images of the crossing over

Posts tagged “vajra hall


Changsam and the daily schedule, Vajra Hall, Un Mun Sa


It’s been a long time since I posted here.

I’ve done a mediocre job of keeping up with posts at (thus) but have basically ignored fts for a long while. Writing is something I can do while confined within a room or compound; photographs happen less when I’m physically constrained. Now I’m in the U.S. for the summer, at UVA in Virginia for the summer Tibetan intensive course. And it is intense, leaving as little time for photographs and writing as my busy spring season at my home temple. Daily practices of all kinds are being juggled. While I’ve been able to keep up with things in a general sense, on any given day only a few balls are actually in my hands. Sometimes one’s a camera, sometimes a computer, sometimes a blog; but always (these days) a textbook and a vocab list.

I have a backlog of edited photos, thanks to the prep work I did for a talk at the Korea Society in New York City. I’ll focus on getting some of those up, a few at a time, throughout the summer. For pictures (and really good ones!) of the summer of Tibetan, see classmate and Actual Photographer Matt Richter’s tumblr site.


Formal meal trays

Trays for the formal meal (bal-u gong-yang, 발우공양). 

Called “side-dish tables” in Sino-Korean (chan-sang, 찬상), the empty trays arrive first in a stack. The head of the hall sets lays them out in the middle of the room and places the side dishes–pickled cabbage, one fresh dish, and one salted preserve–on the trays before then moving each tray to its position on the rows where the nuns sit for formal meal.

These trays contain only the preserved dish, in this case a cucumber pickle, and the shared chopsticks and spoon used to place side dishes in a nun’s personal bowls.

First day (개학)

Today’s the first day of the fall season at school. This picture is actually from the summer season, but because of extreme technical difficulties–the largest one being I couldn’t even get to a computer for several months–I’ll be putting up a lot of summer pictures now. Besides which, the first study hall (입선) of the season isn’t until tomorrow evening, and I couldn’t help wanting to kick the season off in photos a little earlier.

Ordinarily we wear our short bowing robes during study hall.  The summer months are brutally hot, however, so we switch to work jackets while studying, unless it’s group recitation time (독성) or the presentation of a passage by one of the student-nuns (논강).

Ban Ju Sunim, one of the most diligent in our class, is reading a paper on the Surangama Sutra at her desk.

Dawn, summer

Summer dawn, around 5:30 a.m. The ridge is “Lying Tiger Ridge” (허고산) and the roof belongs to Vajra Hall, the oldest residential building on our temple’s campus. Faintly visible in the left foreground is the double-gabled roof of our bookstore.

4/1 Sutra recitation before class