A Quality of Light: The Monks of Sera Jeh Monastery

Sheila Rock

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Sheila Rock is an American photographer living in London. Her photographs have appeared in numerous magazines and on album covers, and are part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Her forthcoming book, Sera: The Way of the Tibetan Monk, will be published by Columbia University Press in November 2003.

In 1998 Sheila Rock visited Sera Jeh monastery in Mysore, India. The original Sera Jeh monastery, in Lhasa, Tibet, was ravaged during a 1959 Tibetan uprising against the Chinese occupation. The monastery was reestablished in its current location in India, and today it houses five thousand monks living in exile who carry on the Sera Jeh legacy.


© Sheila Rock

I came to Sera Jeh monastery by accident. My boyfriend and I were planning a trip to India and Sri Lanka. A woman from his church in Suffolk, England, had sponsored a young monk at Sera, and she asked if we would deliver a gift to him. But it turned out to be more than a gift to him—it was a gift to us, because we just found it the most extraordinary place.

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