CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
Philadelphia | PhotographyMarch 4, 2013

Gazing at the Beloved

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The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steve McCurry has been a one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name and approximately twice a month I am fortunate enough to receive directly on my inbox his breathtaking  photography grouped with beautifu and relevantl quotes on  very beautiful newsletters.

Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera.

His most recent theme is called ' The Eloquence of the eye" and expresses how the intense power of communication of  the human eyes is something to be closely observed and understood. Have you ever noticed the gaze of the people you meet? How they look at you? Do they look inside your eyes or around them? You know one of my favorite poets of all times, Rumi wrote a whole book about two people that loved each other fondly just through the  intensity and devotional communication of their gaze.

A technique called the  Embodiment Training is an interactive gazing practice from the Sufi and Tantric traditions that is explored with a partner. Friends will sit down together, look into each other's eyes, hold each other's gaze, and simply surrender to whatever sensations and perceptions begin to occur. Friends are urged to explore the practice for long periods of time: hours can turn into days, days can turn into weeks, weeks can become months. Over time, the conventional sense of self dissolves, and you realize your fundamental identity as the enlightened consciousness of union. This is the primary practice that the Sufi poet and mystic Rumi explored with his beloved friend Shams during their intensive retreats together. The practice has been most graphically presented in images of the quintessential Hindu lovers, Radha and Krishna, bonded together as one through the shared connection of their gaze.

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Photo credits: Steve Mac Curry  Eloquence of the Eye | Steve McCurry The basic manual for this practice is Rumi, Gazing at the Beloved: The Radical Practice of Beholding the Divine by Will Johnson (Inner Traditions, 2003). This book is also available in a French translation as Rumi, Union des regards, fusion des ames (Editions du Gange, 2005)

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