Re: Questions about my questions??? :)

Kimberley C Falk (kcfst1+@PITT.EDU)
Sat, 13 Jan 1996 23:19:16 -0500

Dear Mr. Barnett,

First of all I would like to say that lack of responses on net groups is
not uncommon as you may suppose. I would not take it personally. People
don't respond for many reasons, and some of them have to do with time
management rather than anything specific to a post or a person.

In response to your query, my only experience with your question about
consciousness being raised in people by viewing a visual medium (such as a
photograph) is among Buddhists in Beijing, China. While I was doing
research in rural north China during 1993-1995, I often "hung out" with
Buddhists at several temples in Beijing. Almost consistently of the
(let's say) 15 extended contacts I had with people informally who trusted
me someone would produce a photograph of some phenomena. These were
commonly photos of stupa or a statue in which the light produced a visual
color spectrum. This was interpreted and explained to me as evidence of
the presence of the diety or as presence of the holiness of the person
pictured (if any) or the place. These images were also used as means to
raise the consciousness of believers (and perhaps of possible believers)
in the power of Buddhism. The people who produced them to share with
others did state they believed in the power of these photos, and treated
them with respect similar to the ways they handled images of the dieties,
holy texts, and religious paraphernalia. This practice of sharing photos
was among people of Tibetan as well as Pure Land Buddhism. As my
experience with this custom is indeed limited, I would not feel
comfortable saying that it is at all generalizable, even within the
Beijing Buddhist community. It's one of those casual contact with a group

Best wishes to you, and hope this helps,

Kim Falk
Doctoral Student
University of Pittsburgh
Department of Anthropology