Growing up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., Dale Asrael studied music and dance. Even as a child, she searched for answers to life’s big questions. Through her Jewish ancestry, she learned to celebrate the sacredness of life and, simultaneously be aware of the depth of human suffering. After completing university studies in film and Eastern religions, she moved to Canada in 1970, disheartened by America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Soon after she took Buddhist refuge vows at the Kagyü Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, she heard reports of a “revolutionary young lama” who was teaching in the United States. His name was Chögyam Trungpa. She traveled to Boulder to meet him, and during her first talk with him in 1973, realized she was “being given answers to questions I hadn’t even begun to articulate.”
Asrael is now an acharya (senior teacher) in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, founded by Chögyam Trungpa. She has taught as core faculty at Naropa University, also founded by Chögyam Trungpa, since 1992, in the post-graduate Buddhist Studies, Contemplative Education, and Counseling programs, and is an upadhyaya (Buddhist minister). She leads meditation retreats, dathuns, sutrayana seminaries, ngondro instructor trainings, and other programs internationally. In March of 2011, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of the Shambhala lineage, appointed Asrael the dean of meditation instructors. In this role, she trains, supervises, develops, and supports meditation instructors in the Shambhala lineage.
Asrael is also a practitioner of the ancient contemplative body-mind practice of qigong and has been appointed to teach in the Xiantianwujimen and Xiquan lineages by Daoist lineage holder, Eva Wong.