The Monk

Silver Prize of the 5th Cyber-Island Photography Contest
Photographer: Qing-Quan Lin
Date and place photos were taken: 2006-2010; Fo Guang Shan


Into this world
The monk took the escalator down. The flower-shaped lights symbolized the world of sensual pleasures; dark shadows, people who were confused and lost in this world. The photo conveys the message that monks should “walk into this world,” engage and enlighten people.



The monk sat still on the roadside. On his back is a sign advertising gold trading and lottery tickets, symbol of money; on the top right corner is a couple, symbol of emotion and lust. Surrounded by these seductions, the monk still concentrates on alms. The picture suggests that a monk should have an unmovable heart in the world of mortals (red dust) and be able to face all the temptations.


Dharma doors are infinite
“Measureless are the Dharma, I vow to master.” Buddhism believes that every sutra is a dharma door and every dharma door is a key to open a closed heart. In order to ferry all sentient beings across the sea of suffering, monks need to study numerous sacred books well.



Palms together
Putting palms together, whispering sutras and mantras, and sincerely worshiping Buddha. Wishing to meet the Buddha nature inside oneself, and wishing to see Buddha and be enlightened when the lotus blossoms. Dedicating one’s accumulated merits to all sentient beings, praying for their liberation from suffering, and praying for their attaining Bodhi.



Who is the one worshiping alone and who is the one being worshiped in this empty Buddhism hall? Who am I and who will be me? True Buddhism emphasizes on one’s Buddha nature inside, not the Buddha idolatry. To kneel down and worship is actually to unfold the Buddha nature in one’s heart.  



Holiness Buddhism  
Countless are sentient beings, I vow to liberate; Endless are afflictions, I vow to eradicate; Measureless are the Dharma, I vow to master; Supreme is the Buddha Way, I vow to attain. These are the Four Vast Vows of a Buddhist. To practice these vows, one liberates self and others, eradicates self’s afflictions, learns self-nature dharma, and attains self-nature Buddha Way.



National Sun Yet-sen University Professor Ning-Yuen Wu stated in Chinese Buddhist Studies, 43:11, page 48-49 (1999.11): the modern society brings us the convenience, but it also gives us worries and problems that belong only to this era. They include “absence of direction”-vast diversity of thoughts and opinions, with for and against views on everything, has resulted in lost rules and standards; “absence of motivation”-extremely colorful society has caused people to lose their self-determination and simply follow blindly; “absence of relations”-strong emphasis on individualization has resulted in feelings of isolation and suspicion; “absence of security”-rapid changes of internal feelings and external environment have caused people to lose the sense of security and stability.

The origin of religions is closely related to the evolution of human history and can be classified into three functions and stages:
1.    Facing natural disasters which they had no control over, human beings in the primitive society had the need to worship some supernatural power so as to release their fear.
2.    Then, religion concepts gradually pervaded in local activities and became the force to integrate social consciousness among citizens.
3.    At this stage, religions provide cognition and explanations so that people in the aftermath of adversity, confronted with all kinds of unknown situations, can find a basis to settle down and live with them.

Eleven years later, Professor Wu’s words still make people think how true these words are.

Religion is a kind of spiritual industry which contains many denominations such as Christianity, Catholicism, Taoism and I-Kuan Tao. In Taiwan, Buddhism is the religion most closely associated with people. Most Taiwanese, without thinking, can recite the names of people or matters involving Buddhism, e.g., Master Cheng Yen, Master Hsing Yun, Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan and Fa Gu Shan (Dhama Drum Mountain). These instinctive responses reflect the intimate relationship between Buddhism and Taiwanese. Therefore, I chose “The Monk” as my topic and selected photos which express meanings, and not documentary photos, to narrate this special occupation.


To view Gold Prize of the 5th Cyber-Island Photography Contest, please go to The Funeral Orchestra.
To view Bronze Prize of the 5th Cyber-Island Photography Contest, please go to An Industry in the Sense of Art: the Movable-type Printing.

Text and images are provided by Exhibition of Cyber Island, Taiwan


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