Contemplative Arts

There are no programs at this time

Within certain Buddhist lineages, particularly those of Japan and Tibet, the arts have been used and valued as a way to understand the teachings. Seen from this perspective, the arts created a bridge between monastic practice and being in the everyday world.

We call our contemplative arts program “Nalanda,” in honor of an 11th century Indian university that welcomed teachings and disciplines from many different traditions. Each of these disciplines represents a genuine contemplative path, and together they bring beauty, vividness, and wisdom to our lives and community.


Ikebana, the traditional Japanese Way of Arranging Flowers, has its origins in Shinto, where arrangements were made as shrine offerings. Currently there are many schools of Ikebana. Kalapa Ikebana, initiated by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is a contemplative practice.

The first time I saw a flower arrangement I was quite amazed that dignity and reality could be expressed by means of that particular arrangement. There is beauty and there is cruelty…it is not just purely a work of art. It is a manifestation of reality which can be presented in a simple but very spacious fashion.”
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

By creating an environment which allows us to pay attention to our sense perceptions in a non-aggressive way, we are connecting with sacred world. Training in joining heaven, earth and man is very explicit in Ikebana: one is dealing with space and form and the three main elements which can be put together in 8 different ways or variations. After vigorous training in these forms, one is then introduced to freestyle.

Ikebana was introduced to students in the Minneapolis sangha by Jaynine Nelson and her master teacher Mrs. Kazuko Zobbi. Mrs. Zobbi was trained in Japan in the Sogetsu tradition and has been teaching in the Minneapolis area for decades. Ikebana students at the Minneapolis Shambhala Center continue to train with her, as well as master teacher, Yoshie Babcock Sensei.

Shambhala Art

Shambhala Art is art that springs from clear perception and pure expression. To artist or non-artist, the creative process often seems mysterious and magical. How do we give a physical reality to some ephemeral inspiration or abstract truth? How do we create forms that communicate some essential nature beyond the limits of their container? The Shambhala Art Program’s purpose is to explore the creative process and the product we call art from the point of view of clear perception and pure expression. It is about the source of inspiration, how the creative process manifests and finally how what we create communicates that inspiration. See also and join Shambhala Art on Facebook.

Maitri Five Wisdoms Practice

Maitri Space Awareness and Five Wisdom Energies practice was first developed by Chögyam Trungpa and is based on the principles of the five buddha families of Tibetan tantra. Each buddha family emphasizes a particular aspect of enlightened energy or wisdom. These energies also have their confused emotional and environmental aspects, which the practitioner learns how to recognize and transform. The emphasis of the practice is on discovering within these raw and wakeful energies unconditional friendliness (or maitri) towards oneself. This discovery becomes a basis for living one’s life more fully, skillfully understanding and relating with others, and establishing a dynamic and healthy relationship with one’s work, home and natural environments. The Maitri Space Awareness and Five Wisdom Energies practice are practiced in weekend programs at Shambhala centers or in intensive retreats at Shambhala residential centers.