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Current Courses


Metropolis Perceived and the Urban Street Scene 

There are two separate sessions:

Toronto Shambhala Center.

Sun 3pm-5pm Est. July 4th, 11th, 28th; Aug 11th, 25th

For more information and registration:



Thurs 7pm- 9pm Est. July 11th, 18th; Aug 1st, 15th, 29th

Fee: $120-$150 CAN (or what you can afford)

For more information:

For registration:


    Many of us live in an urban environment whether a town, city or metropolis. These are complex visual manifestations that can seem both overwhelming and exciting.


    This course explores these urban settings in a direct perception way that transforms them into vivid visual displays. These urban visual energies become contemplative art zones.


    Also the course considers the popular photographic theme of Street Photography: the spontaneous and candid register of people in their daily street life dramas.


    Here we rework Street Photography in a contemplative way. Rather than a standard documentary study approach we give emphasis to the intimacy and art of street life. We include a consideration of some prominent Street Photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Saul Lieter and Lee Friedlander.


    The course proceeds through teachings, assignments and image reviews. No previous photographic experience required. You need a digital camera. (a smart phone camera works.)


    A great way to enjoy Summer in the City


    This is an on-line Zoom course. No previous photography experience necessary. You need a digital camera. (a smart phone camera is acceptable).


Heaven and Earth: Contemplative Landscape Photography

  “Traditionally it is said that when human beings live in harmony with the principles of heaven and earth, then the four seasons and the elements of the world will also work together harmoniously. Then there is no fear and humans begin to join in as they deserve, in living in the world. They have heaven above and earth below and they appreciate the trees the greenery and so on. They begin to appreciate all of this.” ~Chogyam Trungpa; Sacred Path of the Warrior

Two  Zoom session options:

Dorje Denma Ling

Every second Sunday: July 14th –Sept 22nd; 12am– 2pm EST

For information and registration:


Drala Image

Every second Tuesday July 16th – Sept 22nd

Course fee: $ 140 – $170.  For those repeating the course:  $120-$140.

(or pay what you can afford)

For registration:


    This contemplative photography course explores landscape photography from a contemplative art orientation rather than the traditional Western scenic approach.  The contemplative landscape way gives emphasis to visual forms, space and a sensibility of stillness rather than the conventional landscape formulas of dramatic effect,


    The course includes resource teaching from contemplative aesthetics, Daoism, the Shambhala principles, Chinese Landscape painting, European Landscape painting and Deep Ecology. Also it includes consideration of Western Landscape photographers such as Ansel Adams.


    This course is open to anyone who is interested in exploring the principles and aesthetic of contemplative landscapes and the messages they express. This is different from the capturing Nature and could take some time which is why the sessions are spaced two weeks apart.


You will need a digital camera with a “long lens” – at least 180.  The program is structured through teachings, assignments and assignment reviews.

Landscapes Contemplative Photography video


Contemplative Photography and Liberation:

The Outer and Inner Teachings

“If you are able to relax – relax to a cloud by looking at it, experience a drop of rain and experience its geniuses – you can see the unconditionally of reality…you experience a vast realm of perceptions unfolding …the realms of perceptions is limitlessness,  so that perception is itself primordial…the are endless fields of perception.” ~  Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior

Three Zoom session options:

Shambhala Online

Sat. June 15th, 22nd, 29; July 13th, 20th

Cohort #1: 1-3 Est

Cohort #2: 5-7 Est

For Information and Registration:


Drala Image

 Fri. 6:30-8:30 Est; June 14th, 21st, 28th; July 12th, 19th

Fee: $175-$200 CAD (or what you can afford)

For more information:

For registration:


   This course works with our sense of both sight and insight which leads to a different and fresh way of seeing and experiencing our world.  So, it is both a Dharma practice and a contemplative art exploration.


    The “clear seeing” you will experience opens up many realms of perception. We will explore many fields of perception such as “flowers and weeds”, Eastern aesthetics, “ordinary world: impressionism and so forth.


    We will also contemplate some Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche texts from True Perception and Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior

If you do not have these texts excerpts will be provided.


    No photographic experience necessary but you need a digital camera.


Color Plus/Plus: Introduction to Found Modern Art

“ I think if you can turn off the mind and and see only with your
eyes then everything becomes abstract" ~Ellesworth Kelly

Taught by John McQuade and Miriam Hall

Two Separate sessions:

1. Wed. 6pm-8pm  CDT; Apr. 10th, 24th, May. 8th, 22nd, Jun. 12th, 22nd

2. Sun 1-3 CDT; May. 12th , 26nd, Jun 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th

For more information:
For registration:


    In Nalanda Miksang contemplative photography our first assignment/exploration is color as color.


    In general, as our pedagogy, we start with making a direct contact with the basic elements or features of the visual world/experience: color, light, texture, pattern, space and so forth. These are the “visual cords” that become the basis of the Nalanda Miksang “ visual music”.


    At the same time each visual element has its own dimension and aesthetic. Color can spontaneously open to abstract color: color as color without a particular reference or context such as red balloon.   Just red as red as the ways of red.


    This Abstract color has its own aesthetic and resonates with the abstraction of some modern American Modern Art: the Color Field School. This School explores color as color and incudes artists such Ellsworth Kelly, Barnet Newman and Kenneth Noland. This course includes a study and contemplation of these Color Field artists.


    In this course you will become Color Field Artists. Your images will be found Color Field Abstract Art.

    No photographic experience necessary. You need a digital camera ( a
phone camera is fine)


AbsoluteEye Contemplative Photography: From Orderly Chaos to Found Modern Art

“Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news”

~Chogyam Trungpa


Two Separate Sessions

  1. Toronto Shambhala Center

Sat. 12pm-2pm Est; Mar 23rd, 30rd, Apr 6th, 13th, 20th

For registration:

2.Drala Image

Mon. 6:30pm-8:30pm Est; Mar 25th, Apr 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd

For registration:



    This Zoom exploration engages direct perception without reference points. Not even the reference point of contemplative art.  It is a free flowing perception orderly chaos. The images are energetic and vivid. They are Found Modern Art.

    The Nalanda Miksang path and pedagogy orients from Chogyam Trungpa’s  Dharma Art teaching: The Three Levels of Perception. These three levels parallel the Buddhist three levels:  Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. This contemplative art perception engagement is the “Tantric” level. You will learn to “let go,” enter a  “visual gap” and let the visual world manifest in its own orderly chaos way.

    The aesthetic of these artistic images resonates with certain paintings of Modern American Art. This course includes a cultural studies aspect. We will consider the Assemblage School of American Modern Art which includes artists such as Robert Rauschenberg as well as some Pop Artists.

    One of the intentions of this course is to produce brilliant found modern art images. You will become absolute photo eye artists.

    The course will include contemplation of Dharma Art and Modern Art texts, teachings, image assignments and image reviews.  No photographic experience necessary. You need a digital camera. (a smart phone is workable).


Child of Illusion: Contemplative Art, Yogachara Buddhism and Liberation

“Yogachara is the school of Buddhism that produces art and appreciates aesthetic consciousness…a touch here, a touch there, delight”, “The Tea Cup and the Skull Cup” ~Chogyam Trungpa,


“If there is nothing to grasp there is no grasping” ~Vasubandhu


Two course date/times:

  1. Eight weeks.Every Sat. 3-5 pm Est, Feb. 17th- Apr. 6th

Register through Shambhala Online:


  1. Eight weeks.Every Fri. 6:30-7:30 pm Est, Feb. 16th-Apr. 5th

Fee: $225-$275 CAN. (or what you can afford)




   The two ways of contemplative arts and the Yogachara come together at certain “pressure points”. One is the dualism/non dualism that occur in our experience and perception. A unique feature of the Yogachara and the contemplative arts is to use dualism – our everyday experience – as a way to realize non-dualism or the liberation from fixed references through the free flowing, vibrancy and openness of direct experience.  

   This course, through various perception exercises and meditation practices, facilitates these liberation ways and cultivates a subtle aesthetic appreciation. In particular it focuses on “post-meditation” as vehicle for empowering the phenomenal world “ to wake you up”. Then you have a powerful ally in your liberation practice and way.

  (there will be some contemplative photography exercises so you need a digital camera. A phone camera is acceptable)

  Along with these transformative exercises we will contemplate certain texts and teachings. We will engage Vasubandhu’s classic treatise: “ The Three Natures”. Vasubandhu is one of the founders of the Yogachara school.  Also we will consider teachings from Traleg Rinpoche’s text “The Influence of Yogacara on Mahamudra” and ChogyamTrungpa’s text the “ Tea Cup and the Skull Cup”. Readings from these texts will be provided.

   This is not a beginner’s course so one should have established a meditation practice and taken Refuge or Shambhala vows or some similar commitment to Dharma practice.


True Perception and Shambhala Meditation

“ When the warrior-students experience an environment where the dralas are present, where the possibilities of sanity are always there, they can appreciate the mountains, the clouds, the sky, sunshine, trees, flowers, brooks...intensely bright red and blue and brilliant white and orange. You see the brilliance of the universe. You develop a true perception of the universe” ~Chogyam Trungpa: Shambhala Sacred Path of the Warrior

  The course is presented on two separate dates, Four sessions each.

  1. Sat. Nov 4th; 12-2pm Est. For more information and registration go to the Toronto Shambhala Center website:

  2. Starting Tues. Nov. 7th, 6:30-8:30pm Est.

    Course fee: $120 -$140 CAN (or what you can afford)

    For more information: Current courses at

    For registration:

    Chogyam Trungpa, the great Buddhist meditation master and Shambhala teacher was also an accomplished contemplative artist. His Dharma art teachings are gathered in a book: True Perception.  As the above quote indicates “true perception” is also at the heart of the Shambhala teachngs.

    This course integrates these True Perception dharma art teachings with the Shambhala way and meditation practice.

    In particular it includes some contemplative  photography explorations and two forms of Shambhala meditation: a Mind/Body/World synchronization which establishes the basis for true perception and a perception/awareness meditation which manifests true perception.

    No photography or meditation experience necessary. Instruction will be provided. You need a digital camera (a phone camera will work).

    The course will include teachings from True Perception, Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior, Great Eastern Sun and Heart of Photography. These texts will be provided.

color example1.jpg

Color: Introduction to Contemplative Photography (Closed)

“ But the point is to see properly. See colors: white, black, blue yellow, red, green, purple. Look. This is your world!”~Chogyam Trungpa; Sacred Path of the World


We ask: does visual experience and the visual world have forms or elements ?  Is it made of anything? Yes it does have visual features. Everything we see involves color, light, surface, space and seeing something.

   These visual forms become the first explorations of our pedagogy and path of visual contemplative training. It is something like learning the visual cords and scales although the images themselves can be very interesting and powerful.

   Color is the first engagement. This engagement opens the way of contemplative photography. Besides this basic visual form it involves the pedagogy and skillful means of contemplative photography such as the practices of synchronization and “flash of perception”.  It teaches how to make an equivalent contemplative image composition. And deeply: it introduces the distinction between an orientation to the “thing world” – a red fire engine – and the contemplative phenomenal or appearance world – fire engine red: the color red as the color red.

   This course can be a good introduction the Looking and Seeing course which teaches all the visual forms.  Also, it is a direct introduction to the Color Plus/Plus course which explores color manifestations as Found Modern Art.

   No previous photographic experience necessary but you need a digital camera (a phone camera works)


Moon and Sun: A Short  Introduction to Contemplative Haiku (Closed)

  “The moon and sun are travelers through Eternity…Even the days wander and each day is a journey and the journey itself is home”-Basho


 This course introduces the classic form of Contemplative haiku which situates an occasioned “now” within the vast cosmos of Nature.


  The course includes a consideration of the sublime aesthetics of the Japanese contemplatives- such as sabi, wabi, and yugen. Further we consider the Shambhala teachings of “authentic presence” and “ordinary magic” as energetic ways that inform contemplative practice.


  This Zoom course proceeds through teaching, haiku assignments and reviews.  Each participant will have weekly personal feedback through e-mail and will share their haiku in the Zoom sessions.


  For those interested, this course opens participation in the ongoing “ Moon and Sun” community of haiku practitioners and more advanced Haiku studies.

No writing experience necessary.


Contemplative Photography and Liberation: The outer and inner teachings (Closed)

“ If you are able to relax – relax to a cloud by looking at it, relax to a drop of rain and experience its genuiness – you can see the unconditionally of reality…you experience a vast realm of perceptions unfolding…the realm of perception is limitless, so limitless that perception itself is primordial…there are endless fields of perception.”

   The course proceeds through teachings, assignments and assignment reviews. No photographic experience necessary but one needs a digital camera. (a phone camera is workable)




Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala Sacred Path of the Warrior

    This course will take you on a deep dive into the world of contemplative photography and is open to everyone. No previous photographic experience necessary.

   A basic introduction to the practice of contemplative photography will be explored – as well as the liberation aspects of this practice. The direct perception experiences resonate with more primordial depths of insight. So it is both a contemplative art  and dharma practice. We will consider how the liberation features of contemplative art resonate with the liberation features of Shambhala, the Buddhadharma and Daoism.

  The “clear seeing” you will experience as part of this course opens up many realms of perception that we typically do not engage in our daily life. We will explore some fields of perception such as impressionism, flowers and weeds, and ordinary world magic.  

  We will contemplate some Chogyam Trungpa texts from the books True Perception and Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior. (if you do not have these books excerpts will be provided)

     For more discussion of the contemplative way of liberation consult the blog post on this website: “ Contemplative art and liberation: how it works ”


Orderly Chaos and Found Modern Art (Closed)

“Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news”-Chogyam Trungpa




This course is the third level in the Nalanda Miksang pedagogy which is based on Chogyam Trungpa’s dharma art teachings of the three levels of perception.

This course lets go of all reference points and enters the free play and energy of perception. The resulting images are often abstract and are found in modern art.  ( This course includes studies of Modern American Art with particular reference to the work of Robert Rauschenberg.

Course includes teachings, assignments and image reviews.


There is no prerequisite for this course.

" Following this course, in the Summer, we will offer a related
AbsoluteEye Found Modern Art course: Assemblage Artists.  It will
contemplate the works of artists Robert Rauchenberg and Tom Wesslmann;
the works of photographers Edward Weston and Lee Frielander, the
Assemblage theories of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze  and the
Tantric teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche."



Moon and Sun Haiku Gathering (Closed)

This is an ongoing feature of the Moon and Sun haiku manifestation. Every month, we will gather around to share some of our haiku. This is only available to those who have taken a Moon and Sun haiku course. The haiku will be in the classic contemplative haiku form.

The process will be similar to the course format. Participants can send me up to five haiku via e-mail. I will respond and select some that we can read and contemplate together. There may be a haiku lesson. It will be scheduled for a two-hour session, but the actual session may be shorter.


Contemplative Photography: A short introduction (Closed)

“When eye and mind are synchronized, you see more clearly, and your images are simple, strong and vivid”


This course introduces the basic approach of Miksang contemplative photography. It includes teachings, assignments and image reviews. An introductory course is a prerequisite for more advanced courses offered this year. (For information on these courses, go to No photography experience necessary, but you will need a digital camera. (Point-and-shoot or phone camera are acceptable.) For more information: and


LOOKING AND SEEING: Introduction to Contemplative Photography (Closed)

“When Eye, Mind and World are in the same place at the same time, one sees clearly, and the images are simple and vivid.”


Teacher: John McQuade

For more information and registration go to the Toronto Shambhala Center Website:

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