Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No thought

I was resting comfortably in the living room the day after I hung my Camerawork Gallery show. I was pretty much hammered. Knackered, I think the British call it. It was a very emotional thing to hang 25 Palladium prints and to step back and view it all. It's difficult to take it all in at one look.

As I was sitting there feeling worn out from the 6 months of preparation, image selection, printing, matting, and working with the gallery curator, I let the mind drift and cut it loose from any moorings where it usually docks. The living room is long-ish and slightly narrow. The mind can make weird associations. This mind thought about how it felt when visiting the Sri Gopalaswami Temple just outside Bandipur in southern India last March.

An engineering manager colleague and I paid a visit to the God Krishna just as a family came in to pray and receive His Darshan. Three pujaris (I think they call them archicas, or something similar in Karnataka State) were chanting and waving ghee filled lamps in front of the God.

It was stiflingly hot inside the small low ceilinged temple. My colleague and I were stuffed in tight with the family into the Sanctum Santorum. At one point as the chanting, praying, singing and worship was reaching a peak, one of the pujaris motioned us to make a clear path from the eyes of the God to the doors of the temple. Everyone stepped against the wall so Krishna, now awakened, could view the world. It was incredibly moving to see the tears in the women's eyes as they sang their songs. It was fascinating to watch as the men bowed their heads and prayed their prayers.

What struck me as I sat in the living room half a world away from that beautiful moment of devotion in India was the silence of the God. Unable to do much other than just sit there, I watched as the mind made it's various associations and stilled into contentment. In silence was something intangibly profound and just out of reach in it's incredible depth.

I sat quietly for awhile to feel the silence as I remembered the God, the family, the small temple sitting high on a hill. I looked out on the world, through the front window, out over the street, and up the hill to a beautifully clouded sky.

I wondered if this is what my India colleagues meant when they said that the Gods and Devotees silently watch the world. This, even when carved from stone. This, particularly when they have been imbued with the devotional energies that we sometimes call Mantra. This, regardless of whether we humans are there to witness silence or not.