Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.'s)

Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have to know anything about Buddhism to attend a gathering?
 No, we practice mindfulness meditation. No one needs to be Buddhist to practice. We may refer to Buddhist teachings, but the core of our practice is about bringing helpful practices into our lives to make our lives happier and to help others be happier too. It is not about studying "Buddhism."
Will I be asked to sit cross-legged on the floor or assume any other uncomfortable positions?
You will be invited to sit in a manner which you find comfortable.  Chairs, cushions, pads and benches are available. If you have your own preferred seating, please feel free to bring.  Our ideal is to maintain a posture that affords the maximim "alert relaxation" -- comfortable enough to be relaxed and free of distracting discomfort, but not so lax as to invite sleepiness or dullness of mind while meditating. 

Will I be asked for money?
We maintain the 2,500-year-old tradition that the Dharma (the collective teachings of Buddhism) is too precious to put a price on, so it is offered for free. We also have the option to offer "dana" (generosity), which is used to donate to the church, expand our sangha lending library and to make monthly donations to the Thich Nhat Hahn Foundation.
Are there any rituals that I will be expected to perform?
 ~We remove our shoes upon entering the meditation space, as a sign of respect. You are welcome to wear shoes or bring slippers if that is more comfortable.
 ~we bow (or put a hand on our heart or give some other nonverbal indication that we are ready to speak, if bowing seems uncomfortable), in order to let the sangha (community) know when we would like to speak and the sangha members bow back, indicating that they are ready to listen.
 ~A "bell minder" will guide us through our time together.

Below is a copy of our basic ceremony:

6:30        Opening Bow - Candle Lighting/ First Gatha

"Respectful of countless Buddhas and wisdom teachers,

I calmly light this candle, brightening the face of the earth.

For the Buddha – the capacity in all of us to wake up,

For the Dharma – the teachings of love & understanding, and

For the Sangha – the community that lives in harmony & awareness."

Optional Transitional Time a time to offer gentle suggestions to help us all

calm and settle into this moment, setting our busyness aside.

Mention whether this will be a guided or silent meditation

6:40        Opening Gatha      "Please join your palms"      

“Body, speech, and mind in perfect oneness –

I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.

May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness

and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.”           

Wake the bell.

"Stably seated under the Bodhi tree, Body, speech, and mind are one in stillness; Free from views of right and wrong. When we are focused in perfect mindfulness, the path is illuminated; The shore of confusion is left behind. Noble Sangha, diligently bring your mind into meditation.

Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya x3"

Bow and Invite bell 3 times  

Begin 20 minute sitting meditation – silent or guided

7:00        Wake and invite bell once to indicate end of sitting. Bow.  

Invite people to stretch in preparation for getting up for walking meditation.

Introduce Walking Meditation    

Wake, invite small bell once & stand

Allow bell to fully sound (3 breaths) before standing.

Walk at a ‘normal’ pace to beginning point for walking meditation.

Wake bell - recite a gatha or sing some songs prior to starting walk.

Some optional gathas: The mind moves in a thousand directions,

but on this path I walk in peace.

With each step, a gentle wind blows; with each step, a flower blooms.

        OR: " I have arrived, I am home."

Wake, invite bell once to begin walking meditation.

Wake, invite bell once to end walking meditation, bow, & sit down.

7:15 Hello and introductions – go around circle introducing ourselves.

Welcome newcomers “We aspire to be a welcoming community. If there is anyone who is new here, please share that as we go around, if you feel comfortable doing so. And if you are new or if anyone has a concern or question about sangha, please feel free to connect with one of us after sangha or write it down and put it in the bell".

Then: First Monday of month - recite Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Second/Third - reading

Wake and invite bell three times at end of reading or recitation

        Fourth/Fifth - Bell Minders choice

7:30 - 7:50      Dharma Sharing - Share Guidelines for Dharma Sharing

7:50 Announcements

8:00   Closing

         Wake, invite bell. Bow.

         Invite bell. Allow bell to fully sound (3 breaths) before standing. Stand.

 Invite bell. Bow to each other.

         Invite bell. Bow to our ancestral teachers, the universe.

         Put out candle

Gather in circle for Closing Gatha - May the fruits of our practice be of benefit to all beings and the earth.

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