Tag Archive: miksang


I have been working on a couple of projects, but am never sure when they are ended!  However, I’ve decided that for this particular project, I have at least enough to post here.

I have worked with so many young people who have come from tiny, rural and impoverished villages and are now successful university graduates or working in good jobs.  When I look at where they have come from, how they have had to move into new places and new lives and how amazing this transformation seems I am inspired.

The beginning of the path to...

Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he’ll never move.

Paulo Coelho

“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Walt Disney

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.

John D. Rockefeller

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.

Greg Anderson

We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.

Ben Sweetland

The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.

Barbara DeAngelis

“The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.” 

So if we wish to die well, we must learn how to live well: Hoping for a peaceful death, we must cultivate peace in our mind, and in our way of life.

“Go for the moon. If you don’t get it, you’ll still be heading for a star.” Willis Reed

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Methodology

At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.

Lao Tzu

I have been playing with my macro lens lately.  The more I use this lens the more I love the images that finally appear on my computer screen.  This one is of the cut stem of a capsicum. Such an ordinary vegetable, but when we look closely at the intricacies of its construction and see the beauty of its colour and design, then we can appreciate the complexity that surrounds us. Sadly we seldom look so closely at the ordinary things around us, and so we miss all of this beauty and design.

I am on holidays for a few days and enjoying myself reading and playing with my images.  One of the books I am reading is “Creative Composition” by Harold Davis. This books has some inspirational images and useful advice on composition.  In one section, he speaks about using a Zen perspective as a way of seeing the world.  The images illustrating that section were beautiful, and I wondered if perhaps this would be useful to adopt to improve my images.

Then I began to wonder – do I need a specific perspective to focus my images or my thoughts?  I already have an understanding of miksang and wabi-sabi which seem aligned to the way I view the world and my photography.  Do I need a more structured way of looking at the world?  If so, is this THE one?

The more I considered it, the more I felt that it would be easy to be a follower of a ‘method’, be it spiritual, philosophical or intellectual.  Methods give us structure and rules and analytical tools; design ideas and processes – all good things if I want to improve my images.  However, the more I thought about being a ‘follower’, the less happy I became with the idea.  I have escaped structures and constraints in other areas of my life, why, in this creative area would I now voluntarily adopt any one method?

My vision comes from my experiences, my readings, my writings, understanding about the world around me.  Looking at the intricacy of a simple stem shows me how much complexity there is in the world.  With that level of complexity, I felt I needed to have no limits on the ways in which I view the world or express my vision.

Yes, that means I will chase off down this path, be side-tracked into that perspective and drift seemingly aimlessly. With every new book I read or experience I have I will incorporate something of that into myself and into my work.   But without this openness to information, experience and understanding, then I will limit my experiences and understanding.  If I channel all my new ideas and experiences through the filter of Zen or formalism ,or deconstructionism or….  Will I lose some of the richness that the idea or experience gives me?

If I stay open, willing to be diverted into many paths, willing to explore and  enjoy the complexity of life, then my knowledge of myself grows. I will have the answers at the centre of my being.

The ‘good eye’.

Light and Water

My readings in the world of wabi-sabi have also lead to readings about ‘miksang’ – a Tibetan Buddhist philosophy of seeing.

Miksang is a Tibetan word meaning “good eye” and represents a form of contemplative photography based on the Dharma Art teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, in which the eye is in synchronisation with the contemplative mind. The result of this particular perception of the world, combined with photography, produces a peculiar and open way of seeing the world. Miksang pictures tend to bring the observer back into the original contemplation  state of the author of the picture. The pictures can bring one back to a purer perception  of reality that is often neglected. Miksang involves nothing fancy, no special setup; only a visual capture, in the proper state of mind, of everyday reality .

This combination of the contemplative mind with looking deeply at things from daily life seems to fit beautifully with the wabi-sabi concept of seeing the beauty in impermanence and the peace within natural objects and shapes.  Wabi-sabi and miksang both call for an acceptance of things as they are and of allowing our inner being to respond to the beauty of the imperfect, of the melancholy of the beautiful, of seeing ourselves within these deeper simplicities.

Both philosophies call for a stripping away of the externalities and complexities that fill our lives, asking us to see more clearly and more deeply.  Looking at the world this way from a meditative state where the eye and the camera become one,  expresses the inner sight and at the same time, the inner being.

Miksang photography or art takes us into the small hidden things of the world – the patterns that create the world we see.  Examining the patterns of sand or leaf veins or the patterns made by bubbles in water opens our minds to the patterns we create in our own lives.  Are they permanent patterns, or like bubbles, transient?  Are they functional patterns, like those found in rings on a  tree or have these patterns lost functionality and we now follow them without thought, because we have always done so, or because it is the accepted behaviour for ‘people like us’?  Are our patterns of behaviour and thought natural or forced upon us?  Did we chose them to meet a need, now long forgotten?

Nature’s patterns have a purpose and we can examine them in detail to understand the reason.  We need also to examine our own patterns to see if they too have a purpose, and to see if the purpose behind this pattern is still good.  Do we hide behind the patterns we create to keep ourselves safe or protected from the world?

If we work with these ideas we may find that our patterns of thinking and seeing and behaving are no longer patterns, but prison bars, limiting our functionality, limiting our creativity, limiting our understanding..