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The Monk in New York
I began this project in New York with the idea that I believe Buddhism, or the middle way of Buddha, is the journey of each person’s mind observing very tiny feelings and mood for control and cognition of who we are, no matter how this world has changed or how far it has gone. Ever since I was a teenager, when my mind began to distinguish the difference between the essentials of life and sensuality, I have realized how hard it is to deny those unnecessary desires, how hard it is to be a monk. I want to understand how monks restrain their passion in a world full of temptation and defilement. Looking at my own faith, I found no answer; I don’t know what the monk’s life is. In the world of photography, there are so many photographs of monks from the straightforward perspective of faith; we rarely see “life”. And that is what I want to represent, a way of life for people who firmly stand firm in the year of 2000, applying a method discovered and established for more than 2000 years ago: Don’t go too hard or too easy, stay simple.
“Camera or this kind of convenient stuff is just like a gun. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” a monk said.
I am not sure about the appropriate image of the monk’s life in other countries, but some photos in this story are controversial for Thai people. However, I would like to say that I started and ended this story with respect for the subjects. As I mentioned earlier, I do believe that Buddhism is the journey of each person’s insight, and it has never been easy.
Ekkarat Punyatara, was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He studied Photography and Cinematography at Bangkok Technical Campus. After working for two years, including an internship and freelance work at National Geographic (Thai edition), he realized his eyes had become immune to his surroundings, and it was getting difficult to see something new. With a deep interest in Asian culture, especially Thai culture, he decided to move to New York, USA to look for a fresh perspective, and to take his photography to the next level. At present he is waiting for the right time to go back and explore Asia.