John Rockwell, Ashe Acharya

In Fall of 1975, John Rockwell read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and was amazed by the clearest description of confusion he had ever seen. Being desperately confused himself, he dove into practice with an eight-week program at Karmê Chöling. Soon after that, he met the Vidyadhara at Karmê Chöling and became his student. John took refuge with the Vidyadhara in 1976 and moved to Boulder to be with him and to study at Naropa University.

For the next fourteen years, John's life revolved around practice, study, translation and teaching. He spent time with the Vidyadhara as a member of the Nalanda Translation Committee, working closely with him on The Rain of Wisdom, The Life of Marpa, and other texts. He studied at Naropa and received an M.A. in Buddhist Studies, then began teaching there, eventually as a core faculty member in Buddhist Studies. John also taught at the Ngedön School in Boulder for many years.

Yet there was always the draw to practice more intensively. He returned to Karmê Chöling for one year in 1982-3 as head of practice and study, and eight years later returned to be co-director for four years. It was during this last stay at Karmê Chöling that his connection to the Shambhala teachings was strongly reawakened, and he pursued in-depth practice and study of the Dorje Dradul's Shambhala terma.

Eventually, the Shambhala vision brought John even further east to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where John was the Director of Shambhala International for five years, 1995 - 2000. After a brief gap, John was appointed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to be the Ashe Acharya and to oversee the Shambhala Office of Practice and Education. When financial shortfalls necessitated that Shambhala drastically reduce its staff, he then went on the road in North America and Europe to teach full time for almost three years.

Starting in 2005, John lived for six years at Karmê Chöling, a Shambhala Buddhist practice center in Vermont, where he was a resident acharya. There he taught programs and worked with a team of teachers to create the Mukpo Institute, an in-depth curriculum of practice and study in the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings. During this time, John began studying Taoist qigong with lineage holder Eva Wong, and was empowered by her in 2009 to start teaching qigong. In 2012, he married Rhiannon Wells and together they moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Rhiannon is the Director of the Halifax Shambhala Center. John continues to travel and teach internationally, and is spending more time outdoors studying wilderness skills, gardening, and applying Shambhala principles to social action.


Teaching Schedule


Jul 26 - Aug 10          Shambhala Mountain Center Enlightened Society Assembly w/ Acharya Melissa Moore

Past topics
Shambhala Art
Four Root Dharmas
Mahamudra & Maitri
"Enter the Vajra World"
Mahamudra with Mudra
Teachers Academy
Werma Sadhana Intensive


The Rain of Wisdom  (one of several translators)
The Life of Marpa the Translator (author of introduction and one of several translators)
A Primer of Classical Literary Tibetan (author)