What does your name mean?

Garchen Mila Buddhist Center was the name given for our center by our spiritual director, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche.  Rinpoche’s name, Garchen, is the first part of the center’s name. The next word, Mila, is a short form of Milarepa.  Milarepa was a Tibetan master, yogi, and poet who led an inspiring life of spiritual progress and human accomplishment. So the name Garchen Mila is a combination of Garchen Rinpoche’s name and Milarepa’s name. 

Where should I begin?

Most of our programs are geared towards beginning students. There is no set way or how to begin – it is just a matter of finding a session that appeals to you. 

Meditation: All of our meditation are open to everyone – regardless of prior experience. These are offered throughout the week.  We offer Calming Mind meditation, Om Ah Hung guided meditation.

Calming Mind meditation or Shinay in Tibetan – if practiced for a period of time – will have the result of relaxing and stabilizing the mind such that slowly thoughts and emotions will settle down. 

Om Ah Hung mediation is a method to begin to expand our capacity for compassion. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition is unique in having developed thousands of methods designed to allow the practitioner to realize their own compassion and wisdom. In this type of compassion based meditation we use chanting and visualization to exercise soften the heart. 

Discussion Groups: We offer small discussion groups weekly. These groups often read a Dharma book and discuss a chapter or so of the book each week. You don’t need to have read the book in order to participate.  The discussions are a way to begin to expand our world view to include key Buddhist concepts like the realities of impermanence, suffering and the potential for compassion.

Please feel free to look through our weekly programs and pick a session or sessions that look interesting to you. At this point none of our sessions require previous experience with meditation or Buddhism so you should feel free to attend any session.

FAQ About Buddhism

Do I need to be a Buddhist to attend Garchen Mila 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!

Will I eventually be expected to “convert” to Buddhism in order to participate at Garchen Mila Buddhist Center?
No. Essentially, Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life.  The tradition points out a spiritual path and it is up to the individual to undertake that path – if they wish.  As in all spiritual traditions there are opportunities along the way to deepen commitment to the path, such as taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  But the decision to undertake commitments or vows are personal decisions.

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’.  These sorts of distinctions are not generally an obstacle for practice and are a matter of personal discovery and interest. 

Do Buddhists worship idols?
Buddhists pay respect to images of the Buddha and other representations of enlightened mind.  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.

FAQ About Visiting the Center

Will I need to sit perfectly still?
In the tradition of Buddhism found at Garchen Mila Buddhist Center it is not necessary to sit perfectly still in order to participate in meditation or other events.

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

I cannot sit on the floor, will I be able to sit in a chair?
We sit on cushions or chairs at the center.

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?

Are there any costs involved in attending?
Donations to Garchen Mila Buddhist Center are 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 our 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:

Through Bodhichitta you will realize that there is no self. Self-grasping will be destroyed, for when you think of others you do not think about yourself. Ultimately ‘self’ and ‘other’ are but thoughts. When we understand that we are not separate from others, we begin to fathom the preciousness of compassion, of Bodhichitta.

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche