“I suppose you have received many letters from desperate mothers. Here is mine.” My sister wrote these words to a neurologist in 1997 when my nephew was 2 years old.

Silent Buddha is a love story between a mother and son, and ultimately two sisters. The work exposes the hidden impact a rare brain disorder has on their experiences of life-long care. David was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (an incurable seizure disorder) and severe autism. At 27, he is non-verbal, has scoliosis and requires full time care. After years of pursuing conventional approaches to improve his condition, Lori turned to nonconventional healers, working in energetic and mystical realms. My sister’s devotion to David fuels her spiritual growth, inspiring her to live a life of awareness, acceptance and gratitude. 

This unconventional documentary is an artistic interpretation of their symbiotic relationship and my wonderment about David’s inner world. Bright colors convey my curiosity around the probability of David having synesthesia, which affects sensory processing and sensitivity. Multiple photographic styles, including rudimentary, surreal collage, wax as metaphors for David’s severely hampered brain development and the incomprehensible lives they both lead on the physical and spiritual planes. 

In a rare and astonishing display of affirmation, David granted me permission to enter his vulnerable world. The mystery behind David’s silence remains yet he speaks within these pictures. Silent Buddha is my way of supporting my little sister and nephew who live 1,000 miles away. I am a witness to their story and this is our collaboration.

*Captions written by Lori Sandler

Silent Buddha

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