937-244-1961 | 1570 S. 1st Avenue, suite I, Iowa City, IA 52240 | sangha@milarepaiowa.org

New to Buddhism

eight-auspicious-symbols-ies-walkerIt is wonderful that you have met with the dharma and we welcome you to our center. We want to provide an environment at Milarepa Buddhist Center that is open to all who seek a deeper, truer, more significant experience of life—from the general public to Buddhist practitioners.  Our goal is to provide support and offer a range of activities with broad appeal, accommodating participation at every level. For those who seek guidance on the Buddhist path, we will provide it. For those with a secular interest in meditation and wellness, we will share our knowledge.

We also understand that when you begin it can sometimes feel like there is so much to learn. In fact, many of us at Milarepa Buddhist Center remember what it was like to first walk into the center filled with a thirst to learn more about Buddhism but not certain where to begin. You can choose from meditation classes and meditation practice sessions, traditional Buddhist teachings, book discussions on Buddhist philosophy, and more. We are here for you whatever your level of interest. We look forward to seeing you at Milarepa Buddhist Center!

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BUDDHISM

Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend Milarepa Buddhist Center?
Not at all! No previous experience with Buddhism is necessary in order
to attend practices. In fact, we all began with no experience!

What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born into a royal family in northern India around 2500 years ago.  He realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to happiness.  After many years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and became enlightened.  After enlightenment he taught what he learned until his death at the age of 80.

Was the Buddha a God?
He was not, nor did he claim to be.  He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

Is Buddhism a religion?
To many, Buddhism is a religion. For others it is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’.

Do Buddhists worship idols?
Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha.  An image of a Buddha is intended to serve as a reminder of our own mind’s potential for fullest awakening, and reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the Teacher and the Teaching.

Are there different types of Buddhism?
As the Teachings of the Buddha made their way to places beyond India, many systems of study and practice developed in order to accommodate the needs of individuals of various backgrounds and cultures. While there are many different systems of Buddhist practice, all share in common the Four Noble Truths, the teachings on the law of actions and their results, the teachings on impermanence, and not-self; the five precepts, etc. While the emphasis varies from country to country, what does not vary is the essence of the Teaching.

What does Buddhism say about other religions?
Buddhism is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs and religions.

PROCEDURES

How do I know if the center is open during bad weather?
If weather is extreme, we may need to cancel practice. Please stay tuned to the home page of this website for such announcements.

What if I need a special appointment?
If you need to make a special appointment to come to the center at a time not listed, please contact us at: sangha@milarepaiowa.org

SHRINE ROOM ETIQUETTE

pechaThis 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. A shrine room is a place where space is made for a person to contact the Buddha-nature that resides within. Here are some guidelines to help orient you when you come to Milarepa Buddhist Center.

 

 

Entering the Shrine Room
*Shoes should be removed and left at the door.

*When entering the shrine room, a Buddhist practitioner may do three prostrations facing the shrine, or make a short bow with hands folded.  It is not necessary to do prostrations until you understand their meaning.    If you are interested in doing prostrations, someone will teach you about them at any time.  At the same time, is not necessary to perform prostrations in order to attend Milarepa Buddhist Center.

During Practice
*Please do not point your feet in the direction of the shrine or the teacher.

*Sacred texts & materials should not be placed on the floor.

After Practice
*Please return the Dharma center texts to the table. We do not have enough texts to be able to send them home with individuals. Texts will be available in the bookstore for purchase.

We are an open and inclusive sangha, and do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation or political orientation.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BUDDHISM

Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend Milarepa Buddhist Center?
Not at all! No previous experience with Buddhism is necessary in order to attend practices. In fact, we all began with no experience!

What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born into a royal family in northern India around 2500 years ago.  He realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to happiness.  After many years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and became enlightened.  After enlightenment he taught what he learned until his death at the age of 80.

Was the Buddha a God?
He was not, nor did he claim to be.  He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

Is Buddhism a religion?
To many, Buddhism is a religion. For others it is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. In general, Buddhists themselves do not take issue with these sorts of distinctions.

Do Buddhists worship idols?
Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha.  An image of a Buddha is intended to serve as a reminder of our own mind’s potential for fullest awakening, and reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the Teacher and the Teaching.

Are there different types of Buddhism?
As the Teachings of the Buddha made their way to places beyond India, many systems of study and practice developed in order to accommodate the needs of individuals of various backgrounds and cultures. While there are many different systems of Buddhist practice, all share in common the Four Noble Truths, the teachings on the law of actions and their results, the teachings on impermanence, and not-self; the five precepts, etc. While the emphasis varies from country to country, what does not vary is the essence of the Teaching.

What does Buddhism say about other religions?
Buddhism is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs and religions.

PROCEDURES

Are there any special protocols?
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 Milarepa Buddhist Center it is not necessary to sit perfectly still in order to participate in meditation or other events.

Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend Gar Drolma?
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 a dharma 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 chairs available.

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 Milarepa Buddhist Center.

May I bring my kids to the center?
Our large events are open to children. At present we have a very small shrine room that fits about 14 people max. For this reason you may not be comfortable bringing a young child. Children older than 10 are welcome to attend any of our sessions.

Are there any costs involved in attending?
Donations to Milarepa Buddhist Centerare much needed and much appreciated but not required. There is no fee for any of our meditation sessions.  There is a fee associated with some of our classes. In addition, there may be a charge for larger events due to the increased cost to the center. These fees will be clearly listed on this website if applicable.

It is not Milarepa Center’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.

How do I know if the center is open during bad weather?
If weather is extreme, we may need to cancel practice. Please stay tuned to the home page of this website for such announcements.

What if I need a special appointment?
If you need to make a special appointment to come to the center at a time not listed, please contact us at: sangha@milarepaiowa.org

SHRINE ROOM ETIQUETTE

pechaThis 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. A shrine room is a place where space is made for a person to contact the Buddha-nature that resides within. Here are some guidelines to help orient you when you come to Milarepa Buddhist Center.