Mar 05, 2022

photos as mandalas

mandalas are used in a variety of spiritual, religious, creative contexts.  in general, they are an artistic expression meant to focus or inspire us about core principles or truths. mandalas are believed to represent different aspects of the universe and are used as instruments of meditation and symbols of prayer most notably in china, japan, and tibet. often mandalas focus on a specific teaching or healing aspect.

a mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in many asian cultures. it can be used in different ways: externally as a visual representation of the universe or internally as a guide for meditation or spiritual practices. some traditions use mandalas as a gateway, entering and proceeding towards its center, you are guided through a cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering into one of joy and happiness. some traditions consider mandalas a path to enlightenment.  in this sense, they may be teachers or guides in the process.

a moment of stillness - mandala of yin/yang

mandalas tend to have specific geometric patterns and often include symbols or deities.

my interest in photos as mandalas centers around how they may serve as reminders of nature and the energetic or spiritual quality of place, land, earth.  the symbols used in mandalas - geometry, lines, spirals, a path to follow - may be found in landscapes, rocks, trees, clouds. wildlife represent a very strong energetic presence.

i didn't go into photography with this in mind. it just kind of happened.

certainly while wandering through these beautiful , remote places, i am immersed in those energetic qualities: grounded, clarity, stillness, curiosity, gratitude, awareness.  from this comes inspiration, motivation, centeredness. all just words, yet the feeling in the moment is the important part.

making prints and frames continues this process, moving deeper into these moments.  spending time with each photo: editing, making proofs, enlarging, re-editing and repeat. numerous times. underneath the technical aspects lies the spirit of the place itself.

once printed and framed, these photos are hung in my living/treatment/class room now becoming gallery.  i spend most of each day there, giving ample opportunity to be with each photo.

initially this was to proof, sit with each photo to see if it was good enough. my standard: be with it all day, everyday, and see if it holds up over time.  i lose interest in photos that don't have that special something. difficult to put into words. i know it when i see it.

the first set of photos have been up for several years. i seem to find something new, deeper, interesting, often.  a different angle; light shifting throughout the day and/or seasons. clouds break and dappled light adds another dimension.

regal presence - fearless

hanging out with regal presence every day has led to a quality beyond regal: fearless. a good reminder in times when fear may become overwhelming.

a vast panoramic vista may bring spaciousness; a quiet canyon stream stillness. the depth of planets and stars might bring calm while a flock of sandhill cranes feels like grace.

an early comment on one of my first photos made me aware of this process. a friend said: this photo made me feel unreasonably happy.

hmmmm...happy, for no reason.

these can be our reminders: what we see and feel in nature can flow through a good photo. it's not just a memory of being at the place taking a picture.  it can also be here, now, this moment, too.

a good photo may take us there.  a great photo brings there here.

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