This photo was taken near Siem Reap within the Angkor Wat complex. This object in the front right half of the photo is a Buddhist stupa dating from the 12th century, a burial marker or memorial not much different from a modern tombstone. As far as stupas go, this one is rather plain in structure, perhaps due to the fact that the site has suffered over the centuries. The base of this stupa, and most Buddhist stupas, is square in shape with the four sides oriented with the four cardinal directions. The stupa has five elements including the base which represents the earth. The structure rising out of the base symbolizes water, fire, wind, and the void. For more information on the stupa, I will leave it to you to do the research rather than risk making incorrect statements that would miss the real significance of the stupa in Buddhist thought. When I took this photo, I took it with a simpler thought in mind, that of letting it resonate with my psyche. It is enough for my purposes to be aware of the basic symbolism of the stupa.
One of the important points that I omitted talking about above was the fact that within the stupa are artifacts related to an individual. For me, this was vital. The stupa becomes a container for the individual. Images such as this one can lead one back to looking at self from a different point of view. I, like this stupa, am grounded in the world to which I was born, a product of the earth taking from that earth every day and returning bits back to the earth everyday without thought. In the end, I will add my elements back into the earth from which my body arose. My my body is both mineral and water and it is the water which serves as the medium in which the elements of the earth come together to form life, not much different that the amniotic sea within a womb serves as the container in which life is generated. This life is an unconscious life. With the fire of the sun, being born and striving to survive, consciousness develops, consciousness of self and other. It is the interactions of self with the world and with others that eventually lead to an awareness of spirit, something beyond the prosaic aspects of living. One knows it is there and can only feel the spirit indirectly, not much different that wind and air. One knows that air exists though it isn’t seen or felt too often, only when the air stifles, freezes or assaults. The awareness of spirit seems to point beyond to something to big to name, yet at the same time, having no properties that would allow us to validate its existence. In the stupa, that is the void. In me that is the ONE / SELF that contains all that is and all that isn’t; all that is possible as well as impossible,
It started out as a simple photograph. Yet, the symbols the image evokes are so deep that I don’t have the words to communicate the numinousness, the fullness of the symbol. It’s time to take a few more photos in my search for self, for consciousness.