This information on protocol is meant to help relieve anxiety rather than create it. It was assembled because many beginners have questions about these formal matters.
Sacred texts and materials should not be placed on the floor and they should not be stepped over by people or by animals. Nothing should be placed on top of these items except for other dharma texts / pictures. Sacred texts include pechas, photocopied prayers, any representation with sacred syllables, dharma books, your personal notes containing dharma teachings, any representation of deities, lamas, buddhas, bodhisattvas, sacred mandalas, etc. If a time comes when the materials are no longer useful, they do not go in the garbage. We burn them and can think of them as an offering at that time.
Do I need to sit perfectly still?
In the tradition of Buddhism found at Gar Drolma it is not necessary to sit perfectly still in order to participate in meditation or other events.
Not at all. No previous experience with Buddhism is necessary in order to attend practices. In fact, we all began with no experience!
What types of people are welcome at the center?
We are an open and inclusive sangha, and do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation or political orientation. We are a very diverse group of people with members from many walks of life.
You have a lot of merit, as you have the fortune to learn both the worldly system and the religious system, which is like possessing two open eyes. This wisdom is your inner Buddha. The actual Dharma is love. Everyone needs love. If you truly understand the Dharma, you will generate great love and thus experience great happiness. Thank you for coming and supporting the center. (From Garchen Rinpoche to those that are visiting our center for the first time.)
I cannot sit on the floor, will I be able to sit in a chair?
We sit on cushions at the center. In addition, we have pews available. If you would like to bring a different seat, you are welcome to do so.
Are there any rules I should know about before coming to the center?
We ask individuals to abstain from alcohol or illicit drugs at any dharma-related function at Gar Drolma Choling.
It is not Gar Drolma’s goal to make money but just to break even. Monks and lamas, our precious teachers, devote their whole lives to the Dharma to benefit beings. Our individual support helps make this possible, particularly in the West. Generosity is the first of the six perfections, and Buddhists believe that offerings of money, goods, time, or energy directed toward dharma activities bring enormous benefit to the giver if done with proper motivation. Do not underestimate the value of donating your personal time and energy to the center as well; these are extremely important and will make a big difference.
PLEASE NOTE: Loving Kindness and Compassion are vastly more important than protocol.