The magic of not-knowing

Unexpected is one of the marks of the magic of Miksang Contemplative Photography. And is also the source of magic.

‘Unexpected’ arises out of the open space of not-knowing.


Not-knowing is the space within where we are without expectation, unprejudiced, without artistic ambition – free from reasoning thinking, open and joyful.

Without agenda

When going out and about with my camera, the biggest joy lies in having no agenda and setting my intention on unprejudiced looking and seeing. I have no idea what I am about to see and is possible to perceive joyfully, and I have zero expectation with what kind pictures and with how many pictures I will return. Going out with no idea – open and curious.

The outdoor adventure, without agenda, begins as soon as I close the front door behind me.


What I really ‘do’ is paying attention. Being relaxed yet attentive.
Paying attention with awakeness and alertness when something visual resonates – out of the blue. Magic.

What follows in doing is what makes it practical:

  • I stop, literally – coming to a stop in a physical manner also helps to stop or slow down the thinking mind.
  • I take the time to look further, until it becomes clear to me what I saw precisely: what is part & what is not part of my perception?
  • applying the Miksang method: a set of practical steps in a methodical way before I press the button.
  • I take the time to photograph my direct perception nothing is missing and nothing extra is added.
  • as long as it takes, quickly or slowly, until it is completely finished.
  • without any expectation or insistence on the possible photographic outcome.

Looking further 

The deepening and joy lies also in looking further before I ‘do’ anything. Looking further means here: keeping in touch with my heart connection with the unfolding of something I noticed and have seen very directly. Whether it is simply form, some surfaces, something simple, a moment, a visual haiku, the ever-present presence of something or a combination: something out of the diversity of the everyday visual abundance.

I notice something.
I recognize it.
I acknowledge it.
I take it in.
I appreciate it.
I commit myself to the photographic expression.
And step into the practical process of photographic expression with the camera – like, how sharp is it what I see, how much depth of field do I need which reflects exactly how I see it.
Always one moment at a time.

Slowly strolling

While strolling slowly and not-knowing on the boulevard in my home town, enjoying the abundance of ease and joy, at the end of the afternoon just before dusk sets in, I also enjoy the subtle colors and shapes of the sky above the ocean.

And suddenly…

“Is that it?” I hear next to me.
I look to my side and see a small boy at the height of my camera, which I just released hanging.
“What…?” I reply.
“Is that it?” and points to my camera hanging on the strap at my side.
“Yes”, I say.
“Why?” he asks.
“What do you think?” I ask him.
“To photogograph, umm… photograph pictures….” he stumbles, lightly elated.
“To photograph the sky” I fill in.
“But it’s completely grey!” he shouts while continue his stroll and I am getting ready to stand still to continue my visual exploration.
“Just look better” I invite him.
A little further the boy stands still, and looks at the sky above the ocean with a frown face. Suddenly he exclaims, and simultaneously he joyfully throws his arms in the air, “it’s blue and grey!”
“Yeaaahh” and I laugh.

The magic of an unexpected encounter, with an open heart and awake eyes, under a colored sky.

©Hèlen A Vink, December 18 2016, Zandvoort boulevard