By Ani Tenzin Lhadron December 18, 2014

This summer, CIIS received a $100,000 legacy grant from the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research (the Foundation) for the Anthropology and Social Change department. The grant was a bequest in honor of the lifelong national and international work of Angeles Arrien, PhD, who passed away last spring at the age of 73.

Several decades ago, at CIIS, Angeles co-designed and implemented the original Social and Cultural Anthropology program, and most recently she was on the Council of Sages and taught workshops through Public Programs & Performances.

Angeles was known for her deep commitment, her integrity, and her skills for facilitating positive and sustainable changes with individuals and organizations.

She always looked for what was possible, beyond the knowable, to serve the individual and collective greater good. She embodied a deep commitment and a clear and direct approach to her work with tens of thousands of individuals for more than 45 years.

Angeles held a consistent vision that the heart of collective work always supported a diversity of many points of view and possibilities, and she wholeheartedly believed in the incredible power of what she called "bridging work," whether between disciplines, peoples, cultures, traditions, or generations.


Angeles was the president of the Foundation, a nonprofit organization that she created to support the preservation of the cultural heritage of indigenous traditions worldwide, and to sponsor multicultural bridging and collaborative projects between countries, professions, generations, and faiths.
The Foundation honored international elders as invaluable mentors and wisdom-keepers, fostered the development of emerging youth leaders, supported environmental sustainability, and sponsored the development of more than 200 water wells in countries in need. Its outreach positively affected people and communities in 32 countries, and it has provided more than 400 scholarships to youth and elders.
"I could not be more pleased with the delightful news regarding the Angeles Arrien scholarships," said Andrej Grubacic, Chair of the Anthropology and Social Change department. "This generous gift will support the work of two anthropology students in areas that reflect the Foundation's mission. Our faculty and students will do our best to honor her memory and celebrate her work as a cultural anthropologist and peace builder."

“She always looked for what was possible, beyond the knowable, to serve the individual and collective greater good”

Born in 1940, Angeles became a cultural anthropologist, author, educator, and consultant to many organizations, businesses, and individuals. Raised biculturally and one of the first generation of a Basque immigrant family from the Pyrenees of Spain, Angeles discovered as a young girl her deep interest in learning about other cultures, arising out of her own bicultural experience.
With family in the Basque communities of both Idaho and Spain, she pursued her interests in diverse cultures and international work through an advanced degree in anthropology and folklore at UC Berkeley. There she learned about cross-cultural and indigenous traditions, and explored the commonalities of perennial wisdoms encompassing spiritual and religious traditions, societal mores, and universal values.


As a young woman traveling around the world as part of her teaching and research, Angeles developed a lifelong commitment to finding the common ground between people and communities. She felt it important to bridge differences and optimize the creative opportunities and points of unity found in diversity, by revealing the "universal wisdoms" that transcend culture, history, and family conditioning.

For more than 45 years, Angeles imparted these universal and perennial wisdoms in a sustainable manner so that they would be preserved for future generations. Her lectures, courses, and writings bridged cultural anthropology, psychology, comparative religions, conflict resolution, and mediation skills.

Her award-winning books include Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them (1993 Benjamin Franklin Award); The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom (2007 Nautilus Award for Best Book on Aging); and Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life (a Gold Medal Co-winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards IPPY Award).
Angeles, author of seven books, is most known for her beloved book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher, and Visionary, from which her programs, keynotes, and workshops drew most extensively. Through decades of teaching Four-Fold Way® programs, and her lifelong love of nature, she provided three-day, three-night solo wilderness experiences for more than 6,000 people of all ages worldwide.

Robert McDermott, President Emeritus of CIIS, said of his friend and collaborator, "Her Four-Fold Way reveals that Angeles was a wise and helpful teacher. A lunch with Angie would show that she was also a sensitive and effective healer. A daylong or weekend retreat with Angie would show that she was also a wide and far-sighted visionary. A week in the desert with Angie would show that she was also a warrior."

Angeles taught in the University of California system and at three Bay Area graduate schools. While at CIIS implementing the Social and Cultural Anthropology doctoral program (now called Anthropology and Social Change), she also received its Distinguished Teaching Award. Since 1988, Angeles received three honorary doctorate degrees.
In addition to being an advisor to numerous organizations nationally, she was an international advisor and past fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences; a trustee of the Fetzer Institute; and core faculty with the Metta Institute's End-of-Life Counselor Training (EOL) program.


Angeles's work has been featured on TV, radio, and in print media, and has been used in medical, academic, and corporate environments internationally. Groups within the medical community she consulted with include the Institute for Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
She gave keynote addresses, workshops, and presentations to organizations including the Gorbachev Foundation, the State of the World Forum, the Wharton Business School, the International Women's Forum, International Global Learning, American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley, the Kellogg Foundation, Hewlett Packard Labs, Professional Business Women's Conference, California Judicial Court Family Services, U.S. Journal Training, Grupo Femsa / Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma and Grupo Pulsar (Mexico), and the International Peacemaking Conference (along with three Nobel Prize winners).

Her expertise in mediation and conflict resolution was called upon by the International Human Rights Commission and the World Indigenous Council, and requests for her skills took her to such countries as China, New Zealand, Spain, Denmark, Hawaii, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, and Mexico.
As vast as the depth and breadth of her far-reaching lifelong work was, Angeles is best known for her authentic personhood, depth of character, compassionate engagement, skillful and astute communication abilities, and generosity of spirit.

She was a wonderful storyteller who had a delightful sense of humor, had a creative outlook on life, and was beloved by her students, colleagues, friends, and family. She remained committed to "walking the mystical path with practical feet" and to making the world a better place by leaving a legacy of increased cultural and spiritual tolerance and understanding for future generations.

Ani Tenzin Lhadron, PhD, worked and studied with Angeles Arrien for 15 years, serving as Executive Director of Arrien's business ventures and Secretary of the Foundation.

Giving at CIIS, Alumni News

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