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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.