‘Emptiness is not a state but a way’

“Meditation is a practice which teaches us how to put ourselves aside, and it shows us that when we achieve this that we do not disappear, but we open to a more creative relationship with our minds, our feelings, and the world.” “In Buddhist language, the experience that becomes available when we learn to put ourselves aside is called emptiness, but it is not an emptiness or a void.  It is, rather, a full emptiness. […]  As the Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor has described it, “Emptiness is not a state but a way” […] It is a recovery of the freedom to configure oneself as an intentional, unimpeded trajectory through the shifting, ambiguous sands of life.”
(Epstein, pp48-50)

The ability to clear ones mind of clutter and keep oneself  “unimpeded by repetitive cycles of obsessive habit” is a useful practice in itself.  Creativity then finds space to rise again, however, this also provides another aspect to repetitive practices and may bring question as to whether the repetition of the camera operator is habitual and obsessive, or if it is a calling of that inherent creative self as Escher believed of his drawings and prints.

Learning to achieve emptiness at least frees us from what Berger refers to as “the pain of living in the present world.” (Berger in Jaar, p85) which will mean different things to each of us.

So much to do to today:
kill memory, kill pain,
turn heart into a stone,
and yet prepare to live again.

Anna Akhmatova

 
According to Jaar (p85) “Art is the place that offers us the last remaining space of freedom.” Freedom is a theme which has come through in my own work over the years, and one which I have questioned as a photographic practitioner – whether the camera and its repetitive, habitual actions does offer me that liberation or if I am somehow bound to it through a lifetime of engagement.  I have been quite open about some of the challenges I have faced in my life, and continue to face, and recognised that the camera has been a constant for me.  Even through my greatest challenge so far, which is now.

“Art is peace” (Jaar, p89)

 

“First, they will ignore you.
Then they will laugh at you.
Then they will fight you.
Then, you will win.”

Mahatma Gandhi
in Alfredo Jaar (p89)

Akhmatova, A. in Jaar, A. in  Jacob, M.J. and Baas, J.  (eds) (2009)  Learning mind: experience into art.   Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press

Berger, J. in Jaar, A. in  Jacob, M.J. and Baas, J.  (eds) (2009)  Learning mind: experience into art.   Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press

Epstein, M.  in  Jacob, M.J. and Baas, J.  (eds) (2009)  Learning mind: experience into art.
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press

Jaar, A. in  Jacob, M.J. and Baas, J.  (eds) (2009)  Learning mind: experience into art.
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press