Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reflections on the Tao: Doing and Being

The way to do
is to be.

- Lao Tzu

   Contemplative photography, at least for me, is as much about being as it is about doing.  What is crucial is that you allow the concept to evolve gradually, through time and exploration, until you arrive at a practice (the doing part) that aligns with your essential humanity ( the being part).  It is not a case of "one size fits all".

     Whenever I've lectured or led contemplative walks, I've emphasized that the being part must come first...the doing part will follow.  One must forge their own and unique relationship with the landscape, the world around them.  I built mine through the application of Taoist principles as well as Celtic spirituality but it is, by no means, the be all and end all of contemplative photography.  It is my way, that's all.

   Immersing myself early on in the basic principles of Celtic spirituality and Taoism opened up a path that I could have found in other ways perhaps but it fit me like a well worn pair of shoes.  It was comfortable and nothing pinched.  Many, if not all, workshops and teachings revolve around the doing part and that is very important.  But in the end, it will require that you settle into your own and unique way of being with your camera in the landscape.  Take away from these teachings, including this blog, only what feels comfortable and which fits in with who you are and what you feel in your heart.  Then you will have defined contemplative photography for yourself and it will fit like a glove.


   John O'Donohue, that great Celtic soul that I was privileged to know, wrote eloquently on how the outer landscape is a grand metaphor for the hidden inner landscape of your soul.  His writings on Celtic spirituality have formed the foundation of my thoughts and work as a contemplative photographer.  Here is a wonderful interview he did for the radio show On Being which was recorded just a few months before his death.  I'm sure you will love listening...

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