The Eye of Siva : White Blue & Gold Snow Photographs

  The Eye of  Siva 

   White  Blue & Gold  
 Snow Photographs

Note: you can click on the
images to enlarge them


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Part I
The Black & White 

Image #1  Black & White,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #2  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #3  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #4  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #5  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #6  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #7  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #8  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #9  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #10  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #11  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project

Image #12  Black & White, Eye of Siva Project


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Part II
The Blue Photographs 

Image #13   Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #14  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #15  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #16  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #17  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #18  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #19  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #20  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #21  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #22  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #23   Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Image #24  Blue Snow Photograph,  Eye of Siva Project

Part III


The twenty-four snow photographs in this project were made between March 4 and March 17, 2017. Both the images and this text are in many ways an extension of my project The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs.  In fact I concluded the Sutra Rock project with an Epilogue that consisted of the image (shown below) of a snow-covered rock that was made in the early morning hours of March 14th, at the onset of a 48 hour snow storm.   

Epilogue image for the Siva Sutra Rock Project
Note: you can click on the images to enlarge them 

Intention, Self-Effort & Grace
In general my intention is to make photographs that function (for me) as symbols.  I have written so much about this in previous projects I shall say no more than necessary about it here.  Suffice it to say that symbols are a matter of self-effort and grace, in other words, getting out of the way as much as possible so that grace can do what must be done.  

Contemplation & Commentary
Symbols give visual form to grace, the sacred energy or internal light which is known in Siddha Yoga--which I have been practicing since 1987--as Shakti.  Symbols cannot be explained because they are images "about" what is unsayable, what is unknowable.  The meaning of symbols cannot be grasped by the mind, the intellect, the ego, however their radiant transforming energy, their grace can be interiorized and absorbed by the contemplator simply by allowing the image to become present in the heart.  

Thus the contemplation of symbols is an intimate, profoundly personal, private act.  Since the symbol's energy is attractive and yet unknowable, the image stops the mind of the contemplator, stills it, helps it to become silent so that it can listen to whatever is being offered by the symbol.  The symbol, once created, waits patiently for us to receive what it has to give.  One of the mysteries of a true symbol, however, is that its meaning is ever changing because it functions something like a mirror.  We as contemplators are given only what we need, what we are capable of receiving from the symbol in any given moment.

Contemplation should not be confused with the more common and public, often heady practice of Commentary.  However, commentary is all that I can share with you here, for contemplation is something that one can do only for one's own self.  I cannot tell you what a symbol means--for me or for you. 

First Commentary
My commentary on the first black & white image in this project (see the reduced size image below) could go something like this: "It is a rather simple "straight photograph" of a rock which is partially covered with snow.  It is an image about looking directly, intensely, one-pointedly at something in the world, something that sparks a feeling of recognition within me . . .  a recognition which cannot quite be understood and thus be articulated in words.  Perhaps what I was seeing and recording with my camera was already functioning for me as a symbol.  The photograph simply describes that which was in the outer world functioning for me as a mirror for what was being projected out from within myself via my sense perceptions."

"The shape of the snow on the rock reminds me of a 'snow-man'. . . or perhaps the back of someone in meditation, perhaps myself.  The figure's head and entire upper-body is leaning into the darkness of the rock."  ~  "I associate this image with the photographs I made for the Siva Sutra Rock project, for indeed the rock I photographed was in one of our backyard garden beds."  ~  "I also associate this image with the #12 photograph, of a clump of earth and grass covered over by snow, that comes later in the sequence.  (See the second image below)  When the two images are placed together, as they are here, the resonance between them generates yet another layer of intuited meaning in the Imaginal space between the two photographs."

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #1 

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #12 

Siva & Sakti & Kashmir Saivism
Since I consider this new collection of snow photographs an extension of the The Siva Sutra Rock project, my comments will for the most part continue to draw on the teachings of Kashmir Saivism and the Siddha Yoga Masters.  In brief, the primary teaching in Siddha Yoga is "See God [Siva] in one's self, in others, and in all the things of the world."  In the most general terms, that's what my Siva Sutra Rock Photographs are striving to be "about," and that's what any true symbol unveils.  The word Siva is merely a means of pointing toward the transcendent, formless, non-dual, Absolute, Unitary Reality (God).  The symbolic photograph is not merely the visual expression of an ideal, it is for me quite literally the visual embodiment of Unitary Reality

Siva is the personified male aspect of the formless Absolute, the self-luminous universal Consciousness.  Siva represents the static or passive aspects of divinity such as silence and stillness, a sacred presence that can be felt or intuited in or "behind" the things of the world, and within our own personal sense of being--our soul, our heart.  The images #1 and #12 (above) are for me mostly about the "round" presence of being, the presence of Siva in the things of the world.

Since we live in a dualistic world, when we speak of the still, male aspect of the formless Absolute, there must also be a corresponding counterpart: this would be the dynamic, creative-playful feminine aspect of the Universal Consciousness.  And this aspect is known as Citi Sakti, the "creative energy" of the Universe, the grace-bestowing power of God--one of the "Five Actions of God."  Grace, or Citi Sakti, is at the very center of my Creative Process.  All my creative efforts are centered on allowing the Shakti to do what it needs to do.

Both Siva and Sakti are understood to be One and inseparable from each other in the non-dual philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism.  And yet these complimentary personifications of the supreme Self are a useful way of trying to speak about that which is ultimately ineffable.  The photographs below, images #4 and #15, are for me radiant with the flowing, dancing, transforming (feminine) energy of Citi Sakti.  

Most of the images in this project have this more dynamic kind of visual energy.  They tend to be much less descriptive of the things of the world and more transformative or "abstract;" more about movement and the interactive relationships between the shapes and spaces within the picture's frame.  As symbols, rather than being about the outer world, all of the images are essentially about the inner world, the world of the Self, the world of feelings, the Imaginal world of subtle, ineffable transcendent realities.

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #4

Color Snow Photograph,  Image #16 

White & Blue & Gold Snow
There is a relatively simple explanation for why the images in this project are divided in two parts: the black & white images, and the color images--which are mostly blue, but also include some golden tones as well (as in image #16 above).  My digital camera is programed to make color image files.  If, after studying and editing the images, I want to change a color image file to black & white ("grayscale"),  I can very easily do that with the tools available in my Photoshop software.  

Most of the blue photos were made late in the afternoon when the setting sun was close to the horizon and projecting--at a very low angle--its golden colored light across the surfaces of the snow.  The areas of the snow that were not being directly illuminated by the sun look blue because the snow was reflecting the deep blue-colored sky above. 

Whenever I photographed in the middle of the afternoon, either on sunny days or when the sky was overcast, the color photographs did not look right to me.  They had a color tint that I could not correct properly in Photoshop.  I found that those images looked and "worked" best for me when I changed them to grayscale tonalities.  

I have always felt comfortable with experimenting and changing my photographic images, trying out multiple variations on an image to see which version I might like best, which variation feels the most meaningful.  Even the photographs that look like simple descriptions of the world may have been subjected to rather extreme transformational Photoshop adjustments.  For certain, every photograph I have published in my blog projects have been subjected to multiple, if only subtle, Photoshop adjustments.  (see my link "straight photograph")     

The Sequencing of Images & The "Silent Dialogue"
The sequential presentation of the images in this project is important to me.  Each of the two sets of twelve images presented above has its own sequential integrity, and then there is (for me) a meaningful relationship between the two sequences as well.  In my experience, how the photographs in a project are juxtaposed to each other, how the images progress from one to the next, how one image unfolds its visual dynamics into the one that follows it within the sequential flow . . . creates an over-arching sense of visual continuity and additional, multi-dimensional meanings within the project as a whole.  

The concept of the visual sequence relates, for me, to the idea of Unity in Multiplicity, an important aspect of the philosophy of Kashmir Saivism.  Each image has its own open-ended potential meaning, and then there is another kind of meaning--an expanded or extended kind of meaning--that is generated in the space between the juxtaposed images.  In the subtle, invisible Imaginal space between two photographs, a "new" "third image" is born of their silent, graceful interactive "dialogue."

Just as there is a silent dialogue that occurs between the contemplator and any given symbol, there is also a dialogue that occurs between the images within a carefully sequenced collection of photographs.  The contemplator may imaginatively "enter into" the dialogue--that is to say, the space between two images--if he or she can become receptively still, receptively silent.  If this can be achieved, then all one has to do is listen.  Fortunately the grace within each image helps to quiet the contemplator's mind, thus preparing and enabling him or her to quietly join in the "conversation" between the images.  

A brief observation:  I have initiated each of the two sequences in this project with a rather static-descriptive kind of image (of a rock with a snow form on it's surface; of a plant--with burs seen against a blue field of snow).  The sequence then transitions to more dynamic, abstract kinds of images dominated by visual energy, visual "movement."

The Symbolic Language of Color 
Color is very mysterious; it has its own world of meanings, its own symbolic language, thus the color of an image may be intuitively apprehended or felt, but not necessarily understood; indeed, color can confuse or amplify the meaning of an image for a viewer.  It would be a mistake to assume that certain colors systematically "symbolize" something specific.  Though I know color is an important element of a photograph's attractiveness and meaning, I have given up trying to understand how color means.
The Color Blue
Having said that, however, I must mention here that in the Siddha Yoga literature, the color blue has its traditional, associative meanings.  Blue represents the Lord in the form of Krishna who is usually represented as a dark blue figure.  The name "Krishna" in sanskrit means "dark blue."  ~  Also, blue is associated with the subtle Center-Point, the Origin of Creation known as the "blue pearl" which Swami Muktananda has described in great detail in relation to his own personal spiritual journey.  In his autobiography entitled Play of Consciousness, he writes at great length about his meditation experiences of the blue pearl.  I invite you to see my project entitled The Blue Pearl.  It includes many text excerpts from Muktananda's spiritual autobiography.    

The "Eye of Siva" & "Siva Drishti"
In an earlier project, Creation-Dissolution of a World I wrote about the "Five Acts of the Lord." Very briefly they are Creation, Maintenance, Dissolution, Concealment, and the Bestowal of Grace.  The yogic scriptures tell us that every thing, every person, every thought, every feeling, everything that happens in the the created world is witnessed by Lord Siva.  All that is emerging into this plane of reality, all that is being concealed from us, all that is dissolving back into the divine source . . .  all of this activity is witnessed by Lord Siva.  It's all "His Play," that is to say, the play of His consort, Citi Sakti, the play of Consciousness, the play of Grace.  And He watches it all constantly.

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #8  "The Eye of Siva"

Looking at the photograph #8, above, I must admit I was startled when I first saw this image before me in the snow covered world.  I saw an eye --an eye with a palpable living presence-- "looking at me."  It was nearly concealed--just barely peaking up from under the covering of snow, but I felt its awesome presence looking at me--directly.  Thus I have given the image the title "The Eye of Siva."

In Kashmir Saivism, there is also the concept of Siva Drishti.  The term can mean seeing the world as if through the eyes of Siva, the Divine Creator; it can mean seeing through the "eye of the heart;" it can also mean "seeing" imaginatively the presence of the Divine Creator in all the things of the Created World; and it can mean seeing an image or presence within ones own heart.  

It's fair to say, then, that in my perception at the time of making the photograph (#8) above, I was "seeing" Siva looking at me.  In other words, I was seeing myself looking at me.  In other words, when I am contemplating the photograph, it is Siva looking into the eye of Siva.  It is "God contemplating God."  

This reminds me of one of my favorite moments in poetry.  The following lines are by the great German poet Rilke from one of his "seeing" or "thing" poems of 1906.  In the poem, entitled Archaic Torso of Apollo  (translated from the German by Robert Bly),  Rilke is contemplating a stone statue of the Greek God Apollo; the stone was glowing with an internal, blinding light.  The poem ends, famously, with these words:  

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

The Divine "Face" of  Siva 
In Kashmir Saivism, and in Sufism (the mystical side of Islam), everything in the Created World, every thing, place, event . . . is said to be the "Face" of God, the Face of Siva, the face of the Absolute, the Lord in His-Her veiled or concealed aspect.  Hidden behind the veil of the things of the world, or concealed within the things of the world, is the presence of God, the presence of the divine Creator.  

Indeed, the Sufis say that the veil itself is a form of God.  William Chittick writes in his book Sufism of the paradox:  "God is hidden by exactly what makes Him visible."  He says: "True vision of things as they are allows one to see that there . . . is no veil. . . . there is only God's disclosure of Himself, so there is nothing but the divine face."  Similarly, in Kashmir Saivism it is said:  "Nothing exists that is not Siva."   

Of course my "Eye of Siva" photograph has something to do with all this.  And yet there is another photograph in this project that more literally relates to the idea of "the Divine Face."  My Black & White image #2, below is like a sketch or drawing of a face, perhaps one that is questioning how and what I am seeing as it mirrors back to me my own appearance-presence.  

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #2  "The Face of Siva"

Blue Snow Image #13  "Plant with burs"

The "Dance" of  Siva
Most of my photographs in this project, however, are about the unfolding movement and transformation of creation.  This is known as the Dance of Siva in Hinduism, the ever free and independent movement of grace, the infinite Creative Power of the Universe known as Citi Sakti.  

Within the second sequence, of blue photographs, only the first image (#13 above) is a "static" image, an image of concentrated "seeing." I like to call these kinds of pictures "thing-centered" photographs.  All of the remainder eleven blue images (#14-24) are about, it seems to me, Siva's "dance."  It should be noted however that even in the photograph above, of the plant with the burs, there is a kind of "dance" going on within the object itself--between the dark shapes of the burs and between the stems of the plant which are leaning in multiple directions.   

The Winds of Movement & Transformation
My wife and I live in a part of Western New York where intense winds blow up from the South and West of us, over the Bristol Hills, then over the woods and across the large open meadow behind our house.  Wind is "God's breath," "Angelic spirit," and Citi Sakti, the "transforming power of grace." The great yogic sages remind us that everything changes in this world; however, belying change, behind the veil of appearances, there is the still center-point of the unchanging "roundness of being," the perfectly still and silent supreme Self.  However, in the Play of Consciousness, the play of the Shakti, everything is in motion, changing, dancing.  Most of my photographs in this project are about the "dance" of the winds of transformation. The lines and shapes and mounds of snow provide visible traces and spontaneously created forms of the transforming movements of the wind.  

In many spiritual traditions it is said that angels are one of the divine means by which grace is bestowed upon humans, and the earth.  The blue atmospheric photograph below, image #23, is for me an "angel image."  It's as if we are seeing the movement of an angel's right wing as it brushes the snow leaving a luminous imprint of its form in the mound.  Sometimes I see the image as if from a bird's eye point of view, of a transparent wing as it flies through the infinite other-worldly luminous space of a blue sky.  I have made many other "Angel" photographs: see my two projects The Angels and Snow Angels - Rilke's Angel of the Elegies.

Blue Snow Image #23  "The Wings of Angels"

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #10  "V form"

The "V" in Siva
One of the formal motifs that recurs quite noticeably in this project (and in some instances, quite subtly) is the V shape.  (See the #10 image above, and image #23 immediately above that; also see images #11 and #17 below).  The letter V is a dynamic shape; and there is inherent within the "V" photographs a palpable sense of movement and unfolding.  The letter itself is essentially a feminine form (Vulva, Vagina), and thus it relates directly to Citi Sakti, the feminine, creative-maternal aspect of Absolute Reality.

The movement in image #11 (below) is different--like a big ship, perhaps a submarine.  The veiled form seems to be slowly working its way up to the frozen, snow-covered surface.  There is the sense of something about to emerge, to unveil itself.  At the center-point of the image there is a small, dark v shape which I associate with the more static photograph I have referred to above as The Eye of Siva, image #8.      

In the Siva Sutra Rocks project I wrote about the pieces of rubber roofing material I used in one of our garden beds to slow down the growth of weeds, and how the rubber pieces were constantly being tossed about by the winter winds into varying configurations on the snow-covered ground.  These rubber pieces, partially concealed by the snow, are what we are seeing in the image below, in the Eye of Siva photograph above, and in image #4 as well.   

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #11  "V form"

Blue Snow Image #17  "V form"

The "Bestowal of Grace" Photographs
I wrote about the "Rain of Grace" in the Siva Sutra Rocks project.  What is snow, if not a graceful "bestowal" of beautifully crystalized rain drops?  It seems to me that many of the photographs in this project are somehow associated with the "Act of the Lord" known as The bestowal of grace.  I am including below, once again, image #10 with its "V" formation as an example of this kind of image.  Also see the image #17 immediately above.

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #10  "The Rain of Grace"

In the image above (#10), I love the way the graceful V form begins its unfolding movement downward from the nexus point at the upper-edge of the image where the two sides of the "V" intersect.  The form gently opens and releases its precious sacred energy, its grace, which in this image appears to be an incredibly soft light.  There is also a graceful horizontal movement to the image in which the sides of the V become the legs of a lovely, elegant dancer.  

The #17 blue image (above) is related to the the #10 image in its downward, expanding, opening movement; however its movement is more angular, more jagged--like the unfolding of waves in a turbulent wind-tossed sea.

Blue Snow,  Image #14  "The Rain of Grace"   

Regarding the blue #14 image above, the wind-blown waves of snow are moving vigorously, horizontally across the picture plane.  The snow forms are being echoed and amplified in their visual affect by the two horizontal wires above the snow, one of which appears to be dissolving into the snow.  The overall movement begins from the left edge of the photograph, then, in the lower half of the image, the movement makes an abrupt turn downwards as if to bestow its grace upon whatever is below.  

Though I associate the rain of grace with the literal falling of rain drops from the "heavens above," Grace is ever free; it moves in any way it needs to; it cannot be obstructed; it goes where it must in "God's Time" with "God's Speed."      

In the image below (B&W, #3), there is a subtle out-pouring of grace from the wind-swept snow-covered configuration of garden rocks . . .  which resembles, it seems to me, a crescent-like "smile."  In the Hindu tradition, the crescent moon signifies Siva's mastery over Time.

In the last image below (blue, #24) there appears to be a plateau at the top of a large mountain in which pools of cool blue nectar, or Sakti have collected and then gently overflowed down the mountain's side in soft flowing forms of light--the light of grace, the bestowal of divine blessings.

B&W Snow Photograph,  Image #3  "The Rain of Grace"

Blue Snow,  Image #24  "The Rain of Grace"


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world in which
we live is a play of Citi Sakti,
the self-luminous universal Consciousness.
For a man [or woman] who sees this, the world is
nothing but a play of God's energy. . .  By the blessing of the
Guru, his eye of wisdom has been opened.  The veil of duality, which 
made him see differences, has been torn.  If he has not received the Guru's
grace the divine and playful Chiti will not come and take possession of his eyes
and will not allow the true nature of the universe to be revealed.  With the 
Guru's grace She enters the Siddha student, spreads through his whole
body, and completely purifies it.  She makes him like Herself, and
takes possession of his eyes, his heart, and his mind.  The 
Siddha student then sees the world as the sport of Citi
Sakit.  This is the true vision.  This is what 
Vasuguptachary declared when he said
that the world is not a separate
 object but a game of 
the universal 

Swami Muktananda 
from his spiritual autobiography
  ~  Play of Consciousness  ~



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This Project was announced on my
Welcome Page May 1, 2017


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