Monday, August 31, 2009

Wanted: A Real Leader

An Open Letter to Our President:

When there's 5 seconds left on the clock the players can be divided into two categories, those that want the ball and those that don't. The ones who do want the ball are willing to take the risk of failure. Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the best basketball player ever, always wanted the ball even though he missed as many as he made.

The last administration was marked by a lack of leadership on both sides of the isle. The puppet Bush embarrassed us all whenever he opened his mouth. The Democratic opposition did nothing to stop the tyranny and pillage. Mr. President you awakened the passion of the masses through the hope of meaningful change and decency returning to our leadership. So far my experience of your administration has been a disappointment. It remains a delight to see you in action on foreign soil as a beautiful representative of our land. But at home it is starting to look and sound like eloquence without backbone. My perception of the eight months since you took office can be characterized as the Republicans throwing whatever excrement they like on what started as the pristine walls of new construction. Your administration spends its time wiping that excrement off the walls. But over time the stains that remain are starting to become way too dominant. Mr. President you appear to be playing defense when what we need is the grace of Dr. J as he stuffs it in their faces.

Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., were all glorious manifestations of the power of a non-violent approach. But their approach was based on firm principles and convictions. There was never any doubt about what they stood for or what their position was. When the game is on the line Manning does not walk across the scrimmage line to ask the defense if it's alright with them for him to throw on third down. Your candidacy aroused the passions of both the apathetic youth and the cynically jaded grey hairs. So far you have appeared to be far more interested in being liked than being right. I didn't vote for you to build a consensus with those who have made it clear that their agenda is about defeating you at all costs. So far the only change that I can believe in is the fact that compared to your predecessor you can speak the language. If you continue your present course you will lose me and you will show our children that they were foolish to believe. My guess is that you will also wind up on MSNBC in 2013 as another superbly eloquent, incredibly intelligent talking head.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Angkor Wat

Prior to going to Cambodia I was told to not talk to the Buddhist monks. I arrived at Angkor Wat at around 7:30 a.m.. I was in awe of the compound and quite excited to see two monks walking around the grounds. My photographic safari immediately began and I stalked them for about 20 minutes. At that point I decided to "break the rules" and I approached them and said hello. The monk in the picture then asked me if I spoke English. When I replied yes he then asked if I would mind talking to him. He was delightful to talk to. He informed me that the only English he got to hear was on the radio so it was a wonderful opportunity to get a real life English lesson. After that I spent many hours having a blast with a wide variety of monks.

Angkor Wat is one of many temples in the region near Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was probably built in the early 1100's. I love the contemplative nature of this shot which was taken in November 2007. I can't imagine what it was like when it was at its prime and inhabited by thousands of monks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


For as long as I can remember my being has always had a wonderfully magical response to excellence. I can easily be brought to tears in the presence of Pavarotti singing Nessun dorma, Comaneci scoring a ten, Tiger when he's Tiger, or some nerd doing a Rubik's cube. There is something so spectacular about the beauty of the human potential when it manifests itself. This is why I am so drawn to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I have been quite fortunate on a number of occasions to have been able to be in his presence. Most of you will know about the strength of his courage and convictions. Many of you will know about the depth of his spiritual wisdom and practice. An equal treasure is the opportunity to see "The Arch" at play.
While addressing 3000 students he will tell them that in order to win the Nobel Peace Prize one needs to have a great nose and sexy legs. While addressing 1000 preachers he will remark that now that Obama is the American president Americans don't have to pretend to be Canadians when traveling abroad. I've seen him spontaneously walk on stage during a concert and dance with the music.
There is much that is good about organized religion. But there is also much that has aroused a great deal of guilt, shame and anxiety through the propagation of unrealistic and dehumanizing standards. Archbishop Tutu emanates the beauty of the reality that when one risks to truly be seen what emerges is spectacularly glorious.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The Garland Cow"

There is a fascinating story connected to this shot which was taken in Varanasi, India in February 1997. When I initially took this shot I was in a boat on the Ganges River. I was wearing Indian clothing and my boat was surrounded by many other boats on the river. My boat was at least 250 yards away from the man in the shot. In essence I was a nothing speck floating on the river. Aside from the composition of the stairs and structures, what attracted me to the shot was the fact that the cow was eating a garland of flowers. When I raised my camera to take the shot the man crossed his hands in front of his face. I was astounded that he even saw me. I lowered my camera and he lowered his hands. We did this dance four times. The fifth time he allowed me to take the shot.
About an hour later I walked along the river near where I took the shot hoping to meet the man. As I approached him he spontaneously said to me, "You know it is quite impolite to take someone's picture without asking them first." I agreed and apologized. We then spent many hours over the next two days talking about the necessity of the the experience of lonliness on one's spiritual path. If you ever get to see the documentary "Baraka" he's the yogi coming out of the Ganges in the movie.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"U.S.A. R.I.P."

In the movie, "All The President's Men" the character Deep Throat utters the line "...Follow the money". The wisdom of this statement is as true today as it was in the early seventies. The Korean War was perhaps the last major U.S. military intervention that was not motivated by the interests of U.S. based multi-national corporations. Like most anesthetized Americans it was easy for me to pay lip service to the obvious injustice and flagrant moral depravity of U.S. foreign policy. But Obama's candidacy helped to at least momentarily bring me out of my grey haired somnolence. But now in my semi-wakeful state I am horrified by what I'm seeing.
I am no legal scholar (or any other kind for that matter), but at some point in our legal history corporations did not have rights. When that changed things gradually started rolling down towards the outhouse. At this point in time the U.S. Houses of Congress quite fairly represent the corporate interests of America and not the citizens. We have the best government that registered lobbyists can buy. Another parallel theme has been the gradual decay of honesty, integrity, and morality in our society. So at this point nothing is wrong until one gets caught and one's constant denials reach a dead end. Corporate greed seeks to maximize profits regardless of the collateral damage. This reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with my stock broker. This is a man who I like. During the conversation he was making the case why the employees of AIG should get bonuses. His thesis was that in a declining market if the market goes down 40 percent and a broker's losses are only 30 percent he should get a raise. For me this is like saying if Dr. A kills 15 out of 100 patients due to malpractice and Dr. B only kills 10, Dr. B should get an award. There was no mention of the fact that these brokers did nothing to steer their clients away from the over-inflated fluff that they were selling. There was no mention of the fact that these guys caused the second worst economic catastrophe in our history. In my opinion the only broker that should be getting anything of value for awhile is the guy who tried to blow the whistle to the SEC on Bernie Madoff.
The last significant variable was when Bill Clinton signed a law in the 90's that allowed for corporate ownership of the media. In addition, corporations were allowed to buy into many different markets. Once this happened news became both entertainment (for a profit) and also became manipulated and censored to meet corporate needs. Just compare any news cast on Fox News and NBC (A/K/A General Electric presents). Now compare both of these to the same news being broadcast on the BBC.
So before I lose you I'll try to get to my point. Nixon was brought down because we had an independently real news media. What took place during the Bush administration makes Watergate look like nothing. The abuses of power and the losses of constitutional rights (which still have not yet been restored) easily took place because of all of the above. It is my fear that we are now seeing an even more egregious phenomena. The "Tea bag" rallies were a bad joke. The "birthers" are proof that Darwin was wrong. But the organized disruption of the free political process by stopping any real discussion in town hall meetings is corporate greed and immorality in all its glory.
It is well known that democracy survives as a result of an educated populace. The demise of real investigative reporting, along with TV news consisting of in depth analyses of Michael Jackson's last bowel movement, public forums that have become corporate playgrounds, make it impossible for the average American to have an educated opinion about anything of substance. If this flagrant corporate takeover of the American political process continues to go unchecked our children will soon be living in the United Corporations of America.
I have one final point. I don't believe that any politician gets into any really significant office in America by being "a nice guy". Politics in America is a very dirty business. I don't believe that Barack Obama got to be a senator and President merely by his eloquence. This man must really know how to play the game to get where he's gotten. It scares me a great deal that he has been silent about what's going on.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Praying Man"

I first entered therapy as a moderately depressed 19 year old. By the time that I completed that course of treatment it became clear to me that Western psychotherapy could only bring me so far and that my personal and professional life would feel incomplete without more. In 1974 after I completed my doctorate I was fortunate enough to be able to go on what was originally supposed to be a 4 month vacation to Asia. Two and a half years later my wife and I returned to America. Most of that time was spent living, studying and working, between Iran and India.
My first visit to India started in May 1974. It was hot, humid, and overwhelming on so many levels that I hated how I felt most of the day. I knew that if I had killed an Indian and was tried by a jury of my peers, they would give me an award. When I returned to India 16 months later, for reasons that are still unknown to me, all the things that I so hated were all still there but they no longer made my insides want to explode. I then had the great fortune to be able to live and study at a Yoga ashram named the Yoga Institute of Santa Cruz in a suburb of Mumbai (then Bombay). It was here that I was able to begin the process of filling in the missing pieces that life and therapy were not able to supply.
For me the enigma of India was how people could live in such abject poverty yet evidence such a profound sense of contentment. That is one of the spiritual lessons that has been India's gift to me.

"The Praying Man"

This shot was taken in Varanasi, India's most holy city in 1997. This man is very poor and has perhaps minus three percent body fat. He is facing the Ganges River at sunrise. He is saluting and praying to the rising sun. This is one of my favorite pictures as for me it captures a highly significant component of my relationship to India.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Welcome to the blog home of Bob Sherman Photography. Here you will find photographs from all over the world. In addition you will find expanded comments about some of the shots that were included in my “Daily Dose” mailings. For those of you who are not familiar with the Daily Dose, every day that I am in the U.S. I send out one of my photos along with two quotes that are typically from all the spiritual traditions of the world. These “doses” are currently read every day by thousands of people all over the globe. You may sign up to receive the dose at:

As I am also a clinical psychologist it is also my intention to episodically write about various topics of interest. I am eager to see where our dialog will lead. Here is a sample dose from July 23, 2009:

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, 11/07

"In the same way that someone in the midst of a rough crowd guards a wound with great care, so in the midst of bad company should one always guard the wound that is the mind."


"We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future."

George Bernard Shaw