"Since Buddhism is a part of daily life for most of its adherents, it is, willy-nilly, entangled in the world, as a lotus grows out of mud," Pico Iyer writes in the essay that accompanies deForest W. Trimingham's remarkable photographs of the places where Buddhism is practiced today. Trimingham traveled to remote regions of Tibet, where tattered prayer flags hang tangled on crude poles in lonely Himalayan mountain passes, as well as to a Shambhala center in Colorado, where American Buddhists practice Zen archery. He has visited some of the most beautiful places in the world-the temple compound of Pagan in Burma, ninth-century shrines in Java, a meditation garden near Kyoto. His photographs capture the essence of Buddhist life in all its diversity, "in part," Pico Iyer writes, "because they are so inescapably human, even with their lyricism, and in part because so many of them spin like a mandala with all the whirling energies of Buddhist devotion, its reds and golds, its glowing statues, its ornately carved doorways that seem to open onto a world of candles and sutras and scroll paintings teeming with forces both wrathful and benign."
The book was conceived to be read like a Buddhist scroll. But even if the reader starts in the middle or at some completely arbitrary point, he will get a sense of the serene heart of Buddhism-om, the universal hum of all and nothing.