Slouching Towards Nirvana

Lea Hoang

2017 - Ongoing

New York, United States

Turning the lens to the spiritual realm, I was hoping to resolve my own crisis of faith in searching for the fundamental meaning and metaphysical experience of practicing Buddhists in America. Reaching nibbāna (Nirvana), or achieving enlightenment is the highest and most ultimate goal of most Buddhist monks and some laymen, but is it a “thing”, a “state”, or a “place” that one could slouch towards? Buddha is unequivocal: nibbāna is the complete relinquishment of any form of attachment, be it emotions, sensory experiences, mental constructions or consciousness. It literally means “extinction” of all life-affirming will manifested as Greed, Hate and Delusion, as such to achieve a form of liberation that exceeds all societal constructions and worldly boundaries, to transcend human suffering and misery of samsara. Steering away from any dominant mode of definition, my photographs aim to carve out figurative spaces where the boundaries between fantasy and reality blur, offering visual propositions that both demand and resist interpretation of Nirvana as "the Island".

"It is the Unformed, the Unconditioned, the End,

the Truth, the Other Shore, the Subtle,

the Everlasting, the Invisible, the Undiversified,

Peace, the Deathless, the Blest, Safety,

the Wonderful, the Marvellous,

Nibbana, Purity, Freedom,

the Island,

the Refuge, the Beyond."

~ S 43.1-44

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  • Skillman, Meditating

  • Vajiradhammapadip Temple, Mt Vernon

  • Bacne, Rockaway Beach

  • A Monk's Bed

  • Tuyen and the Island

  • Retreat Attendee, Bronx

  • Tuyen, Dreaming

  • Dragor, Dressing

  • Dragor, Entering

  • Metta, Temple of Enlightenment

  • Buddha, Bronx

  • Temple of Enlightenment, Bronx

  • Dragor, Sleeping

  • Dragor, Dreaming