Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Ajahn Brahm: Mindfulness is more than you think

From my vantage point about 50 feet from the stage, here are some photos from Ajahn Brahmavamso's 2½-hour talk at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Kampar Road, Penang, last evening. By my estimate, easily 400 to 500 people must have packed the hall at the Temple to hear the Bhante.

If the pictures look too grainy and noisy to you, it's because I was pushing my little camera to its practical limits: ISO set at 200, zoom set at its telephoto range most of the time, shutter speed often reduced to 1/5th second, aperture as wide as possible but f4.5 is never wide enough, hand steadied by holding it against the wall. All the tricks I could think of were used but the limitation was, of course, the camera. It was never meant for such extreme use.

First, a wide-angled shot of the A. Pemaratana Hall at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple. That's on the top floor of the building behind the main worship hall. One aspect of his talks is that he is able to attract people of all religions and races, excluding (naturally) the Malays and Muslims. I saw a number of Indians, Ceylonese and non-Asians in the audience.

Next, a closer look at Ajahn Brahm sitting beneath the serene statue of Lord Buddha.

Lastly, the Bhante in a jovial mood, regaling us with his anecdotes and lessons. The uninitiated may think that Buddhist talks revolve entirely around the religion but it's not true. There's no doubt that the lessons all point back to Buddhist practice eventually but they are mostly down-to-earth practical advice that is so relevant to us during these turbulent times.

That's us with Ajahn Brahm after his talk. I hope that he'll be back again with us next year!

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