From The Way of Seeing: Looking and Seeing: “Preface” by John McQuade

We think that we’re 180 degrees from enlightenment, but we’re only a few degrees off.

-from The Shambhala Principle by Sakyong Mipham

In Nalanda Miksang, we work with what we see.

And what do we see?  One response is that we see everything there is to see.  And there is a certain accuracy and deep insight in that statement.   But in practical terms, it does not give us a way to work with the visual world, because everything we see is inexhaustible:  it goes on and on.   There is no end to it because there is no end to it.  It goes on and on from experience to experience, from context to context, from detail to detail and from depth to depth.  We experience an inexhaustible plenitude and richness of visual display.

In Nalanda Miksang, we start with just noticing.  Contacting, and connecting. With surface, for instance, as a visual feature of the visual world.  Our point is liberation from a conventional, restricted and “glossed” experience of the visual world. The conventional “objective” world of static “things”. We begin to enjoy a fresh experience of the visual world as a radiant phenomenal display.

Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. To get here, we need to shift our orientation. For instance, as photographers, we have many preconceptions concerning what we like/ don’t like; what we think is exciting or not interesting; what we think is beautiful or not beautiful; what is or is not a good subject; what is or is not worth photographing; what technical formats and processes will create a great image;  what will win a prize at a photographic contest; what will “sell”…

The endless trap of worries and projections goes on and on. And stops us from seeing the images awaiting us.

The deeper challenge of Nalanda Miksang is this: by liberating the eye, we liberate ourselves.

Many spiritual traditions focus on this goal of Enlightenment.  Some think it requires radical change.  A complete switch from one reality to another. Yet Shambhala teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (as we quoted in the beginning of the book) talks about being off by only a few degrees: just shift your orientation a little, and the long-term consequences may be huge. Imagine an ocean-going ship that shifts its trajectory ten percent.  At first this change seems tiny.  But once across the ocean you may arrive at a completely unexpected continent!

One of the main understandings of Nalanda Miksang is this “few degrees solution”.  Like changing our speed or momentum, this shift in orientation brings us to the radiant phenomenal world. And to the inherent radiance and Goodness of our own lives.

Nalanda Miksang wakes us to this life.