Enlightenment and Sam the Camera Man

by Jonathan Robinson


Sam enjoyed taking pictures of everything—or so “he” thought. He even thought he was really good at it. He’d video weddings, nature spots, time with friends, whatever was around him. Then one day Sam decided to video a famous guru he’d heard of. He boldly walked up a steep mountain to the guru’s location. Sam was exhausted from the climb, but glad he made the trek. When he finally reached the guru, he eagerly asked him, “What’s the difference between my view of the world and yours?”


The guru smiled. He saw that Sam had a mistaken view of who he was and how things really operated. To help Sam see the truth, he used an analogy. He told Sam, “You think you are a photographer, but in truth, you are really just a camera.”


Sam was confused by this response, but intrigued. He asked, “What do you mean by that?”


The guru continued, “You are really just a camera controlled by forces beyond your imagination, but the thoughts running through your head make you think you’re controlling the camera. The thought that you exist as an individual controlling anything is a camera trick—it is simply an illusion.”


Sam felt confronted in a manner he had never experienced before. Somewhat defensively, he replied, “There’s nothing controlling my actions. I have free will. What forces are you talking about?”


The guru was determined to push “Sam” further into unknown territory. “Your free will is another camera trick; it is an illusion. In fact, you’re really like a robot being controlled by forces you’re not even aware of. What forces? Things such as your DNA, your childhood conditioning, your hormones, your culturally programmed thoughts and desires, your mood in the moment, the ups and downs of your day, and the state of your environment. If you truly had free will, why wouldn’t you just choose to be blissful all the time instead of continually trying to satisfy an endless stream of culturally programmed desires?”


Now Sam’s head hurt. He felt a pounding in his chest. The guru’s statement was clearly rude and uncalled for. He felt angry at being told he had no free will and that he was really like a robot and not a talented human photographer. But then something strange happened. The angry thoughts in his brain began to dissolve like clouds in an open, blue sky. His mind felt like it was expanding into the space of the room, leaving his head relaxed and peaceful. Sam felt something let go inside of him, like he’d been carrying around a heavy backpack he wasn’t even aware he was carrying. Suddenly, everything seemed quiet, peaceful, as if he was seeing it for the first time.


The guru could see the experience Sam was beginning to have. He simply stated, “As you let go of thinking you’re a somebody busy doing something, you enter into the world of truth. What is the world of truth? It’s a wondrous land where each moment is new, and where there is no “you” other than being a video camera controlled by forces beyond your imagination. And as you dive deeper into this world of truth, you get to actually take control of the video camera you are. Most people who live in this world of truth decide to point their video camera towards love, beauty, and acts of service.”


Sam was amazed that the guru’s words now made some sense to him. It was like he had been watching a channel of endless distractions on his TV set, and now this new channel offered up a completely clear-eyed picture of the world. Sam asked, the guru, “How can I dive deeper into this world of truth that you speak of?”


The guru replied, “This world of truth is always here right now and always available. The real question you should be asking yourself is, “What is currently blocking me from seeing the world of truth, and can I see through the current illusion?”


Sam replied glumly, “I already feel like I’m losing it. Once again I feel like I am Sam the photographer and not this cosmic video camera with clear eyes to see the world.”


The guru smiled compassionately. “There’s no problem, your thought of losing it is simply your current illusion—so work with it. Instead of distracting yourself from the illusion, or denying it, dive into it and see that it’s not real. It’s simply a camera trick of your mind. How can you lose something that’s always here right now? Your habitual thoughts are trying to convince you there is some place better than this exact moment and this exact experience. In reality, there is only just now and this experience, and some desired future is just the Master Magician misdirecting you from truth.


“Who is this Master Magician you talk about?” asked Sam.


“He has gone by many names: the devil, Satan, illusion, maya, mind, the small self, the great deceiver, and many other labels. The important thing is to know exactly how “he” operates. He only has two tricks up his sleeve. His first trick is to convince you that now is not really important, and that peace or happiness is to be found at some other time, place, or experience. His second trick is to convince you that there’s a photographer behind the camera, and that he or she needs something that’s not here right now in order to find true peace.”


Sam was mesmerized by the guru’s words. “How do I battle this Master Magician of misdirection?”


The guru explained, “He is too powerful to strike down in direct battle with his many illusions. Yet, he has a weakness. His energy source only comes from your resistance to what is occurring. If you completely allow or surrender to your exact experience in any moment, the Magician dissolves immediately. And when the Master Magician disappears, what’s left is the world of truth and endless peace.”


Sam thanked the guru profusely, or so it may have seemed to an outside observer. Yet, from Sam’s point of view, it felt like one mirror had been placed in front of another, and that each mirror had glimpsed a world of infinite forms of light and love. Having glimpsed this “new” world, the being who previously thought of himself as Sam the camera man felt much lighter than ever before. He joyfully made his way back down the mountain and into the world of light, love, and endless illusions.



Photo by Antonin Duallia on Unsplash


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