Come As You Are
At Lion’s Roar, we have no expectations that beginners will know how to do everything right. That is why we encourage everyone to “come as you are.” Below are a few helpful hints of what to expect during your visit to Lion’s Roar, however it may not cover everything. That’s why when you arrive, there will always be members available to answer any questions you may have and guide you through it. There are only two rules you really need to know:
- Come as you are
- Come with a sense of humor
And let us reassure you – there is nothing you are going to do as a new attendee that is going to offend us. We want everyone to feel welcomed at Lion’s Roar.
A Typical Practice Session
Arriving – If this is your first time attending a Lion’s Roar session, it is ideal if you can arrive a few minutes early so someone can greet you and introduce you to a few helpful guidelines. You also might need time to take off your shoes, take a prayer book, choose a seat or cushion, mute your cell phone, and get comfortable. Some people really enjoy just sitting in the peace to take it all in before the program starts.
That being said…if you are running late…no problem. Please join us anyways! Teachers at Lion’s Roar appreciate your attendance no matter what. It’s great that you have taken the time to check us out and we are grateful.
The Start – A gong will sound announcing the arrival of the teacher, at which point it is nice to stand to show respect for the teacher. You will see many students performing prostrations where they will place both hands together at their chest and bow. Types of prostration vary and members can explain the technique more if you are interested. Just know that you are not required to do anything you feel uncomfortable doing. No pressure whats-so-ever. After the teacher has taken his or her seat, we all take our seats.
Opening prayers – It is very traditional to start a practice session with prayers and a reading of the Heart Sutra. They are led by the Umsi (prayer master) and he or she will announce the page numbers. At Lion’s Roar, we like to celebrate our diversity and show respect to the teachers by sometime reading the prayers in Tibetan as well as English (both of which are in the prayer books). The Umsi will let everyone know. Please follow along as you can and join in as you feel appropriate.
Meditation and Dharma Talk – Each session can be different. Some start with meditation, other sessions begin with a Dharma talk followed by meditation, others are a Dharma talk only. Often there is time for questions and answers so do not be afraid to chime in when the time comes.
Closing Prayers – At the end of the program the Umsi will lead us through closing prayers and dedication. When the teacher gets up to leave, all rise in respect until he leaves the room.
After the session all visitors and members are encouraged to socialize; take a tour of the Dharma Center and to meet the teachers. Don’t be shy! The teachers love to meet new visitors and answer any questions you might have.
When you first start going to Lion’s Roar you will notice that students are encouraged not to place Dharma books, prayer beads/malas and other religious materials directly on the floor or carpet. This is just a simple practice of showing respect to the teachings. You can place them on a chair, cushion, cloth, etc. and try to make an effort not to step over these articles. As for other temple etiquette, do not worry…there is plenty of time to discover the ins and outs. If you are interested in learning more, please ask a member to give you some helpful tips.
Generosity – The Practice of “Dana”
As is traditional in Buddhist temples, you will notice a wooden box is placed next to the entryway to the meditation hall with a sign “Dana.”
The word “dana” means generosity in the ancient language of the Buddha. Just as the Buddha gave his teachings from his heart, so do we offer these teachings to all who attend Lion’s Roar. Traditionally, the teachings and events are supported by the generosity of the attendees. Dana helps maintain our programs, supports our vision, and helps support our teachers and practice leaders.
Dana is an important Buddhist “practice” in that it develops the qualities of generosity and letting go. It is a way we can express gratitude and practice letting go with awareness.
We encourage you to make a donation of any amount. Lion’s Roar is a 501(c)3 entity and, as such, a check made out to Lion’s Roar is tax deductible. If you would like a receipt for cash donations, please include your name and address on the donation envelops provided and our support staff will send you a letter with your total donation at the beginning of the following year for taxes purposes. We sincerely appreciate your support. Thank you.
The offering of a khata, a white scarf, is a ceremonial gesture widely used in Tibetan culture. Khatas are offered to sacred statues and to lamas as a gesture of offering goodwill and respect.
To present a khata you first fold it in half length-wise; this represents the interdependence between yourself and the lama. Then when you offer the scarf to the lama, you offer the open edges facing the person you are giving it to; the folded section will be towards you, which represents your open, pure heart, with no negative thoughts or motives in the offering.
The scarf is given with folded hands near your forehead, with a humble bow before them, with head bent over and palms joined in respect. You never put the khata over the lama’s neck in this situation. The lama returns it by placing it over your head and around your neck with a blessing. Khatas can be offered as a welcoming, leaving or thank you gesture – in fact for any celebration at all. It is used for celebrations not only during religious ceremonies, but also for births and weddings. There are new khatas available for a small donation. Please ask a member for more information.