937-244-1961 | 1907 G St, Iowa City, IA 52240 | sangha@milarepaiowa.org

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 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!

Will I eventually be expected to “convert” to Buddhism in order to participate at Milarepa 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 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.

FAQ ABOUT VISITING MILAREPA BUDDHIST CENTER

Will 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.

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?
Our large events are open to children. At present we have a very small shrine room that fits about 35 people max. 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

FAQ ABOUT SHRINE ROOM PROTOCOL

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
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.

Shoes
Shoes should be removed and left at the door.

Prostrations
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.

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