I was going to rant today. I was going to blast the inequities, rail against the injustices, bemoan the poverty, reveal the residue of pain and misery from such lovely works of man as the Vietnam War, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and the failed Communist economic policies that have left great swaths of South East Asia struggling with life long poverty, especially in the countryside, where families work in near-feudal conditions to raise rice and children whose future is as limited as their use of electricity and access to antibiotics.

But then I visited Angkor Wat and the many other jungle temples on the outskirts of Siem Reap, and…I…well…I just let it all go.

Classic Angkor

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The scale of these monuments is impossible to express unless you have seen them and walked among them. Their massive structure, their mile upon mile of delicate stone carvings is simply staggering.

Taken together they cover a space larger than the city of Paris. But they are far larger in aspiration than any measurement in space or time.

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Here is what humankind can do on a grand day, here is what dreams are made for. Here the goodness of the human spirit is expressed in the colossal and delicate edifices of intricately sculpted stone. Here, in the largest religious monument on the face of the Earth, the intimate relationship between who we are and who we want to be is made evident…the us and the glory of them.

My mother often used to quote lines of poetry to illustrate this or that point she wanted to make. I think now of a favorite of hers from Robert Browning:

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what is a heaven for?

So, yes, the vicious horrors of the Kymer Rouge are a very recent memory here in Cambodia with active members of that regime now in power as the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers. And yes, the common people of Viet Nam still suffer from the legacy of decades of war and centuries of foreign oppression. All that is true and more ugliness, too.

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Yet, the temples beckon. They ask you to see the beauty of this land, to see the smiles of its wonderful people, the generosity of their hearts. The temples ask you to look up, to look inside, to find there what we have forever been seeking in our better selves.

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To see a very small sampling of the glorious temples and their remarkable carved stone images click the link below. As I said above, it’s hard to appreciate the scale of these constructions and to comprehend the amount of work that was done to create the innumerable images that grace virtually every rock face. I hope these pictures give you some sense of the grandeur of the temples of the Angkor area. Some of my pictures are large files and may take a moment to resolve on your screen and reveal their detail depending on you internet link speed. Their worth being patient for. Thanks!

Angkor Temples

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to Us And The Glory Of Them

  1. Gary Maxwell says:

    Amazing Pics. Thanks for sharing.

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