Every Meeting is First Contact

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The following is an email exchange between someone who attended an Opening the Good Eye course and myself. I hope that it is helpful! Thank you so much to A. who took the time to submit her questions for the benefit of everyone. We all share many questions about what we experience in our Miksang practice. Please send your questions to me, no matter how much you feel you understand or don’t understand about what we are doing.It is always very stimulating for everyone.
With appreciation for all of you,

Julie

Q: Rather than trying to emulate the way you and Michael see, what do I bring to the equation?

A: What you seem to be asking is, ‘how do I know I’m having my own perception or just a version of some template that I’m installing from Michael and Julie’s images?’  What do you bring to the equation? You bring your open mind, your availability, your own being to the equation. If you emulate anything, emulate that Michael and I are doing the same thing. We synchronize our eye and mind and go out to meet the world. This is not about the final product, it is about our state of mind.

Q: What about discoveries we make in-camera while looking through different lenses, using wide open apertures, or with extreme under/over-exposure. Are those direct perceptions?

We don’t do anything “in-camera” except at the end, in the last stage of the 3 Stages of Practice, as we bring our camera to our eye and do one last check – is this exactly what stopped me, nothing added, nothing missing? We ask ourselves this in order to express our perception precisely, without manipulation. “Discoveries” through the lenses are nothing more than what we see through our lenses as we are playing with our equipment. They have nothing to do with the process of meeting our world as it is with an open, available mind and expressing and sharing those perceptions exactly as we have seen them. If we don’t have a perception that stops our mind, that penetrates us fully, that gives us a sense of appreciation and joy, then why bother expressing it?

People manipulate their images because they do not have a primary allegiance to direct perception. They regard their perceptions as a spring board for the application of post-processing filters and effects to make art based upon some idea of what would be appealing or look cool. This is not what we do. We don’t add saturation, tints, or alter the original image in any way except to bring it to the exact expression of what we have seen. Any lens we use has to be able to express our perception precisely. If we can’t do that, then we walk away from the perception.  Why struggle? There are endless perceptions.

First comes the flash of perception, then understanding what has stopped us, then forming the equivalent. This is all explained in detail in the Three Stages of Practice document that you received after the Level One course.

There is no way inside of this without practicing it, developing the ability to be still, to be stopped, and to express the perception clearly and precisely.

Practice it over and over.

Don’t think about it. Concepts only get in our way. Just keep everything simple as you learned in your first course.

Do the looking for color and human camera exercise before you go out shooting and any other time you feel the need to synchronize your eye and mind.

Take your camera with you everywhere. If it is too large to do that, get a smaller camera for day to day, such as the one Michael and I use (Lumix FZ-100). This provokes our mind and eye, and helps to keep our awareness turned outwards so that we can be stopped visually at any time during our day.

As you second guess and evaluate your experience you are undermining your confidence in your experience. If you aren’t having your own direct experience or have doubt in it you will look to us or someone else to use as a measurement for what you have seen. This is not helpful to you.

If you practice the Three Stages one-pointedly and trust in your own ability to experience your world directly and fully, then your confidence will grow as your experience of openness, stillness, passion, and deep appreciation gains stability.

In Miksang, being fresh means being brave enough to take a leap into a world without reference points such as whether your going to make a good or bad photograph. It means that you can experience your world without the ongoing evaluation of everything you experience.

If you function in evaluator mode, there will be no freshness for you, only your recycled versions of experience.

As you do this practice, you can let the evaluator go. Give it a break altogether. Just go for it. That’s where the joy and the true freedom is.

Freedom means that we are free from our fixed versions of our world. That is where you will express your unconditional well being—the you that is you. This is what you bring to the equation.

Level One is just the beginning. You would benefit greatly by coming to the Making Contact workshop and working further on the discipline.

When your discipline brings confidence in your ability to synchronize your eye and mind, you are ready for Making Contact.

In the Making Contact Workshop we take our Miksang discipline out to the world and meet it fully, without overlays and filters. It is the real rubber hitting the road. Our personal preferences and point of view mean nothing. We abandon our credentials and what we want. Every meeting is First Contact. We meet the world fully, as it is.

And it is wondrous, beyond anything we can conceive.