Genuine art has the power to awaken and liberate. The renowned meditation master and artist Chögyam Trungpa called this type of art “dharma art”—any creative work that springs from an awakened state of mind, characterized by directness, unselfconsciousness, and nonaggression. Dharma art provides a vehicle to appreciate the nature of things as they are and express it without any struggle or desire to achieve. A work of dharma art brings out the goodness and dignity of the situation it reflects—dignity that comes from the artist’s interest in the details of life and sense of appreciation for experience. Trungpa shows how the principles of dharma art extend to everyday any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open our senses to the phenomenal world.
An expanded edition of Trungpa's Dharma Art (1996), this book includes a new introduction and essay.
Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (Tibetan: ཆོས་ རྒྱམ་ དྲུང་པ་ Wylie: Chos rgyam Drung pa; also known as Dorje Dradul of Mukpo, Surmang Trungpa, after his monastery, or Chökyi Gyatso, of which Chögyam is an abbreviation) was a Buddhist meditation master, scholar, teacher, poet, and artist. He was the 11th descendent in the line of Trungpa tulkus of the Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was also trained in the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the four schools, and was an adherent of the rimay or "non-sectarian" movement within Tibetan Buddhism, which aspired to bring together and make available all the valuable teachings of the different schools, free of sectarian rivalry.
Trungpa was a significant figure in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, founding Naropa University and establishing the Shambhala Training method, a presentation of the Buddhadharma largely devoid of ethnic trappings. In 1963, he moved to England to study comparative religion, philosophy, and fine arts at Oxford University. During this time, he also studied Japanese flower arranging and received an instructors degree from the Sogetsu school of ikebana. In 1967, he moved to Scotland, where he founded the Samye Ling meditation centre.
Shortly thereafter, a variety of experiences—including a car accident that left him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body—led him to give up his monastic vows and work as a lay teacher. In 1969, he published Meditation in Action, the first of fourteen books on the spiritual path published during his lifetime. The following year he married Diana Pybus and moved to the United States, where he established his first North American meditation centre, Tail of the Tiger (now known as Karmê-Chöling) in Barnet, Vermont.
In 1986, he moved to Nova Scotia, Canada, where hundreds of his students had settled. That Autumn, after years of heavy alcohol use, he had a cardiac arrest, and he died of heart failure the following Spring. His legacy is carried on by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, under the banner of Shambhala International and the Nalanda Translation Committee.
The issue that I find with a lot of Buddhist thinkers is that they are not actually very good writers. To be fair, this could easily be an issue with the translator. Regardless, Eastern thought to a Westerner does not come with immediate comprehension. If the ideas are not communicated clearly, articulately, succinctly it's difficult to pull those tangential threads down from the sky and piece them together in a meaningful way. I think another issue was that these were largely taken from lectures, where perhaps understanding might be easier if you were there at the time. Maybe it doesn't translate all that well into written text. I also think it's a bit on the dated side. The use of the word "trip" probably meant more to the hippies in the room listening to the lecture at the time, than it does today. Most of this, though, is not really about art at the end of the day, but a philosophy of life. And there are better people to read for that (ie better writers). Look at Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki, or even Krishnamurti.
This is a weird mix - it's essentially a collection of talks, and seems less edited than many other of his volumes - in the sense that this really feels much more improvised? Parts of it felt like reading something written by an artist high on hallucinogens. And then there'd be bursts of brilliance. I've come across many of the ideas before, but here they are placed in the particular context of dharma art, which really shines a different light.
I'll be reading this again, dipping into it again. Lots of good stuff.
so much repetitive rambling. i couldn’t make it through certain parts of this book i got so bored. i think that is partly due to the structure. it seems maybe some of the essays were transcribed lectures and for some reason i’m not a fan of that format - maybe because the rambling bits aren’t edited out
Wonderful read. A Buddhist's perspective on how to approach creating art. Dense, heady, and opinionated. It covers things like one's mindset while creating, philosophies about creating, and categories of creation.
I really liked this book and got quite a lot out of it albeit on a somewhat subconscious level. I have a feeling a lot of what the author said went over my head. Because of this, I'm most likely going to have to reread it a few times later on down the road and see if more of it makes sense in a way I can articulate. I find it curious that most everybody else has given this book five stars, yet no one has been willing (or able?) to explain why. Maybe they're in the same boat I am.
I've had to learn my lesson once again: 1 dharma book is great, reading 2 in a row is ok, but 3 will turn the third book to mush in my brain. While there were some interesting discussions in here about how meditation can aid the creative process, and how to live art as a lifestyle instead of a hobby, I don't agree with Trungpa's sense of aesthetics at all.