show Miksang - Finding Beauty in the Mundane

barry13

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Post your Miksang images here...

Example images are available on the home page slideshow of Miksang Contemplative Photography as well as their Gallery pages.
Or you can do a Google Image search (but note it's slightly NSFW on Google even with Safe Search enabled).

It's hard to describe, but Matt's (@MoonMind) first paragraph provides a better summary than I found online, (emphasis added):
I've looked into it and read the sources available online. It seems that the people promoting this go in more for suggestions and descriptions than explanations; it's declared to be a meditative practice with religious underpinnings rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. I would never suggest anything as far-reaching (and somewhat far-fetching) as this, but instead a way (or endeavour) to see the beauty in the mundane and put it into a picture - that's what I thought it was when I looked at images.

(re Minimalism or Wabi-Sabi)
I'd suggest it's neither - because Miksang doesn't *need* to be minimalist or imperfect. The crux of the matter is that the goal of gaining better awareness of the subject that's photographed is very hard to convey by the image alone. Even if it's stated, it's not necessarily any more obvious to the observer.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that it's actually somewhat risky *for the photographer* to put that type of image out there if he or she expects to be judged on the success of his or her efforts at Miksang. If we established a thread, it'd have to be a sort of words/no words type thread anyway; as I have pointed out before, photographers would have to be aware of the fact that for most us, the process doesn't matter. Anyhow, I can't expect anyone to appreciate my *additional* gains I took away from my way of producing the image - he/she would have to take my word for it anyway ...

More specifically, I don't think that such images can or should be judged by a wider public for their being Miksang - if anything, they should only be shown if they can be viewed and appreciated without that knowledge.
Wikipedia said:
Miksang is a Tibetan word meaning "good eye." It represents a form of contemplative photography based on the Dharma Art teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, in which the eye is in synchronisation with the contemplative mind. The result of this particular perception of the world, combined with photography, produces a peculiar and open way of seeing the world. Miksang pictures tend to bring the observer back into the original contemplation state of the author of the picture. The pictures can bring one back to a purer perception of reality that is often neglected. Miksang involves nothing fancy, no special setup; only a visual capture, in the proper state of mind, of everyday's reality.
Miksang - Wikipedia
My submission:
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Giiba

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I'm going to join you and give this a try,
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JNB

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I don't have any knowledge about Miksang photography, and can't claim to have ever "practised" it. But, in many ways, the description strikes a chord with me. My favourite images (of my own) are those taken when I photograph alone, and when I have entered a kind of contemplative "zone". Often I will have already walked for couple of hours, gradually shedding the thoughts and cares of the day before I start to see things differently. It's easier, then, to get lost in the moment, or in the mood, or sometimes in the minutiae of life. These pictures are more quiet than immediately impactful. And, like the description of Miksang, they do bring me back to the contemplative state that I was in at the time.

Autumn Lilypads

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JNB

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Shadow on a Fortress Wall

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Giiba

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Melting Slowly
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Hendrik

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Drip, drip, drip
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Never knew there was a word for this sort of stuff. I should'a knowed.
 

JNB

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OCEANOGRAPHY
Fleeting compositions,
Ephemeral designs.
With each new tide,
With each new lap of a wave,
The sea draws anew,
On a canvas of sand.

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Sejanus.Aelianus

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Underpass maintenance, Seefeld, Austria...

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Hendrik

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I am curious as to how this is different from Wabi Sabi which we have a thread for.
To judge from the photos posted by the Miksang adherents (follow the top link in Barry's original post), the concept seems to be that everyday beauties, simply presented, are worthy of display. There is no requirement for decay or dilapidation, as in wabi sabi. Rather, the photo may be of something that would not normally seem worthy to be a subject but in which beauty can be found and reported. The adherents see this as a meditation on the conjunction of beauty and the everyday. As I understand it, where someone interested in wabi sabi would find beauty in an old rusty car put out to pasture, a practitioner of miksang would attempt to find beauty in my 6 year-old, perfectly useful, cosmetically uncompromised Honda.

What I find a bit amusing is that many of the photos already shown on mu-43 adhere to the visual aesthetic but without any mention of a meditative purpose. Anyway, I suppose it will be nice to have a word to describe a large part of my portfolio. Nice, as long as the word achieves respectability but doesn't become a fashion that runs an intense course and finally burns out, leaving any images tagged with it as just so much fashtrash.
 
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What I find a bit amusing is that many of the photos already shown on mu-43 adhere to the visual aesthetic but without any mention of a meditative purpose. Anyway, I suppose it will be nice to have a word to describe a large part of my portfolio. Nice, as long as the word achieves respectability but doesn't become a fashion that runs an intense course and finally burns out, leaving any images tagged with it as just so much fashtrash.
Agreed. I'm in two minds about this one.

I discovered a fountain in a children's playground that fascinated me the other day. However my thoughts were more along the lines of "Gee whoever built this got the pipe perfectly level, and the water flow is nicely controlled. I want to stick my hand in it" rather than anything Zen-like. I think you need to somehow separate the aesthetic of the image from the response that the viewer has to it.

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I think a lot of people's views of "meditation" is that you should be moving the goal posts from "oh that's a cool pipe" to "what is pipe, and how do I relate to it", but I don't believe that's the point from the documentation I've seen - things aren't always relative to you, get over yourself.

It's more of a "pipe is everything, pipe is nothing". There is nothing right or wrong, interesting or boring within the image, and somehow the absence of the answer gives an emotional response. Or maybe it's just numberwang? Running off that definition I would be inclined to suggest maybe contrasting beauty (eg. beautiful dead flower) is more along the miksang theme that my silly picture of a pipe.


So.... the moral of the story is that I stuck my hand in.. the bars are seated much further down the pipe than you would think due to the huge meniscus.
I guess I have more a journalist style?
 

Hendrik

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Agreed. I'm in two minds about this one.

I discovered a fountain in a children's playground that fascinated me the other day. However my thoughts were more along the lines of "Gee whoever built this got the pipe perfectly level, and the water flow is nicely controlled. I want to stick my hand in it" rather than anything Zen-like. I think you need to somehow separate the aesthetic of the image from the response that the viewer has to it.

View attachment 501939

I think a lot of people's views of "meditation" is that you should be moving the goal posts from "oh that's a cool pipe" to "what is pipe, and how do I relate to it", but I don't believe that's the point from the documentation I've seen - things aren't always relative to you, get over yourself.

It's more of a "pipe is everything, pipe is nothing". There is nothing right or wrong, interesting or boring within the image, and somehow the absence of the answer gives an emotional response. Or maybe it's just numberwang? Running off that definition I would be inclined to suggest maybe contrasting beauty (eg. beautiful dead flower) is more along the miksang theme that my silly picture of a pipe.


So.... the moral of the story is that I stuck my hand in.. the bars are seated much further down the pipe than you would think due to the huge meniscus.
I guess I have more a journalist style?

Oh dear! Until you related the story of taking the photo, it was beautiful. ;)

Seriously, I suspect I would have related to the fountain in much the same way. Perhaps you shot with journalistic intent, but, for me, the fact remains that you took a neat photograph of what might have been an otherwise unprepossessing fountain that expressed some of the (admittedly utilitarian) beauty you found. Water can be beautiful, patterns can be beautiful, circles can be beautiful. A more journalistic approach would have stepped back and documented the whole installation, which might have been harder to pass off as beautiful. In that case it would have been more difficult for me to derive the sense I got of inviting wetness, sumptuous color and an interesting mix of patterns and textures. Your result fits quite well within the bounds of miksang as demonstrated by its advocates, and I'm happy to have seen it. So far so good.

Where I part company from the miksang intent is the idea that the image can conjure up in the viewer some sense of the state of mind of the photographer at the time the image was made. I think we agree in this. No one is likely to be able to guess what was going through my head when I shot the image of the droplet I posted. I don't think it matters. (FWIW, it was almost totally devoted to the process of taking a photograph of an ephemeral phenomenon I might not encounter again for a long time. The only calm involved was an acceptance that I might not get it right.) If, however, I were coming from some different set of life experiences, then I might feel a need to follow the discipline suggested by the miksang users.

BTW, thanks for the Numberwang link. Hilariously incomprehensible. I take your point.
 
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A more journalistic approach would have stepped back and documented the whole installation, which might have been harder to pass off as beautiful. I take your point.
Haha. You're right, a wider viewpoint would be more journalistic. :p
I was thinking more, "Fountain is wet, news at 11" type of journalism. It's sad when actual journalism isn't what you think of when you hear the word now days. :)
 
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I really don't think it pays to be overly philosophical about the whole thing. In my personal experience, getting into a sort of "flow state" (something I call a "mode" - "photo walk mode", to be exact) is very satisfying and changes the character of the images taken. I don't know (and really don't care) how this may or may not qualify as a) meditative or b) "Miksang" in the expert definition sense of the word. I think, however, that approaching photography this way enables one (or at least me) to really create images the subjects of which I wouldn't even have noticed otherwise - I let myself get fascinated by the most common things. The way I read the stuff about Miksang I could find, once you remove the strictly religious/spiritual stuff, that's more or less what remains behind. I may very well be wrong about that - but honestly, I don't care. I simply love this kind of photography. So I don't want to theorise about it; it would probably take away most of the fun and fascination anyway. I'll just get on with it :)

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neat fix on Flickr

M.
 

Klorenzo

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I think a lot of people's views of "meditation" is that you should be moving the goal posts from "oh that's a cool pipe" to "what is pipe, and how do I relate to it", but I don't believe that's the point from the documentation I've seen - things aren't always relative to you, get over yourself.

It's more of a "pipe is everything, pipe is nothing". There is nothing right or wrong, interesting or boring within the image, and somehow the absence of the answer gives an emotional response. Or maybe it's just numberwang? Running off that definition I would be inclined to suggest maybe contrasting beauty (eg. beautiful dead flower) is more along the miksang theme that my silly picture of a pipe.
What I got about meditation, after a few books and a couple of years of practice, is that meditation is about disconnecting the mind and reconnecting with the senses (also called the present moment, intended as the present millisecond) in the literal sense.

As soon as you start to think anything you are doing it wrong. It's about feeling sensory events without any classification, judgment or even acknowledging the sensations (like: "cool, I'm hearing something from the left" or even worse "I'm hearing a waterfall on the left"). It's hard.
"Pipe is pipe" is already too much, "pipe" is a label: the pipe is a mix shapes, colors, sounds that is what we actually experience.

It's about feeling sensation we normally do not feel, like the five senses but also, the best example, our breath: it is there all the time, it blows under your nose, moves your belly up and down all day long and yet we never normally feel it. This is why the basic exercise is reconnecting with this simple, clear basic sensation (and it's also handy to bring it around anywhere). Or the sensations in our feet while we walk, etc.

You should just "shut up" your internal dialogues/thinking (wrong word, "tune out" is more correct as there should be no struggle, just let if fade in the background of your mind while you passively re-focus on sensations).

Base practice is much more practical and well defined than most think and very little fuzzy/mystical/spiritual. It's all about being here/now as opposed to keep thinking about past/future/fantasizing/etc. like we normally do. Like taking back 10 minutes to "feel" the present moment (it's hard to do even a few seconds actually, mind does it's best to take back the control). You can meditate sitting with your eyes closed, while doing the dishes, waiting in line at the station or while walking (it just gets harder).

A book I liked is this one, with a western/practical view of the topic. BTW meditation is not about finding peace or feeling better or even getting relaxed (quite the opposite, it's about being aware of the surroundings and inner sensations/feelings). It's about acknowledging what is happening, now, how you are reacting to that, and if it is bad, well, it just is (we are always talking about the current millisecond, you cannot do anything to change that) but at least now you know better, it's not tucked under the "more important things to do" carpet.

About "acceptance": it's about accepting the present (rather then hide the head in the sand), not about the future, it's not a resigned attitude.

And, with time, it's about "feeling" your own thoughts like you hear "the sound from the left" and feeling which physical sensations accompany these thoughts. This changed the way I think about my thoughts, just by starting to observe them (as they are a separate thing from the observing self).
And there is often a simple unmediated pure joy feeling in reconnecting with your own senses, perceptions and body (maybe after years or just days) that is a reward in itself.

Ok, long enough. This do not want to orient this thread in any way, just to share my experience.


P.S. The first rule of meditation is you do not talk about meditation, you do it :) Because it is really hard to properly describe it.
 
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