this too
Friday, December 16, 2005
  Rediscovering the ordinary: photography and meditation

Photo by Stephen Batchelor, from his website gallery - click to enlarge

The Buddhist scholar and teacher Stephen Batchelor is also a photographer and I was very happy to see that the latest update of his website includes a gallery of his photographs, along with an extract from Meditation for Life, a recent book with text by his wife Martine Batchelor and photos by Stephen:

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.

The retreats I’ve attended led by Martine and Stephen, who are both guiding teachers at Gaia House, have truly helped me to “rediscover the ordinary”. Thank you.
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...

(what a great photo that is, isn't it?)
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.
Um, I meant to say nun and monk, obviously...
Thank you for this marvelous introduction. A friend is involved in Miksang photography — locally, but the link is to the main Toronto site. Wonderful stuff there, too.
The photo "Gren Canal with Detritus and Shadow" knocked me out. I will now proceed to the Miksang site recommended by Moose.
FYI: There's an interesting little Quicktime movie buried in the Miksang site that explains a bit about the approach and has some lovely shots.
I'd never heard of Miksang photography , Moose, but will definitely be investigating - thank you!!
His photos are fabulous, Jean, and I especially like #6. Do you know what it is?
this is a wonderful and inspiring quote, jean, thank you. will follow the links tomorrow, maybe after I've sat!.
Thanks for the quote -- that was very interesting and affirming!
I've been exploring the Miksang photography site. Oh, I love it. I want to do the course! Wonderful!
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