Teaching and Editing

Judy Lief has been a Buddhist teacher for over 35 years. She was a close personal student of Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who trained and empowered her as a teacher in the Buddhist and Shambhala traditions.  In her teaching, Judy  focuses on how the insights and meditative techniques stemming from the Buddhist tradition can be applied to the challenges of everyday life and to pressing global issues.

Ms. Lief is one of the primary editors of the works of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and served under him as the executive editor of Vajradhatu Publications for many years. The task of bringing Trungpa Rinpoche’s extensive body of teaching into the world continues to this day, as he left a large archive of spoken teachings to draw from, spanning his seventeen years of teaching in North America.

A Contemplative Approach to Death and Dying

Judy is the author of Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality (Shambhala Publications, March 2001). She has been presenting classes and workshops on a contemplative approach to death and dying, and on the teachings of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, since 1976. She has collaborated with Florence Wald, a founding mother of the Hospice Movement in the United States and former head of the Yale School of Nursing, on several conferences, workshops, and dialogues examining the role of spirituality in the care of the sick and dying.

Ms. Lief was a keynote speaker at the 10th International Palliative Care Conference, held in Montreal in 1994. In 2000–2001 Ms Lief served as pastoral counselor for the Maitri Day Health Center (an adult day health center for people with AIDS) in Yonkers, NY. When she lived in Vermont, she served for many years on the the Vermont based organization, the Madison-Deane Initiative. The Madison-Deane Initiative (MDI) produced the award winning documentary, Pioneers of Hospice, and has the mission of changing the face of dying through education and advocacy. Judy also served on the board and was a member of the faculty of the Clinical Pastoral Education program at the Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vermont.

Ms. Lief offers workshops and retreats for pastoral counselors, hospice workers, care givers, and medical personnel internationally on the contemplative care of the dying.


In addition to her book, Making Friends with Death, Judy continues to write and has contributed many articles for both magazines and anthologies.

Asian Pilgrimages and Programs

In collaboration with Authentic Asia, Judy serves as lecturer on pilgrimages to Asian countries, such as Tibet, India, and Bhutan.


Currently, Judy lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Chuck, the president of Naropa University,  and her dog, Loki. Happily, her daughter Jessica, her daughter Deborah and her husband Frazier, and her grandchildren—Niamaya, Neruda, and Kaizer—live nearby.