A group of art and meditation practitioners inspired by the Dharma Art teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche & others gather monthly at the Creativity Lab. The purpose of the lab is to experiment with and experience the arts through a contemplative process in order to engage creativity beyond concept. Artists and non-artists are welcomed and all creative mediums are explored in this ongoing investigation.
Creativity Lab Core Principles and Terms (Material from the book True Perception by Chögyam Trungpa and the Shambhala Art program parts 1 – 3, which is a program based on these teachings.)
• Square One – a primordial, unbiased level of mind. The starting point of any genuine expression. Not particularly extraordinary state of mind, but is your ground, your genuine felt experience. “The practice of sitting meditation provides basic footing, solid ground to develop basic understanding, further experiences of square one. Sitting practice is a way of discovering ourselves” – Chögyam Trungpa. Having that familiarity means you can see the contrast and difference between being spaced out focused on the past or future vs. being awake and aware of your environment, your senses and the present moment. This moment might include bewilderment or confidence. But it has a ground of coolness, health and sanity.
• First Thought, Best Thought – the expression, movement, word or gesture that arises out of Square One. It is authentic because it is arising out of the truth of the moment rather than from gimmick, manipulation, or discursiveness. It is very present, on the spot. No struggle. There’s always the possibility of freshness. Anybody could become a genius from that point of view.
• Coming to Our Senses – If we drop our constant self-dialogue about how we’re doing (in our head), and drop down into the body and connect with our natural curiosity about what is happening, we are coming to our senses. We become aware through feeling; what we see, hear, taste, touch and sense and invite a fuller experience of our world. "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 Again, the sitting practice of meditation is the support and a path for developing our mind’s natural clarity, flexibility and strength.
• Seeing Things As They Are – the experiencing directly (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.), without labels and judgments. Do we know the difference between our thoughts about things, and the thing itself?
• Heaven, Earth and Human – Ancient system of Space, Form and Energy used in creating a composition, a flower arrangement or the design of a city.
• Dharma – “norm” or “truth”. It is also defined as peace and coolness, because it reduces the heat of neurosis, the heat of aggression, passion and ignorance. So dharma is very ordinary, very simple. It is the stage before you lay your hand on your brush, your clay… very basic, peaceful and free from neurosis.
• Neurosis – that which creates obstacles to perceiving the phenomenal world properly and fully, as a true artist should. The basic obstacle to clear perception is omnipresent anxiety, which does not allow us to relate to ourselves or the world outside ourselves. Our senses contract and we can’t see, smell, taste, hear or feel. Our senses are numbed which is a great obstacle to creating a work of art.
• Art – Fundamentally, art is the expression of unconditional beauty, which transcends the ordinary beauty of good and bad. From that unconditional beauty, arises the possibility of being able to relax and thereby to perceive the phenomenal world and one’s own senses properly. It is not a question of talent. Relating with ourselves with gentleness, nonaggression and upliftedness. The principle of art is related with that idea of relaxation and trust in ourselves. We begin to feel that we are fully genuine. From that point of view, one of the basic principles of a work of art is the absence of lying. Genuine art tells the truth.
• Dharma Art – does not mean depicting Buddhist symbols or ideas, such as the wheel of life or the story of Gautama Buddha. Rather, dharma art refers to art that springs from a certain state of mind on the part of the artist that could be called the meditative state. It is an attitude of directness and unself-consciousness in one’s creative work. Our message is simply one of appreciating the nature of things as they are and expressing it without any struggle of thoughts and fears. We give up aggression, both toward ourselves, that we have to make a special effort to impress people, and toward others, that we can put something over on them. Genuine art – dharma art – is simply the activity of non-aggression.
For more info visit: http://la.shambhala.org/ongoing-offerings/creativity-lab/