The Art of Awakening: A User's Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Art & Practice by Konchog Lhadrepa

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The sacred arts play an essential, intrinsic role in Tibetan Buddhist practice. Here, one of the great practitioners and master artists of our time presents a guide to the Tibetan Buddhist path, from preliminary practices through enlightenment, from the artist's perspective. With profound wisdom, he shows how visual representations of the sacred in paintings, sculptures, mandalas, and stupas can be an essential support to practice throughout the path. This work, based on the author's landmark Tibetan text, The Path to Liberation, includes basic Buddhist teachings and practices, clearly pointing out the relevance of these for both the sacred artist and the practitioner, along with an overview of the history and iconography of Buddhist art.

The Art of Awakening is the one book that every student of Tibetan art, aspiring tangka painter, and Vajrayana practitioner really should have. Vast in its scope and authenticity, this definitive work by master artist Konchog Lhadrepa and his student Charlotte Davis is a phenomenal repository of knowledge on all aspects of Tibetan art and its practice. This is the book I always hoped to write but never did, and instead can learn so much from it. For this is a masterwork of the purest Dharma, which I pray will be translated into many different languages.”—Robert Beer, author and illustrator of The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs

The Art of Awakening is a comprehensive guide for those wishing to learn about the rich tradition of Tibetan tangka painting. In particular, this book is an essential resource for those wishing to know the inside meanings involved in the creation of a tangka painting, and the key elements of dharma practice that are essential for the aspiring tangka painter. In this day and age when the growing commercialization of perfunctory tangka paintings is ever increasing, Konchog Lhadrepa and Charlotte Davis’ contribution to the preservation of an authentic tradition of sacred art is admirable.”
—Pema Namdol Thaye, master artist and author of Tibetan Thanka Painting: Portrayal of Mysticism

“Sacred art is an element of the spiritual path. For the artist, every day of his or her work should help him or her to progress a few steps further on such a path. For the other practitioners who see their art and benefit from it, sacred art is a support for meditation, a blessing and a visual representation that ‘liberates by seeing’ just as sacred music liberates through hearing, the blessing of a spiritual master liberates through touch, imbibing sacred substances liberates by taste, and meditation liberates by thought. ‘Liberate’ here means to liberate from the bondage of the five mental poisons, which destroy inner peace—hatred, covetousness, ignorance, pride, and jealousy.”
—Matthieu Ricard, author of Happiness

“Preserving the sacred arts is part of the preservation of the dharma.”—Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, author of The Great Medicine That Conquers Clinging to the Notion of Reality

KONCHOG LHADREPA has been the Principal of the Tsering Art School since its foundation in 1996. He is an authentic holder of the Karma Gadri lineage of painting, which originated in Eastern Tibet and is famous for the beauty of its spacious landscapes. He became a disciple of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche at the age of 10 and, from the age of 16 to 22, served as his personal attendant. Over the years, Konchog painted many works for Rinpoche and his associated centers throughout the Indian subcontinent and Europe. His remarkable abilities, training, and knowledge of the sacred arts alone make him an exceptional artist.

CHARLOTTE DAVIS completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Australian National University, before traveling to Nepal in 1998 to study traditional Tibetan art at the Tsering Art School under Konchog's guidance. She was among the first group of graduates to complete their studies at Tsering Art School in 2003. She worked in the school administration alongside Konchog from 1998 to 2004 and today continues to work for the art school and monastery, while maintaining her practice as a thangka painter.