It is possible, but never optimum, to reflect on a country as entirely a political state. When we do, we forget every country is individual, with amazing culture, geography, history—and thousands of people for whom what might be occurring politically is not representative of their lives or beliefs. This is especially true in countries such as Myanmar, where civil war has raged for three years and the humanitarian crisis is real.
At the time many years ago that I made this image, I was photographing mostly nuns and monks who had given up their materialistic, secular ways of living. They had turned to a spiritual space and centered their lives on hospitality and kindness that far surpassed political acts to the contrary. I recognized so clearly—because they taught me to see it—how we might avoid adopting an us-versus-them mindset. When people turn to enlightenment and away from the dark corners of materialism and war and control, all eyes are open to life’s beauty.
To look at length at this image and allow it to enter your soul is to know the temple as a place in which to elevate the spirit. It is a place to be open, loving, generous, reflective. If a person cannot be as fortunate as I was and travel to Myanmar, it is possible to visit the temple within. Gods and spirituality do not reside exclusively in churches, temples or houses of worship. Our spirit, our minds and our bodies are vessels in which goodness and love also reside. We can experience a sense of oneness with others when we practice and make unity a priority. These three young monks walk in that spiritual space every day and in the physical act, they remind us to take the same walk in our minds.