Photography & Yoga 12 Epilogue

Photography and Yoga  ~ Part 12 ~

Turning the small self into the higher Self--
this is called transformation. 

Transformation has always been a key principle in my photographic creative process, and it is at the heart of the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices.  The idea of Turning the small self into the Higher Self indeed has a visual counterpart in my creative process: my symmetrical photographs are in part about transforming a descriptive photographic image of the outer world into a visual symbol, a new image--sometimes approaching visual abstraction--that opens the door to the Inner World,  the world of the Self or the Heart, where the awakened energy of Kundalini Shakti stills the mind and unveils--to the subtle eye--the mystery that belies all of life.  Baba Muktanana wrote:

When you see the Self, when you experience it, you will be completely transformed.  The world, too, will be transformed for you, and you will see it in an entirely different way. . .  the world which is filled with so many difficulties and complications for an ignorant person is heaven for a person who knows the Self.  God is filled with virtues, with beauty, and with many great skills, and He has placed them within all of us.  But you cannot see them just by reveling in the outer world.  You have to attain a subtle eye in order to perceive the inner principle.  ~  You have no idea of the vastness that exists inside you.  This body is small, yet it is an image of the entire universe.  Baba Muktananda, Where Are You Going?

When I began the Photography and Yoga project one of my intentions was to write some additional stories of my experiences of grace.  I had written about many of my yogic experiences and included them in a section of the Epilogue of "An Imaginary Book"  but there were many other experiences I hadn't written about and I had hoped that the Photography and Yoga project would be the encouragement I needed to do that, and it has.  In fact I have several stories to share with you in this Epilogue, stories that unite the idea of "turning point," my practice of yoga, and my practice of photography.     

The Turning Point was the name of the two-day weekend meditation intensive that Gurumayi offered during her visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in May 1992.  Indeed her visit was a turning point in my sadhana, and as well the sadhana of the entire community of the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center of Milwaukee.  I had never before written about my experiences of what came to be known as The Milwaukee Tour, but somehow it feels an appropriate way to bring the Photography and Yoga project closure, at least for the present time.     


Photographing the Guru  The Milwaukee Tour
When Gurumayi came to Milwaukee in 1992 I had been living and teaching photography at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee since 1975 and practicing Siddha Yoga at the Milwaukee Siddha Yoga Meditation Center since 1987.  I had--by May 1992--visited the ashram in South Fallsburg, NY several times, and I had become deeply involved in supporting the Milwaukee  Center in every way possible, including offering my seva.  The Center grew and became quite a vital, active place in the five years I had been going there.  It was full of devotees who were full of enthusiasm and devotion to Gurumayi.  In the 1980's Gurumayi had begun to make tours to bring the Siddha Yoga teachings to countries outside of the United States, and several people in the Center came up with the idea of inviting Gurumayi to visit Milwaukee, to bless the Center's new physical space that we had worked so hard to get looking really great and filled with the shakti of our love and devotion and heartfelt participation in the Siddha Yoga practices.  

After it was decided among the Community members to begin a process of inviting Gurumayi to come, it took a full year of invitations full of love and longing, plus visits to the South Fallsburg, NY ashram for meetings with Gurumayi personally, and many ashram tour committees, and endless phone calls and communications via the US postal services  . . . before Gurumayi finally accepted our invitation.

After Gurumayi accepted our invitation, there was much discussion and planning about the form her visit would take in Milwaukee.  It was decided that everyone in the Mid-west would be invited to what would become the Milwaukee Tour, which would include two Introduction to Siddha Yoga evening programs with Gurumayi designed especially for newcomers.  These programs would be open to the public and free of charge.  Then the Tour would culminate with a two day weekend Intensive lead by Gurumayi.  

A time frame and a public place for the programs was finally established: the three programs were to be held between May 21 and the 24th, 1992 in the historic and very beautiful Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee.  Invitations were sent out and people from the Siddha Yoga communities throughout the Midwest (including Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minn.) and from Centers in states as far away as California and New York, promised to support the Milwaukee Tour in every way imaginable.  Indeed many people came from all over the country just to provide seva in every aspect of the preparation and execution phases of the tour process.  There was an amazing outpouring of love and devotion for the Milwaukee Tour from the entire Siddha Yoga Community both within the United States and Globally! 


An Exhibition of Photographs Dedicated to Gurumayi and Her Visit
To coincide with Gurumayi's visit to Milwaukee I was able to arrange with Michael H. Lord, whose art gallery represented my photography in Milwaukee since 1984, to have an exhibition of my newest photographs.  Michael was very happy to show my work throughout the month of May, thus it would be up for out-of-town Siddha Yoga visitors to see this show which was dedicated to Gurumayi and her Tour.  Thanks to the exhibition, Michael Lord was able to meet Gurumayi personally. 

Color Diptych  1990-92                                                                                                                      

The Space Between Photographs 
The works I exhibited in the Michael Lord Gallery were from the project entitled Color Diptychs 1990-92.  To see much of the work and read about it, visit my online site: Color Diptychs.  In my artist statement for the exhibition I wrote about the space between the photographs and how this space relates to the yogic practice of focusing on the breath, and particularly on the space between breaths, as a means of going into meditation.  I have written at length about this concept in part 11 of this project, Threshold of the Formless.   Here, again, is a quote by Swami Muktananda, Gurumayi's Guru, in which he speaks of the space where the in-breath and out-breath have become still, and merged.  This space, he teaches, is the space of the Heart, the divine Self: 

The breath goes out and comes in, and there is a space inside where it becomes still for just a second.  The breath has merged inside, and it hasn't yet started to come out; it is still in the state of merging.  The space where it merges is the true heart.  Swami Muktananda  


"Making Photographs?" Story #1: 
The entire experience of Gurumai's Milwaukee Tour became for me a sadhana, or spiritual practice, in itself.  The whole Tour was so full of shakti for me that I was constantly experiencing the purifying-transforming power of Gurumayi's grace.  Thus there are many personal stories I could tell from the Tour, and I want to share some of them with you here.

The first Personal Story is about a brief encounter I had with Gurumayi at her ashram in South Fallsburg, NY perhaps two or three years before she was invited to visit Milwaukee.  I had been assigned to a team of sevites to make ID Photos and Badges of all the newly registered people who had arrived for a visit to the ashram.  We took pictures of each person and then sealed the photograph inside a plastic badge onto which was placed a dated sticker indicating their arrival and departure dates.  It was required of everyone on the ashram grounds to wear an ID badge.

Gurumayi was walking through the main hallway of Atma Nidhi, the registration building where we were working on the badges.  No matter where Gurumayi walked, it was always a major ashram event to see her appear in public outside of scheduled programs.  She moved with such a powerful, focused and graceful presence in her red gown;  she always seemed radiant with energy and wisdom, and yet she was so very natural, spontaneous and loving toward everyone she met.  How could one not stop and look at such a beautiful, radiant, powerful being!  It was a joy to meet her unexpectedly in the ashram whenever and wherever she appeared.  And when she appeared people would greet her with folded hands over their hearts while saying excitedly and with great awe and love:  "Nameste Gurumayi!"

As she was walking by our work table, she stopped and turned very quickly and looked directly at me and spoke:  "Making Photographs?"  I was taken off guard and nervously responded with something like "No Gurumayi, we are sealing photographs into the ID badges."  She didn't say any more; after a slight pause, she turned again and just kept on walking down the hall.  

Now . . . it is understood generally that any time Gurumayi makes an effort to speak to someone, whatever she says carries a message that means in multiple ways, on many potential levels of understanding.  And of course I have been contemplating this brief encounter and her words ever since.

Of course, the fact that she mentioned the word photography to me was relevant in many ways.  I had been making photographs and processing my own film and making my own prints since I was 10 years old.  When I experienced this encounter with Gurumayi at the ashram I had been teaching photography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for many years and exhibiting my work in galleries and museums.  And, of course, I was doing seva in the ashram at the time that directly involved the making photographs . . . but, when Gurumayi greeted me in this way, was she aware of something I didn't yet know about?  Was she giving me a clue, perhaps preparing me for something yet to come? 

Indeed, a few years after this encounter with Gurumayi, I would be assigned the seva of photographing my beloved (and feared) Guru and the Milwaukee Tour!


Burning - Purification
When I was first asked to be the official photographer for the Milwaukee Tour I felt excited, honored.  But then, after thinking about it for a while, the terror of doing such a thing hit me full force.  I started feeling like I could not do justice to this important seva;  I did not have the experience or the equipment to do a really professional job; "I was an art photographer, not a photojournalist!"  I felt that photographing Gurumayi would prevent me from enjoying her visit.  I had never felt comfortable photographing people; it always made me anxious; the act felt invasive and aggressive and disrespectful toward the people I photographed.  How could I "take" photographs of my Guru, the very embodiment of the Divine shakti, the creative power of the universe, one of the great saints of India?  I became very frightened by the seva I had been offered and worried that I would not meet my own high expectations. 

But of course I had to do this seva.  Clearly it was my destiny, my karma . . . my sadhana.  I think Gurumayi had seen this coming when she said to me "Making Photogrphs?"  No matter how challenging any seva is, the right understanding is that there is always grace associated with serving God in any way possible.  The yogic teachings make it very clear that the grace from performing seva is purifying; seva cleanses the mind, body, and heart; it dissolves past karmas.  This seva had to happen, no matter how difficult it would be for me.  I understood this, even then.  

Whenever, wherever there is a fear, Gurumayi's shakti goes right to that place to flush it out, and dissolve any obstacles on the yogic path, no matter how much burning one would have to endure.  I use the world "burning" here in the sense of the sanskrit yogic word tapasyawhich means yogic heat of grace, the blazing purifying fire of penance.  Gurmayi once said in a talk that if one is not experiencing joy when performing seva then some very deep sadhana must be taking place within the soul. 


"Fireworks & Rainbows!" Story #2  
The first photographs of Gurumayi I made was at the Thursday Evening, May 21st  Introductory program at the Pabst Theatre.  Gurumayi was sitting in her special chair, which she brought with her from the ashram, on the magnificant stage of the Pabst Theatre, and I was in the audience with my camera, clicking away at her every "meaningful" looking gesture or expression.  I was extremely anxious and embarrassed: "Was I bothering the nearby people in the audience?"  "Was I bothering Gurumayi?"  With each loud "click" of my camera's shutter I got physically hotter and hotter.  I truly thought that my shirt collar would spontaneously burst into flames from all the heat my mind and body were generating as I photographed Gurumayi.  

I really did not want to be doing this seva.  I only wanted to look at Gurumayi and imbibe her words, her presence, her beauty, her grace.  I resented the feeling that the camera was coming between me and my Guru and that I was disturbing others in the audience.  And I didn't really know what I was doing, though I was too embarrassed to say so.  But of course, that was just my ego speaking, trying to make things all the more difficult for me, because . . .  despite my burning, I would soon discover that I was indeed receiving Gurumayi's grace, and with a surprising intensity. 

Near the end of the program the time had come in which Gurumayi began to instruct those in the audience how to prepare for meditation.  She was being very detailed in her directions, especially for those in the audience who were new to Siddha Yoga and perhaps had never even meditated before.  When finally she told us to close her eyes I was able to relax and put my camera away: it was time for meditation for me too.  I set the camera on my lap and closed my eyes and . . . well . . . I simply couldn't believe what I experienced:  

I saw thousands of little bursts of sparkling light going off inside what seemed like the vast space of my entire being!  Scintillating, dancing flashes of light were illuminating a deep, soft, velvety black space that was at the same time self-luminous in some unimaginable, unsayable way.  It was a spectacular display of subtle inner light energy, not unlike what one might see at the conclusion of a major fireworks presentation, though everything that was happening occurred in a deep and gentle silence.  These inner visions of dancing, bursting light were truly magical, joyful, invigorating.

And there was more!  As I was sitting in the grace of this inner light spectacle, meditating in Gurumayi's presence, in the Pabst Theatre, with my camera on my lap, I also began to see Rainbows, lots and lots of beautiful, luminous miniature rainbows, each one gently colored as it emerged from within the velvety black space.  They became suspended in that space, as if floating among all the scintillating bursting sparks!  Fireworks and Rainbows!

This inner experience reassured me that everything was alright.  Clearly the camera was not an obstacle to receiving Gurumayi's grace.  On the contrary, the purifying shakti of the seva of photographing Gurumayi had made it possible for me to have this remarkable Inner World vision of light.  

I was reminded of this experience in the Pabst Theatre as I typed out the words from Baba Muktananda's autobiography Play of Consciousness for part 7 of my Photography and Yoga project: Light.  I will once again present Baba's words here in which he describes part of his initiation experience with his guru, Bhagawan Nityananda.  

Gurudev looked into my eyes . . . A ray of light was coming from his pupils and going right inside me.  It's touch was searing, red hot . . .  I repeatedly opened and closed my eyes. When I shut them, I saw innumerable clusters of sparkling rays and millions of tiny, twinkling sparks bursting within me.  I kept watching them.  What a beautiful sight!  Those infinitely small sparks were shimmering and coursing through my whole body at an incredible speed. . . Then I opened my eyes again.  Again there were masses of the same tiny, scintillating blue sparks coruscating around me.  I was overcome with awe and ecstasy. . .  Swami Muktananda,  Play of Consciousness


Gurumayi's Visit to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center of Milwaukee 
In one of the evenings leading up to her series of programs at the Pabst Theatre, Gurumayi visited our new Center space and spent some time with her Milwaukee devotees.  We were so excited that she would be able to come and bless the space with her physical presence.  We were anxiously awaiting the moment when she would actually sit in the beautiful chair we had commissioned a wood craftsman to make especially for her.  We had worked so hard to design a beautiful space that would well serve the Siddha Yoga Mission for the Milwaukee Community, and now Gurumayi would be walking through those spaces!  Her sacred feet would be be touching the very floors we had been walking on, and would be walking on after her visit.  

Gurumayi's visit was short and informal but so wonderful.  She joked and laughed with us, and chanted with us, she spoke informally to us.  Of course I had planned to photograph Gurumayi's visit at the Center,  but as grace would have it, a student of mine who had begun coming to the center off and on when he could, became excited seeing about Gurumayi at the Center.  He offered to make photographs for me because I had so many other things to attend to during her visit.  I knew he could do a good job because he photographed weddings on the weekends to make extra money. 

When Gurumayi arrived at the Center I was able to greet her at the front door without a camera in my hand!  When several of us escorted Gurumayi up the stairs and into the Center's welcoming foyer, everyone who had come to greet her was there with big smiles on their faces thanking her for coming to Milwaukee.  My student was snapping pictures left and right.  He used a flash unit on his camera, and as the flashes were going off they seemed to add to the festivity of the moment.  Though I had planned on perhaps helping with the photographing too, when I saw how excited my student was taking pictures of 
Gurumayi I just relaxed and allowed him to do it all.  

The photograph below was taken by my student.  Gurumayi was on her way to the meditation hall for a brief program of chanting and informal talking.  You can see me on the very left edge of the picture, smiling at Gurumayi with my camera resting calmly in my hands.  As she was walked by me I thought I was going to melt from all the joy and wonder and fire I was experiencing in that moment.  It has just occurred to me that indeed, Gurumayi--in her beautiful gown of red and gold trim--looks like a living flame. 

 Gurumayi being welcomed to the Milwaukee Siddha Yoga Medit Center, May19?, 1992

Between the Jokester and the Guru  Story #3 
After the two evening programs on May 21 and 22, and the Turning Point Intensive on the weekend of the 23rd and 24th, there was one last--unexpected--event I would need to photograph.  A farewell program was spontaneously created for all the Tour's sevites and their family members and friends who remained in town.  A large hall was rented in a major hotel in downtown Milwaukee, and everyone who could be contacted was invited to attend this surprise program before Gurumayi was to leave town to go back to her ashram.   

People from all over the mid-west and from other states beyond had come to help with the Tour by offering their seva.  My wife Gloria and one other woman from California (bless them both!) coordinated all of the sevas for the tour.  Many of our friends had come to the Pabst Theatre to meet Gurumayi, and Gloria's parents, brother and sisters, and other family members had traveled great distances from out of town to take the Turning Point Intensive.  They all stayed with us in our house or with our neighbors!  

By the time the surprise farewell program finally started, the rented hotel hall was practically filled with people!  First there was the Darshan Line.  Gurumayi sat in her chair and greeted everyone who had come to this special program.  She hugged people and shook hands with people who knew nothing about Siddha Yoga, but were there because they had been invited by family and friends.  Gurumyi gave gifts to newcomers.  She laughed and joked with individuals.  She welcomed every one warmly with such great love.  People would walk away from the Darshan Line with tears in their eyes, not fully understanding what was happening to them, why they were feeling so much love in their hearts.  Such is the grace of a saint, a True Guru.

After Darshan there was an informal program.  A stage was set up across from where Gurumayi was sitting, and everyone else gathered round these two points, as close as possible.  People sang and read poetry to Gurumayi and everyone in attendance.  There were also dancers who performed.  A mic was handed around to people who wanted to share their experiences during the Tour.  Gurumayi gave an informal talk from her chair, and we chanted with her. 

And there was a clown who got up on the stage.  He was a mime who worked totally in silence. His name was Arsene Dupin; he was originally from Paris, and at the time was traveling around the United States doing performances.  He had been practicing Siddha Yoga for about six years and when he heard about the Milwaukee Tour he decided to come and take the intensive.  Many Siddha Yoga people knew him well, and when he was encouraged to entertain he went away for a few minutes and came back in his clown face and uniform, got up on the stage and began some of his mime and juggling routines.  

In an interview with Arsene, published in Darshan magazine, #97, he was asked "Are there any specific ways in which the yogic practices, like meditation, selfless service (seva) or chanting have affected your inspiration and your creativity?"  He responded:

I will never go onstage without thinking of the teachings, remembering that what happens onstage only flows through me, because the moment you think you're doing it yourself, nobody laughs.  When you think you're in control and you're the person making it happen . . . nobody laughs. . .  You really have to be in touch [with the inner Self] and the moment you are . . . inspiration comes and it creates some really funny, funny, funny moments--that you wouldn't in a million years be able to put together yourself.

As Arsene began performing up on the stage across from Gurumayi, I decided to go up to the stage and try to get some low angel shots of him juggling.  I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, so I got low on the floor at the edge of the stage and started taking pictures of him juggling with my hand held camera.  I had also taken with me a camera with a telephoto lens attached to a tripod in case I wanted to get some close up shots of Gurumayi who was much further away watching.  I placed the camera and tripod on the floor next to the stage--so it would not distract from Arsene's performance, and so that it would not get hit by some flying objects that accidentally got away from Arsene during his juggling act.  

As I was photographing Arsene, some young children ran out into the space between him and Gurumayi.  They were laughing and running and screaming and having a wonderful time in that open space between the clown and Gurumayi.  

Gurumayi was having a great time watching the children play!  And when Arsene noticed this he started mimicking the children in a funny, playful kind of way.   When I saw what was happening I turned to photograph the children; I wanted to get some pictures of them playing with Gurumayi in the background.  As I was focusing on the children, Arsene reached down and grabbed my tripod and camera from the floor and started juggling with it!  I heard people in the crowd gasping in surprise and horror!   So I turned around again to see what was happening:  Arsene was throwing my camera and tripod around in a goofy kind of way that was something like a caricature of both a photographer and a juggler. 

                                                                     Photography & Yoga      Image #38        Epilogue          Symmetrical Photograph

I took some photographs of him juggling my camera and tripod around, though I was suffering from an anxiety that he might possibly drop the camera and lens.  Indeed, a camera and lens that did not belong to me! for it belonged to my student, the one who photographed Gurumayi at the Center.  He had loaned the equipment
 to me because I didn't own a telephoto lens.

As I was photographing Arsene, he raised the tripod and camera high up into the air and placed the bottom of one of the rubber tipped tripod legs on his chin!  While he was balancing all the equipment on his chin, he spread his arms wide.  Seeing this from below made for a very dramatic picture.   And then--surprising even to me--I spontaneously joined into the play by miming in a very exaggerated way a terrified look, both by face and by body language, as if I was horrified that he might drop "my" camera.

Everyone, including Gurumayi, was laughing and having a great time with all of this playful mischief.  And of course I was burning up inside once again: here, I had tried so hard to be inconspicuous as I photographed Gurumayi and everything happening at the farewell program, and Arsene drew me quite literally into his act . . . right in front of Gurumyi and the hundreds of people in attendance.  As I played along, I did begin to feel somewhat liberated by my having spontaneously become part of the fun at the event.  On the other hand, at the same time, I was truly feeling terrified that he might drop the equipment which belonged to my student. 

                                                                     Photography & Yoga      Image #39        Epilogue          Symmetrical Photograph

Contemplating My Experience
The image of the clown holding the camera and tripod high into air, balanced on his chin with his arms outstretched, is etched into my soul, and it has haunted me ever since I experienced that moment.  I have often contemplated the experience, that image which is full of archetypal, symbolic elements: the clown (the wise fool); the acts of juggling and balancing; the verticality of the clown's body, head, tripod and camera extending vertically into the "heavens" crossed horizontally by the clown's outstretched arms . . . 

It was indeed very important to me that Arsene, the clown, was a devoted student of Siddha Yoga, and--like me--strived to allow his art to be an integral part of his spiritual practice.  He trusted the shakti, the guru's grace, to direct his performances.  He understood that he was not the doer; that he was only the medium through which the shakti manifested itself.

That brief moment during the unfolding drama between me, the clown, and Gurumayi, (with everyone else in attendance watching) in which I surrendered to the will of the shakti was crucial for me.  I allowed my ego to burn with a smile on my face.  Yes I was anxious, but there was that Decisive Moment (see part 8, Time when I joined the play with a certain awareness that transcended fear. 

What is the symbolic significance in the fact that the camera was being balanced high in the air, reaching toward the heavens?  The fact that the camera was not actually mine seems important.  The openness of the clowns outstretched arms seems symbolic.  

Of course, the cross or cruciform  is a symbol of union of the opposites.  Perhaps the whole event was to serve me as a reminder that I am not in control; I am not the doer.  Nothing is mine; everything belongs to God (including the camera).  God is the Creator; God creates everything, and everything is God.  God is the play, the playwright, the Director, the Actors, the props, and the audience.  God is the clown, the photographer, the camera and tripod, the stage, Gurumayi, the playing children, and the laughing audience.  I was there only to serve Gurumayi, and to experience the purifying power of the shakti as it worked on my mind and ego.

When I was actually taking the photographs of the clown balancing the tripod and camera on his chin, I was literally standing in the space between the clown and Gurumayi.  The idea of balance and the idea of the space between corresponds to that point between the in-breath and out-breath, that place of merging: the space of the heart, the space of the Self.   That center point of balancing is the point of equipoise, the place between tipping too far one way or another, when everything has reached a stasis, a still point.  Also, related to balance is the cruciform, and related to that is the phenomena of  symmetry and the four-fold symmetrical photographs, each image of which circumambulates round its center point


The entire process of the Milwaukee Tour had I suspect begun much more than a year before Gurumayi actually came to town.  Indeed, perhaps it had been set in the unknown realms of destiny before I heard Gurumayi's words "Making photographs?" (which to me perhaps unveils the mystery of her knowing well beyond the limitations and illusions [maya] of linear Time).  Truly speaking, my seva of making photographs for the Tour had quite literally become my life's sadhana, the vehicle by which I could receive and experience Gurumayi's grace.  Through my seva I became an active participant in Gurumayi's Tour, and the means by which I could surrender to Gurumayi's shakti and  allow the burning of that experience to sustain the purifying process that had begun many years earlier with my shaktipat experiences and the many other experiences I have shared with you in this project.  

My seva also was a lesson in unattachment: I had hoped to see some of the photographs I had taken during the Tour, especially those of the clown with the tripod and camera balanced on his chin.  But I never have seen any of the ten rolls of color slide film I shot and gave undeveloped to the ashram.  When some time later I inquired about the pictures I took of the Tour, I was told that the processed slides were simply stored away in a visual archive at the ashram. 

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Thank you, Gurumayi for coming to Milwaukee, for all the teachings and blessings you have bestowed upon me and my family, and all those who came to meet you in Milwaukee and experience your presence.  Thank you for blessing this entire universe and our beautiful planet with your grace, your love, your sacred service.   

*                      *                     *


Picture Kundalini Shakti as a rainbow.  She softly glistens in the
 form of an arch, across the inner sky.  A rainbow is not fixed.
It arches across the sky like a bow, and yet it is more
 than a bow or an arch.  It is the visible half  of a
 vast circle.  The other half is obscured by the
  earth.  Think of the movement of the
awakened Kundalini Shakti 
this way.  She is a vast 
spinning circle of
brilliant colors. 

      Photography & Yoga      Image #20        Epilogue          Symmetrical Photograph  

Floyd's Rainbow 
When I was writing about seeing rainbows in the meditation experience I had with Gurumayi in the Pabst Theatre, I was reminded of a close friend.  Floyd Campbell was an African American who grew up fighting in the streets, then he became a dentist, and finally one of the most devoted students of Siddha Yoga I ever met.  He befriended me, and took me under his wing, in 1987 when I first started coming to the Milwaukee Siddha Yoga Meditation Center.  He played the mridang drum during chants and I became deeply attracted to the powerful sound and the rhythms Floyd produced with it in the weekly satang programs.  We talked a lot about the drum and about music; we both loved the music of Miles Davis.  Floyd would invite me to sit next to him when he was drumming during the programs.  It was wonderful to be right next to the drum at the satsang programs.  ~  We did so much seva together for the Center and for the Milwaukee Tour.   Any chance I had to be around Floyd was a joy and an honor for me.  In the two summers before he passed on, he would get extra tickets to a jazz festival in Milwaukee, and he invited me to go with him several times.  ~  He started having various health problems and  eventually had to have neck surgery which immobilized him with great pain for quite a long time.  ~  He died after a fall as he was taking some things down to his basement.  His family held a memorial for him in a very large Unitarian church, and the people flooded into the building to honor this great being.  It truly was quite remarkable to me how many people came to the memorial.  Floyd's son, one of the drummers for the internationally known Ko-thi Dance Company of Milwaukee, played at the memorial with several other drummers.  The hypnotic drumming ceremony was not only intended to honor Floyd, but in the African Tradition it was understood that the drumming would assist Floyd's spirit pass on to a higher plane.  ~  As the drums beat loud and gradually build to a crescendo we could hear thunderclaps in the background.  It was storming outside.  As we left the church after the program a wondrously large, perfect, colorful rainbow appeared in the sky, and Gloria and I drove all the way home facing that rainbow.  When we got home I went to our back door to see if the rainbow was still there:  It was!  ~  This magnificent rainbow, I believe, was a beautiful expression of Floyd's Shakti, a sign from the heavens of his accomplishment in his sadnana.  The appearance of the rainbow assured me that Floyd would continue to be my friend in the space of the heart, and indeed, as you can see, I have never forgotten him, and I dedicate this Epilogue to him, and to his beloved Guru, and my beloved Guru, Gurumayi.  



Though I feel that the Photography and Yoga project must, for now at least, be put on hold, it is impossible for me to say that this important and challenging project has reached a conclusion.  It was something I had to do, and since there is so much work in yoga that I personally need to do, perhaps, when the time is right, I will continue the Yoga project with a series of additional chapters.  In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what the Shakti wants me to do next.  

I have decided to add one more part or "chapter" to the project: Part 13 Commentaries on selected Photographs will contain writings on selected photographs published in chapters five through twelve.   After the first four chapters I stopped writing commentaries on the images included in those subsequent chapters.  

I leave my Photography and Yoga project with overflowing feelings of love and gratitude for my guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.  I am aware of my great good fortune to have been blessed with the presence of a true living shaktipat Guru in my life, and the grace of her entire, ancient lineage of Siddha Yoga Meditation Masters.  Thank you Gurumayi for all that you have given me, and thank you for allowing photography to become such an integral part of meditation practice.  

I am also grateful to my wife Gloria.   We have traveled this yogic powerful living path together since 1987.  Marriage is sadhana in itself.  I have been fortunate indeed to have had such a loving, caring, compassionate, and supportive wife since 1969.   

I am far from purified in the fire of grace, but I have been blessed with many wonderful experiences of grace, glimpses of the divine Self.  I feel the support of all the Siddhas, and all my friends and family; every photograph I make is a little awakening on the path.  

Despite the appearance (maya) of so much evil and pain in the world, and the growing ecological crisis which puts our entire planet at risk, I have the teachings of the great yogic saints to comfort me and remind me and bless me with with experiences of their grace which show me directly that everything is the play of Chiti Shakti; everything within me and outside of me is a form of the Divine Self.    

With so much gratitude for the blessings I have received, and with the feelings of the fullness of life, and the fullness of overflowing love in my heart, I honor once again my teachers who have protected me and guided me and showered their grace upon me: 

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda,
Baba Muktananda,
Bhagavan Nityananda. 

click on the names  
to see their images: 


To continue on to the final Part of the Photography and Yoga Project
~  Commentaries on Selected Photographs  ~
click here


This part 12 of the Yoga & Photography project was 
announced in the "Latest Addition" section 
of my website's Welcome Page on
October 2, 2015

Recommended Reading  
Swami Chidvilasananda    The Yoga of Discipline
Swami Chidvilasananda    My Lord Loves A Pure Heart
Swami Muktananda          Play of Consciousness
Swami Muktananda          Where Are You Going
Swami Shantananda         The Splendor of Recognition

Other Related Photography Links

Recent Sacred Art Photography Projects
The Angels (2014)
The Photograph As Icon (2014-15)  

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.