As practices, both meditation and photography demand commitment, discipline and technical skill. Possession of these qualities does not, however, guarantee that meditation will lead to great wisdom any more than photography will culminate in great art. To go beyond mere expertise in either domain requires a capacity to see the world in a new way. Such seeing originates in a penetrating and insatiable curiosity about things. It entails recovering an innocent, childlike wonder at life while suspending the adult’s conviction that the world is simply the way it appears.
The pursuit of meditation and photography leads away from fascination with the extraordinary and back to a rediscovery of the ordinary. Just as I once hoped for mystical transcendence through meditation, so I assumed exotic places and unusual objects to be the ideal subjects for photography. Instead I have found that meditative awareness is a heightened understanding and feeling for the concrete, sensuous events of daily existence. Likewise, the practice of photography has taught me just to pay closer attention to what I see around me everyday. Some of the most satisfying pictures I have taken have been of things in the immediate vicinity of where I live and work.
Yes! That’s exactly why I find such joy both in meditation and in taking photographs, and hope they will both continue to play a big part in my life.
Oooooh, THANK YOU for this post & links. I've been brewing a blog-post exploring the question of what makes a "zen blog": I don't talk about zen/meditation much on HO, but the act of simply seeing SEEMS very "zen" to me. So you've just added some intellectual grist for the mill...
Absolutely. I thought you'd like this, Lorianne! Do go and look at more of Stephen's beautiful photos on his website. Martine and Stephen met when they were Zen monk and nun in Korea, though they teach and write rather 'ecumenically' these days. Really wonderful people.