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Drala Image: Contemplative Arts and Photography

John teaches many in-person and Zoom courses in the contemplative arts and meditation traditions.  If you are interested in any of these courses, you can sign up for the mailing list on the Contact page. Specify which courses are of interest to you and when there is enough interest, we will offer a Zoom or in-person course.

Current courses are listed in the Blog.

Photography Courses

Looking and Seeing: Introduction to Contemplative Photography( Level One)

(Level One): this course provides the basic foundation for the contemplative photography practice. In engages the elements of the visual such as color and light in a pure and direct way.In musical terms, it is learning the visual chords and scales that are foundational for the natural visual compositions that are the manifestation of contemplative photography.
The resource for this course is the book Looking and Seeing.

Heart of Photography: Explorations in Contemplative Photography( Level Two)

(Level Two):On the basis of the foundational training this course opens to a contemplative exploration of the vast manifestation of the phenomenal world. Chogyam Trungpa calls this opening “fields of perception.”
We explore many “fields of perception” such as Flowers and Weeds, Ordinary World, People and other Sentient beings, Metropolitan Beauty and Contemplative Aesthetics.
The resource for these explorations is the book Heart of Photography.

Orderly Chaos to Modern Art( Level Three)

(Level Three):This course opens to a spontaneous perception that is free of any viewpoint including that of contemplative photography. Chogyam Trungpa calls this the gap of Orderly Chaos.
In this gap any and many visual manifestations are possible. Here the visual world manifests as a kind of free form assemblage. This free form assemblage resonates with the work of Modern American Art.

AbsoluteEye: studies in photography as found Modern Art

This exploration presents various engagements with Modern American Art.(

“I think if you can turn off the mind and look only with the eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract” Ellsworth Kelly.

These courses are like a continuing studies program that includes a perception based photographic practice as photographic modern art.

We engage various schools of American Modern Art such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, Assemblage, Pop Art and Minimalism. This includes the impute from many individual artists such as Jackson Pollack, Barnet Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, Agnes Martin, Robert Rauchenberg and Andy Warhol.

Heaven and Earth: Contemplative Landscape Photography

This course explores landscape photography in a contemplative way. It draws on the traditions of Eastern landscape painting and aesthetics. Rather than the dramatic presentations of much Western landscape painting and photography it explores an aesthetic of simplicity, stillness and sacred space.

Other Courses

Ways of Seeing and the Way of Nature;

Haiku, contemplative photography and Deep Ecology

In the Eastern contemplative art traditions Nature is a guiding reference.For example, the form of classic Haiku always includes a reference to the Season. These contemplative arts drawn upon the Daoist traditions that give emphasis to the ways of Nature as manifesting the Way or primordial reality.In our current concerns about the ecological crisis some Western activists have developed a view of Deep Ecology that resonates with the  spiritual view of Eastern aesthetics.
Through the ways of Haiku and contemplative photography we will engage Nature as a way of connecting with this Deep Spiritual Ecology.

Child of Illusion:

Dharma, Dharma Art and Liberation

The Eastern contemplative arts draw on one of the two major philosophical Views ofMahayana Buddhism: the Yogacara or “Mind Only” School. This School gives emphasis to the non-dualism of the perceiver and the perceived which invokes a deep resonance with a natural and primordial harmony.
This course will combine meditation practice with the practices of the contemplative arts.Drawing on a presentation of the Yogacara School it situates the resonate contemplative art practice within the Enlightenment View of the BuddhaDharma.

The Way of Haiku and Contemplative Poetry

Contemplative Haiku will be the practice in this course. Contemplative Haiku is a perception based brief poetic form that combines the ordinary with a spiritual aesthetic resonance. The course will include an exploration of other Eastern arts and Eastern contemplative aesthetics.

Contemplative Photography and Contemplative Photographers

Nalanda Miksang does not hold the franchise on “clear seeing” and “true perception”. This way of seeing has been accessed and presented by many photographers who present it through their own ways.
This course explores the ways and teachings of contemplative photographers such as Edward Weston, Minor White, Ansel Adams, John Daido Lorri, Freeman Patterson, Chogyam Trungpa and Thomas Merton.

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