Photography by Ndoema
I’ve barely stepped foot inside Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. The beauty of this sacred site is overwhelming. As I catch my breath and set out to explore this spectacular temple and architectural marvel (complete with a gold-plated dome topped by a stupa containing over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires and offset by a massive emerald positioned to reflect the last rays of the setting sun), a powerful monk in deep oxblood robes sitting at the steps of one of the golden Buddha temples meets my gaze.
His presence is so incredible that I instinctively reach out for my camera.
As I’m clumsily reaching out for my telephoto lens as fast as I can to attempt to capture him from afar, he suddenly and solemnly waves at me. I think, in a flash, that I might be trespassing and already regret the idea. He insistingly signals me to come forward so I tentatively do. As I approach him apologetically, he points to the camera then looks me straight in the eye and I know… Though there are no words, I know that I am about to receive the ultimate gift. As I adjust the focus on my lens, I can hardly believe the overwhelming power that is coming through. The kind of generosity and exchange I could never have dreamed of nor asked for. A powerful and empowering gift I will cherish forever.