El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller

Posts from the ‘Thoughts About Our World’ category

Cages Of Our Configuration

We are trapped within a variety of cages of complexity and ideas, to which some of us will remain forever shackled. Each cage is uniquely finessed for each inmate. Some are permitted to look out beyond the bars of their cage. Others have a dark curtain draped over their cage. Some have no bars on their cage, but stay within it, regardless. Others are chained to the cage, but have stepped outside of it, afraid to step back in. Occasionally, there are those who fly freely within and outside of the cages. And the rare ones get to soar beyond the room of cages itself towards complete, immaculate liberation…

A Japanese Bird Of Prey In Flight
Words & Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Stream Of Consciousness

We are each unique configurations in which consciousness expresses itself. Consciousness is without definition, but is shaped by form, just as water is shaped by the geography of a river it passes through. The differences and sense of separation are illusory, as water always remains water, consciousness always remains consciousness.

The Sun Setting Over The Mekong In Laos
The Sun Setting Over The Mekong In Laos
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Against The Flow

Humans have to get over the mistaken, ego-centric belief that we are invincible. Nature permits us the right to live, but equally, could snuff us out in a wink.

There are processes going on far greater than ourselves, and by not flowing within the parameters of these processes, we have become an irritant. We are dirt in the cogs, and as a result, we have harmed our planet and we are harming ourselves, because of our myopic shortcomings.

Fishing Near Lake Inle, Burma
Fishing Near Lake Inle
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Changing Our Ways

I just scrolled through all my posts on Facebook the past few days, and I felt sad. There is so much unnecessary cruelty in the world. I try my best to bring awareness, so that people with voices will speak out. We all have to speak out! Enough violence! Enough abuse of the planet! Enough greed! Enough hate! Enough war! Enough prejudice! Enough! Enough! Enough!

Unless you have been anaesthetised, I think we all share in a very palpable fear that we, as humans, have not made the best decisions for our future. There is both an equal amount of frustration, apathy and confusion that is clouding us from making the bold decisions that we need to make, to bring a future suitable for our grandchildren. There is no time to lose, and we need to be firm in our commitment to each other, regardless of creed, to build bridges between those we feel do not understand us. We must be self-aware and see our own mistakes equally to the mistakes we see in others. We must all accept that we are flawed, but there is always another sunrise upon which to build an improved, better world.

Vision, compassion and wisdom are not some folksy terminology: They are paramount expressions of noble human activity. ACTIVATE THEM!

Shifting Sahara Sands
Shifting Sahara Sands
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Moment

In a brief moment,
I peered out upon the stars
And knew that we were one.
That seeming separation
And that vast distance between us
Was as relevant as non-existence.
That I was never ever alone
And even “I” was mere illusion.
For in that passing, fleeting second
I realized time was just delusion.
Observing the cosmic splendor
I remained humble in ecstatic fervour.
Recognizing momentarily
To appreciate all that is sacred
And to exist without burden.

Sunrise On The Nile
Sunrise On The Nile
Photography & Words by El-Branden Brazil

Our Beliefs

Unless we know something to be 100% true or 100% untrue, it is better to be open-minded, neither believing nor non-believing, but always curious and asking questions. It makes for a much more interesting life, allowing an engagement with the magic of mystery to manifest.

Let me also add, that I have no interest or business trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking about anything. I certainly am not arrogant enough to think that my thoughts are any more right than someone else’s. We are all on our individual journeys, trying to get through life, as well as understand it. The conclusions we reach are ours alone.

Lighting Incense At A Hong Kong Temple
Lighting Incense At A Hong Kong Temple
Photography & Words by El-Branden Brazil

Accepting An Impermanent Universe

In the process of change comes uncertainty. For some, this is a positive opportunity for development, progress, creativity and fresh ideas. For others, it produces anxiety, disturbance and fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. Those who fear change will try to do whatever they can to retain the status-quo they feel most comfortable in. The reality is that this is pointless and in contrast to a universe that is in constant flux. Nothing remains the same.

It is far better to accept the inevitability of change, whether it be in society or the leaves on a tree, or even the eventuality of death. The processes of birth, decomposition and renewal are all about us daily to observe and learn.

Likewise, holding onto myths of nationalism, ethnicity and so on, to the point where violence is even applied to protect them, is folly behaviour in extreme. It is like trying to retain the petals of a flower in a typhoon: The inevitable will happen, whether we like it or not. Change will come, and we had best learn to adapt and flow with it, rather than to resist.

Granite is a strong natural material, but over time, it will be reduced to nothing. As an ancient proverb says, it is better to be bamboo that bends in the wind, rather than bamboo that does not.

A Lotus Blooms At A Japanese Zen Temple
A Lotus Blooms At Japanese Zen Temple
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Illusion Of Separation

Great wisdom tells us repeatedly that concepts of “I”, “you”, “we”, “they” are irrelevant. They are illusory and divide us, creating frictions where there should be none. We need to get past labels of differentiation and move towards what unifies us and what cultivates our awareness of our shared humanity. Only together can we overcome the very serious threats that we share, such as global warming, poverty, war and famine.

To be truly compassionate is to see ourselves in others.

Dawn Prayers On The Shore Of The Ganga
Dawn Prayers On The Shore Of The Ganga
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Human Rights: An End To Struggle?

Struggle comes from not having the requisites to live well. Human rights are a barrier to hopefully protect people from the need to struggle.

As we all know, there are many expressions of struggle, some of which include extreme violence. If we can remove the struggle of ALL communities, perhaps we can remove the need for violence. This is why a universal application and acceptance of human rights is vital.

Human rights are not a convenience or a luxury for a few, they should be applied universally to all. Unfortunately, there are very big hurdles to be overcome for this ideal to be achieved.

In every country, every community and every ethnic group around the world, there are good and bad people. We have to accept this reality, but try our best to be one of the good people in whatever community we belong. We should be bridge-builders encouraging communication, banishing misunderstandings and encouraging a shared, mutual understanding of what human rights mean for everyone.

A Young Mother Begging In Yangon
A Young Mother Begging In Yangon, Burma
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Girl With The Scorpion Tattoo

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Khaosan Road, Bangkok – Photography by El-Branden Brazil

As I sat eating a meal at one of the small restaurants on Khaosan Road in Bangkok, a Japanese girl of about 25 years of age passed me by. Her hair was brushed back and tied in the style that is so prevalent of young travellers there. I could not help noticing behind her ear was a tattoo of a scorpion, and I wondered what the tale was behind it, and how she could possibly conceal it enough, so as not to damage any career path back in Japan, where tattoos are a taboo.

My imagination was sparked, conjuring up a tale about the day she decided to have it done and what followed since. It goes something like this:

One year ago…

‘A scorpion. Yeah, I like this one,’ Megumi pointed out to the Thai tattooist.

‘Behind the ear?’ he replied, ‘Are you sure about that?’

‘Yes. We only live once, right?’

The body artist started up a CD of hardcore Techno, and a rush of fear and excitement pulsed through her. As the needle scraped her skin, her boyfriend continued to encourage her by telling her that what she was doing was cool, rebellious and so very Khaosan Roadesque, as he lay beside her, while having his own tattoo etched upon him. Forever, they would be part of the global backpacking cult of tattooed sun-worshippers.

‘Daijobu, Megumi-chan. Daijobu,’ he repeatedly reassured her in Japanese, wincing each time the needle touched his skin.  He felt reborn, alive and transformed.

Once back at Narita airport in Japan, the idealised rebellion that seemed so very right on holiday, quickly became a nightmare, as people stared and pointed at the two travellers.  On the train into Tokyo from the airport, they sat next to a mother with an infant on her lap.  The woman stared them up and down disapprovingly, shielding her child’s eyes, before quickly fleeing to another seat further down the carriage.

During the time since returning, Megumi has spent most of the past year obsessively trying to conceal the scorpion image from her parents and co-workers. Her long black hair luckily curls passed her ears enough to hide it. Unfortunately, she suffers now from chronic self-consciousness, and has developed a very odd habit of continually pulling her hair forward at the side.

At night time, she uses paper glue to stick hair over the offending spot, so that it does not accidentally reveal itself to her conservative mother, who awakens her each day. She tries desperately to always lay on her left side.

Her ex-boyfriend, now long gone, has been less fortunate, as it soon became apparent that a tattoo of a bright pink Gandhi on his forehead was going to swiftly bring an end to his career as an accountant. He is now unemployed and plays a didgeridoo in Ueno Park, dreaming of when he can earn enough money to return to Thailand for an image of Bob Marley on his neck.