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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.  Shambhala Art is a division of Shambhala and is presided over by his son and heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. This program is taught by trained and authorized Shambhala Art teachers.

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Art That Wakes Us Up

"Art that wakes us up" arises from a state of mind, and is not limited to one type of artistic expression

Such vision comes from a state of mind that has no beginning and no end. It is very present, on the spot. We could call that vision ‘first thought best thought.’ When that happens, there is no struggle. Anybody could become a genius from that point of view.
— Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

"Art that wakes us up" describes the end product of a creative process that engages the principles of Shambhala Art. The quality of this wakeful art is that it increases our awareness rather than our neurosis. Wakeful art also has the quality of clearly communicating its intention without the need for rationalization or thinking; it speaks directly to us. In this sense, wakeful art also relates to the viewing process.

Wakeful art relies on the principle of Great Eastern Sun. Great Eastern Sun is the Shambhala principle of primordial goodness and wakefulness. In True Perception, Chogyam Trungpa summarizes the quality of a Great Eastern Sun artist as having:

  1. A sense of goodness in yourself;

  2. Some sense of decency in yourself already, you can project that to your audience, your clientele, or the world in general. In that way a tremendous trust is established: goodness, decency, and trust; and

  3. The quality of contributing to what’s known as enlightened society—by works of art, by basic sanity, and also by artists beginning to practice sitting meditation.

What is wakeful art and how do we recognize it?

Chogyam Trungpa was careful not to single out individual artists as producing "wakeful art." In the same chapter on the Great Eastern Sun, he states that the reader will need "to figure out who" is producing Great Eastern Sun art. He was also careful to note that wakeful art was not limited to Eastern or Asian art. Chogyam Trungpa felt that Western art had not only produced wakeful art, but continued to produce it. Again in the same chapter, he notes:

We have to have some understanding of Buddhist Oriental composure, but at the same time we should also have the vision of the Western world, which in itself is quite remarkable. Tremendous things have happened here... I myself have been inspired by great artists, painters, and musicians of the West. Therefore I’m here: I’m living in the Western world, and I appreciate my world tremendously.