Monks and Tibetans

-- Fire puja at the end of a three year meditation for world peace two months before September 11, Gomang Monastery, India. 2001

I don’t know much about Tibetan Buddhism and I still don’t. There is much to learn about a religion monks spend a lifetime studying and practicing.

Tibetan Monks hold the knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism and Culture. This knowledge is contained in scrolls and other documents but also has been passed down orally from one generation of monks to the next for hundreds maybe even thousands of years.

However, during the last 50 years the Tibetans have found themselves in exile from their home in the Himalayas after the area was claimed and then invaded by Communist China. The Tibetans have rebuilt part of their civilization in India. I was fortunate to be invited as a guest to visit some of these spaces mostly inaccessible to outsiders.

Some of these images were made in Dharamsala, India where the Dalai Lama lives. Dharamsala is a twelve-hour trip from Delhi. The majority of the images, however, were made around Mundgod, India. Mundgod is a flight from Delhi and then a five-hour drive by Jeep driven by monks.

In creating these documents of this culture I was inspired by the
methodology of the FSA photographers. These photographers documented America during the 1930s creating a visual catalog for future generations.

As an outsider to this culture and religion, I found the Tibetans to be gracious hosts.