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Dreams of the World: Buddhist Monk from Angkor (Cambodia)

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Buddhist Monk Tak Tak (left) at Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Complex (Cambodia). Photograph © KIKE CALVO

 This post is the latest in Kike Calvo´s series Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people we meet during our travels.

“I was young the last time I was here. It was, perhaps, 45 years ago” Buddhist monk Tak Tak, 60, said gently as he contemplated the silent magnificence of early morning Ta Prohm temple in Angkor, Cambodia. “There were many more trees, larger plants wrapping around the ancient walls,” said Tak Tak as he gazed at the bas-reliefs and recalled the emotions of the first time he saw the temple as a samaner or novice monk (śrāmaṇera).   While his monastery, Phras Ang Tep, is less than three miles away from Ta Prohm, this is only his second visit to the temple. “Monastic daily life is regimented and rules are to be respected. I go out but only on occasions,” said Tak Tak uncertain, and fairly unconcerned, about the next time he may be able to see again the striking Angkorian World Heritage site that has been standing close to his home for more than eight centuries. While a flock of two million annual tourists rush through the globe to see the ruins, scientists work hard at preserving the structure, and looters try their luck at getting a piece of the divine, Tak Tak knows that inevitably Ta Prohm will continue to change. “Everything is constant change. Everything is flowing. That’s the teaching of impermanence,” said Tak Tak. “My dream is to see more monks in Buddhism. I would like to become a chief in the Theravada Buddhist tradition to guide new generations, to teach them and inspire them to respect the rules of Buddha.”

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  1. Ma. Victoria Solarte
    Bogota - Colombia
    August 27, 2013, 7:25 pm

    He tomado varios talleres de fotografia con Kike y con toda seguridad puedo decirles que mas un excelente fotografo y reportero es un GRAN ARTISTA, eso se “siente” en cada una de sus “piezas”que mas fotos parecen una OBRA DE ARTE porque que transmiten una profunda emotividad y generan un millon de comentarios. Por otra parte, Kike es infinitamente generoso como maestro , comparte todo su conocimiento y sus vivencias como ser humano. Lo que hace de sus talleres algo mucho mas profundo que una clase teorica : TODA UNA EXPERIENCIA DE VIDA, completamente recomendados!

  2. gregory paul fietz
    August 27, 2013, 1:41 am

    I heard the ancient Monks chattering to each other above me at the rear entrance of the Angkor Temple courtyard. Spiritual experience; I tingled from head to toe ; ———-I arrived and walked thru the crowds of International tourists in the temple complex and felt dull and irritated, so I KEPT WALKING till I left their modern vibes and music behind, till I arrived at the Monks rear stone-arch gate in the perimeter wall 300metres from the temple complex THEN SUDDENLY THIS CALM ANCIENT FEELING WASHED OVER ME, THE MONKS SPIRITS WERE EVERYWHERE ABOVE ME FLOATING AND PLAYING AND HAPPY.

  3. Liz Roberts
    Belleville, Ontario, Canada
    August 26, 2013, 10:31 pm

    Kike not only sees with his eyes, but also with his heart as seen in this exquisite photograph… a remarkable storyteller indeed! Thank you for sharing your light with us all so that we too may be taken on your photographic journey!

  4. Hugo Vega Rodríguez
    Santa Marta, Colombia, Sur América
    August 26, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Sensacional foto Kike… transmite mucha paz y mucha inspiración en lo sencillo pero mágico… quiero que sepas que he puesto en práctica muchos de tus consejos y ya he estado viendo los resultados.

    Saludos y hasta pronto!!

  5. Tricia Moran
    New York
    August 26, 2013, 1:42 pm

    What an amazing image !!!
    Spiritual & peaceful……bringing the old and new world together.

  6. Carlee Keppler-Carson
    Palmer Lake, Colorado
    August 26, 2013, 10:47 am

    Having traveled with Kike to Cuba last year it is easy to understand how, in a moment of reflection for these men to open up and share their experience in such a sacred place to him. Kike’s natural eye has lent a beauty to his work here in these ancient temples.

  7. Inda
    La Habana
    August 25, 2013, 10:47 pm

    Un magnífico contraste de color, una locación estupenda y la magia de un buen fotografo, Magnífica foto Kike.
    Siempre te estamos esperando en la escuela,

  8. Donnie Estrada Troetsch
    Boquete Panama Republic
    August 25, 2013, 10:32 pm

    That is a magnificent picture its just great as the old times … classic National Geographic one photo says more than thousand words!

  9. Sandra Arias
    New York City
    August 25, 2013, 10:28 pm

    Peace and harmony reach through dedication. We need more spiritual leaders like Tak Tak. This is a photograph that catches beautifully harmony, balance, and peace. Congratulations Kike Calvo for your beautiful work! Namaste

  10. Vanessa Quintero
    August 25, 2013, 10:10 pm

    Excelente reportaje.
    Te transporta inmediatamente a este hermoso lugar.