by Lara Braitstein Volume 25, Issue 11-12 / November 2021 2 minutes (259 words)

After fifty years of filming this and that here and there
You woke up one morning and there was no camera there

But you were there
as a camera ON
Like a mirror reflecting all that arises
All sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, emotions, sensations
All free to come and go
No need to point a camera at any of them
Like the great sky allowing the birds to fly as they wish
Like the great ocean allowing fish to swim at their will
all coming all going
The camera stays on
No need to pick your shots
No need to adjust
No need to record
This is not Shahin`s camera
Its camera is Shahin

- Jiun, March 11, 2021

Just two days before Shahin passed away, his close friend Jiun Varant Arslanian sent him this text. It was sent with the intention that it be used as support for meditation. Jiun is head monk at Shōgen-ji Zen monastery in Japan, where he has lived for the past 16 years. Shahin and Jiun were friends from the time they first met in Montreal close to 20 years ago. With a shared interest in the workings of the mind, perception, communication, meditation and Buddhism, it was an easy friendship to maintain despite the geographical separation. Everyone who knew Shahin personally, knows that he recorded just about everything and that his identity was fully integrated with his vocation as a filmmaker. With this meditation which can clearly also read as a poem, Jiun gently takes the camera from Shahin’s hands.

- Lara Braitstein


Lara Braitstein is Associate Professor of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. Her areas of research interest include Indian and Tibetan/Himalayan Buddhist literature and historiography. She is author of Saraha’s Adamantine Songs (2014), a translation and literary analysis of a set of three long esoteric poems composed in the 9th century. She is also the translator of Shamar Rinpoche’s book Path to Awakening (2009 and 2011). From 2013-18 she was Principal of the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (New Delhi). She has been a regular visiting professor at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (Kathmandu), and in 2018 she was the UBEF Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Sydney.

Volume 25, Issue 11-12 / November 2021 Artist’s Page   poetry   shahin parhami