Paul Shippee

A dear friend has passed on. Paul had written me recently that he was dying so it wasn't a shock. I just received this email from his daughter Jennifer. 


Paul Shippee
DOB November 15, 1937
Passed August 31, 2023

Open Air Cremation at the Pyre Sunday September 3, 2023

Arrive at 6:30 AM
Fire Lighting at 7 AM


Paul Shippee moved to Crestone in 1999 and built his passive solar heated, rammed earth/straw bail home. He loved his community and over the years built many strong bonds of love and friendship. His passions were the Buddha Dharma, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), and Solar Energy. He loved the sun — both the physical sun and the sun of wisdom. He deeply cared for this world and always wanted to help make things better. He yearned for humanity to become enlightened, for us to learn how to live sustainably on the planet, and he was always seeking to connect with others on a deeper and more meaningful level. He was an engineer by training, but tirelessly sought to educate himself beyond the straight lines and neat calculations of the physical world. 

He was an early student of Suzuki Roshi’s, and spent two years at Tassahara, before meeting Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He moved to Colorado in 1970 and helped establish Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now Drala Mountain Center), was a founding faculty member during the first year of Naropa University, and had a solar energy business in Boulder called Colorado Sunworks. 

Paul passed peacefully at Kongtrul Rinpoche’s and his daughter Jennifer’s and home in Crestone on Thursday evening after a brief illness this summer. It was a full blue moon and Buddha Amitabha Day in the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar. 🙏

He greatly appreciated CEOLP and the Open Air Cremation and attended many of them in the past. He said everyone would be invited to his!


I, DC, responded: My heartfelt condolences to you Jennifer. I'm a little teary-eyed now. Paul and I have kept up through the years quite a bit. I visited him when in Boulder then Crestone whenever I passed through. I was always impressed with where he put his energy, what he did, what he taught. 

Farewell Paul. Gya te gya te...

Paul Shippee, an original first-generation American student of Suzuki Roshi and of Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a highly innovative and creative early-sangha pioneer, an enduring and devoted Dharma practitioner and a friend and close dharma-cohort to so many of us, has died. May his adventuresome and ingenious spirit, his magnanimous vision and work, his passion for life, and his consummate perkiness continue to influence Dharma as it continues its grand entry to the West. Our condolences to his family, with great appreciation for his life. - from the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Cuke Podcasts with Paul: 2022🔊 | 2021🔊 (a repost of a 2020 podcast - Cuke podcasts also available on other sites.)

Interview with Paul Shippee by DC


His website:

February 5, 2022 - Everyday: a Workbook of Poems and Voices, 1972, by Paul Shippee. Cover art by Peter Coyote.

January 23, 2021 - Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Buddhism


2-25-16 - My friend, I offer you a reflection fresh from this snowy Colorado morning:

Why Do I Meditate?

To enjoy blissful, empty mind free, unburdened of thinking.
It’s that simple!
The open space is a relief.
My own experience is luminosity and boundless space,
No question about that.
To just sit down in erect posture with straight spine,
Directing attention to feeling breath in the body
Is to check in with the amazing spaciousness of true nature.
It’s much more than mindfulness.
It’s like checking in to the Palace of Emptiness,
A rich, luxurious hotel.
Who will sit with me and enjoy this palace above the clouds?
The password is effort to break the bonds of samsara.
In order to cut desire and attachment I offer this up to everyone.
Then I go sweep the floor.

With warmth & love,

Paul has had many articles published in his local Crestone Eagle, the latest being Community Solar Microgrids Explained.

9-08-15 - Angels of Darkness, Angels of Light - Paul writes about working with prisoners

3-01-14 - Why I Became a Buddhist, Meeting My Two Spiritual Teachers, Ascending and Descending Spirit by Paul Shippee

8-21-13 - Paul Shippee, one of two friends into Tibetan Buddhism who told me to go hear Anam Thubten in Point Richmond (see 8-19-13 in What's New), interviewed:

Crestone Energy Fair will present a Nonviolent Communication Forum at
1:30 pm on Saturday under the tent...see you there.
Meantime, here's a 4-min preview video by Scott Murrish

11-21-12 - A Paul Shippee Facebook page: Sustainable Conversations - Community Page about Nonviolent Communication

5-19-12 - Paul Shippee sent a quote from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

5-18-12 - Paul Shippee - Ten Tips For Compassionate Communication

5-17-12 - May 2012 Crestone Mt. Seat Ceremony for Dan Welch and related happenings.



See his article on the stupa at Shambala Mountain Center.

Green Home Building dot com

Solar Workshops Beyond Sustainability -Consulting, Design, Construction Management-

THE HEART SUTRA AND COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION With Paul Shippee November 9 / 7:00 pm - November 11 / 5:00 pm Madison Shambhala Center Madison, Wisconson

Notice of a September 2010 workshop in Davis CA plus his notes from a workshop in Madrid.

6-01-11 - Paul Shippee has written an article on Lester Brown, WORLD ON THE EDGE in the Crestone Eagle, on page B-1 June issue.

6-05-11 - Paul Shippee recently reached the "Tenth Ox-Herding Picture" and is now entering the marketplace with open hands. To learn what Paul is inspired to share with you about Internet Marketing just go here:

When you click on the link I will see it if/when you enter name and email, You can also call me at 719-256-4656 or send an email to

Comment by Paul on cuke

My Thirtieth Birthday Opens to Zen

(written at the request of my daughter)It’s hard to remember much of anything about my birthdays, probably because most often I have not taken the trouble, the joy, the planning or the desire to celebrate them. What about that? What’s the underlying motive for avoiding my birthday celebrations? The first thing I think of is that the emotion of fear, mostly unacknowledged, has blocked any enthusiasm or happiness arising on those annual personal holidays. I also see, when looking deeper, that there was probably sadness accompanying the fear. It seems I was most often not happy about advancing one more year away from my happy youth and moving one more step toward a reminder of what?  …old age, sickness and death? So it seems that some unhappy mixture of sadness and fear drove me to shrink away from getting happy about growing another year older. I suppose, too, there was some element of shame mixed in there about lifting myself upward and outward, pretending to be happy by inviting friends to gather round a birthday cake. Add to that the reality that I was often living alone on birthdays, or traveling, but mostly I kept the birthday secret, quiet and hidden. Oh dear!!? …do all double Scorpios do this?

Now that I am older and living close to my daughter in Crestone we have been honoring and celebrating our birthdays which are five weeks apart in the Fall. I have enjoyed those small private gatherings which seem to be an easy and simple feature of our shared reality. No big deal perhaps, but a family ritual that I now treasure and enjoy.

Now, having said all that, I do remember a few things, and perhaps a few gifts, from around the time I turned 30 years old. I was living on the top floor of a 5-story walkup, rent-controlled apartment on  Manhattan’s Lower East Side, on 2nd Street between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. This was a tumultuous time of social activism and widespread protest against America’s war in Vietnam including huge street marches in NYC that I participated in. In addition to that, a button turned up around this time with the words “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30!” Yikes, I thought, how shall I relate to that?

I had lived in San Francisco for about ten years before this where I had participated in creating and performing in a street theater group protesting the war. Now in New York I joined the Pageant Players, another street theater anti-war protest group. We created our own characters, costumes, music and plays, then performed them from a flatbed truck in various NYC neighborhoods on Saturdays. During this year living in New York I was also employed by the NYC Department of Social Services where I attended to welfare cases in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood. It was an office job with required visits in the field to mostly black single mothers living in the poorest housing projects. Since it was a dangerous neighborhood the black mothers, to whom I was funneling money, would often watch for me from their 3rd floor window and call out to me as I approached. They wanted me to be safe and let everyone know that this white boy was here on business to support their livelihoods.

At this time I was also a novice meditator. Upon coming home from work each day I would practice Zen meditation sitting on a cushion in front of a stick of incense until it burned completely down. Here at sea level this took about half an hour. In order to begin and remain undisturbed I would ask any guests or visitors to leave and go on a walk and return when I was finished. I had learned zazen sitting meditation at the San Francisco Zen Center a year or two earlier from Suzuki Roshi and liked it a lot for reasons I wasn’t yet clear about. Sometimes I would go to the local NYC zendo of Eido Roshi and sit formally with the group in the dimly lit room, encouraged by soft Japanese bamboo flute music and pushed deeper into our practice by the low, determined growl of our kind Zen teacher.

One of the Buddhist books I was studying, besides Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, was titled Three Pillars of Zen, by the late American Zen master Philip Kapleau who had established a Zen Center in Rochester, NY. One evening after finishing reading the book I wondered who was this American who had studied, meditated and been ordained as a Zen priest in Japan? After closing the book I found the telephone number and called the Center hoping to speak with Kapleau; and it was he who answered the phone! After speaking with him for about half an hour I decided that he was not the teacher I wanted to study with. I do not recall my reasons for this decision; it was a feeling based on intuition with a convincing level of certainty.

At another time I saw a picture on the front page of the Village Voice newspaper of Swami Satchidananda who was staying at his Integral Yoga Center and offering talks and yoga training. I attended some of these gatherings and thus dipped into another aspect of early American spiritual teachings. Still another time I read in the same Village paper that a learned Tibetan monk, Geshe Sopa, was scheduled to give a talk in Greenwich Village, aka the West Village. I attended his talk and afterward asked him some questions during which he told me about a small Tibetan Center for monks that was now established in a residential house somewhere in New Jersey. He said I was welcome to visit there and I got the address from him. On an upcoming Saturday I drove over to this Center where I found maroon robed monks sitting around a table somberly, it appeared, eating a meal and not talking. Later I learned they did not speak English. There was another American white man present and I engaged him in conversation. I think his name was Jeffrey Hopkins and I asked him to help me find the answer to my burning question, “Why do I sit meditation?” I believe I was looking for some lofty philosophical answer to this deep question. He looked at me and asked, “What do you experience or like about meditation when you sit?” I replied that I feel good. He offered that instead of trying to find a philosophical answer, just look into how I feel each time I sit and let that be motivation to sit the next time. I was satisfied and happy with Mr. Hopkins' answer; it made perfect sense and has lasted me a lifetime. It pointed a way for me to make meditation home.

These are some of the events that constellated around my 30th birthday. They seem like birthday gifts from today’s perspective. But there’s more! In the Spring of that year I noticed an interesting article, again in the Village Voice paper, that featured a college friend that I had lost track of. The article was about the newly formed Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a Japanese-type monastic center located deep in the mountains of California, near Big Sur, and about two hours south of the city center of the San Francisco Zen Center. What caught my attention was a big surprise; that my college friend, Peter Schneider, was the Director of the Zen monastery! It didn’t take long for me to see the hand-writing on the wall, which called to me like a familiar song saying, “If Peter can do it, then so can I !!” I had reached the point in meditation practice where I had wanted to get serious and really learn how to do it, and this seemed like just the ticket. I contacted the San Francisco center and told old friend and Zen Center secretary, the late Yvonne Rand, that I wanted to join the monastery in the Fall. How much would that cost? Two years earlier I had left a motorcycle behind in San Francisco in care of a friend. Hoping it was still there I called and was able to use the sale of the bike to finance my first 3-month zen monastery training. I liked this strict but gentle monastic training, set next to a pristine full roiling creek, so much that I ended up staying at Tassajara for two years, and three more training training periods. Entering Tassajara in the Fall was to mark a big turn-around in my life. I arrived there with long hair and was told that the men were required to shave their heads monastic style. I refused! I was allowed to keep my long hair when Peter told everyone, “Let him do what he wants.” However, after a few weeks or a month it seems the human drive and lust for belonging began to capture my heart and I went into the middle of the creek and cut off all my hair watching it float downstream. I was abiding with the zen rule to let no one step on your hair!