Exploring Photography as a Contemplative Practice from a Taoist Perspective
Friday, February 28, 2014
Don't Try So Hard....
"What you seek is also seeking you." - Rumi
The Treasures’ Nearness
A man searching for spiritual treasure could not find it, so he was praying.
A voice inside said, “You were given an intuition to shoot an arrow and then dig where it landed,”
but you shot with all your archery skill! You were told to draw the bow with only a fraction of your ability.”
What you are looking for is nearer than the big vein on your neck! Let the arrow drop.
Don’t exhaust yourself like the philosophers, who strain to shoot the high arc of their thought arrows.
The more skill you use, the farther you’ll be from what you deepest love wants. -Rumi
This is one of my favorite Rumi poems and it speaks to so much of my thoughts on contemplative photography. It shouldn't be so hard!
Sometimes we need to release our sense of control...abdicate some of our mastery of the medium to connect with what we are seeking... deeply contemplative imagery.
We simply need to reach out and what we are seeking will reach out for us. We will meet in the middle. So much of Rumi's wisdom is about letting go. So much of what I write about on this blog is about becoming empty bowls so the wisdom of the landscape can fill us up. It is, in fact, the first characteristic of the Photographic Sage and, perhaps, the most important.
Children have this natural capacity to engage the world as empty bowls. We need to remember a time when we didn't work so hard on experiencing what the world has to offer us.
Here is a past blog post that speaks to this very idea. We need to re-experience the world around us as children do...with their kind of total engagement and lack of expectation.
Footnote: The image for today's post is a playful adaptation of one of my frost etchings from the window in my barn. It seemed to illustrate the Rumi notion that what you are seeking is also reaching out, seeking you. I wanted to disengage it from it's black and white world and playfully alter tone and color. It was a huge leap for me! I was inspired my Susan Fox's approach to intuitive photography and her willingness to creatively alter images. You can visit her blog at Finding My Bliss. When I was an art teacher I often encouraged my students to "play with the materials". Thought it was high time for me to practice what I preached!