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A Monk's Blessing

I have always been fond of traveling and want to make sure that my children not only have the opportunity, but also the desire to see how people around the world have adapted to live their lives. When my daughter was a wee three months old we flew to Hawaii to visit relatives and give the baby her first taste of living off the fat of the land. My wife had spent many summers there and she told me about a Buddhist temple in the Honolulu mountain tops where anyone is welcome to visit and join their weekly meditation jams.

We arrived fashionably late and I had to sprint up the stairs and into the hall, making for an interesting time as the monk was instructing everyone to focus on their ever slowing breaths. I used to meditate regularly so it didn’t take me long to calm down and slide into Lala Land. I will go into more specifics on the actual meditation session in a later post, but after it was done I met up with my family outside as the sun was setting.

We spent a few minutes walking around and I kept looking for interesting things to take pictures of when I saw a restricted-looking section of the temple that caught my interest. There is something about restricted access that makes you want to go in even more, right? Well, I was in the middle of planning out my trespass strategy when a monk walked up to me seemingly from no where. I looked at his face and it was clear that he knew exactly what I was up to. His calm and friendly gaze held a very powerful sense of knowing that made me feel somewhat transparent and defenseless. I introduced myself and he did the same but I did not quite catch his name. I thought he said it was “Whoameye” but he kept looking at me and saying it over and again. I finally realized that he was actually asking me, “Who am I?” I was a bit confused by his question so I just repeated it and he said, “Exactly, this is what you should ask yourself every day.” He proceeded to tell us how important it is to keep asking this question of yourself and gradually peel away the layers of what you think you are to get closer and closer to the core. “Am I, what I wear? No. Am I what I feel or think? No. Keep asking, keep going … ”

He then told us that he was on his way to the main temple to do his daily prayer and asked if we would accompany him. I was ecstatic! We followed him to this great temple with elaborate ceilings, wooden floors, candles and a Buddha shrine, and sat down along the wall while he began to pray. I was expecting a contemplative moment of silence but instead he began to chant. Buddhist chanting is basically a rhythmic vocalization of prayer and although I did not understand the actual words, I understood the feeling of devotion in what he was singing. When he was done, he came over to my wife and asked our daughter’s name. He then said, “She is 98 days old, right?” He was only two days off … she was exactly 96 days old at the time. He said he wanted to dedicate a prayer to her and then he went back and stood in front of Buddha and began another chant. After he was done, he came to us and looked at our little girl and said, “She is very blessed and will have no hardships in this life.” Thank you, Whoameye! =)

About This Photo

I did not have the proper lens on my camera for the low light conditions inside the temple and I was shooting hand held so the photo had a bit of noise. The colors were warm and interesting, but I decided to process this in black and white because it took care of most of the noise problem and also gave it some nice contrast and definition. I also like the timeless feel of black and white photography and feel that it lends itself to this photo.

Japan Photo Charity Update

We concluded our first successful photo charity with a total of $100.10 in profits and donated the proceeds to Doctors Without Borders to aid Japan. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this and everyone who sent their thoughts out to the people of Japan.

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