Contemplative Arts comprise a number of secular disciplines and activities, including flower arranging and photography, that 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 is art that springs from clear perception and pure expression. To artist or non-artist, the creative process often seems mysterious and magical. How do we give a physical reality to some ephemeral inspiration or abstract truth? How do we create forms that communicate some essential nature beyond the limits of their container? The Shambhala Art Program’s purpose is to explore the creative process and the product we call art from the point of view of clear perception and pure expression. It is about the source of inspiration, how the creative process manifests and finally how what we create communicates that inspiration. See also www.shambhalaart.org and join Shambhala Art on Facebook.
Shambhala Arts Festival
The Shambhala Arts Festival is an international event during which the entire Shambhala community is invited to celebrate the arts based on Shambhala/Dharma Art principles at their Centers. This festival day is an opportunity to gather artists and help establish the roots of enlightened society. Shambhala Art explores the creative and viewing processes 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 how we imagine they are.
In 1982, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche formed a new school of ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) inspired by his own training and vision. Kalapa Ikebana, as this school is called, promotes the study and practice of flower arranging, often working closely with masters of other schools of ikebana.
Kyudo means the way of the bow and can be described as a form of standing meditation. Under the direction of Shibata Kanjuro, Sensei and senior instructors, students learn an ancient form of archery using traditional Japanese bows. Kyudo is a form of meditation practice, not sport, and hitting the target is not considered important. The purpose of kyudo is to purify one’s heart and mind to awaken the natural dignity of being human, beyond the obstacles of ambition, aggression or confusion.
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.
Maitri Five Wisdoms Practice
This practice is based on the principles of the five buddha families, each of which expresses a particular style and attitude of openness. Maintaining a posture associated with each family in five specifically designed rooms heightens the characteristic patterns of energy of each family, so that both the neurotic and sane aspects of the student’s personal style becomes apparent.
Contemplative Writing Practice
Contemplative writing explores the connection between meditation practice and writing. Meetings will intersperse meditation or contemplation with playful and exploratory writing exercises. Time will be allotted to share writing in a supportive environment.
Bugaku / Japanese Court Dance
Bugaku, the ancient dance and music of the Japanese Imperial Court, is more than fourteen hundred years old. This stately dance is performed in richly brocaded and highly stylized costumes, expressing contemplative mind in a cultural context
Gagaku is the oldest existing orchestral music in the world. Bugaku, the dance form, is characterized by its elegance, solidity and space. Together, the music and the dance radiate timelessness and peace.
The several active bugaku groups within Shambhala that have studied with master musician and dancer Togi Sensei. Togi’s family has been part of the Japanese Imperial Music Department for 1000 years. Now deceased, Togi Sensei was a priest-musician at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.
Kalapa Cha / Chanoyu – Way of Tea
Chanoyu literally means hot water for tea. The art of Chanoyu, preparing and serving a bowl of tea, is a synthesis of many Japanese arts such as flower arranging, calligraphy, poetry, ceramics, lacquerware, cooking, architecture, gardening, and more.
A meditation in action, the practice of tea developed in Japan alongside the practice of Zen Buddhism. The tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) studied tea from an early age and received Zen training at Daitoku-ji temple in Kyoto. It was Rikyu who joined the ordinary aspects of daily life with spiritual practice in what has been passed down to the present as the Way of Tea.
Leaving familiar reference points of the world behind, host and guests create a gentle moment, without past or future. Preparing and serving a bowl of tea is a discipline of mindfulness and awareness, a celebration of the senses and a journey to open heart.
In 1980, during her first visit to Boulder, Colorado, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche invited Mrs. Kyoko Shibata to introduce the practice of chanoyu. At that time, a handful of students began to study this centuries old contemplative practice. Rinpoche named the group Kalapa Cha.
The arrival in Nova Scotia of tea masters John Soyu McGee Sensei and Alexandre Soro Avdoulov Sensei in 2000 brought Kalapa Cha a fresh opportunity to continue the practice some of us began many years ago.
In 2002, McGee Sensei and Avdoulov Sensei presented Shambhala with a gift of an interior tea room, constructed in Japan and shipped to Nova Scotia in pieces to be assembled on site. The tea room was built in the Halifax Shambhala Centre and officially opened by the Sakyong on November 13, 2004. He chose the name Yukoan for the tea room, which means Abode of the Equable Tiger.
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Local Contacts for Contemplative Arts
For more information on contemplative arts offered locally, please refer to the following contacts.
Bugaku / Japanese Court Dance: Sarah Cox – (902) 479-3529.
Kalapa Cha / Chanoyu – Way of Tea: To study or simply visiting a class and being served a bowl of tea, contact Mindy Moore at (902) 479-0299.
Kalapa Ikebana / The Way of Flower Arranging: Liza Matthews or June Crow
Maitri Five Wisdoms Practice: Jigme Chöda Urbonas at (902) 823-1814 or email
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Upcoming Programs and Events
Below is a list of upcoming Contemplative Arts courses and events. Please select a program for further details. If you have questions or would like further information, please refer to our newsletter or contact us.
Contemplative Arts & Disciplines