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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
22 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 5 in focus Hong Kong, 1975 Three years ago, the Dalai lama appointed nicholas vreeland abbot of Rato Monastery, making him the first westerner to hold the position of abbot at an important Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Vreeland reflects on the path—and the cameras—that led him there. the age of thirteen, spending as much time photographing and in the darkroom as my school allowed—maybe more time than was permitted. I wasn’t a particularly good photographer, but I devoted myself to it with passion, working for professional pho- tographers each summer. I went on to film school and had no doubt I’d devote my life to photography and filmmaking. Do any of us really know how we arrived where we are today? People often tell me that it must have demanded a great leap—of faith, of courage—to become a monk and devote my life to the Buddhist path. How- ever, there was no leap; there were just little steps along an unmarked path called life. Our lives don’t proceed along an orderly course. I was a photographer from no ordinary abbot PHOTO | priscilla rattazzi