a close encounter with Buddhist monks
Project info

Nyana and Tong are two monks who decided to walk away from the worldly life for very different reasons, but with the same desire to find fulfilment and spiritual enlightenment through the teachings of Buddha.
Nyana was born as the son of a very wealthy Sri Lankan family, but realized very young that money was a constant source of conflict in his family's life. At the age of 18 Nyana became a monk himself against the strong opposition of his family. Today, 15 years later, he still believes it's the best decision he has ever made.
Tong, 26 years old, has become an ordained monk about a year ago, after serving in the Thai military as part of a commando unit. What he has been through during his time in the military left him unable to go back to civilian life, so he turned to Buddha to appease his tormented spirit and find peace and happiness again.

Nyana and Tong live in a small temple 30 minutes outside of the city of Chiang Mai. They invited us to spend some days with them and even allowed us to set up a studio in their temple. Many of the other monks also agreed to being photographed. A selection of 6 portraits is shown here.

The highlight of the days spent in their company was a hike up their meditation mountain. The monks climb the 1500 steps to the top of this mountain almost every day, and meditate there, sometimes over 8 hours in a row.