Kongtrul Rinpoche demonstrates his painting technique as he plays on canvas with a mixture of turpentine and oil paints. He discusses the freedom aspect in creativity and the mind. 


Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, who paints under the name Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel, was born in the Northern Indian province of Himachel Pradesh into a Tibetan family, the son of Neten Chokling Rinpoche and Mayum Tsewang Paldun. Recognized as an incarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, a great scholar and meditation master in 19th century Tibet, he grew up in a monastic environment and received extensive training in all aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practice. 

In 1989 Mr. Namgyel moved to the United States with his family and in 1990 began a five-year tenure as a professor of Buddhist philosophy at the Naropa Institute. He founded Mangala Shri Bhuti at this time, an organization established with the vision of furthering the wisdom and practice of the Longchen Nyingtik, Khyentse, Kongtrul and Chokling lineages. 

Mr. Namgyel travels widely throughout the world teaching and furthering his own education. Deeply interested in activities that express the natural state of mind for which all meditation aims, Mr. Namgyel admired the work of Kandinsky and Picasso in his first encounters with Western art. Trained in the traditional Tibetan arts of calligraphy, music and ritual dance, he began painting in the mid-1990’s under the guidance of the French abstract expressionist painter Yahne Le Toumelin. 

Out of all the Western traditions, abstract expressionism caught his attention due to its acceptance of formless technique, which closely mirrors the relaxation of strict discipline found in advanced meditation.

As a painter, I feel a personal connection to the work, and of course, paint for my own enjoyment and because painting helps me with my path. In that sense I enjoy living a ‘dual’ life - as a practitioner and an artist - dual, meaning that I derive great satisfaction from being a practitioner and having a form of artistic expression. My aim is for this to inspire and benefit others to have a dual life as well, to see the two, being an artist and being a practitioner, as inseparable.

Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel

Exhibition Catalogs

Creativity in Action

E Ma Ho!

Natural Vitality

Light Coming Through

Wide Eye


2004 The Art of Kongtrul Jigme NamgyelCooper Union, New York, New York

2004 The Art of Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel, Xanadu Gallery, San Francisco, California

2005 Light Coming Through, Art & Julia's Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

2007 Natural Vitality, Tibet House, New York City, New York

2007 The Art of Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel, Shambhala Center, San Francisco, California

2009 Abstract & Concrete, Shambhala Center, New York, New York

2012 India Paintings, Weiss Salon, Boulder, Colorado

2013 Art as Spiritual Practice, Shumei International Institute, Crestone, Colorado

2014 Wide Eye, Garrison Institute, Garrison, New York

2014 Wide Eye, Weiss Salon, Boulder, Colorado

2017 E Ma Ho!, Weiss Salon, Boulder, Colorado

2018 Buddhist Arts & Film Festival, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, Colorado

2019 Creativity in Action, Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado

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