Mr. Brigish’s Journey to the East

In 2008, South African-born documentary photographer and West Tisbury resident Alan Brigish set out on a journey that would become Breathing in the Buddha, a recently-published book that serves as an image-driven chronicle of everyday Buddhist life across Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos. This Saturday, May 29, Mr. Brigish will share some of the experiences he had along the way, illustrated with photographs and video clips, at the West Tisbury library at 4 p.m. The talk is free.

Two stories run alongside each other in Breathing in the Buddha. One is about the lives of ordinary people living in some of the most densely populated places in the world. The other story uses those everyday moments, which veer from the familiar and mundane to the alien and exotic, as teaching points in introducing Western readers to the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, concepts that have long rested at the core of Buddhist thought and practice.

In examining this most ancient religion through its popular contemporary manifestations, a distinct linkage becomes apparent between what Westerners would consider a poor quality of life set within a world of abject poverty, and the power of belief in an ancient doctrine, Mr. Brigish says. “I discovered and explored a shocking truth: that the contentment and joy that go along with Western ideas of Nirvana seem to exist, in some abundance, in worlds in which most of us would never choose to live.”

One hundred per cent of profits made from sales of Breathing in the Buddha go to educational projects in Asia. For details on Saturday’s talk, call the West Tisbury library at 508-693-3366.