Roots of Contemplative Art

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A contemplative approach to the arts has a long tradition in Zen and other forms of Buddhism. John Daido Loori was an American Zen teacher who explored the roots of these Zen Arts practices and their co-mingling with modern artists and art forms in his book The Zen of Creativity. Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa came to North America in the 1970’s and took a particular interest in the application of meditative approaches to art and art-making, including photography, film, theatre, calligraphy, and the Japanese flower-arranging art of Ikebana. His teachings and ideas have been published in the book, True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art.


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Contemplative arts also played a role in monastic life in Europe and the Islamic world, from the art of illumination and calligraphy, to the design of geometric patterns.