25 Mar Introduction to Miksang in Edinburgh, Apr 2017
“Seeing things as they are.”
“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution”.
– Paul Cezanne, Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, – a Memoir with Conversations
“Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully. What we see doesn’t have to be pretty, particularly; we can appreciate anything that exists. There is some principle of magic in everything, some living quality. Something living, something real, is taking place in everything”.
– Chögyam Trunga Rinpoche, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
At times, when we visit an unfamiliar country, we might notice how little things surprise us; a different design of taps in the bathroom, certain stripes on the streets, or perhaps an intenser colour of the sky. Even at home, we might notice how the light on our curtains changes at the onset of spring. These fresh moments stop us in our thoughts, and put us viscerally in touch with a fleeting wonder of the ‘now.’
Miksang is a practice of contemplative photography based on becoming more attuned to these moments of direct perception, where we see things as they are, rather than how we habitually perceive them. It is about connecting to the direct experience of things, before we label them. Photography, in this way, is used as a means of developing our sensitivity of perception, helping us to get in touch with the joyful freshness of our seeing, not only when we travel elsewhere, but in the moment-to-moment existence of our daily lives.
In this introduction to Miksang, given the context of Samye Dzong, we will explore how contemplative photography relates to Buddhist practice, through discussions of principles and close readings of pertinent texts.
It is important to emphasise that these workshops are not focused on photography as technique/craft, but are accessible to everyone – no experience of photography is required. These workshops are opportunities for anyone who wishes to develop, or deepen a mindful engagement with the texture of simple daily living. Photography is used as a means through which to powerfully engage with what is around us with fresh eyes. Miksang is a way of using the camera to recognise and engage with the quality of being mindfully present.
In the first workshop we will explore what a contemplative approach to arts entails. The contemplative art of Miksang will then be introduced; how it originated, the context in which it has developed and some of its basic principles. This workshop will also introduce students to the “flash of perception”, which forms the basis of Miksang, connecting us to fresh perception. This will be followed by a brief assignment and Miksang walk. After returning, a “review” of the images will take place, in which a contemplative approach to receiving “flashes” of others will be introduced and practised. We’ll share some images and see how we have ‘good eyes.*’
*miksang means ‘good eye’ in Tibetan.
For those who would like to continue their Miksang practice in a group setting, there will be a two day course of “Level 1 Miksang training”, on Sunday 14th and 21st May. There is also an opportunity to partake in less formal training at regular “Miksang salons” throughout the year. For more details please join our Facebook group “Contemplative Photography Edinburgh”
My fascination with photography took a familiar pattern. An engagement with analogue photography in secondary school gave rise to much joy of playing with light, and spending hours in the darkroom. Attempts to follow a traditional study replaced that joy with rules and self-awareness, which got in the way. After many years, I rediscovered my original inspiration in the words of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who gave a series of teachings on art and perception. These teachings gave birth to my engagement with Miksang photography. I am a certified teacher with the Nalanda Miksang school of Miksang.
Kagyu Samye Dzong Edinburgh
25 Bernard St, Edinburgh EH6 6SH
23rd April 2017, 2pm – 5pm