“I step outside; the light hurts my eyes. It takes me back to my days in the darkroom, hours developing images to then emerge from utter concentration and reinsert myself into the real world. The memory quickly fades. I didn’t come out of a darkroom, I came out of a monastery’s kitchen, and what waits for me outside is not the real world but my friend, right in the middle of the wild, holding an electric razor. He throws one quick look at me and I recognize an unspoken question. “Are you ready?”. He knows I have no answer, emptiness only. The buzzing starts and, as it gets closer to me, I focus on the falling leaves, colored on one side and completely white on the other. The frozen air reaches my scalp and I know I’m lighter with every strand that hits the ground. The buzzing stops and we walk towards the five bald men dressed in black that wait under the red tree. My head is on fire. One of the men stands up elegantly and lifting one finger prepares to tell me what I already know: allowed to stay. As he speaks, his hand follows the finger and becomes a silhouette dancing in the sky. I look at his feet and wish I had a camera. Fallen leaves carpet the soil leaving not one inch on sight like thousands of white butterflies sleeping on the mountain, the moon rising but a reddish trace of the sun still hiding and, for a few seconds, I cannot remember life before I came here.”
- November 19th, 2016, end of Autumn practice
“The contradiction so puzzling to the ordinary way of thinking comes from the fact that we have to use language to communicate our inner experience, which in its very nature transcends linguistics.” - D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism
A while ago, photographic curiosity took me to a small, self-sufficient Buddhist monastery. A temple located deep in the mountains of Hyōgo Prefecture, in Japan. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would become a resident and eventually end up getting ordained as a lay practitioner named Gesshin. Not knowing about any kind of meditation or monastic life, I arrived just wanting to photograph. I quickly realized this approach was wrong so I forgot about my camera and concentrated on meditation and duties. The temple became my home as I dived completely into Zen practice. During free days, holidays, and special occasions I took photographs.
This body of work is an ode to the practice of Zen. It is not linear or narrative, it is the direct transmission of an inner experience. The photographs are impressions that go beyond rational thinking and try to pass on something that is not within the realm of expression.