Transforming Our Experience
As students of direct perception, we have applied ourselves to various exercises, assignments, and discussion to understand what we have to do to make our experience of seeing and expressing genuine and fresh. This is what we all want, or we would be taking conventional photography courses or art appreciation courses. But until we experience for ourselves what it is like when perceptions dawn out of the blue, when they are unmistakably fresh, manifesting from nowhere, uncreated by us, then no matter what further assignments and courses we take, we will continue to struggle to recognize freshness when it happens or doesn’t happen.
This is the crux of it all. How do we recognize freshness? Only the mind of openness and stillness can recognize fresh. That is why we always talk about our intention, the importance of stillness, and the qualities of Miksang mind – all of it. Without our minds being totally aligned towards fresh, we are swimming in the ocean without a paddle. We are faking it and hoping that we can just get by.
As most of us usually do, if we experience difficulty, we may decide to be satisfied with a modest level of accomplishment. After all, we can say we took the course and did everything that was asked of us. We can now see our world in a new way, noticing details that before we ignored and appreciating the variety of visual aspects of our world. This is no small feat. But there is more, much more for us to experience, more than we can imagine.
When we are at Miksang Workshops, practicing the discipline of looking, seeing, and expressing with our friends on this journey, we are all supported and feel that we can expand what we see and experience further and more deeply. We have glimpses of potential and are open to change. Yet when we return home, we tend to lose our inspiration, and we lose the motivation to exert ourselves when no one is asking us to.
We can see this happening with some of you. In terms of instructions, you have heard everything you need to hear from us. But you may not have had the experience of recognizing fresh perception over and over. You may not yet have confidence in your ability to recognize undiluted perception. If you haven’t trained yourself to prepare properly to see, then your images will be snapshots of things seen, imitations of what someone else has seen, images you only vaguely understand. There is an absence of mind quality, of being stopped, of freshness in the images you take. You have to really apply the discipline, because without that, you aren’t really doing it. You are winging it.
The way we teach Miksang is very unique. It is very specific. It is not vague. That is the only way we can communicate what we have to say, which is that there is no way to have a fresh perception that we have thought up. And there is no way to reverse-engineer a fresh perception.
‘With the absence of aggression, there is further clarity, because nothing is based on anxiety and nothing is based on ideas or ideals of any kind. Instead, we are beginning to see things without making any demands. We are no longer trying to buy or sell anything to anybody. It is a direct and very personal experience.’ ~Chögyam Trungpa, True Perception
Arising Out of Nowhere
How can we transform our experience from mundane, fully processed homogenized orange juice to fresh-squeezed orange juice? We have to be willing to jump in, to grab it, to squeeze it, to taste it, to savor it. Not half way, not a sip, but a deep drink, way down into our being, from our head to our toes. We have to give it time to trickle down throughout our being, to percolate, to produce itself through our camera.
This is not watered down pabulum for babies. It is the full meal deal. And we can do it. We have to want it. We can’t hold back.
Let’s talk a bit about the “arising out of nowhere”. Where is that “nowhere” in our experience? It is what Chögyam Trungpa calls “The Empty Gap of Mind”. He calls it square zero. It is the gap before the thinking starts. Perceptions arise from this gap, this crack where the light gets in, and it is for us to be paying attention so that we see it. It can happen in a split second, and we need to be ready to stop. We need to prepare ourselves properly. Without a gap, there is no fresh perception. A perception either arises out of nowhere, or it is becomes a poster child for our idea. If you don’t see it, and you don’t catch it with your attention as soon as it dawns for you, then it is gone. Such is the nature of impermanence.
We start with the human camera. We expand the space in our mind out, so that “space is our only projection”, as Chögyam Trungpa has said. We need to do this exercise every day, and then we need to remember to be available. That’s it!
If you do not feel confident that you can recognize a fresh perception, then you owe it to yourself to allow the time each day to do 15-30 minutes of this practice. It will transform your experience, guaranteed.
If you have not received instruction on how to do the human camera, a description of this exercise is in my book “Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind, and Heart”, in the chapter “Unwound and Relaxed”.
When we see something sudden, shocking, disorienting, brilliant, rich, absorbing, and buoyant, we have to pay attention. If we don’t, then nothing has occurred. Then we can start again. The possibilities for fresh perception are endless. Don’t give up. It is hard to find this purity of heart. And yet we all have it already. Go for it. Don’t give up. You don’t have anything to lose.
Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind and Heart is available at:
For Information about Miksang Workshops go to www.miksang.com