The Center of Being : pt.1 Thing-Centered symmetrical photographs

The Center of Being 
Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs  
Part 1:  The Internal Dimensions of An Object, Its Light,   
Its Metaphysical Image & the Phenomenon of the Mirror


The phenomenon of the mirror enables us to  
 understand the internal dimensions of an 
 object . . . situated in the space of this 
 world, because it leads us to grasp 
 its spiritual dimension, the  
metaphysical image 
which precedes  
and shapes  
all empirical perception.
Henry Corbin,"Emblematic Cities"


The universe is like a mirage.
When you observe it more closely,
You find that it is caused by the sun,
and not by its rays.
I am the light in the moon and the sun.
The word "fire" is the outer covering of the inner light.
When this covering is removed,
I am the light.

This light shines without the sun and without the moon.
It is so bright, but it is not hot;
It is taintless and pure.

I am the only reality.
Whatever is born, exists, and disappears,
Rests wholly in Me. 
Lord Krishna ~ The Bhagavad Gita


Turning within is called Yoga. . .  It enables  
the seeker to go deep into the cave 
  of his own heart.  It shows him  
the way to unite heaven 
and earth.
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Dark Stone In Broad Brook,  from the Epilogue to the project : "Field of View"
Click on the image for best viewing

This project is an extension of the ideas explored in the Epilogue of my the project that preceded this one, entitled Field of View, and yet I have had an ongoing preoccupation with the "Thing Centered" photograph since I first read Robert Bly's wonderful book News of the Universe in the mid1980's.  Thus the Thing-Centered Symmetrical photographs you will be seeing here are I believe a continuation of the earlier project which, as you will see, has to do with the question of perceptual experience and the question of consciousness, the essence, the "inner life" in the things of the world.  I encourage you to view the following online project pages: Thing Centered Photographs 1980's / 2003-presentand the Field of View Epilogue.   

The Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph is a four-fold, self-mirroring Image conjoined at its center point from which the thing photographed bursts outwardly into its unfolding, transformed visual manifestation.  Usually the photographs for this project focuses on an isolated thing which appears to be suspended or at least "situated" in the center of an enveloping contextual space.  At their best, these images symbolize the center of being that exists within ourselves and every thing in this earthly created world, including what might at first appear to be "empty" space.

I have in previous projects invoked the teachings of an ancient yogic scriptural text of Kashmir Shivaism known as the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam.  Its twenty sutras explain that the the entire universe is ablaze with the "fire of consciousness," the light of the Self.  Every object and all of space (interior and exterior) including our own self - is a form of the Creator, Shiva, Lord of the universe.  According to the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam perception is the key to recognizing ourselves as one with everything, one with Shiva; it asserts that it is merely a matter of how we see things and how we understand what we are seeing.  This project is a visual and textual contemplation on the nature of what is at the very center of our perception, and indeed at the very center of our our entire being, thus it will be necessary in this project to once again look more deeply, more carefully at some of the teachings of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam. 

Obviously the Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs transcend the medium's convention of mechanical surface description.  Transformation is at the very heart of this work; indeed, the mirroring phenomena associated with these images transmutes the literal appearance of the objects photographed and the contextual spaces in which they were photographed.  As such the Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs provide a visionary insight into the "hidden treasure," the unity of being that pervades all the things of this world.  At their very best, the photographs represent a kind of seeing that passes through an object's "outer covering," that is to say, its name, its surface, its shape . . . into its deeper internal spiritual dimension.  The most successful photographs unveil the light of the Self, the fire of consciousness, the soul within the object photographed and the space in which the object was situated.

Symbolic Photographs
The Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs function not as descriptions of the things of the world but as symbolsimages which unite a thing's earthly appearance with its "other-worldly" or "heavenly" archetype Image counterpart.  Symbols have the power to reveal to their contemplators a thing's Fire of Consciousness, its unity of being, the subtle interior archetypal-metaphysical image belying the object's existence which preceded the object's outward manifestation.  In short symbols have the power to unveil the underlying mystery of existence.  The Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs, as symbols, both contain and project the power of grace, the sacral energy, the divine light which manifested the photograph.  This energy can touch and enliven the hearts of those who silently give themselves to an image in the very personal process of contemplating it.  The great sufic and yogic sages tell us when we come face-to-face with this kind of living, symbolic imagery inside the space of our own hearts, we come to recognize the truth of our own soul, the very center our true being, which manifests as the pure light of the Self.

*          *          * 

Every New Year's morning . . .
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, my spiritual teacher, meditation Master and the current living head of the Siddha Yoga Lineage gives a New Year's Message talk containing the teachings which Siddha Yoga seekers around around the world will be studying, contemplating and setting into action during the rest of the year.  In this year's talk (January 1, 2016) Gurumayi repeatedly used the word "center."  She said life unfolds from the "center of being"  and she spoke of madhya, the center, as the cave of the heart, the origin of "the light of knowledge" and "Supreme Joy."  She referred to the ancient yogic text of Kashmir Saivism, the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam, and in particular sutra #17 which speaks about the "expansion" of the center, of madhya, in relation to the natural process of unfoldment of the awakened Kundalini Shakti, the divine energy, the Fire of Consciousness which dwells within every person and every thing.

When you receive shaktipat initiation from the Guru . . .
your eyes are opened to an inner world that you
never knew existed.  ~  You see familiar
things in a new way. . . the miraculous
begins to envelope your existence;
you cannot tell if all this beauty
is coming from the inside out,
or  the outside  in.
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
quoted in Swami Shantananda's book
The Splendor of Recognition

I found Gurumayi's Message particularly poignant in a personal way this year because just a few days before I heard her talk, I had completed the Epilogue to my latest project, Field of View, in which I presented the symmetrical photograph above entitled Dark Stone.  In my commentary on the image I focused on the presence of light within the stone--light which appeared to me to be flashing forth and expanding outwardly from the center of the stone's dark interior.  It was this image in particular, and my commentary on it, which initiated the idea for the project before you now--a project which explores the visual world of Thing-Centered Symmetrical photographs in relation to the teachings of Siddha Yoga Masters and Henry Corbin's theoretical explorations into the mystical teachings of the Sufi masters.  

I was deeply moved when I discovered that the creative energy (spanda, shakti, grace) that directs my creative process and initiated this project was in such close alignment with Gurumayi's 2016 New Year's talk.  Since my intention for this project had already been set before I heard her talk on January 1, I would call this coincidence of events synchronicity.  And it seems to affirm what Corbin had written about in regard to the phenomenon of the mirror--that is to say, the Dark Stone photograph, the commentary I had written about it, and this entire project is but an empirical manifestation, a mirror reflection, of the metaphysical imagery, the internal, spiritual dimension which preceded and shaped it.        

The phenomenon of the mirror enables us to  
 understand the internal dimensions of an 
 object . . . situated in the space of this 
 world, because it leads us to grasp 
 its spiritual dimension, the  
metaphysical image 
which precedes  
and shapes  
all empirical perception.     
Henry Corbin,"Emblematic Cities" 

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #1

~  The Fire, the Light, of Consciousness  ~

We all possess the fire of Consciousness, and this fire always
 remains capable of devouring the perception of difference
and separation . . .   An object is not something outside 
of me; what I perceive is always within my own 
 awareness. . . The very act of perception  
demonstrates beyond a doubt who is
having the experience. We are Siva, 
the only one who possibly can take in what he  
himself has created. . .  Contemplating the nature of our 
own perception is the key to recognizing ourselves as one with everything.  

The inner energy pulsating with all its purity is called by many names: shakti, 
spanda, citi, aham (I am), the Witness and the Great Void.  As the
yogi gets closer to his goal, the flames of consciousness grow 
higher and glow with greater intensity, forming what  
appears like a chakra of fire, a circle of luminosity 
that envelopes the triad of perception--
knower, knowledge, and known.  The  
yogi then perceives the entire 
universe as that luminosity.

[The sutra #14] is reminiscent of a yajna, the ritual of fire that is characteristic 
 of Indian religious life. . .  Picture yourself sitting before a sacred fire 
 offering to the flames the thoughts that sprout into your mind.  
 As we know, all forms and thoughts are nothing but 
 Consciousness.  The fire is the light of the Self.
 As my inner fire blazes, this great light
 consumes all manifoldness.  In the 
same way the flames of the 
yajna reduce all the 
offerings to one
mass of ashes.

We can train ourselves to offer everything . . .
to the effervescent inner light, which is always present,
always caressing us with its joy.  And just as the Lord bestows
grace, with this inner sacrifice we also bestow grace on ourselves. 
Swami Shantananda, from his commentary on Sutra 14  
of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam in his book 
The Splendor of Recognition

The Pratyabhijna-hrdayam
The Pratyabhijna-hrdayamtranslated The Heart of Recognition, is a collection of 20 sutras or brief aphorisms based in the philosophy of Kashmir Saivism.  The great yogic sage Kshemaraja is believed to have authored the 20 sutras and an important set of commentaries on each of the sutras, probably in the eleventh century.  They constitute a foundational scriptual text upon which Gurumayi refers to often in her teachings, as did her guru, Baba Muktananda.  

Swami Shantananda, who studied yoga with Baba and now is one of Gurumayi's Siddha Yoga teaching swami's, has published an excellent book of his own commentaries on the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam entitled The Splendor of Recognition.  In his commentaries Swamiji refers frequently to Kshemaraja's writings on the sutras; for example, in sutra 17 Swamiji discusses Kshemaraja's definition of madhya,"center."  The sage uses the word samvit in his definition, another name for "universal Consciousness." Swamiji states: "clearly, samvit is the true center, the fundamental reality of all things."  In other words, the light of knowledge, the fire of Consciousness is at the center of all the things in this created universe.

Consciousness, Mirrors, Things & "The Field"
There is an interesting passage in Swami Shantananda's commentary on the second sutra that provides what is for me some important continuity between the last project, regarding the Field, and this project regarding things--the inner life of things, the consciousness at the center of every thing in this created world.  I will share this passage with you below, but I must admit to having taken the liberty of changing his wording slightly to make my point a little more clear.  Swamiji is writing here about a question he posed earlier in his book, in the chapter on sutra #1:  "Is my consciousness in this thing?  Or is this thing in my consciousness?"  The concept of the mirror as a metaphor for consciousness, which is central to the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam, is complex.  Swamiji explores this concept throughout his entire book and thus I refer you to The Splendor of Recognition for a thorough examination of his interpretation of the mirror.  Nonetheless I like the way he brings in the concepts of both the field and the mirror into his personal commentary on the question of consciousness and the perception of things.   

Swamiji writes:  My own answer to that question is that both are true.  Your consciousness is in the object, because that is the way it appears, and appearances have their own reality.  At the same time--and this is a more compelling viewpoint--the object is inside your consciousness because you are the one who is experiencing the object.  The object is reflected on your consciousness, and once you understand that, you can see quite clearly that your consciousness is not limited to your body.  When I picture my own consciousness I see it as a vast field of awareness, encompassing all that my mind touches. It is this that is the mirror.  

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #2  (The space between two houses)

The Center, the Archetype-Image, and the Spiritual Body
The concepts of mirroring and the center point are important to the understanding of the symmetrical thing-centered photographs presented in this project.  I have explored these ideas in some detail in Part 2 of my Field of View project, and Mircea Eliade, the great historian and phenomenologist of religion, has written in great depth about the symbolism of the Center, and the sacredness of the center of ritual space.  The Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph are I believe very much about the sacred space that lies within the center of the object photographed, the center of space in which the object is situated, and the center of the pictorial space of the photograph as a whole.  For me, the act of making Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs is indeed a ritual act, click here and as such my creative process, and the contemplation of my photographs, places me at the very center of all sacred space: the space of the heart.

Henry Corbin writes about the revelations of the sacred in the physical world . . . "where bodies are spiritualized and where spirits take on a body."  He says these psycho-spiritual events, these hierophanies must have an "organ of remembrance."  The Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs function for me not only as an "organ of remembrance," a visual record of the revelation of ritual, they also provide me, and I believe anyone who contemplates the images, with the opportunity to experience the revelatory energy, the spanda or grace that is contained within the image, but which is also projected outward by the image toward the contemplator.   

Objects are sacred spaces; the contain centers of Consciousness.  If we can agree about this, then the words of Henry Corbin which follow apply to Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs.  He writes: it is the "archetype-Image which, by being projected onto materially diverse [objects and] geographical spaces, has been able to transmute them by bringing them back to itself as Center.  He continues: hierophanic space is always and in each case at the center.  Corbin also reminds us: hierophanies take place in the soul, not in things.  And it is the event in the soul that situates, qualifies, and sacralizes the space in which it is imagined.  see Corbin's Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth 

Each soul, say Corbin, is not only at the center of the universe, but a universe in itself.  Images of the earth and its infinitude of objects, and images of the soul correspond to each other, he says.  As the soul projects the earth, so each physical thing discloses the mode of psycho-spiritual activity.  Put simply: on the visionary plane, spirit and nature are reciprocal realities because the substance of the soul is made of the celestial earth and the celestial earth is made of the substance of the soul.  see Corbin's Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth

Synchronicity, Ta'wil, and the "Phenomenon of the Mirror" 
Carl Jung named the perceived meaningful correspondences between psychic and physical planes of events Synchronicity.  According to Jung and Corbin everything we perceive in our visible or material world has a counterpart in, or symbolizes with, the invisible or spiritual world which is a mirroring duplicate of the visible world, but located in a higher, more "noble" plane of existence, the mundus Imaginalis.  Seen from this perspective, an object in the world is but a mirror reflection of the soul.

For Corbin and for Jung the soul represents both the origin of things and the coming together and resolution of the polarities of the spiritual and the physical, the divine and the human, the universal and the concrete.  The soul is not just a spiritual being standing in opposition to matter, but rather a reflection of the macrocosm.  All events take place in the soul, or rather are transfigured in the light of the soul, which is the same as saying that they are first imagined and then perceived.  The creative process, then, is about turning the world inside out, what Corbin defines as Ta'Wil.  Tom Cheetham has written eloquently about Corbin and his Imaginal world; in an important series of four books he has put Corbin's thoughts into highly accessible terms.  In the excerpts that follow from two of those books, Cheetham defines the concept of Ta'wil.

Tom Cheetham: The World Turned Inside Out:  Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism
By turning the world inside out, by giving birth in the world to that interiority which is characteristic of the things of the soul . . .  we return the hidden dimension to the manifest and uncover the debts that lie just under the surface of the world.   ~   For Henry Corbin the bridge between creature and Creator is ta'wil, the transformation of the sensor world into symbols, into open-ended mysteries that shatter, engage, and transform the entire being of the creature.  ~  Ta'wil transmutes the world into symbols which by their very nature transcend the distinction between the outer and the inner, the subject and the object, and by interiorizing the cosmos, by revealing the Imago mundi [the Imaginal world], transform and lead the soul beyond the literal understanding of the world to its truth . . . its origin. 

Tom Cheetham: All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings
Meta-phor means to “carry over,” and the metaphoric vision of reality sees through the literal appearance of things to the ever-shifting and mysterious Presence that lies behind the daylight Face of things.  The ta’wil is both a mode of perception and a mode of being. . . a spiritual unveiling.   ~  The ta’wil requires that the literal appearance of things be . . . de-literalized, seen as metaphor.  This serves to open the mind and the heart.

Tom Cheetham: The World Turned Inside Out:  Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism
It is the deepest purpose of human existence to journey from the outward to the inward and so [as Henry Corbin has written] “return creation to its origin.”  

Turning within is called Yoga. . .  It enables  
the seeker to go deep into the cave 
  of his own heart.  It shows him  
the way to unite heaven 
and earth.
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Corbin understands the Sufic teaching that the hearis the organ which creates the imaginal world, the mundus Imaginalis.  Though objects appear to be "out there," in truth all things are not other than the person who imagines or perceives them.  The physical things of the terrestrial earth are reflections of the celestial earth, the world of the soul.  Here all reality exists in a state of Images and these Images are primordial, archetypal.  Like any thing perceived in a work of art, objects are an apparition, a purely visionary thing, an Image.  Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs are visual meditations, a mode of perception that helps me journey inward to the world of primordial images; in short, the making of these photographs is for me a way of practicing the ta'wil: "transforming the sensory world into symbols; returning the hidden dimension to the manifest and uncovering the depths that lie just under the surface of the world."  

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #3

The Angelic Nature of the Earth, its Things, its Beings
In Corbin's book Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth he writes about Earth from the perspective of Zorastrinaismone of the world's oldest religions, and the Mazdean view of the Earth as an angel.  For Corbin, the things of this world must be experienced and understood personally, as a psychic event, as an archetypal image.  That is to say, everything in the physical universe--the Earth, and the things and beings of the Earth--has its corresponding spiritual-archetyapl, celestial-Figurative counterpart: in other words, its Angel.  Corbin writes:  

To come face to face with the Earth not as a conglomeration of physical facts but in the person of its Angel is an essentially psychic event which can "take place" neither in the world of impersonal abstract concepts nor on the plane of mere sensory data.  The Earth has to be perceived not by the senses, but through a primordial Image and, inasmuch as the Image carries the features of a personal figure, it will prove to "symbolize with" the very Image of itself which the soul carries in its innermost depths.  The perception of the Earth Angel will come about in an intermediate universe which is neither that of the Essences of philosophy nor that of the sensory date on which the work of positive science is based, but which is a universe of archetypal Images, experienced as so many personal presences. . .  

Corbin continues: It is much less the matter of answering the questions concerning essences ("what is it?") than questions concerning . . . ("who is it?" or "to whom does it correspond?"), for example, who is the Earth? who are the waters, the plants, the mountains? or, to whom do they correspond?"  CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #4   (Burning bush no. 1)  

Active Imagination, the Pure Mirror, the Earth, its Things 
its BeingsRaised to Incandescence 
Again, the words of Henry Corbin:  The active Imagination . . . will function directly as a faculty and organ of knowledge just as real as--if not more real than--the sense organs . . .  However it will perceive in the manner proper to it: the organ is not a sensory faculty but an archetype-Image that it possessed from the beginning; it is not something derived from any outer perception.  And the property of this Image will be precisely that of effecting the transmutation of sensory data . . . in order to restore them as symbols to be deciphered, the "key" being imprinted in the soul itself.  Such perception through the Imagination is therefore equivalent to a "dematerialization"; it changes the physical datum impressed upon the senses in a pure mirror, a spiritual transparency; thus it is that the Earth, and the things and beings of the Earth, raised to incandescence, allow the apparition of their Angels to penetrate to the visionary intuition.  CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

The World of the Archetype & Active Imagination Unveils Hidden Reality
Thus is constituted this intermediary world, a world of archetypal celestial Figures which the active Imagination alone is able to apprehend.  This Imagination does not construct something unreal, but unveils hidden reality; its action is, in short, that of the ta'wil . . . that of alchemical meditation: to occultate the apparent, to manifest the hidden . . .  to grasp the object not in its objectivity, but as a sign, an intimation, an announcement that is finally the soul's annunciation to itself.  CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

Once the transmutation is effected . . . [through active Imagination and its manifestation of archetype Images] the task is then to understand . . .  how things reflect its own Image to the soul, and how this self-recognition of the soul brings into being a spiritual science of the Earth and of earthly things, so that these things are known in their Angel . . .  CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

The Incandescent Energy of Sacral Light 
Corbin goes on to speak of the Mazdean Energy that is operative from the initial instant of the formation  of the world.  He says it is the energy of sacral light which gives coherence to life, to being.  He writes:

That Light of Glory, which is the archetype-Image of the Mazdean soul, is in fact the organ by which the soul perceives the world of light that is of the same nature as itself, and through which, originally and directly, the soul effects the transmutation of physical data, the very data which for us are "positive," but which for the soul would be "insignificant."  This is the very Image that the soul projects into beings and things, raising them to the incandescence of that victorial Fire with which the Mazdean soul has set the whole of creation ablaze . . . and with which it has perceived above all . . . the Transfiguration of the Earth.  CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

It is by this projection of its own Image that the soul, in effecting the transmutation of the material Earth, also establishes from the beginning an Imago Terrae  that reflects and announces its own Image to the soul, that is to say, an Image . . . in the person of its Angel.   CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #5   (from the Snow project)

This universe is nothing but Shakti, 
waves and waves of energy, no matter how 
many different forms and shapes we perceive.
Whatever you have in the outer world, 
in the cosmos which appears so vast, 
you have in the inner world too. 
Swami Muktananda

Science, Meditation & Things  
The Siddha Yoga publication, Darshan magazine (issue #77-78), is devoted to the theme of science and meditation.  In a transcribed talk given by Swami Muktnanda (affectionately referred to as Baba), he tells the story of his visit with a dear friend, a physicist, at an atomic energy station in Bombay.  After showing Baba all around the facility the physicist explained the significance of all that he had shown him.  He said: "What you see as solid objects are not really solid; they are only configurations of energy.  Whatever you see around you is nothing but energy."

Baba Muktananda then comments: 
I was delighted when I heard that, and replied, "This is exactly what our sages have said in their Vedantic philosophy."  This universe is nothing but Shakti, waves and waves of energy, no matter how many different forms and shapes we perceive.  It is the subtle that becomes physical, and the physical can be transmuted back into the subtle.  ~  Whatever you have in the outer world, in the cosmos which appears so vast, you have in the inner world too.  The inner and the outer are one.  Perhaps the inner world is even vaster than the outer world.  There is a sun in the sahasrara [the chakra in the crown of the head] whose brilliance far exceeds the brilliance of the sun we know in the outer world.  Darshan magazine #77-78 

"For the sake of experience," says Baba, the One Consciousness has become both the perceiver and the perceived."  [In other words, everything I experience, an object, a feeling . . . is inside my awareness.  My experience of anything is me for there is no separation.]

Gurumayi once said: "Before you have done anything on the outside, you have done it . . . on the inside."  [Take for example, the disastrous ecological state of the outer world; it is a reflection of the collapse of the world inside us.]

Meditation and Photography
The Classical definition of meditation is found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: "the unbroken flow of awareness towards an object of contemplation."  Swami Shantananda, in his book of commentaries on the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam writes: "In the impeccable space of our own heart . . . all perceptions are forms of meditation."  ~  "Pratyabhijna is the knowledge of the knower turning back to know itself.  The light of the Self reflects on itself . . ."  ~  "As a yogic practice, Pratyabhijna involves a persistent and steady return of our awareness, over and over again, to the ever present movement of the spanda that vibrates in all our actions and all our thoughts."  

Understood in this regard, then, whenever I focus my attention on a thing in the external world as a potential photographic image, I am in fact "meditating"--Swami Shantananda uses the term "Open-eyed Meditation."  My photographs then function for me as mirrors, a way of "turning back" and witnessing my own divine Self, for when I contemplate my photographs I become the "object" of my meditations.  The practice of focusing my mind through the act of photographing and contemplating my images helps me to open, still and purify my mind, to transcend the intellect, the ego, and move on toward an infinitely greater reality.

If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear as it is, 
infinite.  For man has closed 
himself up, till he sees all
things through narrow 
chinks of his cavern.
William Blake

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #6    (Pool of water)
Click on the image for best viewing

Meditation & Quantum Physics
The scientist Menas Kafatos writes: "According to quantum physics, an elementary particle, or quantum, continuously changes into other particles or quanta, forming loops of virtual particles and quanta that dance in and out of existence in an everlasting flow.  These virtual particles or quanta are real in the sense that their existence can be felt indirectly, but they can never be observed directly.  In other words, a particle, rather than being a hard substance, is instead an ever changing flow of myriads of particles and quanta that transform in a cosmic dance of hide-and-seek. . .  a proton is not just a proton; it is also an infinity of other virtual particles appearing and disappearing into nothingness.  And yet, somehow, a proton retains its identity as a distinct entity that we call a proton even though it is never the same. . .  Everything in the universe is interconnected. . .  Nothing is destroyed; it only changes form, and when it gets dissolved . . .  all that remains is its essental nature, which [according to Kashmir Shaivisim] was Consciousness all along."    Darshan magazine #77-78 

As the yogi gets closer to his goal, the flames of consciousness grow 
higher and glow with greater intensity, forming what  
appears like a chakra of fire, a circle of luminosity 
that envelopes the triad of perception--
knower, knowledge, and known.  The  
yogi then perceives the entire 
universe as that 
Swami Shantananda, The Splendor of Recognition

Contemplating a Single Physical Object 
Theologist Christopher Key Chapple writes:  "The mind can be used to undo the mind.  By focusing on the thoughts and sensory experiences offered by a single object, the mind can discover its own amazing power.  When one holds the mind on a thing, the mind that frequently dissipates one's power can make one stronger.  This strength then leads to the "disappearance" of the physical object, to its absorption into one's self or the absorption of the self into it.  An intimacy is gained with what once was considered utterly other than oneself."   ~   The word samadhi literally translates as 'putting things together.'  It has been rendered as absorption, concentration, unitive attention . . .  In such a state, one would enter into a state of oneness with either an object or notion, such that one's consciousness becomes indistinguishable from it."   Darshan magazine #77-78

Photographing, or contemplating my photographs
When I am photographing or contemplating my photographs I am in a suspended state of consciousness in which I experience silence, stillness, but also intense aliveness.  I often feel a subtle vibration pulsating within me and in the things I am seeing and contemplating.  That pulsation, that aliveness is what I would call "consciousness" or Presence.  In the awareness of this presence I feel a unity with things, an ineffable meaning that is I believe the essence of life.

As large as the universe outside, even so large is the
universe within the lotus of the heart.  Within it
are heaven and earth, the sun, the moon, the 
lightning, and all the stars.  What is in 
 the macrocosm is in the microcosm. 
Chandogya Upanishad

When I makes friends with a thing through a process of photographing it (see for example my Lake Series, or my Meadow Series) the thing will begin to speak to me, and I will speak to it in a silent, wordless conversation that occurs in the cave of the heart.  Gradually the notion that I am different from the thing dissolves.  Visual images that function as symbols offer any serious contemplator an equivalent experience.  Symbolic images get us in touch with what is real, what is true--that is to say, what dwells within one's heart.

Entering the Heart
~  The Center of the Sun  ~

Entering the heart is like coming into the center of the sun.  There is no more you; there is nothing except the iridescent force of that light.  When you are in the center of the sun, there is no way to block its light.  It streams through you and around you.  Swami Chidvilasanda  Resonate With Stillness  (February 21) 

The sahasrara . . . [the chakra] at the crown of the head . . . is the culmination of your spiritual journey, and here the light of the Self reveals itself.  In the sahasrara there is a divine effulgence.  That light has the radiance of a thousand suns.  In that center, there is no pain and no pleasure.  Only the bliss of Consciousness exists there.  In the center of that divine effulgence . . . there is a tiny subtle blue light which yogis call the nila bindu, the Blue Pearl. . .  Though smaller than a sesame seed, the Blue Pearl contains the entire universe.  It is the light of God, the form of God within you.   Swami Muktananda   Resonate With Stillness  (April 22)

The light pervaded everywhere in the form of the universe.  I saw the earth being born and expanding from the light of Consciousness, just as one can see smoke rising from a fire.  I could actually see the world within this conscious light, and the light within the world, like threads in a piece of cloth, and cloth in the threads.  Just as a seed becomes a tree, with branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit, so within her own being Citi [shakti,  Consciousness] becomes animals, birds, germs, insects, god, demons, men, and women.  I could see this radiance of Consciousness, resplendent and utterly beautiful, silently pulsing as supreme ecstasy within me, outside me, above me, below me.  Swami Muktanandafrom his autobiography The Play of Consciousness


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Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #7    (Burning bush no. 2)

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #8

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #9

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #10  (from the Snow project)

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #11

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #12

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #13

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #14

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #15

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #16  (Office plant and venetian blinds)

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #17   (Vent pipes, from Yoga project, part 1)

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #18

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #19

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #20   (Tree shadows on road &  pile of leaves)

Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photograph    Image #21

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This  project "Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs " 
was announced in the Latest Additions section at the 
 top of my website's Welcome Page on 
January 28, 2016

Other Related Links

On the Construction of Symmetrical Photographs
If you would like to better understand how I construct the symmetrical photographs from a single source image, here are some links to earlier projects in which I have attempted to explain it: 

The Sacred In Art : An Ongoing Series of Photography Projects 
The Angels (2014)
The Photograph As Icon (2014-15)  
Field of Vision  (2015)
Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs: The Center of Being (2016)

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.