When We Lose the Scent of Fresh

Sometimes in the practice of contemplative photography we can’t seem to find our way back to our experience of being wide open and receptive. We know what it feels like to be fully penetrated by what we are seeing—naked, groundless, uncomfortable and edgy, and strangely exhilarated and could I say, grateful? And then, when we think we have really gotten inside of this direct seeing and expressing thing, suddenly, for no reason we can fathom, we find that we feel flat and uninspired. Nothing speaks to us. We feel very much alone, isolated in our little bubble of thoughts about how we aren’t experiencing anything.

There is a vague sense of depression and disconnection in our minds. We aren’t as relaxed and open as we thought we were.

Does this sound familiar? I suspect that it is something that all of us go through from time to time. We are on the outside, and the juice of directly connecting, with its invigoration and passion, is on the inside. We long for it, and we don’t know how to get it back.

So what to do?

The first thing I do is check in with my state of mind. And the first thing I find is that I am being harsh with myself, expecting performance and demanding satisfaction of some idea I have about accomplishing this Miksang thing.

The antidote to this harshness is not to ‘be kind to myself’, to shoot whatever I see and deem it to be good enough, because’ I’m being true to what I see’. Rather it is to simply abandon the part of our mind that is judging us. Negotiating with this mind will only pull us further into a swirl of self-absorption. When we shift our attention from our thoughts to our physical body and the present moment, we are back in business.

This is how this experience of working with our obstacles when they arise develops confidence in our ability to see freshly and recognize a fresh perception when it is happening. We have had the experience of perceptions arising suddenly and abruptly out of nowhere, coming out to meet us. We have experienced the electricity and potency, the absorption, the brilliance, that are benchmarks of the experience of direct seeing. So when we are feeling vagueness and uncertainty about what we have seen, we know enough to know that our experience isn’t nearly as good as it gets.

Direct seeing is not about ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’. It is about seeing without condition, wide open, no personal project, no hunting, no agenda – no goal. It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. We have to work at this.

Being actually available to see is not about whatever mood I’m in being in the forefront so that it colors how and what I see. It is about being open, beyond my mood, my thoughts about my mood, my feeling of frustration, my thoughts about my frustration. Once we acknowledge that we are stuck in this feedback loop, we have made a big shift. Suddenly the coloration and obscuration that is blocking our view doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

The openness begins to shine through like rays of light and we forget everything that was preoccupying us. We have realigned ourselves from focusing on our limited view to our bigger mind. Then we can reset our orientation, connect in to not knowing, not caring if we know, and seeing with a floating, unencumbered eye and mind.

That’s all there is to it. No more my big deal, my big challenge. When we can let go of all of it, we are able to receive our world.

With best wishes,

Julie DuBose