Time, Time-Changes, Sacred Time: Waking Up

"Waking Up this morning" 
Time  Time-Changes
 Sacred Time
"You Must Change Your Life"

Introduction  The chronology of three recent projects
I am writing this Introduction on December 10, just a few weeks until New Years Day, 2017.  The 18 photographs in this project, which I hope to publish at the beginning of the New Year, in a project about Time--to include in its title Waking Up--were made on the morning of October 23rd, 2016 between 6:35 and 6:50 AM in my house in Canandaigua, NY.  The photographs, though they were made before I published two other recent projects, Death--A Meditation, and Snow Angels, have in the meantime been placed "on hold." Such is the way my creative process unfolds--that is to say, unpredictably.  Today I begin in earnest to construct and write about Waking Up.

I was completely preoccupied with completing the Death project when I made the Waking Up photographs; and I became so excited by the experience of synchronicity that initiated the making of the Angel pictures that I simply had no choice but to focus all my attention on the Angels project.

I have learned to trust my creative process; It is in control, not me.  I sometimes get caught up with thinking that I'm the one doing this work, but that is hardly the case.  In those misguided moments it often seems there is not enough time to get "my" work done.  But "the work" must be allowed to take its necessary forms, in the time that it must take.  Someone once said "Everything that happens with time, time respects it."  And that is essentially true, it seems to me, and thus the way to proceed in any creative endeavor.

My blog, with all of my past and most recent photography projects posted on it, are essentially dedicated to the contemplation and sharing of my creative process in photography; and certainly Time is an essential and fascinating aspect of my creative process.  Indeed, photography itself has always been directly associated with time in its mechanical-chemical aspects, such as exposure times, processing times, the "stop-action" photograph, the documentation of events in historical time.  Less often considered is the relation of Time to the phenomenology of perception, and the nature of being.  These issues, among others, are equally important to me despite the mind's difficulty in grasping the true mystery of time.  In this project, time will be explored in multiple ways, from various perspectives.


When I made the Waking Up photographs, I was in a mode of consciousness close to sleep-walking, or dreaming . . . that is to say, somewhere between ordinary waking consciousness and sleep.  This intermediary realm of being, which Henry Corbin has referred to as the Interworld or the barzakh, is a world of "no time" and "no place."  Most often when I am photographing, I enter into a mode of being very close to a yogic, meditative state; I am in a fully conscious, watchful state of awareness, but at the same time my mind has become very still, thoughtless, and open--receptive to whatever needs to happen.  I willingly enter the Interworld, the realm of the infinite, the realm of the Eternal Moment where it seems to me my creative process most fruitfully flourishes.  I surrender to the process.  This is the only way I know how to give visual form to the Unknown, the light of the Supreme Self.

Thinking back to my experience of making the Waking Up photographs, it seems to me now that it was as much an inner journey as it was a physical one.  That is to say I moved both physically and psychically through the various spaces of my house, in the darkness of an early morning in late October.  I was not trying to be conscious about making photographs, on the contrary, I was enjoying a flow of grace that had allowed my creative process free play.  I simply followed an interior feeling or impulse to move from one situation to the next, from one photograph to the next.

Probably light was the most obvious directive within my creative process for this project.  The points of light that I moved from and toward as the journey unfolded became a holistic configuration, an image "larger than the sum of its parts" which has manifested here in the form of this project centered around the collection of its 18 images.  The visual gestalt that belies this collection of photographs is much like the way stars create visual constellations in the night sky.  A large "image" emerges from its many points of light, an image which can be seen only by those of us who are looking up from a great distance away.

The photographs you will see here function on at least two levels; first, they provide photographic-visual evidence of the journey I took on that early morning journey.  My chronological narrative that accompanies the pictures is based on what I remember while I was photographing, and on my response to the pictures themselves, as I see and understand them now.  Though I took the photographs nearly two months ago, it seems to me the experience happened just yesterday.  Secondly, there is another more important dimension to many of the images presented here.  It has something to do with the way a photographic image can transcend mere description and memory. I will do my best to address the potential symbolic function of the photographs in this project later, in the Afterwords section that follows the Chronological Narrative.

A Chronological Narrative    
October 23, 2016:  My clock radio went off at 6:30 in the morning.  It was dark outside.  I like to do a few stretches when I first get up, then I usually read some yogic texts before I meditate.  I sit on the floor when I meditate, next to my bed and the bedside table (upon which a lamp sits with its shade tilted upward--see the photograph at the top of this page, and the Image #2, below).  I don't like getting up when it is dark outside; I prefer starting my morning meditation just as the soft light of dawn begins to come through my bedroom windows.  After I turned off the radio, I turned on my bedside lamp and lay their quietly longing for the light of dawn . . . which I knew would not be coming for another 25 minutes or so.

I had grown increasingly aware of how the light was falling away earlier every day in late October.  I am now writing this text on December 21, two months after the morning in which I made the Waking Up photographs.  Today is Winter Solstice, and so we have finally come to the shortest day of the year, the day with the least amount of daylight time.

On November 6, two weeks after I made the Waking Up photographs, I changed my clock from Daylight Savings Time to . . . whatever it is called . . . the End of Daylight Savings Time.  At 2:00 AM I changed the clocks in my house to 1:00 AM.  This time-change gave me daylight earlier in the mornings; but then it got darker earlier in the afternoons.  Today, December 21, Winter Solstice, is the last day of the diminishing of the light.  Tomorrow, and each day thereafter, more and more light will fill each successive day.  Then on March 12, 2017 Daylight Savings Time will begin once again.  At 2:00 AM I will change my clock to 3:00 Am . . .

And so the cycles of time and time-changes continues on this planet Earth as it spins on its axis in infinite space around the sun in its eccentric orbit.  To revel in the light the Supreme Self is all I want now.  It will take time to absorb--or become absorbed by--this infinite illumination.  My yoga Master, Gurumayi Chivilasananda reminds us over and over again that we must be patient and go forward one step at a time.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #1  Night-light Angel
Click on all images once, twice to enlarge    

The First Photograph 
When I felt ready to get out of bed, on October 23, it was about 6:35 AM.  It would be another twenty or twenty-five minutes before the glow of dawn would come gently through the curtains in my bedroom, so I got out of bed and headed for the bathroom, which is down the hallway, and then I would return and read some yogic texts for a while before meditating.  Just as I was about to leave my room I noticed the night light by my bedroom door.  A long time ago I had placed a piece of aluminum foil over the LED bulb to diffuse and dim the light in my room.  This particular morning I noticed that the light behind the foil was glowing with a blueness I had not really paid much attention to before.  The blue light seemed particularly mysterious and attractive; the difference between the warm golden glow of the light from my bedside lamp and the cool blue light emitted from behind the aluminum foil now awakened my attention: I looked carefully, long, and curiously at the radiance of blue light.

I associate blue light with Angelic or spiritual presence.  I then noticed that the shadow on the right side of the foil reminded me of an angel's wing.  I felt a strong urge to make a photograph so I got my camera out of my chest of drawers and took the rather odd though straight-forward picture you can see above, the first image in the sequence of 18 that would be made that morning.  (I encourage you to click once or twice on the image to enlarge it for a closer view.)

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #2  My Bedside Lamp, with its shade tilted upward
Click on all images once, twice to enlarge

The Second Photograph
After taking the night light photograph I turned around and took the picture of my bedside lamp (Image #2, above).  Since I was in a half-sleep state of consciousness then, I could not say now why I took that second picture, for I had made several other photographs like it in the past . . .   But I have learned long ago it is better to immediately respond photographically to something rather than ask questions about what is sparking the impulse.  Thinking has too often obstructed the flow of my creative process and resulted in pictures never made, but could have been made.  It is my experience that, in general, my creative process is always far ahead of my ability to understand it.

I have numbered the images according to the order in which I took them.  However, I felt the picture of the lamp with its shade turned upward should be the project's title photograph, for it is without question the most Iconic of the images in the project, and the lamp's light was the source of illumination for many of the photographs you will be seeing here in the project.  Even the first image, of the night light wrapped in aluminum foil, was illuminated by the bedside lamp.  The dark shadow on the right side of the foil was created by the light projected from that lamp.

Perhaps making this photograph was a way of saying "Good Morning" to an "old and important friend."  Indeed, the lamp with its shade tilted upward has an anthropomorphic quality about it.  It often reminds me of someone who has just pushed his hat up over his forehead.  Perhaps I made the photograph as a ritual gesture, in recognition or acknowledgement of the primordial light of Creation.  I love the way the roundness of the shade's rim echoes the decorative rings around the bulbous top part of the lamp's base.  It is circle upon circle upon cirlce, like the cosmic dance of the stars.

I tilted up the lamp's shade many years ago and have allowed it to remain that way ever since.  I like it tilted up, that way I get the most light possible from the lamp to read by at night when I am laying in bed.  Also, in the early morning hours, just before I meditate, I sit on the floor--under its light--and read yogic texts.  After all these years, I have never quite gotten over being surprised by the lamp's animated, human/angel-like luminous quality.  It is (for me) an object that is alive with magical presence.

Angelic Presence
My interest in angels, dates back to 2014 when I created a project entitled The Angels after being inspired by the writings of Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham.  You will be hearing more about these two wonderful writers later in the project.

It's interesting that the very first image I took that morning--the image of the night light with the blue angelic presence--initiated the entire series of 18 photographs.  Coincidentally, a few weeks later I would make another series of Angel photographs that would become a quickly completed project entitled Snow Angels.

On November 21, about a month before I made the Waking Up photographs, I made in less than 20 minutes, in a snow storm with extremely high winds, all ten of the Snow Angel photographs.  That project was published on December 9, 2016.  The pictures were made in response to a remarkable confluence of two corresponding events: the snow storm raging outside my house, and a storm I was reading about in a book by Rachael Corbett, entitled You Must Change Your Life : The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and August Rodin.  When I read about Rilke's experience of hearing a voice in the wind during a storm--a voice which he understood to be the voice of an Angle--I felt compelled to go out into the snow storm and make the Angel photographs.  You can read more about all this in the introductory text for the project. Visit: Snow Angels~Rilke's Angel of the Elegies~Khidr, Angel of the Earth.

The 18 Waking Up photographs were also made in about 20 minutes--the same amount of time that it took me to make the Snow Angels photographs.  I mention this here because I have noticed a relatively new development in my creative process: I have been experiencing brief flourishes of picture-making activity, short bursts of picture-making energy, in which a project unsuspectingly emerges from the spontaneously generated collection of images.  It may take me weeks or months to write about the images, my experience, and articulate a conceptual framework into which I could place the images for a published project, but the images come into being seemingly "in a flash," "all at once," "in no time."  It's as if I am "taken by storm," by some un-namable force.

Four Recent Projects - each created in a brief flourish of picture-making activity 
"Waking Up" is the fourth project in what has become a growing series of recent projects that share this similarity in their creative process.  Here is the chronological listing of the four projects:

Zoo Photographs : the photographs for this project were made in less than two hours on a Sunday afternoon in May, 2016 during a stroll through the Rochester Zoo.  Published July1, 2016

Broad Brook Photographs : 9-10 & 9-11 2016 :  the photographs in this large project were made during two two-hour photographing sessions over one weekend, September 10 and 11, 2016.  Published October 10, 2016,

Snow Angels~Rilke's Angel of the Elegies~Khidr, Angel of the Earth  The photographs in this project were made in less than 20 minutes while out in a snow storm on November 21, 2016.  Published December 9, 2016

"Waking up this morning"  The photographs for this project were made in 15 or 20 minutes, between 6:35 am and around 6:55 AM on the morning of October 23, 2016.  Published January 1, 2017


Continuing the Journey . . . 
After I took the two pictures in my bedroom, I ventured on to the bathroom across the hallway.  As I was washing my hands I looked at the night light next to the sink.  The color of its light seemed odd to me, sort of yellow-green.  I went back to my bedroom to get my camera and then made the third picture of the series, below.  The hand towel on the right edge of the photograph fascinates me; it has a dark, ambiguous, slightly threatening presence.  Its form seems larger than life somehow--a physical, body-like presence that at the same time seems mysteriously disassociated from its situation.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning"  . .   Image #3  Bathroom Night-light

As I left the bathroom, intending to go back to my bedroom and begin my stretches, I noticed the living room lamp; it is set on a timer that turns the light on at 5:40 AM.  The light seemed to be calling out for attention, as if it wanted its picture taken too.  I took the photograph below--the fourth picture in a row that morning of four different light sources.  The lamp is on a little end table next to a couch which is up against a short wall that extends down along the stairs to the basement.  My wife Gloria placed the plants on the top of the short wall.  I have often enjoyed seeing the green plants backlit by the lamp, so it seemed right that I acknowledge this simple pleasure by making the photograph.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #4  Living room lamp

If you click on the image once or twice to enlarge it you will see better how the light from the lamp allows you to venture deeper into the space of the room around and behind the lamp.  When I took the photograph I noticed the red ball next to the white vertical floor fan.  Our cat Bella sometimes plays with this ball--and many others like it--in the middle of the night.  She makes crying noises sometimes when she's playing with her toys in the dark; its as if she is making the sound of a terrified mouse.  I imagine that she is imagining that she has caught a mouse; it's in her mouth, and the helpless little mouse is screaming out in its final throes of death.  

The vertical fan is just under the far left end of the kitchen counter.  After taking the picture above, I looked to my right and noticed that the light from the living room lamp was reflecting in my two thermos bottles and some small glasses in the dish drainer at the other end of the counter.  It was only much later, as I was preparing the images for posting onto this project page, that I noticed I had included in the picture's frame the blue-colored light of the digital clock on the stove behind the kitchen counter.  I had taken a picture of the time; I made the photograph at "6:41 AM."

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #5  Dish drainer, with thermos, etc. at 6:41AM

I was beginning to awaken to the fact that I was actually making a series of photographs.  Since I had my camera in my hand, I began to look around--with a little more conscious awareness--for pictures I might take before heading back to my bedroom.  I was standing next to the counter when I made the photograph above; then I looked back to the left of me, and I saw two red balls on the floor next to the vertical fan.  I was surprised to see the second ball next to the one that I had included in the earlier photograph; I think I took the #6 Image below as a response to the discovery of the second red ball which I had not seen when I made the earlier photograph (Image #4).

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning"  . . .   Image #6  Vertical Fan, two red balls

Now that I see the two images (#5 & #6) placed one above the other in this visual sequence, I have noticed that the fan, and the edge of a stainless steel trash can just behind it, are catching the light from the living room lamp much in the same way that the light reflects in the two water thermoses in the dish drainer.  The larger vertical forms in each of two the images also lean in a similar way.  I have no idea why that interests me, but it does.

After I took the fan picture with the two red balls, I looked up and saw a reflection of the living room lamp in the glass window of the microwave which is suspended above the stove across from the kitchen counter.  I walked around the counter and stood before the microwave and took the picture below, Image #7.  I like the way the lamp reflects on the microwave three times in a vertical row with the sharper, brighter image being in the center, between the two dimmer reflections.  The central reflection is brighter and sharper because it is reflecting the lamp in the microwave's the glass window.  The other reflections are seen in polished stainless steel surfaces which diffuse the images in sharpness and softens the intensity of light's reflection.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #7  Living room lamp reflected in the microwave

After I took the picture (above), I looked down at the stove and saw our tea kettle with Gloria's red cup next to it.  (see below, Image #8).  When I saw the red cup I realized that Gloria had already been up ahead of me.  I hadn't seen her bedroom light on when I first got up so I assumed she was either still sleeping or perhaps meditating.

Gloria and I sleep in different rooms because of my endless rolling around in bed all night long--she does not move an inch when she is asleep.  Also, I like sleeping in a cool room in the winter--she likes it warm; in the summer I like the ceiling fan running at a medium speed; she likes the fan off, or running very slowly; we both snore--though she says she doesn't.   

I probably took the picture, below, because the situation reminded me of similar images I had made a few years earlier for my Still Life project inspired by the paintings of Morandi.  I learned so much from working through that very large project in 2015.  I am grateful to Morandi for all the wonderful paintings he made, images full to overflowing with presence.  I love the fact that many of his still life paintings are images of objects which he made himself.  It has just occurred to me that I have done something similarly myself in the first two pictures in this series.  I photographed object that in a way I created:  the night light wrapped in aluminum foil, and the lamp with its shade tilted upward.

Probably the most important aspect of Morandi's work, for me, was the revelation of those mysterious spaces he gave visual form to in his paintings--the spaces between the things in his still life compositions.  Those often very odd spaces are palpably alive with presence, an unusual kind of mystery, and perceptual-spatial ambiguity.  I feel a similar presence, in the photograph below, in the black space between the red cup and the tea kettle, and then in the black space that continues on to the right of the tea kettle.  I also like the little shape of red on the kettle's handle, the way it echoes the color of the cup.  There is some red just above the spout of the kettle too, but I have no idea where that color came from.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning"  . . .   Image #8  Water kettle, red cup and the space between them

I then continued my search for more picture possibilities as I slowly worked my way back toward my bedroom.  As I passed by the front hallway a glint of light on the edge of a metal picture frame caught my attention.  The frame, hanging on the wall near the front door, was reflecting the light from the living room lamp.

I am attracted to light, and glints of light; I have been, it seems, forever.  Indeed, it is light, above all else, that most often signals the possibility of a photograph to me in any given situation.  I would say that light is at the very heart of all the photographs in this project.  I think of glints of light in my photographs as the bright stars that catch my attention when I view the heavens; also I think of glints of light as  little hints or reminders of the light of the Supreme Self.

Where we live in Canandaigua, NY there is no outside ambient electrical light that gets inside our house after dark.  There are no street lights in our part of town, and there is no ambient light from the town itself because it is several miles away.  Indeed our house is very dark inside at night except for the night lights we have distributed around the house.  There is never any light pollution in the evening skys; on a clear night, one can look into the starry sky and see an infinite amount of space with its untolled numbers of points of light.

Space-Time: It's interesting to me how scientists measure distance in deep space.  They say, in theory, nothing travels faster than light; and they have figured out how fast light can travel; so they can calculate distance in space between stars, between a star and our planet, for example, in terms of light years.    

The picture below, Image #9, of the glint of light on the metal frame, is worth enlarging for a closer view.  Enlarging the image will also yield a much sharper image with a more palpable feeling of the ambient light in the space.  Click on the image once, and if possible, once again to enlarge the image.

(I cannot give a full technical explanation of why enlarging the image renders it with so much more sharpness, tonal separation, and luminosity.  It has something to do with the resolution size of the original image in relation to how the image gets compressed when download onto the blog project page--I think.  When you enlarge the image you get to see it rendered closer to its original sized format, that to say, before its resolution was compressed . . . I think.  I'm not sure.  I have never been a technical person.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #9  Glint of light on a metal frame 

Moving on past the front hallway toward my bedroom I then came upon the bathroom again.  Across from the bathroom entrance is the door of a small linen closet (see Image #10, below).  The surface of the door was glowing with warm light--light that seemed to be coming from within the door itself.  I felt compelled to make the photograph.  The light I was seeing was the reflection of the light from the bedside lamp in my room.

I have come to notice that the decorative design in the door reminds me of the ray of a star; and as I look even more carefully at the image, I see the image as a whole as a big "eye" which is looking at me and perhaps which has been watching me throughout my morning journey.  Later I will discuss a poem, by Rilke in which he wrote of the light he experienced in the torso of a sculpture of Apollo.  Rilke's poem is resonating within me now as I look at this image of the door, so I feel I must share at least this one part of Rilke's poem with you here:  . . . there is no place at all that isn't looking at you.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #10   Light from my bedroom lamp reflected on the closet door 

My early morning journey began in my bedroom; and after making the picture above, I returned to my room and the light that was illuminating the closet door.  Once inside my room I stopped at the foot of my bed and looked directly at the large framed photograph hanging on the wall over the bed's headboard.  The image is from my project, The Departing Landscape, the section entitled The (interior) Abstract Photographs.  A soft, luminous, light-blue tone glows quietly from inside the abstract image; but as I stood before the photograph and starred at it that morning, in the golden glow of my bedside lamp, I noticed that the blue color was nearly absent.  I could see a tone that looked somewhere between neutral grey and soft blue, though I couldn't say for sure if the blue was really there or I was remembering the blue.  The technology in the digital camera saw the situation differently;  the blue in the image below is more visible here, in this rendering, than it was to my eye at the time I took the photograph.

As I was I studying the absence of color in the framed photograph I became slightly startled when I saw my reflection in the glass.  It is a ghostly figurative presence--something like a transparent shadow.  In that moment I became even more awakened to the fact that I had been wandering about in my house, in my pajamas, in something like a meditative state as I made the photographs presented thus far in this project.  It was a poignant moment of self-recognition; a moment in which I understood myself as being a picture-maker, one who was occupying space and moving through space and time trying to surrender to my creative process in order to see more than mere appearance.

So now I began looking around my room as a photographer, with a slightly changed vision; I now had something like a conscious intention:  I wanted to see what else I might photograph in my room, which is a simple, intimate space with very few things in it.  I like open space, and I like to watch the play of light in space, and on things.  I think the next few photographs that I took in my bedroom (#12-17) will confirm this.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #11  My framed print & my reflection in the glass.

In a way, the photographs I made in my room, including the one above, constitutes something like a poetic-topographical record of the objects, the light and the space in my bedroom.  After making the picture above I turned around, and faced the entrance to my bedroom.  I saw behind the door, projected upon the wall, the shadow of the golden door knob.  On the very left of the picture's frame you can also see a few shapes of my shadow projected on to the wall.

The two photographs, #11 and #12, when seen in relationship to each other, announce a visual motif that runs through most of the other images I made in my room.  I'm referring to the round decorative shape of the bedpost, and how that shape repeats in the shape of my head in the reflection, and how that shape repeats yet again in the doorknob and in the shadow of the doorknob in the photograph below.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #12  Gold doorknob & its shadow on my bedroom wall

The series of six pictures--#12 through #17--also constitutes a nearly180 degree panoramic swing of the camera from left to right.  After taking the picture of the door knob and its shadow, I turned to the right and photographed the circular Starry Night ceramic piece that hangs on the wall between the doorway and the left edge of the mirror. The Starry Night ceramic was made by my son Shaun when he was just a young child.  (You can click on the image to get a closer view of the piece.)  I like the way it floats in the space--like a moon--between the mirror and the doorway.  It occupies space in an unassuming way, and yet it is an object charged with charm, history, memory, beautiful stars and moon-sliver forms--the entire universe, contained within a circle.  

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning"  . . .   Image #13   "Starry Night" ceramic piece on my bedroom wall

I like the luminous space reflected in the mirror on the right.  Its the reflected space between the curtained window and the bedside table with the lamp on it.  The light from that space seems to glow into every part of this photograph; indeed, I can feel the light in the entire room within the spaces of this one image.

Next, I turned to my right a bit more and I photographed the little vase which is sitting on my stereo unit next to the far right edge of the mirror.  The dried plant in the vase was given to me by my son and the woman he would eventually marry. They found the plant with the star shaped dried leaves on one of their walks in Highland Park, in Rochester, NY.  They told me the dried plant is from a magnolia tree.

I love the gentle soft-toned shadow of the plant projected onto the wall which glows with a softness of light that seems to come from inside the wall itself.  The light becomes even more palpable as it is seen in the mirror's reflection of the wall across from it, and close to the lamp on the bedside table. Inside the dark bulbous form of the vase you can see a reflection of the lamp.  This gentle lovely image is strengthened by the many presences of light I have mentioned, the shadow of the plant, and the graceful movement of the plant itself--which seems to be reaching toward the source of light.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #14   Vase and dried plant in my bedroom

The repetition of circular forms can be seen again in the Starry Night ceramic piece, and then again in the form of the vase, and yet once again in the top of the bedpost next to the lamp in the photograph below, Image #15.  I imagine these repeating shapes dancing up and down within this spinning panoramic survey of things and spaces within my room.  It invokes a nostalgic childhood memory--of seeing an animated bouncing ball dancing over the words of a song in rhythm to the music one can hear playing in the background.  click here

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #15  Bedpost next to the lamp in my bedroom

There is one other thing I must say about the picture above, though I am a bit hesitant to say it.  I see something like a wing, the wing of an angle perhaps, in the shapes of the bed's headboard.  The angelic presence has once again entered into this series of photographs.  (I wonder how much angelic presence goes un-noticed in the other photographs in this project?)

Regarding the next picture below, #16, I had made a very similar photograph of the lamp for another earlier project.  This one is less abstract than the other image I remember making.  I simply could not resist making this image; I simply turned a bit to my right and took the picture.   It never hurts to make a photograph over and over again if the urge is strong enough.  The image below is lovely and strange in its own unique way; indeed it has plenty of things about it to like, and it seems to me that having made the exposure in the rhythm of the unfolding of my creative process in that moment helped to sustain a mood I was in and a flow of creative energy that was unfolding and needed to be affirmed by the making of the exposure.

One of things I like about the image (below) is the way the round head of the bedpost has shown up yet again. This time it is nearly hidden in its layered alignment with the rounded tapering body of the lamp's base.  It's as if the two forms are confronting and perhaps merging into each other.  I love the way the light squeezes out from behind the lampshade onto the wall.  And the stream of light that shoots up vertically from top of the shade is like a magical fountain of light.  The corner of the room can be seen in the background, and it seems important the way the line of the corner just meets the top edge of the round form of the lamp shade, and then further below it touches the bulging decorative form of the lamp's base.  Its as if the lamp's shade and base are suspended within this tense and tentative set of formal relationships.  

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning"  . . .   Image #16   Bedpost in front of round budging lamp base

The final photograph in this mini-series of bedroom images (Image #17, below) is very quiet and very simple.  Its a picture about nothing in a way.  I made it simply by turning my camera to the right, once again, after taking the picture above.  I included a bit of the lamp shade perhaps for continuity of spatial context, perhaps for some tonal drama; but for me the picture is mostly about the space between the corner of the room and the left edge of the lace curtain hanging down over the window.  The way the light from the lamp touches the bottom left edge of the curtain and gives it a luminous glow, compared to the rest of the curtain, is an important event for me.  It gives the entire space a living presence. 

Just below the space that can be seen in the photograph is the space I sit in (on the floor) for meditation each morning.  I often read yogic texts before I meditate in that space as well.  Reading yogic texts, the teachings of the saints and sages, helps me to focus my energy and quiet my mind.

It is said that the space in which one meditates regularly absorbs and accumulates the meditation energy--or shakti--generated by the practice of meditation.  When one returns to that space to mediate again and again, the meditation energy already stored in that space--and in the surrounding objects in that space--then helps the meditator to achieve a deeper state of meditation more easily.  Once I started doing the yogic practices in the same space repeatedly over time, the feeling of the energy in the space did indeed becomes quite noticeably palpable to me.  I can also feel that energy in this series of photographs I've made in my (meditation) room.

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #17   The Space between the corner and the curtained window

Just as I took the picture, above, I heard my wife, Gloria walking down the hallway.  She had been to the kitchen to get her cup of tea from the stove and was heading back to her bedroom.  I decided to go say "good morning" to her and see how she was doing.

When I walked into her bedroom I saw the red cup sitting on her desk.  I liked the way the soft light from her desk lamp was illuminating the cup and shimmering on the curtains behind her desk, so I took the picture below--the last picture (#18) in the project, and the second picture of the red cup.  

As I was preparing the image for posting onto this project page, I saw the words at the top of the white sheet of paper that Gloria had placed on her desk (and under a protective sheet of plastic).  If you click on the image and enlarge it you can easily see the words on the top line of the text; it says "Waking up this morning."

Time : Time-Change "Waking up this morning" . . .   Image #18  Red Cup on desk in Gloria's bedroom




"You must change your life" 
Sacred Time
The Symbol 

When I make photographs I often lose all sense of time.  I enter into a mode of consciousness very similar to a meditative state--an Interworld--which Henry Corbin has termed the mundus imaginalis, the Imaginal World.  I am conscious of "seeing" the things, spaces and light of the physical world, but it is a different kind of seeing; it's as if I'm seeing through the "eye" of intuition, through the "eye" of the Heart, through the "eye" of what Corbin terms the Creative Imagination.  This changed "vision" is simultaneously being filtered through the medium of photography.  This altered state has been termed within the history of the medium as "seeing photographically" and "previsualization;" essentially it is an imaginative act in which one "sees" the finished photograph in the "mind's eye" before and in the moment that the exposure is made with the camera.  There is a layering of the imaginal image over the world that the camera is focused on.  When the two images merge perfectly into one, sometimes magic is given birth in the form of a symbol.

Corbin defined the Interworld as a mode of being between the physical and the spiritual worlds, but the term pertains to that "place" between anything: day and night, dark and light; between life and death; between linear-rational time and vertical-sacred time.  The world of the Creative Imagination is essentially a world of "no place" and "no time;" that is to say, it is the primordial realm of the Eternal Moment, the celestial-archetypal Time of the Soul.  It's where, says Corbin, true, living symbols are born and then irrupt into this linear time-space plane of existence.

Most of the 18 photographs in this project function for me as symbols, images which embraces and hold together as a visual unitary reality the opposing but mirroring dual realms of being of the inner-psychic and outer-physical worlds.  The Waking Up photographs describe the things, spaces and light within my house as I moved through linear time between 6:35 AM and approximately 6:50 AM, on October 23, 2016; and yet, as symbols, the images are empowered, through grace, to reveal or unveil what Gaston Bachelard terms the typography of our most intimate being--the Soul, and the "roundness of being."  Symbols are the visual embodiment of the experience "I AM the space where I AM."  This is the transcendent, poetic unitary reality to which Bachelard referred in his book The Poetics of Space when he wrote: "The universe has come to [intimately] inhabit my house."

I have conservatively written about the angelic presence which I sensed had entered this project.  People are wary of the reality of angelic being.  But, for me, the "angels" have returned in this project, I suspect, to remind me that everything has its heavenly, celestial counterpart.  It is this magical quality within an image that empowers it to open the heart and allow us to see the world anew, with the eye of the Heart, the eye of the Soul rather than merely through the rational-intellect.

I would be content to call this magical quality grace .  Tom Cheetham, in his book The World Turned Inside Out writes the following about the mystery, the "magical faculty" of the Image of the Angel.  He says when we free ourselves of literal matter, historical time and space, then every thing has a voice, everything speaks to us with its angelic presence, its angelic voice:

For Corbin, the Incarnation is not a mystery; it is the denial of mystery through the literalization of the sacred.  Mystery requires the magical faculty of the Image of the Angel.  The awaited Imam, as the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, "enables all things to speak, and in becoming alive, each thing becomes a threshold of the spiritual world." [here Cheetham has quoted from Corbin's book Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth]  And this finally is the plenary meaning of the hermeneutics of the Word become Flesh: all things speak.  Only through the Word can the cosmos be released from the world of literal matter, quantitative space, and historical time.  Without this Presence the world is muted, faceless, collapsing forever downward to the level of object.  With it, not just the human soul, but the world itself exits in a perpetual state of Resurrection.  from Tom Cheetham's book The World Turned Inside Out

Corbin and Cheetham write of the symbol as the threshold or "doorway" through which the seeker of the Truth enters into the center of the Heart, into the Primordial Space, the Eternal Moment, the Divine Self.  The great yogic saints and sages--those who live in the constant awareness of the presence of this transcendent reality--have written extensively about it.  Below are excerpts taken from talks given by my meditation teacher, Swami Chidvilasananda, the living head of the Siddha Yoga Path:

The Timeless Moment Between   
The great poet-saint Jnaneshwar Maharaj wrote:  "The natural state of the Self is found at the invisible juncture, the timeless moment between the fading of the seer and the seen and their reappearance.  It is like that wavering moment when sleep has just ended, but we have not yet fully awakened."  ~  The state of the inner Self is in every moment, and the experience of it can be seized at the invisible juncture, between two thoughts, for example.  As one thought dissolves and another thought arises, there is always a short interval, a space, and this is a timeless moment.  Swami Chidvilasananda  October  17     Resonate With Stillness

Our Every Action Vibrates In Eternity
Every action of our lives touches some chord that vibrates in eternity.  It isn't that in this minute you perform a particular action, and then it fades away, forgotten.  Whatever action you perform reverberates throughout the cosmos.  Whether this act is performed through the body, through the mind, or through your speech, it will sound in eternity.  ~  Everyone's mind is the cosmos, everyone's heart is the cosmos, everyone's being is the universe, so whatever action you perform, good or bad, is going to continue to re-echo.  It is never forgotten, nor is it overlooked.   Swami  Chidvilasananda  December 23  Resonate With Stillness   

When Time Becomes Timeless   
In the words of the poet-saint Sundardas:  "Time both creates and dissolves.  It seizes us and reduces us to ashes.  . . .   Sundardas says, time will vanish as soon as we realize the Self."  As soon as you recognize the stillness of the soul, you are no longer afraid of time.  Time becomes timeless.  And in the fleeting moments of your life, you experience eternity. Swami Chivilasananda  October 21 & 28  Resonate With Stillness  ~  The quotes in blue were used in Chapter 8, Time, of my project Photography & Yoga


Cyclical Time - Sacred Time 
The photographs in this project represent an interior, Imaginal journey into what Henry Corbin calls "cyclical time."  Essentially all Creative-Imaginal journeys are cyclical, that is to say, the "traveler" or spiritual seeker, returns to his or her Origin by journeying inwardly through Sacred Time, the Eternal Moment.  This inner journey is an experience of what Joel Dubois has termed "transcendent aloneness," a very special state of mind, a state of grace in which the mind becomes wholly still, silent.  In this mode of being the traveler experiences, merges with Unitary Reality, the "all-oneness" of Divine Consciousness, the light of the Supreme Self.

"It cannot be otherwise," writes Joel Dubois, for, he says, we have never left The Sacred; we live only in the Eternal Present Instant, the "infinity of God."  We just don't don't consciously recognize this fact.  Our vision of the truth is obstructed by the limitations of the linear, rational mind, the ego.   

Symbols are a means of "waking up" to a conscious understanding of the Sacred nature of Time, the Eternal Moment.  Again, Dubois writes: ". . . there is only the emergence and dissolution of each moment from and back into the infinity of God.  From this perspective, God in all of God's fullness is always standing right before our eyes, revealing his infinite nature to us."  Joel Dubois, "Saint Augustine and Patanjali on Time" in Darshan Magazine #115 

The experience of Sacred Time is an experience grace.  "All of life is grace" say the yogic saints.  Grace is the most mysterious thing; it is divine Creative energy.  For a picture-maker like myself, it is grace that can make a photograph come alive and invoke meanings beyond what's sayable;  it is grace that touches, and even embraces and awakens the soul of the contemplator who imbibes such living images.  Such images need a special name; I like to use the term symbol.  symbolic photograph, then, is a carrier of grace; it's an image radiant with grace; it has the divine energetic potential to initiate and awaken in the serious contemplator the experience of that which is most truly Sacred and already present in each human Heart: one's own Supreme Self.  

When I am photographing with grace (rather than with my intellect or ego) I often experience divine presence in objects and places.  This feeling then signals me to make a photograph.  The created image that succeeds in conjoining outer appearance with its corresponding inner archetypal-celestial Imaginal counterpart, has the potential to transcend and thus reveal more than a literal description of what was in front of the camera in the moment of recording.  

The grace within the symbolic image initiates a transformation, no matter how subtle it is, within me as I contemplate the photograph.  Its symbolic form, and its functioning power of grace emerge from within the image spontaneously in a flashing moment of intuitive insight.  In this magical moment I am embracing an image of the things of the world, the medium of photography, and the archetypal-celestial-divine nature of the thing photographed . . . all at once, that is to say, in the Eternal Moment, in the Sacredness of Time.    

The Fourth Dimension   
Henry Corbin wrote of the "fourth dimension."  He said it can be detected "in the inner nature of a subject [a thing, a place, a moment]."  The fourth dimension is essentially the Imaginal world, the extraordinary reality that transcends outer appearance but which--simultaneously--exits as a presence layered within the multiplicity of surfaces and spaces in our ordinary linear-rational space-time reality.

Tom Cheetham writes: "The time of the soul, the sacred, is qualitatively other, as is the space, and in the end perhaps the two are not easy to differentiate.  By opening ourselves to the space of the soul, we 'make ourselves capable of God.'"  Tom Cheetham from his book The World Turned Inside Out

The symbol--its grace, its vertical roundness-of-being--has, according to Corbin, the the power to rupture the horizontal-linearity of ordinary space-time consciousness.  The symbol has the potential to provide us with the ineffable vision of the heart, that which allows us to see the truth through the veils of the multi-layered appearances of the created world to the Divine Reality that pervades--and lies hidden behind it.

The symbol--its grace, its unitary reality--provides us with a function equivalent to that of the mandala; that is to say, it effects the passage from outer world linear time to the center of what Corbin terms Cyclical Time. The symbol returns us to our timeless Origin at the center of our being: the Supreme Self.  Corbin writes:  The symbol "forms a unity of qualitative time in which past and future are simultaneously in the present."  see Henry Corbin's book Creative Imagination


"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!"
It is now Christmas Eve as I write this part of the Afterwords text.   Every year, in preparation for Christmas I watch at least two or three film versions of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and I read excerpts from his original published story.

I love the part where Scrooge awakens in his bed after his three visits, his inner journeys with the Spirits or Ghosts (I prefer to think of them as Angels) of Christmas.  He does not know what month it is, what day it is; he doesn't know how long he's been "among the Spirits."  He says "I don't know anything." "I don't know what to do!"  "I am light as a feather, I am happy as an angel . . . "

He then vows: "I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!"

From his window Scrooge sees a boy on the street below and he asks what time it is.  The boy responds "Why, it's Christmas Day!"  Scrooge says "I haven't missed it! The Spirits have done it all in one night!  They can do anything they like.  Of course they can. . ."

I especially like the musical version of A Christmas Carol with Kelsey Grammer, the way Scrooge goes out to the streets of London and greets everyone he sees with love, and gives money to the beggars. Then he recognizes the three characters on the street who served as his Spirit-guides in his night journeys.  His heart opens to them; he is filled with gratitude for their help in making him see and understand.  In this state of gratitude he lets them know that he knows there hidden identity.  Then Scrooge, in this fully conscious state of realization, sings out in a state of sheer joy about his new understanding: that although the world appears to have completely changed for him, it is he who has changed.  He sings:

What a happy man am I.
I'm as light as a man can be.
The whole world is New . . .
and it all has to do with me!

There is no place that isn't looking at you.
You must change your life.
My previous project, Snow Angels, was initiated by a story I had been reading in Rachael Corbett's book entitled You Must Change Your Life : The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and August Rodin.  The story was about Rilke's experience in 1912 of an angle while visiting a friend at their Dunio Castle in Italy.  He got caught in a storm with high winds, and he heard within the sound of the wind a voice which gave him the first words of his first poem in a cycle of poems that would be famously known as the Dunio Elegies.  Rilke knew the voice was that of an Angel, and he wrote of it in his first elegy.  The experience of the Angel, and the writing his first elegy, were a major turning point in Rilke's life.

Ten years earlier, around 1902, Rilke experienced another turning point.  He had moved to Paris in an attempt to change his life for he had been experiencing a writer's block; he felt stuck in his creative process and needed to find a way to break free of it.  He befriended the great sculptor Rodin and became his secretary.  As their relationship grew closer Rilke asked Rodin for his advice:  "How shall I live?"  for Rilke admired Rodin's endless, tireless, productive creative process and wanted to know his secret.  Rodin responded to Rilke: "Work, work, work!" and most importantly, he told Rilke that he thought he should get out in the world and see things for a change.  Rilke understood this.  He too realized that too much of his previous poetry had been almost exclusively about his own inner life.

So Rilke began a series of "seeing poems" which was about the inner life in things.  In the remarkable "seeing poem" entitled "The Archaic Torso of Apollo" Rilke writes about a sculpture of the great Greek God that had impressed him.  It had no face, no arms; there was only a torso, but, as Rilke writes in his poem, the entire stone torso was glowed with an interior light that burst outward from its every edge--like a star.  The poem ends abruptly, surprisingly, likes this: 

                                                 . . . there is no place at all
that isn't looking at you.  You must change your life. 

An Auspicious Time   A Blessing
It is New Year's Day, 2017, an auspicious time to publish any project, but the timing seems perfect especially for this project.  I too have been blessed; the Spirits have done their work, and as such I have been gifted with the grace to be able to complete this project just at the turning point where 2016 changes into 2017.  I have been blessed the with ability to create sacred art photography projects like this one, and publish them in this blog so that I may share the work with others.  And today I have also been blessed by my meditation teacher Gurumayi who gave Siddha Yoga students around the world her New Years Message for 2017.  Here is but one part of her message:  Revel in the light of the Supreme Self.  After hearing these words today it occurred to me that this project had perhaps anticipated her Message, that it's an affirmative response to the message, a blessing.

Dickens concluded the published version of his Christmas Carol with a blessing:

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, 
'God bless Us, Every One!'

And it has become something of a new tradition for me to close my Sacred Art Photograph Projects with the words of a saint.  I think of their words as a blessing, both for the project and for all those who read their words.  I will conclude this project with the grace-filled words of Swami Chidvilasananda (Gurumayi) from a talk she gave about "Time" many years ago . . . though her teachings are timeless.  Gurumayi said:   

Time is a big eye.  It watches everything. . .  All the saints say that the purpose of the eyes is to see the Lord; it is for the darshan, the vision of the Truth.  

All of life is grace.  The entire universe has sprung forth out of the divine mind, divine Consciousness.  The Yoga Vasistha says:  

"Just as the ocean endlessly heaves billows of different shapes, 
All beings are endlessly reborn in various forms 
In the vast ocean of time."  

Time is unflinching.  Everyone is born and everyone dies in time.  It is time which gives birth to all things and time that devours them.  Because of time, a child grows old.  Because of time, death is unexpected.  Time unceasingly makes everything happen and also brings it to a stop.  It's all a matter of time.  Therefore, respect time.  Use time very well.  from a talk published in Darshan Magazine #115 

May it be so.

This Sacred Art Photography project was published on 
New Years Day, January 1, 2017

Related Projects & Other Links:

The Light of Creation  from the project "An Imaginary Book" 2011
Still Life 2013
The Angels 2014
The Complete List of Sacred Art Photography Projects
Siddha Yoga Path

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