Thursday, 18 September 2008

Photography and Buddhism

No, not a post about religion but a couple of interesting thoughts about photography that came from some recent reading.

The area in India that I visited was the northern Ladakh region, a largely Buddhist area, very Tibetan in culture. I picked up a book there: "A journey in Ladakh" by Andrew Harvey about his spiritual journey in the region. I can't say the book is to be recommended, although I found it very interesting.

The point here, though, come from a couple of quotes in the book:

...everyone hoarding something, storing something of what we see and feel here. We are all...taking photographs, inward photographs. We are all guilty [of exploiting]. As long as we do perceive things purely we are guilty. And who perceives things purely...without desire or judgement?

I see and know what Ananda..had told me of the Hinayana meditation technique, known as Vipassyana, 'Seeing without discrimination', 'Open seeing'.
'One moment of pure seeing,' he had said, 'is the beginning of Liberation. If you can see for one moment, one flower, one face, one dog, as they are in themselves and for themselves, you have begun to be free enough to love.'
In some ways these conflict and in others I think can give some insights into what we are trying to achieve with photography. What are our motives for taking pictures? Is it a selfish "stealing" of the moment/thought/view or driven by a generous need to share or part of a personal journey of understanding?

Food for thought for us all. I can't say I could offer answers to these questions for my own motives but the ideas are certainly make me think further beyond the immediacy of picture making.

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