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The Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Endless Richness
(published in Collected Works Volume VII)
The whole philosophy of dharma art is that you dont try to be artistic, but you just
approach objects as they are and the message comes through automatically.
TEACHING IS NOT MEANT to be verbal alone. It is very visual. For instance, a
medium such as film, rather than converting people to Tibetan Buddhism, can
provide virgin territory unadulterated by conventional or institutionalized
spirituality for anyone with curiosity or a question in mind. I hope that awake people
who question their own basic sanity will find another way of looking into their
neuroses without getting just another answer to their problems.
The whole philosophy of dharma art is that you dont try to be artistic, but you just
approach objects as they are and the message comes through automatically. It is
like Japanese flower arranging. You dont try to be artistic; you just chop off certain
twigs and branches that seem to be out of line with the flow. Then you put the twigs
in the container and the flowers underneath, and it automatically becomes a whole
landscape. Likewise, when you see a painting by a great artist, it doesnt look as
though someone actually painted it. It just seems to happen by itself. There is no
gap, no cracks at allits one unit, complete.
Creating art is like meditating. You work with one technique for a long, long time,
and finally the technique falls away. Theres ongoing discipline and continuity,
You are willing to relate with it even if the object rejects you or the light isnt right or
something else goes wrong.You still go on and do it.
I would like to create a film in such a way that the audience has to take part in it. To
do so, we would need to provide lots of space, speed, and richness. Those three
principles, properly interrelated, seem to work together so that the audience begins
to take part in the presentation. As they watch the screen, they feel they are giving
birth to each vision rather than passively absorbing some ready-made creation.
There should be room to question, not have the whole thing presented to you like
machine-gun fire. The audience should take part in it. To do so, space is the most
important thingspace and silence. Then you begin to value objects much more. It
is quite possible we might allow too much space, which may not be particularly
popular at first. Nobody is going to say, Wow, how exciting! It may seem alien at
first. But then, when they change gears and see it a second time, next week, next
month, it will be different.
When people go to a movie, they go because they want a change. They want
something to see besides their usual scene of washing dishes, working in the office,
or whatever. This automatically means that they need space. So if a movie presents
space, no matter how irritating it may be, it will be worth it. The audience wont
come out tensed up; theyll come out relaxed. They will have gone through the
whole trip of waiting to see something and then actually seeing something. They

will have gone through an eye-massage process. That is a challenge for both the
audience and the filmmakers. It is like crossing the Himalayas to escape from the
It has been said with relation to maha ati practice that the eyes are one of the most
important exits. In fact, they have been called the door of jnana, the highest
wisdom. So visual effects are the most important in their effect on the mind.
Generally, an audience comes to see a film with certain expectations. When they
begin to feel they are not going to see what they expected, it is somewhat
strangling. But at the brink of nothing ever happening, something
happenssomething quite different from what you expected.
A film should make suggestions rather than feed information. In fact, not giving
information is one of the best things we can do to help the audience take part in a
film. Once they have been fed, they have nothing else to do but walk out. But if not
enough information is given, although indications are there, they have to work on it
and think about what has been presented. This whole approach to art is based on
putting out just a corner of our knowledge, instead of saying a lot, even though that
would make people feel more comfortable and secure.
For instance, if you study with a teacher who acquired his understanding by
information alone, that person may tell you very wise things, beautiful things, but
he wont know how to handle the gaps. He blushes or he gets embarrassed or he
fidgets around between stories, between the wisdoms that he utters. But if you are
dealing with somebody who is completely competent, who is actually living the
information, the teaching has become part of his whole being, so there is no
embarrassment. It goes on and on and on, like the waves of an ocean. There is
endless richness. You receive a lot, but at the same time you dont feel that he
emptied out all his information to you. You feel theres much more to be said.
If you are completely confident in yourself, you dont have to think about the
audience at all. You just do your thing and do it properly. You become the audience,
and what you make is the entertainment. But that needs a certain amount of
wisdom. When an artist does a painting for a commission, there is a good likelihood
that his painting will be one-sided because he is aware of the audience, and he has
to relate to the educational standards of that audience. But if he presents his own
style without reference to an audience, the audience will automatically react, and
their sophistication will develop, eventually reaching the level of the artists.
Any entertainment that aspires to art should not work with the audience like an
advertisement. Trying to please the audience lowers the level of sophistication
constantly. Thats whats wrong with the American marketing system. When you try
always to please the audience, you have to produce more and more automatic
gimmicks, more and more plastic. Finally, people dont even have to walk out of
their rooms to make things work; they just press a button and get entertained.
As artists, we have the responsibility of raising the mentality of the audience.

People might have to reach out with a certain amount of strain, but its worth it. The
whole civilization then begins to raise its level of sophistication. It is possible that
the first attempt will be a failure. You might not get enough people in the audience
to work that way. But gradually they will pick up on it. That has actually been
happening. If you relate to yourself properly, then, since there are a lot of people
like you, you become a catalyst for the rest of the world. The audience comes to you
as to a queen bee. There is less sense of salesmanship or the feeling that you have
to con people, so people come to you.
The beautiful thing about Buddhism, if I may say so, is that Buddhists dont try to
con you. They just present what they have, say it as it is, take it or leave it. If you try
to con people, to make money immediately, it becomes prostitution. When we try
to meet the immediate demands of the public in their present state of
sophistication, we have to lower our standards constantly, whereas if we allow for
some kind of resistance to our work, the audience has to jump up higher and higher.
They have to work with their patience and they have to work with their
sophistication, so the public automatically gets educated. Its a plot, but a
compassionate plot.
People in this country are very awake; they are looking for somethingand usually
they get the something they expect. But next time, they will be able to get
something beyond what they are used to.