Your First Visit
We’re so happy you came! We hope this introduction is helpful for you to prepare for your first visit to the center. If you are new to Buddhism, or would like to view our offerings for beginners, please click here. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call at (917) 909-0410. It will be a pleasure to help you.
What to Expect
What do I do when I Arrive?
Remove your shoes (a traditional and respectful way to keep the Center clean) and place them in the cubbies near the door. There are hooks for hanging your coat, and please hang your hat, which is removed out of respect for the Dharma. Next visit our friendly volunteer at the reception desk (check in or register for your class, make your offering). They will let you know where everything is and answer any questions. Once you’ve signed in, please:
- Relax with complimentary tea and cookies
- Help yourself to a free book from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive display
- Pick up any of our brochures, postcards, or flyers
- Explore the wonderful offerings in our shop
What If I Arrive Early for a Class?
After checking in you may enter the meditation hall and settle into the tranquil atmosphere, or relax in the reception area, which is open before and after classes. The gong will sound five minutes before class begins.
How much does it cost?
The Dharma is offered freely, but the center, which is a non-profit organization, runs by volunteer staff and relies on your generous support to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and help support our visiting teachers, among other expenses. For this reason, there is a fee for most center activities. Scholarships are available to students for whom this would be a hardship. We are grateful for all contributions, which help us to keep our doors open in service of the community. If you would like information on how you can help sustain the center, please click here. *Note: Yoga at Shantideva Center is offered by Yogis & Yoginis, which is not affiliated with Shantideva Center (FPMT – NYC) and has its own policies. Please visit their website for details.
What should I bring?
You may wish to bring a pen and notebook or a laptop to take notes during Dharma classes. Shantideva Center is environmentally conscious and we make every effort to preserve the planet’s resources. For Dharma classes and weekend teachings, texts are projected on the screen, and they are also circulated at the time of your online registration so that you may bring them on your electronic device or print them if you prefer. For pujas and practices, the center shares printed materials to be used on site.
How do I show respect in the meditation hall (gompa)?
A gompa is a Buddhist sacred space used for meditation, prayers, rituals, and teachings. Because we consider the Buddha’s teachings extremely precious, we treat them with great respect. It is said that the more we respect the teachings, the more we will be open to and benefit from them. This translates into traditional ways of showing respect to Dharma teachers, books, and the place where teachings are held. Practicing these conventions does not mean you are Buddhist but merely expresses respect for the tradition.
- Food (besides offerings) and uncovered liquids may not be brought into the gompa.
- Many students offer three prostrations to the Buddha when entering the gompa. This is not obligatory.
- Prior to a formal teaching, it is customary to stand in silence while awaiting the teacher’s arrival. When the teacher enters, we bow, holding our hands in the prostration mudra until the teacher is seated. Once the teacher is seated, we may offer them three prostrations before sitting down.
- At the end of a formal teaching, it is customary to stand in silence until the teacher has left.
- Please do not point the bottom of your feet toward the altar or the teacher, which is considered disrespectful in the Buddhist tradition.
- When sitting on a cushion, please do not recline during teachings but maintain a respectful yet relaxed posture. This keeps helps us to remain alert while showing respect to the teachings and the teacher.