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#5071 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee

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  • Gloria Lee
    #5071 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee The Nonduality Highlights http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/ Hi there, my name is Norman Fox
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      #5071 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee
      "Hi there, my name is Norman Fox and I have been receiving these updates for about a
      year I think? Almost always inspiring and if not, at least keeps me reminded about who
      I am."
      And Norman went on to briefly relate how nonduality and photography were connected
      with his process of overcoming addiction. But wow, the photographs on his website
      simply blew me and Dustin away. So we asked if he would explain more about this
      connection, and he generously did. Thank you, Norman, for letting us get to know you.
      Gloria and Dustin

      There is a point where spiritual solutions to a problem change from being an option, into
      an absolute must. For myself, this point came after a two-year break from alcoholism
      and addiction, where I had thought that I conquered things but found myself again
      behind the dumpster and completely hopeless. I was fortunate to have a few people
      around me that continued to suggest strongly enough that I simply did not have the
      power to step away from crack and booze. My friends persisted, and I accepted the
      ultimatum; that I was incapable of running my life on my own power, and that I must
      find and broaden a relationship with God. They said I suffered, as many do, with the
      bondage of self.
      This was the wee start of things. What happened next is something that could not ever
      have been planned, nor created by my own will power, and nor was it the result of my
      self at all.
      You may guess by now that I was hanging with one of the recovery fellowships, one that
      I regard as the saving grace in a time of complete despair and one that I continue to
      love every day.
      And the instructions were simple enough; find a connection with God, and do some house
      cleaning. The best part was having a man who had been through the process, guide me
      lovingly and honestly through the steps. Now I know that many millions of people have
      done the exact same thing as I did. They followed an experiment that worked for others
      and found it worked for them. This is my experience.
      The first days of sobriety, which ultimately turned into weeks and then slowly into
      months were fairly calm. They were about me, wandering around my downtown
      neighborhood, through the same places where I used to hide behind the shadows and
      sneak through the night only this time I carried a camera, which I was desperately trying
      to understand how to use properly, and a relationship with God that I was equally
      desperate to know. At some point these two concepts began to parallel. Focus,
      composition, absolute honesty, trust and integrity and composure and a balance of light:
      these ideas seemed to be as much about my desire for truth as for a good photograph.
      And this went on for two years and I stayed broke, but I did find the odd job and I did
      remain sober.
      However at about two years, things began to go sideways again. My understanding of
      God continued to puzzle me and then, I remembered hearing Stephen Wolinsky talking
      at an event in my town about 15 years earlier. I was hooked by something then, but was
      unable to really put my finger on it. I bought all his books, (even tried to carry them
      into a treatment center on one of those separation from addictions retreats) and was
      told no. "Not in here".
      I remembered Stephen talking about Nisargadatta and so I went right to Google and I
      was completely fired up by all of the available film footage of him. And I began to
      devour everything I could find. (Which is also how I came to find this group)
      I bought all the transcripts and books about Non dualism that I could afford and for
      the next year continued my wanderings with the camera but now included doing what
      Nisargadatta was told to do; pay attention to all I know for sure: "I am".
      So this is what a day of myself and my camera would look like:
      I would turn some corner and see something or someone down an alley that seemed
      beautiful to me. I approach, start framing a shot and as always, I see more detail so I
      move closer. I heard from the photographers I was studying to "move in on the detail" and
      I tried to practice just that. But then, more detail would appear and this would go on
      and on. At some point, I would just take the shot and hope that something good had been
      I would end the day at my kitchen table staring at the images and sometimes enjoying
      what I saw but for the most part, not very confident about my choices. Not very
      confident about my ability to take good photographs and full of thoughts that said I am
      not good enough, I don't deserve, I have burned too many bridges, or worse that this is
      all a sham, that I am a fraud and that restitution for my life of mistakes would be that
      the closeness to beauty had been removed. As if the nearness of God had boundaries
      that I had overstepped along the way.
      But on one very simple afternoon, lining up a shot under the viaduct near my home, I saw
      the truth; that there is simply no end to the detail. I could just keep moving closer and
      closer and seeing more and more and it seemed un-ending. It was a bit baffling. At what
      point, do you simply push the button, and is that the point where you capture the truth?
      And suddenly and very calmly, all of the teaching I had read, that had somehow lingered
      long enough in my world for me to actually see and understand had come together.
      I experienced that there is no end point of beauty in photography, and I realized this
      was also true of God. That there is no destination, and the alarming logic that follows: if
      there is no destination then there is no journey, exactly as Nisargadatta had talked
      about. What had been so confusing, so endlessly difficult to comprehend, at once became
      the simplest of all things.
      I'm telling you I fell to my knees just stunned, and then I cried those tears that happen
      very rarely in life.
      I stopped experiencing in the most serene of ways.
      Soon after this, another job I had found ended and I decided to use the last of my
      money to print my photos, for the first time. It was a shock to learn that two thirds of
      the large format images were lost. I retained some smaller versions, but only about 75
      that were large enough to print remained. It was simple and perfect, a sort of cosmic
      editing. Out of these came my portfolio; for no reason and because of nothing they
      became a story.
      I walked the portfolio around, talked with the "art world", and was asked to do a show.
      I spent three months preparing for that; staring at the images, sharing a bit with my
      friends about what I had come to see, and continuing to be of help to my fellowship.
      Initially, the fellowship told me that I must focus on being "self-less". I always thought
      that to mean simply being kind, generous, and thoughtful of others. What I came to
      know, is that this concept is much much more, and in fact not a concept at all, but the
      truth, and that the "practice" of Selflessness is only the beginning.
      The truth, that we are not individuals, that the essence of who I am is exactly the same
      in all things, means that the bondage of self that my friends spoke of is in fact the
      experience of thinking that I am an individual. When I stopped seeing myself as an
      individual, when in a manner of speaking I "died", I was ready to hang these images on a
      wall and share this story. In the images, I see a story of nobody and the futility of
      individualism as a priority and the recklessness of uniqueness as a cure. And I see the
      embrace of nature, and the roots of experience and I truly hope others find something
      inspiring in them as well.
      Norman Eric Fox




      Despite it all, follow your dreams...

      By Wayne Moriarty, Editor-in-Chief
      Cat perches on an aging cedar fence in Strathcona in new work by
      Vancouver photographer Norman Fox.
      “I feel an emotional attachment to the Old World tones of Strathcona, the train tracks,
      older buildings and businesses. I have everything here a photographer needs.
      “We have coyotes, eagle nests, the subculture of East Hastings and the waterfront,
      diverse people, cheap breakfasts, trains running through the night, Chinatown, lots of
      kids. But the thing I like the most is the mix of regular working families and the more
      shadowy culture that lives along the fringes.”
      His photos in the show are selling in the $200 range. If everything moves, he will recoup
      the precious funds used for printing and framing, rent will be paid and the cat will be
      Bob Carroll is another friend of mine. More important for the purposes of this column,
      Bob is a legendary Canadian photojournalist and the greatest photo editor this country
      has produced.
      I asked him to give me an honest assessment of Norm’s photography.
      “Some outstanding art photography here,” Bob said. “Good eye for light, nice use of
      black and white. Knows value of soft, flat or contrast lighting. Hard blacks when
      needed. Same for colour. No big reds when not necessary … Some of his work, like the
      cat on fence, looks like illustration. It works that way, too ... I see a number of
      ‘framers’ already. I’m sure there will be more to come.”
      Honest, supportive words from the most respected photojournalist I know.
      Thinking back on that coffee six months ago, I know how close I came to telling Norm
      his photography will never be more than a hobby and, for the sake of his well-being, he
      ought to get his feet back on the ground and find something that will pay the bills and
      feed the cat. I wanted to say that without having ever really and deeply looked at his
      What a mistake that would have been. I think my friend may actually have himself a
      career here.
      Norm told me the other day, “Right now in my life I am fascinated by how much we
      chase the idea of individualism, the competition that comes from this, and how it really
      seems to get in the way of so many people’s happiness.”
      I’m not too sure what all that means. But I’m sure as hell not going to question him on it.
      Norm’s show runs until the end of October.

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