Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mindfulness and Zen Photography

Buddha told a parable in a sutra:
"A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted! "(Reps & Sensaki, 1994, pp. 39-40). I found this parable within an article on the internet called Zen and the Art of Photography by Wayne Rowe. Here is the link if you want to check it out  This is just what happened for me when I was making this image of this rock sculpture that I found at Kalamalka Lake, BC recently, (well minus the tigers and the mice). I was there to see the gorgeous colours of the lake that I had heard so much about. I didn't go looking for this little sculpture on the steep hill looking down at the lake, but there it was and it held my attention for the longest time. As with the last rock photo I posted, I noticed the shapes, angles, colours, textures, the light, and where it stood. For a moment my thoughts went to an image of someone there, in the same spot before me admiring the lake, and creating this sculpture while  she or he was there. Then I came back to this moment, my moment, appreciating and enjoying this beautiful image, with the warmth of the sun and how it lit up the sculpture. It was another experience of mindfulness.  I forgot why I was there, or anything from the past or the future. My thoughts were focused on what was before me.  Here is a quote taken from the book God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art by Jan Phillips (2000) - "I found that I began to step back so that I could make an image that was sharp and refined and had the deep space in it, and as I stepped back, I began to see a new kind of image" - Joel Meyerowitz.  When I stepped back to photograph this rock sculpture, the surrounding rocks, grass, and blue-green lake took my breath away with all it's beauty.  Phillips wrote "this is what heals us: this presence to the moment, this attentive looking, this discovery of our relationship with other living things (p.58). You may want to pick up this wonderful book. 

I seem to be attracted to rocks, among other things, in nature. There is something very calming about them. What do you find that attracts you and calms you about nature? Have you had a similar experience? Think about making a photo of an image of something in nature that provokes this calm serene feeling within you. Take time to really see what is before you and notice everything about it.  Enjoy! 

A stone can be broken, but it cannot be forced to become something it is not. Those of us who aspire to meditation need only become like a rock. - Deng Ming-Dao, author of Everyday Tao

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