Will I be pressured to join or convert?
Absolutely not! Our activities are free and open to curious people of all backgrounds. Buddhism does not set itself apart from other religions, nor attach importance to “converting.” It is practice-oriented not ideological. Some people who follow the teachings of Buddha choose to identify themselves as Buddhist. Others who identify with other religion traditions find that the Buddhist emphasis on contemplative practice is a powerful supplement to their faith tradition. What may look like worship in Buddhism is actually a dramatic show of gratitude and respect for those who preceded us and for that which is most wholesome in ourselves. If you would like to get more involved, there are lots of opportunities.
What relevance does Buddhism have for our modern day lives?
Although Buddhism first appeared in India over 2500 years ago, it relevance is timeless and universal since it is concerned primarily with transforming the mind from it negative habituation to more positive and peaceful states of mind. Buddhist methods and practices, as well as its profound wisdom tradition, can be integrated into our everyday lives.
What does it cost attend classes?
Many Centers charge a fee to attend classes or require a monthly or yearly membership fee. However, our guiding teacher insisted that teachings be offered free of charge. While contributions, which are tax deductible, are welcome, all teachings and events are offered free of charge.
In general, are there any special rules I should be aware of?
There are certain practices and etiquette that you should be aware, and in that regard please refer to our page concerning Dharma Etiquette. But generally,
- Please practice compassion by not using personal care or laundry products with fragrances when attending classes or other events at the Monastery.
- Remove hats and shoes before entering the meditation room.
- Turn off cell phones, pagers, and other noise-making devices.
- Avoid placing Dharma books or prayer guides (sadhanas) on the floor.
- Please do not sit with the soles of your feet facing the teacher and the altar.
- Please stand when the Teacher enters and leaves the room.
Do I have to wait for the next series of classes before I can attend classes?
No, please feel free to attend any class. While attending an entire series of classes is highly beneficial, as each class builds on the next, classes are taught in such a way that if you only attend one class you will derive benefit from it.
Are children welcome to attend teaching?
Yes. However, it is important for parents to consider whether their child can handle being in the monastery setting since the environments requires being attentive and quiet for at least an hour. This is an assessment that only parents can make. However, the monastery is very interested in creating programs for children, and if there are parents who would like to discuss creating various programs for children, please contact Ven. Lobzang Dorje. He would be delighted to talk with you.
What do I need to bring to class?
If you wish to take notes, please bring a pen and notepad.
What is the format for the Saturday classes on Buddhist topics?
Classes usually begin with a brief prayer which is followed by a teaching on some aspect of Buddhist dharma and practice. After the teachings, there is time to ask questions followed by concluding prayers and the dedication of merit.
Do I need to be Buddhist to attend a weekly class?
No. We try to present Buddha’s teachings in a way that is accessible to everyone. It is not necessary to be a Buddhist.
Some people say that the Dalai Lama has banned certain practices in the Gelugpa tradition? What is the Monastery’s position?
It is important to understand that there are many great Gurus and Teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, while well-known in the West, is only one of these realized teachers. Americans should also understand that His Holiness The Dalai Lama is not the head of the Gelugpa sect. The head of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism is the Gaden Tripa, the title given to the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, we must also rejoice in one of the benefits of our American heritage, that we live in country where our constitution ensures freedom of religion. Consequently, the Monastery will not and does not engage in or support any actions or activities that would discriminate against any individual. We must be above any hint of politics and we should not mix our spiritual practices and beliefs with politics. Consequently, it is important to respect every prayer and practice that has been handed down by past spiritual Masters, and Buddhist practitioners must have the freedom to practice whatever they believe to be of benefit for themselves and for other sentient beings. Therefore, we believe that everyone who visits the Monastery has the right to practice and engage in whatever religious practices they choose. At the same time, we also believe that Guru Devotion is a vital part of religious practice; therefore, one should follow the advice of one’s teacher.
Moreover, it is common (i.e., normal) practice in in the Gelugpa tradition to refrain from discussing or revealing one’s spiritual practices. This is particularly true when it comes to Vajrayana practices (i.e., tantric instructions and practices which are to be held with vows of secrecy), and in keeping with that tradition, our focus is directed at assisting sentient beings in the realization of renunciation, loving-kindness, compassion, and the wisdom realizing wisdom. The manner of practice and the types of practice that individual embrace are between the disciple and his or her Guru.
In that regard, we strive to practice the Dharma purely, and the Monastery adheres to the teachings and the traditions of Lama Je Tsongkhapa. Our intention is to benefit all sentient being regardless of their race, class, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs and practices; therefore, discrimination, in any of its forms, will not be tolerated at the Monastery. We welcome spiritual practitioners from any tradition, and that certainly includes Buddhists regardless of the spiritual practices they embrace.