What Artists Do All Day

I’m enjoying a series of 15-minute BBC videos, “What Do Artists Do All Day?”

Here’s a sample:

I liked this one, perhaps because of my memories of photographing Kathak dancers who came to Ananda Village around 1976-78.

On the day I took pictures of the dancers, I was in a state of consciousness that was unusual for me — okay, let’s face it, I haven’t experienced it again in quite the same way.

I have no doubt that it was Swami Kriyananda “working on me.” I was in a state of complete feeling. My intellect, on which I had relied for at least 90 percent of my self-identity for 36 years, was gone; I could only feel. My girlfriend chortled, “Ha-ha, you’re experiencing what it’s like to be a woman.” It was very uncomfortable, but wow, I took great photos!! I sent a batch of prints to the dancers. They wrote back, saying that they had never seen such beautiful, insightful photos of Kathak.

I guess the point is that I do my best work as a photographer and writer when I can leave a lot of my self-definitions behind. Nowadays I try to do it through meditation. Swami Kriyananda said that people make a mistake when they say that meditation is about calming the restless mind, because it’s actually about calming the heart. At any rate, I find that if I can get into the most central, deep, sincere and calmly one-pointed place in my heart, and acknowlege that I am happiest when I am a very simple person, free of egoic self-definitions and just wanting to serve in humility, that is where the best art begins, at my own struggling level.

Unfortunately, I don’t have prints of the Kathak dancers; there may be some in the Ananda archives, but a mother mouse chewed up the negatives for her nest.