The Eightfold Path and Photography

In Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path is the last of  the Noble Truths, the one that leads us to the end of suffering. Don’t worry, one night’s stay at a Buddhist temple on a beautiful mountain and participating in zazen and copying the Heart sutra haven’t made me go all bananas all of a sudden, but it is a fact that Zen art does resonate with me and who can say no to developing insight into the true nature of reality when we’re talking about photography. It is something that I’ve always found difficult to achieve: looking at things differently from others, simplifying the composition  and finding the essence of it. Don’t the photos that win prizes and acclaim excel in exactly that?

Fuji Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

The Eightfold Path is traditionally written down like this:

These are not stages that need to be reached one after the other like the steps of becoming a sage or a list of commandments, these are the practices that describe how an aware photographer behaves and reacts to challenges.  These are things that need to be practiced in unison for us to improve ourselves.  It is tempting to cherry-pick the ones that would obviously apply to photography but let’s show Right Effort and include all the precepts.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore Eightfold Path and how I would apply it to my photography.

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