Our Contemplative Photography Practice is a Mirror

I want to thank all of you who have sent me your questions and comments.

Today’s subject is lack of confidence. We all have a bit of trepidation about learning something new and then displaying it to our friends. This is normal enough, and we welcome the challenge and go forward good- naturedly. Perhaps most importantly, we have a sense of humor towards ourselves. We don’t mind things being a bit messy and when we miss the mark we can take it in stride.

It is really important, if we are going to enjoy learning anything new in our lives, that we are gentle with ourselves.

In the case of our Miksang practice, we can feel good whenever we notice we are straying from our perception and we come back to “Square 0”.

two leaves

It is not the success of shooting a good image that counts in this practice, as we have said many times. It is the realization that we can always start fresh. We only have to let go of our thoughts and come back to now. It is like climbing back up on our horse. This is the heart of this practice, and without that simple view, we can get lost.

Sometimes we can find ourselves getting stuck in a negative frame of mind about ourselves. We find ourselves feeling self-doubt about whether we will ever truly be a “good” Miksang practitioner. We lack confidence that we have what we need to do Miksang. We fear that we could be one of the ones that just can’t do it. We don’t believe in our innate ‘Good Eye’. We think we do, but down deep, we have doubts about ourselves.

This is a pretty painful place to find oneself, but seeing these self-doubting thoughts coming up with the feelings that accompany them is the first big step towards liberation from their influence.

man on snow stree

Our Miksang mirror is showing us our doubt, and it seems true and feels real, but in reality it is just an attitude, an overlay of a habitual pattern onto our experience. This overlay of attitude is destructive and undermines our confidence and our ability to find joy in our lives. We can’t relax and enjoy ourselves until we try every way we know to succeed at our new task at hand. We use every strategy we have developed in our lives to make the world work for us. Unfortunately, because we are not willing to give up our desire to control how the world appears to us, we will only see what and how we allow ourselves to see. We are locking ourselves inside a limiting view.

One strategy that we use to succeed in Miksang is to create a formula to help us perform “adequately.”

As “good” students, we diligently apply the pointers we have been given to recognize when we are getting distracted from the initial freshness of the perception. Are we trying to improve our image, to make it better? Do we look around the edges for something to add to our perception? Do we ask ourselves if it is interesting enough to get approval from others?

The pointers are signposts at forks in the road that alert us that we are veering outside of our experience into conceptuality. Terms, such as the three C’s- “Contrast, contextualize, and compare”, are meant to make it easier for us to notice these common tendencies when they start to take form in our minds. Rather than getting pulled away from the primacy of our perception by these conceptual traps, we can simply boycott them by not inviting them in and serving them tea. We don’t have to think about them to recognize them and return to our true perception. Thinking about the signposts will pull us outside of our experience.
 Leaf on flowers

Conceptual questioning of our experience will not succeed in bringing us certainty.

Questioning ourselves conceptually as we look and see, whether in the shooting process or editing, adds an overlay to our experience that undermines our confidence and creates uncertainty in the genuineness of our experience. We are sabotaging ourselves in a subtle way.

Instead, let’s keep it very simple. Is it fresh? Yes, no. If not, simply delete and move on. No need to think about it further. We can see clearly, know what is, and be decisive. If we are fully present, we know what is fresh and what is not.

Maybe we can’t be certain about whether it is fresh. Then try this statement: “With less certainty, there is more freshness.” It is no accident that this confounds our conceptual mind. We have to take a leap into allowing our experience to be what it is and expressing that in our image.

We might ask ’’How do we know we aren’t just fooling ourselves?” Do the human camera until space opens up in your mind and perceptions come to you out of the blue. That question becomes irrelevant. Doubt becomes irrelevant.

If you aren’t certain about what you are seeing, then do more human camera and take more time when you get stopped to understand and express precisely.

parking lot

Being a “good” Miksang student does not involve endlessly questioning our experience of seeing to make sure it is perfect.

We can never succeed at this task, because each moment something new happens in a new way. We change, our world changes, the sky changes. We want to see, we want to be present, we want to engage, and the only way that can happen is if we let go of our strategies for success.

We have to let go of our ideas of what should happen and what it should look like.

We have perceptions out of the blue all the time, and there is always freshness present at the moment we see. If we naturally rest in that, there is no need to question ourselves about whether we have strayed from being genuine. That is like trying to make a sow’s ear from a silk purse. Who would want to do that?

We want you to have confidence in what you are feeling and seeing. Developing confidence is the point. The questions are not the point. Being genuine is the point. Be decisive!


If it feels fresh, trust your experience.

If it doesn’t feel fresh trust your experience. Say goodbye, and move on.

No second thoughts are needed.

If you have more questions about anything I have said, please ask them.

My best to you all,