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Bains rituels, 2009. Photographed by

They are named Erzulie, Cousin Zaka, Ogoun Feray. They are the lwas in Creole language, the voodoo pantheon of spirits. They are bridges between humans and the Bondye, the Supreme Being viewed as inaccessible by Voodoo believers. Every July, thousands of Haitians take good luck baths in Saut d’Eau. There, catholics give thanks to the Virgin Mary. Voodoo believers bath in a fall to worship Erzulie, the voodoo spirit of love and motherly protector. Some enter into a trance. Candles are placed between the roots of huge trees honored as resting places of the lwas. In Plaine du Nord, Northern Haiti, catholic pilgrims celebrate Saint-Jacques-The Saviour and Voodoo believers Papa Ogoun Feray, the lwa of war. Founding spirit of the revolt of the slaves, Papa Ogoun Feray is praised for its power to fight poverty. His followers take mud baths in the Pool Saint-Jacques and kill in sacrifice red roosters and black bulls. With the faith renewed, they end their pilgrimage to the seaside city of Lemonade and purify their soul and body in the Atlantic waters.

It sticks on the skin and goes into the flesh; from the flesh, it gets into the bones. It’s like an insect on a tree that eats through the bark, into the wood, and then into the core, until finally the tree dies.
We’ve grown up like that. It gets buried deep inside. Our parents taught us grasping and attachment, giving meaning to things, believing firmly that we exist as a self-entity and that things belong to us. From our birth that’s what we are taught. We hear this over and over again, and it penetrates our hearts and stays there as our habitual feeling. We’re taught to get things, to accumulate and hold on to them, to see them as important and as ours. This is what our parents know, and this is what they teach us. So it gets into our minds, into our bones.
When we take an interest in meditation and hear the teaching of a spiritual guide, it’s not easy to understand. It doesn’t really grab us. We’re taught not to see and do things the old way, but when we hear it, it doesn’t penetrate the mind; we only hear it with our ears. People just don’t know themselves.
So we sit and listen to teachings, but it’s just sound entering the ears. It doesn’t get inside and affect us. It’s like we’re boxing, and we keep hitting the other guy but he doesn’t go down. We remain stuck in our self-conceit. The wise have said that moving a mountain from one place to another is easier than moving the self-conceit of people. 

Ajahn Chah

Understanding Dukka - text

Understanding Dukka - audio -read by Ajahn Amaro


Paulina Otylie Surys (nudity)

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What interested you about becoming a photographer?
– There is something beautiful and scary at the same time how the photographs have the ability to imprison reality, change it, or even create a new one. A photographer is a demiurge, who not only creates but also discloses… particpates in other people’s lives, posseses the past captured by him.

Where do you find inspiration to make your photographs?
– I was raised being surrounded by art. Studying fine arts and painting gave me some insight into classic and abstract art. I have a large selection of references ranging from Ancient culture, towards modern literature.

What do you most like to photograph?
– As noted by Jerry Uelsmann, “the camera is a fluid way of encountering that other reality..”. Photographers are naturally divided, according to their own inclinations.. I have never been able to capture the real world; I capture feelings, moods, that which is under the surface.

Who are your favorite photographers?
– Sarah Moon, Irina Ionesco, Paolo Roversi, Helmut Newton, Julia Margaret Cameron, Joel Peter Witkin…

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