Studies department at Naropa University and who has, for the past 30 years, worked extensively with indigenous healers, spiritual teachers and Buddhist masters.


And the monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery, who visited Telluride in 2009 and 2010, return for a third visit, representing the Tibetan Buddhist view of compassion, as taught by Geshe Kunchok Tenzin, a spiritual leader who took monastic vows in 1972, going on to earn the highest level of Geshe degree, Geshe Lharam, equivalent to valedictorian, in 1996.


Interspersed with the panel discussions, seminars and question-and-answer sessions will be Native American and Buddhist ceremonies, sand paintings and movies, as well as live Navajo and Tibetan markets selling cultural wares.


Tying it all together will be Dr. Peter Gold, anthropologist, ethno-musician and author of The Circle of the Spirit, Navajo and Tibetan Sacred Wisdom. Dr. Gold has spent many years living among native Americans and in Tibet. The similarities he found between the two cultures go way beyond the superficial facial likeness and preference for silver and turquoise jewelry. Dr. Gold will give the keynote speech Friday evening.

Saturday evening is movie night. Tom Shadyac’s award winning documentary I Am is all about the festival’s topic, spiced with Shadyac’s signature sense of humor; Shadyac may be in attendance.


Special guests of the Ideas Festival will be available for Friday/Saturday lunchtime conversations; for more information about this, please visit , click on Compassion Festival.

• Markets featuring Navajo and Tibetan arts and crafts will be open for business throughout the weekend in the conference room of the Sheridan Opera House.

• A sand painting and a sand mandala will be created, side by side, on Saturday, by Medicine Man Damien Jones (sand painting) and Gaden Shartse monks (sand mandala).

• Relevant videos will be screened, on a loop, in the conference room at the Sheridan Opera House, and local nonprofits promoting compassion are invited to exhibit their work.

• A closing ceremony will take place at the Wilkinson Library Patio, with chanting and prayers that is free and open to all.

For more information, or to buy a $100 pass, please visit and click on Compassion Festival; tickets will be on sale for $20 per session (morning, afternoon, evening) for any available seats 15 minutes before the session.

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