I continue to be grateful for the time I’ve had in the 2021 to focus on this project and my personal practice. Despite have very little professional work, I was able to get by financially and continue refining this project have more clarity. I was made my goal of being about to interview 12-15 people per year and visit a few new cities that I hadn’t been to before. In particular, I go the chance to make my way to Crestone, a epicenter of Buddhist retreat centers of a town of 500 residents. Although I only spent a few days there, I positive I will be back for one of Tysokyi Rinpoche’s week long teachings.
Midway through last year, I had some insight on how to organize all the different themes that I was exploring in a way that made a lot more sense but expanded the scope of the project slightly. In short, I have 9 main themes at consists of the 3 Jewels, 3 Stages and the 3 vehicles. By organizing the sub themes around traditional Buddhist concepts, I felt that it was a good on ramp for people new to Buddhism but also familiar to experience practitioners. Previously I stated that the project would focus mostly on lay practitioners but with framework reorganization, I will be interviewing more teachers in various lineages as well as the monastic community. After I sorted out how all the sub themes would fall under the primary themes, it became clear on which aspects of the project I will need to focus on moving forward. This was an important milestone for me as I had struggle how to organize all the interview snippets in way that bound to some logical framework but at the same time, allow people to authentically share their stories.
One of more visually fun photo shots was with Amber. We collaborated on the concept of using a projector to project Tara on her as a expression of visualization practices. I hope to work with this concept more down the line.
From visual standpoint, I’ve clean up how the videos were presented so that it’s easier to watch a series of videos and there are transcriptions from the interviews. I made a bunch of tweaks on how to present the imagery as well but in reality, the website only has 10 precent of all the images I’ve taken for the project. Once I figure out which images will make into the book, I would like to add a photographic narrative to the website.
On the front of personal stories, I haven’t had the chance to really highlight the ‘stars’ of the project. For the most part, the listing on the website of practitioners have been ‘random’ but at some point, I will promote some of the more power stories that I have heard. Although I haven’t been too picky about who I have interviewed for the project, I am finding that I will need to be a lot more selective in this next phase. The challenge of finding a ‘good’ practitioner that can effectively articulate their stories without digressing is quite elusive.
Lastly, as part of this major update, I was excited to share the website to over 100 new sanghas that were part of my big road trip of 2022. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve been on an extended road trip but I have to take advantage current state of affairs. As the map shows, I will be doing a southern loop of the US and will hit at least 7 major cities to find subjects for the project.