Blue Cliff Monastery
Pine Bush - May 6, 2012
We had the pleasure of photographing Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. “Pleasure” because besides the monastery being beautiful, we also met a pleasurable woman there.

When Vi and I arrived at the parking lot and were unsure how to proceed or if photography was even allowed, I approached a woman I saw coming out of the meditation hall and asked.

Immediately she beamed me a smile (she was already smiling and waving on my approach) and said, yes, we can even go inside the meditation hall to take pictures. There was a stream on the other side of the road, she said, and had we arrived earlier we would have witnessed an event (or activity--I forgot what she called it) because everyone had just left.

Without being asked she introduced herself--her name was Carol--and we did the same.

With pretty much a blanket permission to photograph the place save for some private quarters where the monks slept, Vi and I proceeded to take pictures. As is often the case when enthralled, Vi and I parted ways and were immediately lost in the beautiful surroundings taking pictures of this and that, here and there, near and far.

The Blue Cliff Monastery is a place in the lush Hudson Valley where one may “learn and cultivate the art and practices of engaged Buddhism through mindful living.” Mindfulness, according to Buddhist practice, “is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment”. One need not be bogged down by past events nor by anxieties for the future. Instead one should live and feel alive for the present moment--for every passing moment--whatever one happens to be doing. Only living in the present can bring happiness that is real.

Nowadays, although in some parts of the world photography is still well-regarded as a leisure activity--indeed in the part of the world I came from it’s a pastime by the well-to-do and the poorer peoples are only too willing to have their pictures taken even if they will never see the pictures themselves--more and more photography is being eschewed in many parts of the U.S. This in part because of privacy laws and the money-making potential involved with photography. Truly, the world is becoming more and more sophisticated.

And so whenever Vi and I encounter a place where values are more-or-less traditional and happiness uncomplicated--as we feel they should--it feels magical and we feel privileged that we can only hope to reciprocate by being respectful.

I suppose that’s another meaning of “mindfulness”--to be mindful of others and of their sincere efforts in keeping their place free and open that to tread upon it I should do so lightly and peacefully as if it were my own.

More information about the Blue Cliff Monastery may be found on their website at

Click on a picture to enlarge.
BACK TO: Home Gallery