What to do when visiting a Buddhist Centre

People often ask ‘what do we do?’ (or don’t do!) when visiting a Buddhist Centre, such as Kagyu Samye Dzong Dublin. And often we tend to forget the etiquette which should be observed in such a place.

While it is normal to engage in social activities when we come together in a Buddhist Centre, we should always try to remember where we are, and why we are there. Here is a condensed and practical guide to correct behaviour in a Buddhist Centre such as Kagyu Samye Dzong Dublin.

  • Shoes are removed before entering the Shrine Room and hats are not worn.
  • The recommended posture for practice is to sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. If this is not possible one is welcome sit on a chair or meditation stool.
  • It is better not to wear short skirts or revealing garments. It is always a good idea to cover ones lower extremities with a shawl or blanket as a mark of respect.
  • Refrain from pointing feet towards the Buddha as this is a mark of disrespect.
  • Avoid lying down in the Shrine Room.
  • Dharma books and puja texts should not be put on the floor, but on a table or cushion.
  • Dharma books, texts and prayer tables should not be stepped over.
  • When a Lama enters the room it is a mark of respect to stand, sitting only after the Lama is seated, and rising when the Lama is about to stand.
  • When entering the Shrine Room, a Buddhist practitioner does three prostrations facing the Shrine. This is done as a symbol of the surrender of oneself and the desire to benefit all beings.
  • Crossing the path of someone prostrating should be avoided.
  • Taking food and beverages into the Shrine Room is discouraged.

In a Buddhist Centre, particularly the Shrine Room, speaking is done quietly, and idle chatter in the Shrine Room is not appropriate. The consumption of intoxicants and animal flesh is extremely inappropriate on the grounds of any Buddhist Centre.

Donations are welcome as these help to run the Buddhist Centre, and allow us to provide the teachings and practice of Buddhism to all who wish to benefit. All are welcome, don’t let the lack of means be an obstacle to coming to the Centre.

We hope that this guidance on ‘what to do’ (or not to do!) in a Buddhist Centre will facilitate your understanding of the customs and etiquette.