images of the crossing over

Door to door

Each year, the fourth-year nuns go out on “tak-bal,” or alms’ rounds–but not for a daily meal, which is the original meaning of tak-bal, but to raise money for charity. The situation in modern temples is such that begging for staples, such as rice, flour, or vegetables, is hardly necessary; but the form and the custom remains and has, in the case of our seminary, been employed toward other ends. The money we raise goes to help prison Dharma networks and resources, provide educational scholarships to children in need, and into food banks, among other things.

Our team went door-to-door in the one-street residential section of the small village below the school. As per tradition, one nun hit a moktak while the rest of us chanted Sogamuni Bul, Shakyamuni Buddha.

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3 responses

  1. Do folks give money or goods, or both? I’m looking at the left-most nun’s bag and wondering if it’s full of offerings?

    April 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    • Ah, perceptive eyes! The bag is for donations. We received mostly cash donations, although it’s not unusual to also get rice. For the record, if we’d done this twenty or thirty years ago–not to mention fifty or sixty years ago, which is when the current oldest generation of senior monastics would have done tak-bal–we would have been on a true alms round, trying to gather staples that the temples couldn’t afford: rice, beans, some fresh produce perhaps (probably greens of some kind, as opposed to vegetables or fruits), etc. Older monks and nuns tell stories of being sent out for alms and having up to twenty kilos of rice accumulate; they’d have to load a burlap bag on their backs and carry the rice home. These kinds of offerings came one handful at a time: the people were as poor as the monks were. On this occasion, we mostly got five or ten-dollar donations (five thousand and ten thousand won, respectively).

      April 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

  2. Bill Young

    I enjoy your regular photos and posts. They’re like a regular visit and a chance to see and listen to what’s going on at Eun Mun Sa.

    April 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

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