Dawn Mountain is a very colorful place!
You’ll see colorful paintings and elaborate sculptures depicting significant figures in Tibetan Buddhism. These beings represent various human qualities that we aspire to, such as wisdom, compassion, generosity; and others we seek to avoid – like greed, jealousy or rage.
We meditate silently, and with sound – often in the same session.
Our most basic meditation technique is a mindfulness-based practice of sitting silently and focusing on the breath. On Sunday mornings, at Teaching Tuesdays and during retreats we almost always practice this method. In addition, we use sound as a focusing aid for meditation, and we often chant simple, sacred syllables like “Om, “Ah” or “Hung”. Whoever is leading the practice offers clear instructions for the chants, and anyone who is not comfortable chanting is welcome to sit quietly instead.
No one wears shoes in the temple space, and we keep our feet to ourselves.
We regard the temple as sacred space, and we try to keep it as clean as possible. There are cubbies under the windows for shoe storage; when those are full folks just leave their shoes by the door. In Tibetan culture (like many other Eastern cultures) it is considered rude to point one’s feet in the direction of another person, especially a teacher or shrine. We try to avoid this.
We keep our sacred texts off the floor.
We avoid letting our prayer books and prayer sheets touch the floor (on top of a cushion is fine), and we make sure not to step on or over them.
We honor and hold space for our teaching lineage in the form of a teaching throne.
The large and beautiful throne was hand carved and painted in India especially for our primary teacher from Tibet. Its ornate display is meant to convey the vivid richness of teaching. It was completed in 2009, and we look forward to the day when Rinpoche will return to Dawn Mountain to teach from it, as he has promised to do.
Photos throughout our space depict our teachers past and present.
We feel strongly connected to all the former teachers of our particular lineage. We honor the continuity of traditions and teachings stretching back into the past and forward into the future for many generations.
Some Dawn Mountain members wear shawls and perform prostrations.
Buddhist practitioners traditionally begin a meditation session or a teaching lecture by offering devotion and respect in the form of three deep bows – forehead to the floor each time. Some may also choose to put on “Zen shawls” as a sign of connection to the ancient traditions of Tibetan practice. These shawls, for sale at Dawn Mountain, are made in Tibet and blessed by our our teacher, who encourages students to wear them.
We make positive aspirations together, and we dedicate our practice to the benefit of others.
We believe in the power of aspiration and prayer, and in the power of our positive practice to benefit those outside of Dawn Mountain, near and far. At the end of each practice or session, we dedicate the accumulated merit of our time together to specific individuals and groups whose names we have written in a book for that purpose, as well as to all beings (human and otherwise,) everywhere.
We light candles and share food and drink offerings with our teachers.
As in many churches, candles are lit around the Dawn Mountain temple space before a practice or teaching session. Likewise, during closing prayers at the end of a session we light a special candle for our dedication prayer. Finally, we place symbolic offerings of flowers, rice and water before the images of the most revered Buddhas of our lineage.
We take breaks, and we provide snacks!
Every guided meditation, teaching or retreat session at Dawn Mountain includes time for breaks and socializing. Water, tea and simple snacks are available all the time, and many of our special celebrations involve delicious (vegetarian) pot-luck meals.