Contemplative Arts

Contemplative Arts disciplines including flower arranging and photography. They integrate art and culture with everyday life. Each of these disciplines represents a genuine contemplative path; together they bring beauty, vividness and wisdom to our lives and culture.

Shambhala Art

Shambhala Art explores the creative process from the understanding of a meditative discipline. Shambhala Art is awakening us to our endless pool of clear, creative energy, which is ever present in each person. It teaches us how to connect to the source of inspiration and its manifestation, and how to communicate this to others and the world. When we become aware of and learn to touch this source, we can recognize that our basic nature, innate in all human beings, is our most valued ally.

Engaing in contemplative art encourages us to see things as they are, rather than to think or imagine how we would like them to be. It does not emphasize any particular art discipline or even being an artist, but rather helps everyone discover his or her genuine creativity.

The Shambhala Art teachings have been founded by Chögyam Trungpa and are taught in a series of 5 parts. The teachings are inspired by Shambhala Buddhism, however they are not about adopting or depicting religion. They are universal, and encourage inquisitiveness and play in discovering the true source of creativity.

The practice of dharma art is a way to use our lives to communicate without confusion the primordial and magical nature of what we see, hear, and touch.

-Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Kado (Ikebana) – The Way of Flowers

Kado is a contemplative art practice that studies nature – as it is.

Kado originated in China, over 2000 years ago. When it was introduced and assimilated into Japan, the Japanese word ‘Ikebana’ arose, meaning ‘living flowers’. Kado refers to the ‘way of flowers’,  the profound meaning of this ancient art form comes from having an intimate relationship with the natural world. Kado is a path based on the truth of nature, the way things are. In Kado, the skill needed to arrange flowers becomes a form of meditation and a guide to our lives.

Human beings are part of the natural world, we follow the same patterns as all life on this planet. Kado teaches us to see the wisdom of nature clearly. We simultaneously study the human condition and the laws of nature when working with natural materials from the earth; which enables us to develop respect for all things animate or inanimate.

Maitri – Five Wisdoms

The Five Wisdoms, also referred to as the Five Buddha Families, originate from traditional Buddhist teachings. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche created a practice using five postures and colours to evoke these energies. The Five Wisdoms are a vehicle for self- discovery, and a tool for understanding and working with others in everyday life.

The practice heightens the characteristic patterns of each wisdom energy, so that both the neurotic and sane aspects of the student’s personal style become apparent. Through experiencing the different energies, a gradual understanding develops. We begin to understand our neurosis and confusing emotions, as well as understand the different energies manifesting in others. This enables us to befriend all that we are, and develop unconditional love for ourselves and others. Irini Rockwell

Opening to our energy with gentleness and kindness allows us to develop unconditional confidence and a tender heart or maitri. We uncover our strengths and let them shine! We radiate natural brilliance, our authentic presence.

-Irini Rockwell


Irini Rockwell: Natural Brilliance A Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strenghth and Letting Them Shine

Irini Rockwell: The Five Wisdom Energies A Buddhist way of Understanding Personalities, Emotions and Relationships

Karuna Training

Five Wisdoms Institute

Miksang Photography

Miksang is a Tibetan word that means “good eye.” A contemplative art, it is based directly on the Dharma Art teachings of the late meditation master, artist and scholar, Chögyam Trungpa, specifically by his teachings on the nature of perception. The “good” refers to our world, just as it is, is inherently rich and vivid. The “eye” reference is that in working with the practice of contemplative photography, we can tune into these qualities of our world. This journey is actually quite simple-to see with our eyes wide-open and our awareness right there. Once we have a moment of fresh perception, vivid and clear, there is a natural desire to communicate that experience. Through visual exercises and photographic assignments, Miksang is designed to allow the eye and the mind to be naturally synchronized, so that the experience of seeing could be undistracted and present.

See also: and photographs by Chogyam Trungpa,