…to a glimpse of some work of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s (who goes by the name Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel when he paints). His day job is a Tibetan lama in the Dzogchen tradition with thousands of students all over the world. And then he just happened to take up painting one day… Here are a few more that he’s done. Also here, and here. (Paintings 6 and 11 here are taken from this nice collection, the rest from Kongtrul Jigme’s.)
Meeting reality directly requires confidence in the fundamentally positive nature of our being. The more we trust what arises in our mind to come from this creative source, the more we can let the mind be as it is, rather than approach it with judgment, fear or manipulation based on our likes and dislikes. My hope is that my paintings communicate the beauty of this unhindered practice of free expression.
I attended a weekend program with him some time ago in Brighton, England but haven’t connected with him since, although he has a center within the state and usually visits each year. I appreciated his distinctively spacious style of teaching. And his ever-astonishing paintings, I find, one after another, stop the conceptual mind cold, startling it into really seeing. Reminding it of how to see, of the big view beyond any manipulation and rejection.
In each moment of awareness we encounter impressions of the outer world through our sense perceptions as well as our inner world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. When we are able to let this incredible array of experience be, without trying to reject what we fear or pull in what we are attracted to—when we relax into experience without trying to manipulate it in any way—we have a complete experience of mind, naked and unaltered. Painting, when it is free of such notions as beauty and ugliness or should and shouldn’t, can be used to express this complete experience of mind. When art evolves from this understanding it provides the possibility for those who see it to also experience the unfabricated nature of their own mind.
I wish to urge students of the dharma who may have forsaken their creative impulse in favor of practice to realize there is no conflict between creativity and meditation. Creativity can be understood, in essence, to be the practice of our own nature and that nature’s expression. You may find your way in to the nature through creativity; or you may come out from the nature to express creativity. Both have to be appreciated as the best of our mind’s potential.
This reminds me of something I was told Trungpa Rinpoche once said: that his teachings on “dharma art,” properly understood, were the highest teachings he had to offer.
The role of the artist is to stop creating and allow experience to unfold in a natural way – creative energy is innate and spontaneously present.