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Rigdens at an Exhibition

MFA's first meditation session

MFA's first meditation session

by Dan Glenn, Director of the Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts opened its exhibit, Seeking Shambhala early last Monday morning. The exhibition features a set of newly-conserved 17th century thangka paintings of the Rigden (or Kalki) Kings of Shambhala and is on display from March 6th through September 30th. Shastri Diana Evans of the Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston gave meditation instruction at the opening with over forty people, primarily museum staff and members of the media. The assembled sat on cushions on the floor of the exhibit hall and engaged in what Museum Director Malcolm Rogers called, “the first-ever meditation session in the museum.”

Twenty-two of the thirty-two Rigden Kings are displayed, including the first, Dawa Sangpo or “Suchandra,” who received the Kalachakra teachings from the Buddha. Also on view are works by Japanese graphic artist Tadanori Yokoo, including his SHAMBALA series of prints produced in 1974, and work by the contemporary Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso, whose collage titled The Shambala in Modern Times was shown at the 53rd Venice Biennial. Mr. Gyatso spoke at the opening as well.

Artist Gonkar Gyatso, left and curator Jacki Elgar right

Artist Gonkar Gyatso, left and curator Jacki Elgar right

It is an incredibly auspicious connection for the Shambhala Center of Boston, which is just a few minutes down the road from the MFA. The center is working with the museum on another collaborative effort which will feature curator Jacki Elgar, the museum’s Head of Asian Conservation and Head of International Projects (Asia) at the Shambhala Center. We also plan to gather and take group trips to the museum to see the exhibition. There are a number of members of the Shambhala community who are also members of the museum.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche had the opportunity to have a private showing of the thangkas, which reside at the museum, in 2005 when he was in Boston to run the marathon. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche also viewed these thangkas in 1974 and felt that they were truly remarkable. President Richard Reoch plans to visit Boston this summer to see the exhibition.

Click here for more information about the exhibition, including a visual tour. You can also check out the Press Release and Fun Facts.
To read more about the Boston Shambhala community, visit their blog: Wake up Boston!

Diana Evans leading meditation, photo courtesy of Joanne Rathe

Diana Evans leading meditation, photo courtesy of Joanne Rathe

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1 response to “ Rigdens at an Exhibition ”
  1. Hello Diana,
    This set of newly conserved Rigden thangkas at the MFA are the very ones that the Vidyadhara requested be the basis for Noedup Rongae’s Rigden thangkas, now hanging at the Shambhala Centre in Halifax. The Vidyadhara commissioned them in the 1980’s and requested that Noedup use the MFA thangkas as models. As a result we have a most beautiful and unique set of Rigden thangkas that also need conservation to ensure that they survive for future practitioners. We, in the Archives, have been working with Yeshe Fuchs, Shambhala Centre Director and Ann Shaftel, Conservator to care for these precious paintings.
    It’s so interesting! I do hope we can come and visit this exhibit in Boston. It’s great to see such things happening.
    Yours,
    Jeanne Riordan
    Assistant Curator,
    VCTR Ladrang
    Shambhala Archives


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