A few photos of the precious life I am grateful to have lived.


Greetings and welcome to my blog.  I hope you find it beneficial. I have had the wonderful opportunity to experience life through a wide range of conditions, meeting many wise and kind teachers throughout. It is my aspiration to share some of their wisdom with you with the hope that you find it helpful in living a truly meaningful life.

Please allow me to share a bit about myself.  I currently live in the small town of Carbondale, located in the Western Rocky Mountains of Colorado, with my wise and talented wife, Laura Bartels. For those of you that would like to know a bit more about my journey, here is a short biography:

I was extremely fortunate to have been raised by an incredibly loving and amazing mother. However, my father passed away when I was 6 and she was left to raise 9 children by herself. Though my mother always made sure our needs were met, I grew up in a low-income environment, surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and violence and chose to make that the focus of my life. As you could imagine, this lead to a life of addiction, homelessness, and despair. Fortunately, in 1984, at the age of 22, after years of self-inflicted pain and suffering, I found recovery and began a spiritual journey that changed the course of my life. As a result of that journey, I was able to turn my experiences of being a dishwasher, auto mechanic, corporate manager, graduate student, and spiritual practitioner into insights on how to live productively, creatively, and collaboratively. After living in different cultural and economic environments, along with educational and spiritual training, I have tried my best to become an accessible, authentic teacher and role model for people who want positive change and progress in their life.

Having transformed my life with the guidance and support of so many kind and wonderful people, I was able to pursue my passion to help others who were struggling. I initially became a drug and alcohol abuse counselor for adolescents and families. Believing I could reach at-risk youth best as a high school teacher, I returned to school to earn my teaching credentials. I then fulfilled my dream of teaching low-income, minority students at Jordan High School in Long Beach, California. Teaching there has been one of the highlights of my life. Many of my students are still very much a part of my life and I am fortunate to continue to have contact with them.

In addition to other professional pursuits, I had also been a student of Buddhism for many years. A teaching by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama inspired me to become an ordained Buddhist monk. In August 2005, I traveled to Gaden Shartse Monastery in India, where the eminent Lati Rinpoche ordained me with the name of Jangchub Chophel. Returning from India, I continued my monastic studies at Thubten Dhargye Ling, under the guidance of the venerated teacher, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen. I was able to remain in the classroom, teaching another 3 years while in monastic robes.

In 2008, I left the classroom to serve the Gaden Shartse monastery as Director of their Cultural Foundation. In this capacity, I spent three years organizing and participating in Tibetan Buddhist cultural and educational events as part of the Sacred Earth and Healing Arts of Tibet Tour throughout the United States.

After more than six years of monastic life, I returned to life as a layperson. It is my hope to draw upon my training and life experience to be of benefit to others. My personal mission statement is to provide teachings that are accessible, practical and help people live a meaningful life in accordance with their own values and belief systems. Currently, I am the co-founder of the Mindful Life Program. founder of Way of Compassion Foundation, resident teacher at the Way of Compassion Dharma Center, and author of The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness. 


John’s TEDx Talk – Free Will is a Skill


A short clip with highlights of John’s talk at a recovery convention