Miksang photography emerged from the teachings of Shambhala Training as developed by the world-renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987).
Back in 1959, the Chinese Communist party took control of Tibet, and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche fled the country and became a well-known figure in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.
Late in the 1970s, he moved to the US and began to present a path of meditation in purely secular terms, which developed into a program called Shambhala Training.
The name comes from a legendary kingdom known as Shambhala which came to be seen as the Buddhist Pure Land, a wonderful place whose reality is visionary as much as anything physical.
Shambhala training embraces contemplative arts practices inspired by Nalanda, an 11th century Indian university, practices that bring beauty, vividness and wakefulness to the personal pursuit of the arts. The basis of this contemplative arts practice is meditation and a way of seeing and appreciation of the world through the senses rather than through the discursive, conceptual mind.
As such it can be considered a branch of Shambhala Arts as it is based directly on Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche's teaching on the nature of perception. In Miksang, which means 'good eye' in Tibetan, the object of the exercise is for eye and mind to synchronise, and see, beyond conceptualization, with a fresh perception.
It is a new way of seeing life, a way of viewing the world that is unconditioned, direct and joyful. It requires openness and a willingness to suspend the analytical mind, to stop 'thinking' about what you see and be willing to engage with the object of your perception without any preconceived ideas, and without worrying about shutter speed, aperture and so on. This happens through visual exercises and photographic assignments. Any camera will do but beware, editing your shots afterwards is positively discouraged, and perhaps that is a relief!
According to the Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography, we first have to develop "confidence in our ability to recognize when we are being stopped by a flash of perception. Then, having stabilized our experience of the flash, we find that as we look at and appreciate what stops us, we begin to resonate and connect to the object of our perception. We explore this resonance and its qualities-it is the heart of our perception." Once the perception is stabilized, then you can press the shutter.
The whole process of actually taking each shot may last just a few seconds but you can spend a good hour or more in contemplation of the world around you, whilst you wait for the eye and mind to align and for flashes of pure perception to occur.
Follow this link to find out more about Shambhala Contemplative Arts.
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