had some surprising words for the audience at an exhibit of his work, titled “Art as Spiritual Practice,” at the
Shumei gallery in Crestone, Colorado.
wife, Elizabeth, gave a short talk on the connection between meditation and creativity in Rinpoche’s absence, who was
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, a well-known
and highly-respected meditation teacher in Western dharma circles, was quoted by his wife as saying, “The role of the
artist is to stop creating and allow experience to unfold in a natural way – creative energy is innate and spontaneously
In other words, we don’t need to
keep trying to “improve” our creative work – if we can work in a non-grasping mode. This advice amplifies
that of many other creative teachers, i.e., get ego out of the way in order to let creativity flow. This could be likened
to getting out of our linear left brains and into creative right brain. And the best, though not only, way to do this is through
While it’s much easier said than done, it’s
a worthy and constantly-evolving challenge for artists and writers. Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche’s method, if one can
call it that, is “creating without judgment.” He takes his artistic discipline to mean just letting things
be as he plays on canvas with a mixture of turpentine and oil paints, creating, destroying, then re-creating.
The process is reminiscent of mandala sand painting, in which the final
destruction of the work is akin to the “exhaustion of fixed concepts,” in dharma terms.
“The mark of ‘non-creating’ is to see one’s work as not
beautiful, not ugly. With uncontrived creativity, everything is fresh and surprising, invigorating and fulfilling .
. . but not in an egoistic way.”
The playful creativity
of Dzigar Kongtrul’s luminous, free-form artwork speaks for itself.