Marvin Stanley Casper
December 4, 1942 – February 9, 2020
Marvin played a central role in the founding of Naropa University. He met our founder, Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1970 and, together with fellow student John Baker, edited Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation. I met Marvin in 1970 when we were both exploring the most unlikely karmic unfolding that led two young American Jews to Vermont, where we made the life changing connection to Trungpa Rinpoche. Marvin played a central role in the founding of Naropa University. Marty Janowitz, Naropa Interim Board Chair and our first executive director in 1974, recalls: “In 1973 Marvin and John engaged in a series of provocative conversations with Rinpoche about an idea to create a school where Buddhist teachings around wisdom, compassion and enlightened action could mix with Western intellectual and artistic traditions to spark new perspectives in learning, Buddhist in foundation but intentionally open to those of all faith traditions or others who worked with mindfulness and compassion outside a religious frame.” They imagined a unique and radical shift in how higher education could marry intellectual, personal and spiritual development. With Rinpoche’s encouragement, they developed the concept of a 1974 summer institute to launch this experiment, and reached out to a diverse and eclectic variety of prominent artists, scholars and poets as faculty. In late 1973 and 1974, Marvin played a primary strategic role which ultimately attracted more than 2000 students from June to August. Marvin went on to be a founding faculty of Naropa’s contemplative psychology program and its core Maitri Space Awareness training, developed in close collaboration with Trungpa Rinpoche. As Marvin put it in January 2000 in the (now called) Lion’s Roar Magazine “We were certainly aware that we were proposing a unique and radical departure from what higher education was like in America. There was no school in America that focused on personal and spiritual development as the root of the educational program. The tradition in America was developing people through the intellect.” For the 46 years since our launch, Marvin was a beloved teacher at Naropa and, to me, embodied an exceptional ability to hold true to the founding vision while evolving his teaching to meet the emerging challenges of the times. In response to a request for comments from faculty colleagues, Professor Lauren Casalino, both a student of Marvin’s from 30 years ago and a longtime faculty colleague, offered these recollections: “Marvin was a shape-shifter, one who could relate with and manifest all the Buddha family energies. His wisdom and his compassion, words so often used they can seem meaningless, were palpable qualities when one was with him. 2 weeks ago, he was deeply considering how to put in writing the need for humankind to live with more humility. In the face of my expression of despair around the climate crisis, and my view that we were going to go down and to take a lot of other life with us, he said ‘not necessarily - as long as there is life, life has the potential to manifest in more caring ways, precarious though these times are’. I felt and knew he spoke truth, once again helping me relax, opening me up, pointing the way forward.”. Generations of Naropa students had the good fortune of working with a genuine scholar-practitioner, and a person whose commitment to the learning and experiential journey of his students was unmatched.
Please join me in keeping Marvin, his family and legions of friends in your hearts. Warm Wishes, Chuck Lief President
- Sukhavati Service Thursday, February 13, 2020
- Witness Cremation Saturday, February 15, 2020
Marvin Stanley Casper
February 17, 2020
The incredible impact you and Liv had on the world is greatly appreciated and will always be cherished.
See you in our next go around Brother.
February 16, 2020
I was also a student in the contemplative psychology MA course matriculating in 1976. Although I went on to earn an additional MA at a prestigious Ivy League school, the Naropa experience that Marvin helped fashioned proved to be a much more challenging, engrossing and fruitful experience that has carried over into all aspects of my life. He was a unique individual who continues to influence into the future. May we be blessed with his fortunate rebirth.
February 14, 2020
My class mates and I studied with Marvin in the Buddhist and Western Psychology Masters Program. We started in 1976. Marvin loomed large in our after class conversations then and for the last forty years . We always sought him out at reunions, though I don't think we ever found him .
I send my deep sympathy to his family and friends,
Regan Foiles Urbanick