This photo from my old collection is probably one of my favorite for inspiring hope. In light of Sunday’s tragedy at the Sikh temple I think we could all use a little hope. This image is from the Buddhist Stuppa in Sedona, Arizona, the items or all offerings different visitors, the uniqueness showing the diversity in prayer. While I don’t believe in Buddhism like my father, or Christianity like my mother, I recognize the good in both of them. I thought it was scary enough when Columbine in the City where my Uncle lived. My cousins new people who were there. That hit close to home, this weekends Temple attack in my own hometown, the city next to my current home, that is, disorientating. I never imagined that the world would ever know where my hometown is. Hearing the boring town you group in mentioned on BBC world news is scary. When we went to Batman last week I commented that it’s good we live in nowhere instead of a big city, we don’t have to worry about scary terrorist attacks, and then this happens. It might be a hate crime, but it’s still a terrorist attack, hateful killing of American Citizens. And As someone who loves to study and absorb different cultures I just do not understand the hate. My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones, and to those who will have to live with the scars caused by a monster. I pray for a world with more peace and cultural understanding.
It’s a new year, and time for new adventures! In 2011 I barely even left the state (I think I went down to Ohare airport once). This year I’m aiming to at least make it to Austin at some point. Hopefully in 2012 a Wings Eye View can show some of America. Until then I will celebrate with some burning incense from the temple of SriChang. These were burning in front of the line of Buddha’s shown in A Buddha A Day.
A shrine in Hokane, Japan
While on our trip to Hokane to view Mt Fuji we spotted this shrine next to one of the train stops. We couldn’t resist getting off to explore on our way home. It was a bit scary getting off the train, not knowing when the last train went by or where exactly we even were on the mountain side. The shrine was fascinating. It was so different from the shrines in Thailand, though I saw some similar themes. The sun was setting and the woods around the area was getting quite dark, giving the whole area a mystical feel. It made me wonder if some of the demons and spirits always seen in occult animme were watching from trees.
The Naga at night.
The picture above is a common temple decoration in Thailand. The large green dragon creature is called a Makara, and the serpents coming out of his mouth are the Naga. It’s really quite amazing how religious mythology travels around Asia, borrowing and reinventing. The makara and the naga are both Hindu originally but like many items from Hindu mythology can be seen making guest appearances in Buddhist practices in other countries. It’s always a humbling experience standing at the steps of a temple looking up at the beasts. It is also a very empowering feeling standing at the top of a temple looking down on the twisting body of such a creature.
The temple in Kanchantaburi, Thailand at night.
I can’t stress enough how beautiful Kanchantaburi was. We were there during Songkran so I did not feel comfortable going to the temple service for a holy event I didn’t understand, so instead I waited outside and took photographs. It was amazing how many stars were out so far away from the cities. I often go out to the country or the state parks in Wisconsin. Yet up in the mountains I felt even more removed from the influences of the city. I was amazed how many stars I was able to pick up on film, the image is a bit grainy but still captures the stillness of the night.
Buddha's in a SriChang temple.
These Buddha’s were lined up in a temple on the island of SriChang. In front of them were seven pots in which you were supposed to drop coins in for good luck. I was told the pots represented the days of the week. One person said you should drop the coins in the day of the week that you were born on. I don’t know which day of the week I was born on off the top of my head so I just followed the lead of the girls before me and went down the line dropping a coin in each pot.
As a side note I will be running a print series of this image, available at
The shrine of the Thai temple in Gaya.
Here are some pictures for an inside look of the Thai temple in Gaya. The shrine not only features Buddha but also many symbols of Thailand including a portrait of the King on the side wall. There were also other tables that contained more pictures of the King. He is very important to the Thai culture and you would be hard pressed to find a temple in Thailand that does not honor him as well. On the other walls however traditional Thai style gave way to more traditional Indian style of decorating. The walls are painted with murals depicting the stories of Buddha in an Indian stylized form. On the back wall is the a story of bringing Buddha and his teachings to Thailand. It seems that in this story they load up a boat to sail towards what is seen background a the a city of the Thai Royal Palace (Bangkok). Yet a storm breaks out and the boat sinks. In the end Buddha is saved and carried to safety by a Goddess so that his teachings can spread through Thailand.
Loading the ship to sail for Thailand.
The back wall mural, painted in an Indian style, at the Thai temple in Gaya.
A close up of Buddha being carried to safety by a Goddess at the Thai temple in Gaya.
Thai Temple in Bhodagaya
Along the Buddhist pilgrimage there are four main points. At those spots (as well as many others) other Buddhist countries have built temples in the area to honor these spots and give pilgrims from their region a place to stop. Thailand has lots of these temples. According to the Indian tour guides Thai tourism to that area has been becoming very popular in the last few years. The temple in Gaya was where we went first so that some of are party could become monks. The Thai style roofs are easily recognizable amongst the skyline of temples as a symbol of home for Thai natives.
Roof of the Thai temple in Gaya