Preliminary Buddhist Centre Teachings

By John Chow,   of Tao of Tai Chi Chuan Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


Whenever I visit a temple or centre,  I would be looking out for temple members who are knowledgeable in their roles and function of looking after the temple, and assisting the monks/nuns and spiritual teachers.  Often,  very sadly,  I do not find many members or office bearers who are knowledgeable in the basics of their religious doctrines and ritual..  I think the temple members are the first face that the public sees. 


Making a good impression is important.  The temple activities should be well organised and timely.  Everything should be ready, well made, and well prepared.  The temple office bearers and committee members should be proficient in the basics of running a temple.  Other than the public relations issues of openness, kindness, helpfulness, hospitality, friendliness, a great smile, ……………….  the temple members must be able, and willing to lead new members and enquirers in temple activities.  They must be properly tutored in such activities before they can assist the public. 


I have compiled a list of temple activities that temple members should be well tutored in.  This list is based on my experiences in Tibetan centres,  but can be easily modified to other types of temples.


Temple etiquette

How to perform prostrations

How to chant main mantras and verses

Setting up a Buddhist altar (in temple and in home)

Puja offering items (water, food, fruits, tormas, flowers, special offerings)

Cleaning the altar, changing the offerings, cleaning the images etc.

Care of holy images and books

How to perform circumambulation

Puja etiquette (when to rise, prostrate, bow, circumambulate, face the altar)

How to greet a monk/nun or spiritual teacher (daily life, centre function, puja)

How to take care of a monk/nun or spiritual teacher

Ritual invitation of the teacher (Vajra Carya) for teaching or prayers

How to use the temple instruments (vajra, bell, damaru, drum, cymbals etc)

How to perform the main mudras

Physical exercises to enhance blood and qi circulation

Simple massage to relieve muscle aches and tension

Silence and discipline in the temple

Festival Days,  and what needs to be done

First Aid

How to perform ritual bathing of the Buddha

How to perform ritual purification of the altar and temple

How to perform blessings (using water, flowers and rice)

How to liberate animals

How to perform a Sur offering

How to perform a burnt offering

How to make important tormas

How to feed the hungry ghosts

How to take care of the sick and dying

How to pray for the sick

Performing funeral rites

How to meditate (proficient in a few types of meditation)




Written by John Chow,    a practitioner of Chinese medicine, masseur, healer, and teacher of martial arts and spiritual paths.

Copyright:-  No part of this article can be used, quoted, copied in any form without the permission from the author. 


For further information on this article, please contact John Chow  at