Category Archives: Meditation

Miksang Contemplative Photography; Kyoto Workshop: May 4th – 15th 2016

Thanks to Lisa Allen for sharing the following course information:


Photo by Julie DuBose

Kyoto Journal and The Miksang Institute are co-hosting a special ten-day intensive Miksang Contemplative Photography workshop in Kyoto from May 4-15, 2016.

The course will be taught by teachers, Michael Wood and Julie DuBose, and will include the first three levels in the Miksang training curriculum: Opening the Good Eye, Making Contact, and The Heart Of Perception.

Instruction will be in English with Japanese translation. Cost for the entire 10-day course is $1000 USD. The workshop will be held at Kyoto International Community House. This special workshop will begin Wednesday evening, May 4th and end at 5:00pm on May 15th, 2016. Monday May 9th will be a day off.

For more information, please email:

For more workshop details and registration information:

What is Miksang?

Miksang is a form of contemplative photography that asks us to see our world in a new way. In some ways it seems very simple, but it is not always easy.

If we can place our mind’s attention, our awareness, in our sense of sight, we will see vivid, mind stopping perceptions fully and completely, without distraction. And when that happens, we can connect with what we see deeply and intimately.

This requires stillness of mind, patience, and the desire to really see what is there, so that we can understand how to express what we are seeing with our camera simply and precisely.

Miksang is photography in which we use the camera to express our visual perceptions exactly as we experience them. Because we know how to prepare ourselves to receive perceptions when we see them, and we know how to understand exactly what we have seen, we then know exactly how to express what we have seen with our camera. The resulting image is an exact expression of our eye, mind, and heart as it connects with the perception.

Miksang means ‘Good Eye’ in Tibetan. We all have a Good Eye as part of our human makeup. This means we have the ability to see the world in a pure way, without overlays of meaning and value, pleasure, dislike, or disinterest.

When we can see with our Good Eye, the world is always fresh, because everything we see is as for the first time. There is no memory, no association, only the world manifesting to us, as it is, out of nowhere.

These perceptions are vibrant and vivid, pulsating with life. The visual world is our feast, our playground.

Seeing in this way brings us joy in being alive.

Through our images we can express our experience of seeing. Our photographs will carry within them our heart, our mind, the blood of our experience.

Myoshin-ji Article on Inside Kyoto

A few weeks ago I spent two pleasant days exploring the Zen temple complex of Myoshin-ji in north-western Kyoto. The results are now up on Chris Rowthorn’s Inside Kyoto website. This is my last article of 2015.


Myoshin-ji, or “Sublime Heart Temple,” is a massive Zen temple complex in the north west of Kyoto. In addition to its main buildings the grounds contain 46 sub-temples, all connected by beautifully preserved stroll paths. The grounds of the compound are so extensive that walking them you feel very much like you have entered another world, a kind of Buddhist village. In fact, most of the sub-temples are family homes as well as places of worship, and are not open to the public. Nevertheless, one can still enjoy the unique atmosphere here, walking the lanes between the temples, and peeking into the gates. LINK

Special thanks are due to Reverend Takafumi Kawakami for the wonderful meditation and tour he hosted at his Shunko-in Temple. You can read the full article here:

Kyoto Conference on Contemplation, 27-29 March 2015

“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Many thanks to Peter Cheyne for sending me the following information on an upcoming conference on contemplation at Kyoto Notre Dame University.

Peter writes,

While the title is ‘Coleridge and Contemplation’, not all talks are specifically about Coleridge, although all will discuss aspects of meditation and contemplation.

Each of the three days is loosely themed as follows:

Friday 27th: Literary/ Philosophical

Saturday: Philosophy, and some Religious perspectives

Sunday: Walking, Mystery, Nature, Environment, and some Buddhism

There will be free tea, coffee, juice, drinking water and light snacks during the breaks.

Summaries of each talk can be found on the webpage for each speaker:

Guest Chairs from around Japan will help with some of the sessions, including Kyoto’s own John Dougill (Ryukoku), David Chandler (Doshisha), Rob Kritzer (Kyoto Notre Dame), and Elizabeth Kenney (Kansai Gaidai):

Though this is an academic conference, it is open to the public and free of charge.

Please visit the official website to learn more about the schedule and speakers:

Meditation Classes @ Dharma Japan

Karen McAllister says…

Achariya Doug Duncan Sensei

Awaken to more! Awaken to so much more! I came to meditation to calm my mind. And yes, I did become more calm. But the practice also brought along with it so much more energy, investigation, joy, concentration, awareness and equanimity into my life. Come and join us. Classes are starting again for the next 3 months with Doug Sensei in North East Kyoto this Saturday at 4pm, Sunday at 10pm and Monday at 7.30pm 4pm Saturday, 10am Sunday, and 7.30pm Monday.See our website for directions.

And from the website itself:

Under the guidance of our teacher Achariya Doug Duncan Sensei, we practice meditation in both Eastern and Western traditions, focusing chiefly on Tibetan and Theravadin Buddhist practices and the Western mystical teachings. In addition, we balance the inner exploration of meditation and contemplation with the outer exploration of Dharma trips, travel with the teacher to points of wonder and interest around the globe. This balanced approach is aimed at a single goal: working for the liberation and inner peace of all beings through the personal realization of wisdom and compassion in oneself.

Thanks Karen!

Shakuhachi, Cello & Zazen Live!

Picture courtesy of Yoshida Koichi

Our old friend, shakuhachi player Yoshida Koichi, has written to tell me of an event he has lined up for the 4th of July! On this occasion Koichi is planning to hold a mixed event of zazen and musical appreciation with classical cellist William Prunkl accompanying Koichi’s shakuhachi. William Prunkl has practiced meditation in America under a Tibetan teacher, and  is now practising Japanese style zazen in Kyoto. I’m under the impression that his current teacher will be leading the zazen part of the event. Regardless, Koichi assures me that zen-beginners are most welcome! Continue reading

Kyoto Vipassana Meditation Center

IMG_1329Deep Kyoto friend and contributor Ted Taylor recently completed a two and a half month hike along the Kumano Kodo and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. Returning briefly to Kyoto before continuing his travels he stopped for ten days at the Kyoto Vipassana meditation center.  Today he sent me a report on his experiences there. Ted writes:

I found myself sharing dormitory space with six other men, none of whom would talk to me.  Which is no surprise really as we`d taken a vow not to speak during the 10 days which make up the Vipassana meditation course.  The Center is about 90 minutes north of Kyoto, at the end of a lovely drive into a remote valley. Continue reading