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Dec 11
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“Fail Better!”
Ani Pema Chodron at the Naropa Graduation photo by Cliff Grassmick of the Daily Camera

Ani Pema Chodron at the Naropa Graduation, photo by Cliff Grassmick of the Daily Camera

As the Boulder Daily Camera says, at Naropa University’s recent graduation ceremony Ani Pema Chodron implores grads to “fail, fail again, fail better”. About 300 earned degrees from the Buddhist-inspired university, now in its 40th year.

article by Jade Cruz Quinn, Shambhala Times Intern

Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, was founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974. At this year’s Commencement, Ani Pema Chodron, a bestselling author and student of Trungpa Rinpoche and his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche was chosen as the guest speaker to encourage Naropa’s new graduates on their transition.

Ani Pema Chodron with her granddaughter Alexandria Bull, photo by Cliff Grassmick of the Daily Camera

Ani Pema Chodron with her granddaughter Alexandria Bull, photo by Cliff Grassmick of the Daily Camera

Approximately 300 students graduated from Naropa’s undergraduate and graduate programs at Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado at Boulder’s neighboring campus this past Saturday.

This was a particularly special event for both Ani Pema and the student body because her granddaughter, Alexandria, was among the graduating Class of 2014. Ani Pema opened with mentioning that when her granddaughter first entered Naropa in 2010, she told her if she graduated, she would speak at her graduation. That time finally arrived.

Her talk was very conversational and friendly, with laughter frequently emerging from the crowd. As Ani Pema walked on stage, the audience heard her granddaughter shout, “Yo, granny!” Despite her casual approach, she was received with upmost respect, commanding a fully standing audience at both its beginning and end, with multiple rounds of applause throughout.

Naropa Graduate, photo courtesy of Naropa

Naropa Graduate, photo courtesy of Naropa

Ani Pema’s speech was highlighted by a Samuel Beckett quote, “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.” She also focused on the fear that comes with great life transitions and encouraged students to not be afraid of failure and to embrace each failure, as it brings learning and experience.

Though Ani Pema is a teacher in the Shambhala tradition, her speech did not focus on buddhism, rendering it more accessible to the many audience members not familiar with buddhism or Naropa University’s historical background.

Macky Auditorium was filled to its capacity. Naropa’s administration received so many requests for tickets due to Ani Pema’s presence as guest speaker that they decided in response to live-stream her speech on their website. Congratulations to Naropa’s Class of 2014.

Jade Cruz Quinn
is a writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Her poetry has been published in a number of literary magazines including Semicolon, LuNaMoPoLiS, and more. She is currently a student at Naropa University where she is pursuing a degree in Writing & Literature. She is also currently an Editing Intern at the Shambhala Times. Follow her on Twitter, and visit her portfolio at jadecruzquinn.wordpress.com.

Editor’s Note: We are currently on hiatus from publishing new articles; in the meantime, please enjoy this classic item reprinted from our back issues.


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1 response to “ “Fail Better!” ”
  1. Harold_Turner
    May 18, 2014

    What Beckett wrote.

    “All of old.Nothing else ever.Ever
    tried.Ever failed.No matter.Try again.
    Fail again.Fail better.”

    from “Worstword Ho”. Grove Press 1983

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