What is Miksang Really?


Hello Fellow Contemplative Photographers.

As we all apply ourselves to the task we have set for ourselves, namely that of using the camera to connect to and express our world, many questions come up for all of us. We all share the experiences of uncertainty, doubt, deep pleasure, and inspiration as we bring our eye and mind to our visual world.

There are many people these days who feel a connection to this type of photography, and it can be confusing and difficult for the aspiring contemplative photographer to clarify the method, the motivation, and measure of what we see and do within this path.

Because of the popularity of the contemplative approach to photography there exists a tremendous pull to systematize, dogmatize, and basically take proprietary ownership of the inherent freshness within this approach. From this fundamentally uncreative urge, a new school no doubt will arise which easily identifies and judges according to standards that are enforced by teachers with checklists. This process has repeated itself endlessly within academic circles and wherever genuine insight has given way to conceptual understanding.

This is not what we hope for. The basis of Miksang is openness and absence of conceptual overlay. The tendency to use concept to describe openness is natural as long as we don’t lose the connection to the fundamental experience we are describing as we talk about Miksang.

I would like to invite you to become part of a conversation about Miksang and how we all make it a part of who we are and how we live.

It is my hope that through the process of conversation about the many things that come up in our day to day experience of seeing and living in this world that this blog can be a source of clarification and encouragement for all of us.

It is easy to lose the thread of genuineness and confidence in our ability to stay with our direct perceptions, and it is also easy to come right back.

Lately I have been looking through the various Miksang postings on the Internet, and there seems to be a lack of clarity about what Miksang is and how you can spot a really successful Miksang image. So I thought I would start out this blog by listing what I feel are the qualities of Miksang shooting and how to recognize the real deal.

True Miksang is not about the content particularly and it’s not about whether it looks like a Miksang shot. To me it is entirely about the ground of the perception and whether that is apparent in the execution of the photograph. This is very rare and in many cases absent from what is being posted on the Internet as ‘Miksang’.

What is this ground? The ground of Miksang shooting is the open space of availability. The flash of perception arises out of this empty open space and without the presence of the flash in the image it is flat and lifeless, somebody’s idea.

What is Miksang Really?

Passion and Joy

Passion to connect and express.

Joyful experience of being alive.

Expressed with:


We can see the world without all our ideas and opinions and appreciate it as it is.


We don’t have to worry that what we have seen isn’t good enough just as it is.

How Can We Recognize a Truly “Miksang” Image?

First, I would like to point out something that really needs to be said, as I have read various discussions about whether Michael Wood is true to the ‘Miksang style’. There is no Miksang style.

There is a Miksang “way”, which has been called in Japanese “Sha Shin Ki Do” – what the eye sees, the heart knows – the way to join the two.

This cannot be imitated because it is not based on a conceptual formula. It can be felt directly with the mind, the heart, and the eye.

Here are the essential aspects that must be present in a successful Miksang Image:

The Image expresses a Flash of Perception.

The Image is an expression of the Mind Quality of the Photographer.

Can you feel the heat of connection, the peace of no struggle, the absolute mind quality?

If your mind links up directly to the perception in the photograph and no thoughts arise, this is a good sign.

I hope this is helpful, and if you are shooting without starting with an open mind and eye and heart, it’s a good idea to re-establish your connection with the visual exercises we have given you before you go shooting.

I encourage you to write me back with your observations and comments.

Warm regards,


© Julie DuBose 2010
May not be reproduced without the written permission of the author