Photographing Sacred Places in Paris and Beyond
Our search for the sublime leads us on the journey of ultimate discovery. Along that road we experience pain, hardship and loss together with our share of love, joy and bliss. I've included an image of a lovely stained glass window from a chapel adjoining the spectacular Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris, France to draw attention to the journey that all meaning-seeking folk undertake throughout their life.
For some the search is conducted through extreme physical activity. Others search for experience through travel; art making or appreciation; or through the practice of (man-made) religion.
It's particularly interesting to me when these three areas of endeavor are combined. Personal pilgrimages, whether conducted alone or as part of a mass migratory community, are examples of such endeavor. Conversely, so-called holy wars are, to my mind, an abomination.
A Word on Bias
This site, dedicated to the life's work of my parents, Fred and Mary Guy, is an educational photography site. As I'm the proprietor and primary content producer (words and images) its inevitable that my own feelings, opinions, biases and beliefs will appear throughout that content.
My Own Views
It is not my intention to push any one particular faith on this site. Why would I, education in the arts and travel have taught me that there are many ways by which we can experience the sublime. However, it's inevitable that my words and photographs will reflect my own personal journey.
Along the way I've been exposed to and, in part, have been influenced by numerous religious practices, rituals and belief systems. They are all amazing and I've been privileged to visit sacred sites; witness profound events (e.g., Tibetan Sky Burials, religious festivals and pilgrimages); explore cities, both ancient and modern; and traverse unbelievably beautiful landscapes throughout the world.
But what is travel without people, those we meet along the way and those we leave behind. My travels have allowed me to meet and photograph so many wonderful people far removed from my normal, everyday experience. These meetings have contributed to and expanded my own world view.
And What of Truth
One thing I know for certain: truth lies at least as much in personal experience and understanding as it does in formalized, man-made belief systems. And, while its possible to find guidance, inspiration and hope within formal systems, it is in the subtleties of grey, rather than in black and white dogmatic notions, where ultimate beauty exists.
It is understandable that within our complex contemporary world many folks look for understanding within simplistic doctrines written long ago in worlds largely alien to our own. And then there's the new crop, some of which may even have been created as a business to control and profit from the masses. But that's not to say they are necessarily evil. We all find meaning where we can.
I have no truck with anyone else's belief system, so long as it doesn't try to change my own view or subjugate people due to their gender, creed or religion. To deny women personal freedom and education is surely one of our world's greatest sins.
Beware False Gods
And then there's Facebook, Google and the like. Great opportunities exist for all within the world of the internet and social media. But, as you know, this is a beast that is rampant and has the potential for as much harm as good. We all need to be vigilant to "Keep the Bastards Honest". And I use there a quote, out of context, from former Australian maverick politician, Senator Don Chipp.
While true enlightenment occurs within, it is the outside world that provides us with the experiences from which we draw our greatest inspiration and reflection. So, for those of us who live relatively comfortable lives, get out and see the world. Soak it up so as to better understand your own place within it.
I feel that to find true happiness we need to better appreciate our own good fortune and then do something that makes a positive contribution to the less fortunate. So my recipe is to heal yourself, heal the world. Finally, while it's a little early in the year, let me quote two of our worlds greatest free spirits, manifested into one.
John: "Happy Christmas Yoko."
Yoko: "Happy Christmas John."
Ultimately John Lennon and Yoko Ono found meaning, as one, through love. And if that's the religion you follow, you're probably way ahead of the rest of us.