Class Electives

Participants in the 2017 retreat will have the opportunity to pursue one of the following four elective courses during their stay. The class format is smaller, usually under 20 people and meet four times during the course of the retreat. Taught by Rinpoche’s senior students, these electives offer the possibility to both broaden your knowledge of buddha dharma or to take a deeper dive into an area familiar to you.

Elective classes provide an opportunity to focus on an area that complements the overall retreat theme of the Mandala Principle and expands and deepens each students own area of study.

The Four Reminders: Birth, Death and Everything in Between

Precious human birth, death and impermanence, karma and its consequences and the viciousness of samsara–these are the 4 reminders, the dharmic facts of life. They are also the first of Atisha’s slogans (“First train in the preliminaries”) and the foundations of vajaryana ngondro practice. Join us in contemplating these reminders which “turn our mind towards the dharma” and which are so real and accessible they are considered even more powerful for ordinary practitioners than so-called advanced practices. Sources will include Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation and Jamgon Kongtrul’s The Torch of Certainty as well as The Profound Treasury.

Joe Litven

Joe Litven

Joe has been a student of the Vidyadhara since 1973. He has taught meditation programs throughout the world and was Dean of teachers for Shambhala Training for many years in Halifax. More recently he has taught at all the Profound Treasury retreats, being called on in the past year to co-lead the Study Department at the retreat. Joe has also developed and facilitated innovative mindfulness programs for the public, including applications to addictions and health and wellness for corporations, government agencies and non-profits. He is a cyclist, cook and occasional singer at the retreat’s No Talent Show.

Deborah Luscomb

Deborah Luscomb, although primarily known for her decades of ritual textile production, has a passion for bringing people together around difficult, but necessary conversations. In addition to founding the Death Cafe in Halifax, she also facilitates Death Matters workshops and the One Year to Live course, as well as sitting vigil with the dying and coordinating funerals. She brings extensive training in meditation, contemplation, facilitation and deep listening… and a fine sense of humour… to our shared adventure.

Living Abhidharma and The Mandala Principle

In this course we will explore the basic elements of reality, or dharmas, as Abhidharma, or the “pattern of dharma” as presented by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his Glimpses of Abhidharma. The Adhidharma is a very precise and impartial way of looking at mind. Our focus will be to develop an understanding of the five skandhas as a way of dealing with everyday life situations, as a living process. Of particular interest is Rinpoche’s presentation of the form skandha as related to ignorance and the eight consciousnesses. If time allows we will refer to the traditional sources from which he draws his presentation.

Derek Kolleeny

Derek began the practice and study of Buddhism in 1976 under the guidance of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and has been teaching Buddhism for over 35 years. He has studied with other leading dharma teachers, primarily Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.

Derek has held a range of leadership positions including serving on the Nalanda Translation Committee, serving as Director of Practice and Study of the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York from 2000-2005, founding and co-leading the Westchester Buddhist Center which is dedicated to the tradition of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and he has coordinated visits of many teachers including the XVIth Karmapa and the Dalai Lama.

Ellen Mains

Ellen became a student of Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche in 1971 in Montreal and has taught in the Shambhala community for many years in both America and Europe. She was Head of Practice at Karme-Chöling during the 1970’s and Director of Practice and Education at the Boulder Shambhala Center from 2003-2005. In addition to meditation, she has trained in several body-mind disciplines, including Kyudo (the Way of the Bow), and Inner Relationship Focusing.

During the last ten years, she has spent extensive time in Poland and plans to soon publish a memoir, Buried Rivers: A Survivor’s Daughter Revisits the Holocaust through Buddhist Eyes.

Dharma Art

The term dharma art does not mean art depicting Buddhist symbols or ideas, such as the wheel of life or the story of Gautama Buddha. Rather, dharma art refers to art that springs from a certain state of mind on the part of the artist that could be called the meditative state. It is an attitude of directness and unself-consciousness in one’s creative work. — From True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art

From his own training and from the very beginning of his teaching in the West, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche included artistic practices in the path of meditation. Creativity can be seen as an expression of the awakened state itself: effortless, spontaneously arising, without aggression, a curious and playful embrace of all phenomena. This class requires no prior artistic training and is open to all. We’ll be engaging in exercises, some of them originally presented by Chögyam Trungpa, others developed by his students over the years, all designed to engage sense perceptions and our native awakeness. Classes will combine lectures, discussion, hands-on activities, and field trips on the property.


Michelle Laporte

Michelle is a longtime student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and other luminous, mainly Tibetan Buddhist teachers. When she is not at the Profound Treasury Retreat she can usually be found in Brooklyn, New York, where she practices illustration, painting conservation, and poetry, and teaches on climate change and resilience at Parsons School of Design.

Barbara Bash

Barbara has been walking the calligraphic path for many years with an interest in buddhist sensibility as expressed through western art forms. She studied Dharma Art with Chögyam Trungpa and has been a longtime Shambhala practitioner and meditation instructor. She teaches creative process through big brushwork and has collaborated with musicians, storytellers, and dancers to explore new forms of visual learning. Barbara has also trained in Nonviolent Communication and Focusing, weaving these communication practices into her teaching.

Dharma in Action: from Sacred View to Sacred Activism


“As we read in the newspapers and see on television, the world is deteriorating, one thing after the other, every hour, every minute, and nobody is helping very much. Your help doesn’t have to be a big deal. To begin with, just work with your friends and work with yourself at the same time. It is about time that we became responsible for this world. It will pay for itself.
The Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Buddhism has a rich tradition of commitment to engagement with the world. From mindfulness of the outbreath to the Bodhisattva Vow, and ultimately visualizations and manifestations of wakeful energy in Vajra mandalas, there is an inextricable connection between personal and social transformation. This course will explore the view, practice and action of meaningful engagement and how Buddhist and Shambhala teaching may be applied in community service, business, activism, culture, and just plain life.


Chuck Lief

Chuck became a student of the Vidyadhara , in 1970 and worked closely with him until his death in 1987, serving in many roles including board member and chair of Shambhala International and its predecessors, Vajradhatu and the Nalanda Foundation, board member and chair of Naropa University, and personal lawyer and bursar to the Mukpo family. He taught classes at Vajradhatu Seminaries and many programs at Shambhala Centers in North America and Europe. He was named president Naropa University in 2012.

Chuck was the first president of the Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY, one of the earliest and best-known models of integrated nonprofit social enterprises in the country, providing services including housing for homeless families, childcare centers, and HIV/AIDS housing and healthcare. For decades Chuck has led non-profits organizations and served on non-profit boards of organizations working toward sustainable social and economic transformation.

Marty Janowitz

Marty is an Acharya within the Shambhala lineage. Since 1970, Marty studied, served, and ultimately taught under Trungpa Rinpoche’s instructions and strives to continue teaching and acting in accord with his guidance and lineage. In 1997 Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche appointed Marty as Warrior General of Shambhala—charged with advancing Shambhala’s commitment to the realization of enlightened society—human communities that at their core express the heart of goodness in action. Much of Marty’s current teaching focuses on the potential to realize such possibilities through the inextricable connection between the paths of personal and societal transformation. Inspired by that vision Marty has long been dedicated to integrating these paths through what he describes as “sacred activism,” with particular interest in environmental and social change. He is Chair of the Nova Scotia Roundtable on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity, is active in Buddhist climate change campaigns and other sustainability initiatives, and is a trustee of Naropa University.