I am often asked about which countries I enjoy photographing the most. That’s very hard to answer, but I do enjoy going back again and again to Buddhist countries, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Burma.
The ethics and the aesthetics of Buddhism are melded in a unique way. The vivid color of robes and sacred places contrast with the monochromatic tradition I grew up with.
Every time I have visited a Buddhist monastery, I have seen a playfulness among the monks, a joy in the way they conduct themselves and the way they interact with each other.
As I photographed the picture of the monk and the cat in a monastery in Thailand, it occured to me that all the qualities that I observed – contemplation, serenity, meditation – are ones that are antithetical to the hard-charging, ladder-climbing Western culture.
The Monks have a way of taking something we could consider mundane, and transform it into something sacred.
Monasteries have always been places of refuge for people and animals who have no other place to go. Monks will share whatever they have, no matter how small.
Even though they get merits for helping people in need, one never has the impression that they do it for any other reason other than their good nature, dedication, and hospitality.
Quotations from the Buddha:
“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”
“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”