Exploring Photography as a Contemplative Practice from a Taoist Perspective
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The Living Landscape - Ballyvaughan, Ireland 2011
What does it mean to pay attention? More importantly, how does paying attention reward us as contemplative photographers? When we pay attention we invest a major part of ourselves in something around us...if we don't, that something really ceases to exist for us. Now, I will not claim to have a complete understanding of quantum physics; in fact, what I do understand about the notion of quantum physics would fit into a teacup...a very small teacup at that. But the idea of created realities resonates with me so when I heard the short interview with Dr. Wolf I thought, "Yes, that makes sense. It's what I try to do with my visual listening exercises!"
I seem to be encountering various concepts of visual listening quite a bit lately and as I've said before, "repetition is revelation". I'm meant to dwell on this because it is the very thing that I struggle the most with...quieting my mind long enough for the landscape to speak to me.Trying to delve below the surface of the natural world. To wait patiently for the wisdom of the landscape to speak to you is one of the most difficult things a contemplative photographer must do but without this deeply intense visual listening there is no dialogue with the landscape. In Taoism, that "wisdom" is referred to as Qi...the subtle energy that flows through all things and especially the living landscape. It also fits very nicely with Celtic thinking. For the ancient Celts, the landscape is infused with a living presence. It is not a static entity that we merely walk through to get from here to there. So the the next time you are out in the landscape, take the time to pay attention. What are you drawn to? What ignites the spark in you? Where are the spiritual or essential connections for you? Those things should be what you attempt to photograph...those things, as Dr. Wolf says, will bring you the most joy.