What to Expect
Shrine Room: upon entering the Temple, visitors are struck by many brilliant colours and shiny objects. You immediately enter the holy shrine room (Tibetan:gompa), and see an altar holding varying sizes of holy statues of
The Buddha, and other sacred deities such as Tara, Chenrezig, Medicine Buddha, and Tsong Khapa. There are pictures of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and a painting of His Eminence Tulku Neten Rinpoche, who is the founder of our temple. A variety of items are offered on the altar, including water bowls, butterlamps, candles, food and flowers. Many intricately painted cloth scrolls (Tibetan: thangka) hang on the walls, depicting various deities in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition; ritual items, drum, and small ornate tables holding several objects for prayers and teachings are also observed.
Prayers and Practices: After everyone is seated, Geshe la will lead the students through traditional opening prayers to give rise to pure motivation and refuge prayers which is found in the prayer book handed out to everyone. The prayer is chanted to melody three times in Tibetan (English and Vietnamese phonetics are included in the prayer book.)
Dedication: The closing prayer at the end is to dedicate the merit accumulated during this period to the benefit and enlightenment of all sentient beings and also helps to seal this merit so that it does not get erased by the next burst of anger.
Questions: There will be time for one or two questions at the end of teaching. However, afterwards, we gather at the back for a cup of tea and during which we have more time for discussions and Geshe la is also available for questions.
Before the Teaching: Please arrive early, so as not to disturb the class once it has started. Students are welcome to bring items to offer on the altar, such as flowers, fruit, food, incense, candles, etc. Items should be fresh, clean, and set on a plate/bowl so it isn’t directly on the altar.
Teacher’s Entrance: Out of respect, students stand during the teacher’s entrance and wait for him to be seated.
Prostrations: After the teacher is seated, practicing Buddhists perform three prostrations in deference to the teacher and the Dharma knowledge that is about to be shared. Others may join in or stand quietly. For those wishing to participate, the form is: with palms together touch crown of head, forehead, throat and heart, then prostrate on hands and knees, touching forehead to the ground briefly and rising quickly. This is repeated three times. To conclude, once more touch hands to the crown, forehead, throat and heart, pausing briefly at the end for contemplation, and take your seat.
Sitting: Our kind teacher wants you to be comfortable: If you experience discomfort from sitting/crossing legs, feel free to stretch out as needed for comfort or sit on a chair.
Books/Text: To recognize the precious value of the Dharma words, avoid putting spiritual texts directly on the floor (it is okay to place them on a mat or other item which is on the floor) and do not walk over them.
Cell phone/electronic devices: Please turn off during teachings
After the Teaching: As the teacher stands to leave a formal teaching, students again stand and bow slightly until he or she is out of the room.
Addressing the Teacher: The title Geshe (pronounced ge-shey) means virtuous friend/guide is awarded to monks who have graduated with highest monastic trainings. We address him as “Geshe la”. The addition of the Tibetan suffix “la” is used as an honorific.
Khata is long white scarf that represents pure intention, respect/gratitude and good wishes and is used on special occasions like New Year, weddings, etc. It will be a very good opportunity to show our respect and gratitude to our teacher, Geshe la by offering a khata, especially on special occasions.
How to Offer a Khata
Then when you offer the scarf to teachers, the scarf is draped over the palm of your hands lengthwise held down by your thumbs and is offered to the teacher with a bow. If you wish to make an offering (donation), place it in an envelope. There is no set amount, what ever amount you want offer is fine. The envelope is placed on his table before offering the Khata.