Source Material

Discovering Elegance DVD

“Discovering elegance is the way of the warrior. Through gentleness and discipline, such a warrior brings a sense of harmony to everyday life.”

Discovering Elegance is a film directed by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In it, he demonstrates the art of oriental design, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and object placement in preparing an environmental art exhibit at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art in 1981.

Kalapa Recordings DVD
28 minutes



True Perception

True Percepton By Chogyam Trungpa.

“Trungpa’s notion of dharma art is an approach to art as meditation, an attitude of directness and unselfconsciousness in creative work. Lief’s inspired selection and careful editing make this an essential book for those committed to view that the artist should be a spiritual teacher.”—Publishers Weekly

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 life: any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open our senses to the phenomenal world.

This is an expanded edition of Trungpa’s “Dharma Art” (1996) and includes the text from “The Art of Calligraphy”.  This is the recommended text for the Shambhala Art Program.  

Available at Shambhala Publications and



Place Your Thoughts Here: Meditation for the Creative Mind

Place-Your-Thoughts-Here-cover-smallBy Steven Saitzyk

Foreword by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

As the creative mind engages meditation practice, creativity flows and sensorial experience – the basis for inspiration in art – explodes in vivid display.  In Place Your Thoughts Here, Steven Saitzyk describes how meditation enhances creativity and artistic process. With this capacity for fresh perception, we can see and experience our world and the art that captures it in ways that touch us profoundly.  This leads us to genuine spontaneity and pure, unselfconscious expression.  It also dissolves creative blockages, reveals the source of creativity, and offers a path toward the sublime – through which we experience ecstatic feelings of union with ourselves, our process, and our art.

Steven Saitzyk is the international director of Shambhala Art and one of the founders of the Shambhala Art Program. He began studying meditation and Dharma Art with the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974. He has been an adjunct professor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA for more than 20 years.

Available at


Visual Dharma



Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Boulder, CO 1978

In this 1978 seminar given at Naropa University, Trungpa Rinpoche talks about the artist’s state of mind and how to bring the view of basic goodness to art’s practice and appreciation. To illustrate his approach, he demonstrates calligraphy, arranges flowers and objects, reads and talks about poetry, and shows slides from both Western and Asian art. Special features include demonstrations and discussions of dharma art from earlier seminars.

I was present at this Visual Dharma Seminar and at that time and until today, I find them unique among the Dharma Art teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  What makes them unique is the use of the vision of Shambhala to illuminate the creative process.  While the balance of the Dharma Art teachings closely follow the Buddhist Path, this seminar emphasizes the path of Shambhala, the way of the warrior.  More specifically, the creative process is described as seen through the eyes of enlightened warriorship, where our actions are brave, and without laziness or regret.” Steven Saitzyk, Director of Shambhala Art.

Kalapa Recordings Four DVD’s, including PDF study guide. 366 minutes


Dharma Art Talks by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

DA Conference

“Do we really know how to see things, how to do things? Do we really listen, do we really know how to do this? The teachings here are very much to do with the power of perception.”— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Two talks given at Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center (now SMC) in July, 1996.

Softcover, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 38 pp.

Available from Shambhala Media


The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa – Volume Seven

The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa - Volume SevenIncludes excerpts from The Art of Calligraphy; Dharma Art; Visual Dharma; Selected Poems; Selected Writings

By Chögyam Trungpa
Edited by Carolyn Rose Gimian
Hardcover / Shambhala Publications / 880 pages / 6 x 9, ISBN 1-59030-031-9

The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa brings together in eight volumes the writings of one of the first and most influential and inspirational Tibetan teachers to present Buddhism in the West. Organized by theme, the collection includes full-length books as well as articles, seminar transcripts, poems, plays, and interviews, many of which have never before been available in book form. From memoirs of his escape from Chinese-occupied Tibet to insightful discussions of psychology, mind, and meditation; from original verse and calligraphy to the esoteric lore of tantric Buddhism—the impressive range of Trungpa’s vision, talents, and teachings is showcased in this landmark series.

Volume Seven features the work of Chögyam Trungpa as a poet, playwright, and visual artist and his teachings on art and the creative process, which are among the most innovative and provocative aspects of his activities in the West. While it includes material in which Trungpa Rinpoche shares his knowledge of the symbolism and iconography of traditional Buddhist arts (in Visual Dharma), this richly varied volume primarily focuses on his own, often radical creative expressions. The Art of Calligraphy is a wonderful showcase for his calligraphy, and Dharma Art brings together his ideas on art, the artistic process, and aesthetics. Tibetan poetics, filmmaking, theater, and art and education are among the topics of the selected writings.

Available from Shambhala Publications and


Dharma Art

Dharma ArtChögyam Trungpa, Judith Lief  (Out-of-Print)

“Dharma art” refers to creative works that spring from the awakened meditative state, characterized by directness, unselfconsciousness, and nonaggression. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche shows that dharma art provides a vehicle to appreciate the nature of things as they are and express it without any struggle or desire to achieve.  The Dignity of the Artist.  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.  Study the Traditions. At the same time, the author stresses the need for artists to study their craft, develop skill, and absorb knowledge and insight passed down by tradition.

And, finally, he extends the principles of dharma art to everyday life, showing how any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open ourselves to the phenomenal world.

Artwork by the Author. Among the twenty black-and-white illustrations are artworks by the author including photographs, paintings, calligraphies, and flower arrangements.


The Art of Calligraphy

The Art of Calligraphy

Chögyam Trungpa (Out-of-Print)

During the twenty-year period of his remarkable proclamation of Buddhist and Shambhala teachings in the West, calligraphy was a primary means of expression for Chögyam Trungpa. This book showcases sixty-one of his brushworks-poems, seed syllables, and phrases as well as abstracts. Facing them are short, pertinent quotations from his prose and poetry.

An essay entitled “Heaven, Earth, and Man,” based on one of Trungpa’s “dharma art” workshops, is also included. Here he emphasizes what he called “art in everyday life”: the cool, peaceful expression of unconditional beauty that offers us the possibility of being able to relax enough to perceive the phenomenal world and our own senses properly. He goes on to show how the dynamic of heaven, earth, and man (the ancient Oriental hierarchy of the cosmos) is basic to any artistic endeavor-whether painting, building a city, or designing an airplane-as well as to perceiving the art that surrounds us. He also introduces the idea that “the discipine of art-making”- the meditative relationship space along with the artist’s point of view-can be used to organize and create a decent society.