To artist or non-artist, the creative process often seems mysterious and magical. How do we give a physical reality to our inspiration so it communicates its essential nature? Shambhala Art’s purpose is to explore the creative process and the product we call art, from the viewpoint of a meditative discipline. It is a viewpoint that encourages us to see things as they are, rather than just how we think or imagine they are. Shambhala Art does not teach a particular skill or technique such as painting, sculpture, or dance. It is about the source of inspiration, its manifestation, and how it speaks to us beyond the limits of its container. Once a view and a path are established it can be put into practice within any artistic discipline. Although the Shambhala Art teachings are inspired by Shambhala Buddhism, they are not in any way religious or about adopting a religion. They are about discovery and play, and the universal nature of creativity and communication.
Shambhala Art can be seen as a process, a product, and an arts education program. As a process, it brings wakefulness and awareness to the creative and viewing processes through the integration of contemplation and meditation. As a product, it is art that wakes people up. Shambhala Art is also an international non-profit arts education program based on the Dharma Art teachings of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Shambhala Buddhism, Shambhala International, and Naropa Institute. He was an artist, poet, and author of over a dozen books on subjects ranging from psychology to iconography. Volume 7 of the Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche focuses specifically on all his Dharma Art teachings. True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche which contains selections from Volume 7 and is the primary text used in Shambhala Art. Shambhala Art is a division of Shambhala International and is presided over by his son and heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. This program is taught by trained and authorized Shambhala Art teachers.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (photo by James Hoagland)
Without seeing things as they are, it is hard to create art. Our perceptions are obscured and our mind is not fresh, so making art becomes a troubled, futile process by which we’re trying to create something based on concept. – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche