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Chance encounters. Random incidents. Fleeting moments. Spontaneous images of people engaged in their everyday lives.

"The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

-Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Mercy and Grace

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the reknowned Swiss-American psychiatrist, made this statement that resonates with me when I look at the pictures of random people I have shot as I explore street photography.

Perhaps without intending it, she identified the qualities of mercy and grace, two concepts that have interested me both as a photographer and as an explorer of life.

In Christian belief, mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve, while grace is receiving a gift we don't deserve at all. 

Buddhism however views the concepts a bit differently. Mercy (karunā” in the original Pali text) is compassion, or in a more general sense, concern and pity for all suffering in the world. It is one of the four noble virtues that one should develop to reach emancipation or nirvana.

And for Buddhists, grace comes from the recognition and appreciation of that we are all interconnected. All humans are already enlightened and possess Buddha nature. There is no "gift" of grace to be had, because we already have it!

Regardless of philosophical views, I am drawn to people who display a sense of grace, perhaps having either benefitted from the compassion of others or through self-realization about their own true nature of goodness.

They are the embodiment of both mercy and grace.