Telluride Institute News: Compassion Festival... Beyond The Speakers

By Elisabeth Gick


What makes the Compassion Festival a festival rather than a conference or symposium? The short answer is that a festival is more fun than a conference. There is art, there is food, there are things to look at, touch, hear, smell and taste.

The Compassion Festival, to be hosted this coming weekend by the Telluride Institute, may not have all those tempting ingredients, but a good number of them.

All day Friday and Saturday, the conference room of the Sheridan Opera House is the place for activities that are free and open to all curious passers-by. The main attraction will be Tibetan and Navajo markets of arts, crafts, ceremonial and secular objects. But also, Karen Armstrong’s Charter of Compassion will be displayed; please come, read and sign it! Local non-profits will have the opportunity to distribute their info literature; Between the Covers bookstore and our presenters will show off compassion related books, DVDs and other materials. Photos from Drew Ludwig’s Hurricane Katrina series will hang in the stairwell, as well as one of Renee van Dervere Zwire’s fabulous Buddha paintings (please go see all of them in the Tucker Gallery at the Ah Haa School).

We also plan to show two films at the Sheridan Opera House:   In Beauty I Walk produced by Sheri Brenner at 10 pm, Friday night;  I AM by semi-Tellurider, Tom Shadyac at 10 pm on Saturday night.

Try not to miss Saturday at the conference room: the monks of Gaden Shartse monastery will create a sand mandala side-by-side with Navajo medicine man Damien Jones who will create sand paintings. As far as I know such parallel execution of two essential ancient healing and purifying rituals has happened only once before!

Afterward, sit in “meditation on the green” with Jonathan Barfield, just outside the Opera House at 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Or join us on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. for closing ceremonies on the terrace of the Wilkinson Public Library. Again, the monks and our Native American guests will perform. Expect chanting, prayers, music from long horns…

Additionally, the monks offered to hold a special Long Life Prayer ritual at the Yoga Center at 9 a.m. on July 6, the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday. They ask for a donation for this event outside the festival, to help support their monastery, school and hospital in exile in Southern India.

On Wednesday afternoon you can find them at the Mountain Village Farmers’ Market, displaying and selling their beautiful handicrafts – ceremonial and secular. Stop by, chat with the monks, help them out by buying a singing bowl or prayer flag, or a packet of incense.

July 7th through the 10th at 7am, Venerable Jangchub Chophel will lead a Metta (loving kindness) meditation at Shantihi Yoga. This insight meditation is used to bring peace and tranquility into one’s own heart and sending loving kindness, along with compassion to others.

Finally, on Sunday, the monks will do another ceremony, more precisely a Healing Ritual at the Yoga Center at 5 p.m. This ritual offers an opportunity to improve your health by purifying negative karma. The ritual has three stages: the removal of negativities, the cleansing of subtle negative imprints, and protection from their return.

Happy Festival!


Compassion Festival, July 8 – 10, Sheridan Opera House, Telluride, Colorado. Transferable tickets are $100 for the whole package. Tickets to individual sessions ($20 each) will be available 15 minutes before that session. Tickets are also available at the Telluride Music Company at 201 E. Main Street for cash or check. More info, events schedule, and tickets at, click on Compassion Festival or call us at 970 728 8312.

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