At the centre, we receive visitors and retreatants who reflect the broad diversity of Australian culture and the region as well as people who are new to Buddhism in general and Pure Land Buddhism in particular.
To foster the harmonious practice and to enable everyone to focus on their practice without worrying whether they are doing things correctly, we have gradually developed centre etiquette.
Visiting the Centre
Please refrain from practices other than those of the centre.
People come to the centre to practice and to learn. A quiet environment is necessary for both pursuits. In order not to disturb others, please refrain from all unnecessary talking. If talking is necessary, do so quietly. Please respect others’ wishes if they indicate they do not want to talk.
Do not bring any of the following to the centre: tobacco, illegal drugs, chewing gum, alcohol, meat, pets, plants, or books other than those approved by the centre staff.
Low-heeled, easy to slip on and off shoes and neutral-colored, loose clothing without any slogans is appropriate. Please be sure skirts and shorts come to below the knees and tops cover the shoulders, chest area, and midriff. Socks are to be worn in the cultivation hall. Please do not wear any jewelry that makes noise or perfume and scented toiletries as these can be distracting.
Our form of greeting is hezang (hands held together at chest level) and a slight bow. This greeting fosters harmony and shows respect for the Buddha nature within each of us.
If you are coming for the Sunday practice and will be joining us for lunch, please let us know by Friday noon for catering purposes.
Anyone wishing to attend a retreat needs to submit an application specifically for that retreat. Applications must be received seven days before the retreat start date to allow for consideration and notification of acceptance/decline.
Please be punctual and participate fully in each scheduled retreat activity. However, it is understood that some people may not be able to follow the entire schedule because of health conditions or age. We will do all we can to accommodate anyone with a sincere desire to practice.
Lectures and Discussions
During the discussion sessions, please wait for whoever is speaking to finish before speaking yourself. Do not interrupt or start talking to another person.
The Cultivation Hall
After arriving at the centre for the weekly Sunday cultivation session, greet others with “Amituofo,” hezang and a slight bow, but do not converse with other members and guests. Please go to the dining room to put on a haiching and then go to the cultivation hall.
Before entering the hall, remove your shoes. Enter the hall, hezang and bow to the Buddha. Go to your assigned cushion and do one bow, three prostrations, and one bow. Then stand quietly and wait for the session to begin.
When leaving the hall at the end of a group practice session, exit in single file. Do not bow before walking out the door. If leaving at other times, hezang and bow to the Buddha before walking out the door.
It is considered disrespectful to point the soles of one’s feet toward a Buddha image or a monastic. Please be aware of your posture in the hall: do not stretch legs out toward the Buddha images or lounge on the floor. Please do not cross your legs when sitting in the chairs. Also, when moving around the hall, try not to walk in front of those who are sitting in meditation or prostrating.
When at your cushion and finished with the practice book, close it and place it on the upper right-hand corner of the cushion. If you are at your chair, hold the book until you are back at your cushion. Then place the book on the upper right-hand corner.
Do not place the practice books on the floor or on a chair. Do not put eyeglasses on top of the books, but rather to the side of your cushion away from the aisles
As a sign of respect for all our Buddhist teachers—Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and monastics—place hands in hezang and face the middle aisle when Venerable Wuling enters and leaves the hall. As Venerable, or visiting monastics, walk down the middle aisle past you, please give a slight bow.
In walking meditation, Venerable Wuling leads. If she is not present, the lead is taken by the Bell Master, who is second in charge of the hall.
Order for walking meditation: The first row to the right side of the room (facing the Buddha) moves to the middle aisle followed by those on the front row on the left-hand side of the room. Next, those on the second row on the right hand side followed by those on left hand side, etc.
Hands are held in hezang until the individual reaches the back corner and turns to walk toward the Buddha. Move hands to pay homage to the Buddha and then move them to waist level as instructed by the person in charge of the hall or centre staff.
At the conclusion of the walking meditation, as we enter the middle aisle, place hands in hezang again as you return to your cushion.
During sitting meditation, people may sit on either their assigned cushion or chair. When the hand bell is rung once at the end of the session, those sitting on their cushions should return to their chairs and sit down.
Centre staff members are assigned to duties during the cultivation and teaching sessions. People who have not been asked to help with a specific task are requested to remain at their chair or cushion.
If you need to leave to use the restroom, please remove your haiching and hang it in the dining room first. If there is walking meditation when you return to the hall, please wait in the designated area and from there return to your place in the line.
After leaving the cultivation hall at the end of the session, please return the centre’s haichings to the dining room. Be sure you have removed all tissues, eyeglasses, etc. from the pocket before hanging the haiching on a black hanger.
Prior to each meal, two people will be assigned to work in the kitchen. Since the centre kitchen is small, only these two individuals are allowed in the kitchen for that mealtime.
Centre members will be assigned to a duty roster on Sundays. There will also be a roster for participants during retreats.
While we appreciate that people like to bring dishes on Sundays and for retreats, we must now request that this no longer be done. All meals are carefully planned and prepared by the centre staff. When additional food is brought in, the arrival of this unplanned for food usually results in food being wasted. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this.
The Dining Room
Shoes are to be worn in the dining room. Remove them only in the cultivation hall and in Jacaranda House.
Prior to and after all meals, we silently recite “Amituofo” together ten times.
During the regular Sunday lunch, there is no talking during mealtime. Pertinent discussions are to be conducted afterwards over refreshments and fruit.
During weekend retreats, talking is allowed Friday night at dinner to enable participants to get to know each other. On Saturday, there is no talking during meals, but pertinent discussions are fine afterwards over refreshments and fruit. After the last meditation session Saturday night, silence will be observed. On Sunday, silence continues and there is no talking other than during the times indicated on the schedule. This “Noble Silence” will help to deepen the benefits of retreat practice.
Food prepared by the centre staff is primarily vegan, entirely vegetarian. Please take as much as you like but do not waste anything.
Do not enter others’ rooms without their permission. Leave valuables and cell phones locked up in your car or ask the centre staff to place them in a safe place. The centre is not responsible for any lost or missing property.
Talk quietly if necessary but please do not disturb others.
Lights are to be turned off by 10 PM.
Turn off lights, appliances, and water before leaving the house. In the evening, the outside lights are to be left on until all female guests are in the house.
Due to the fire hazard, candles and incense are not to be lit by guests in the house or anywhere on the centre grounds.
Remove the sheets from your bed and place them in the basket in the laundry. Other bedding can be left at the head of the bed.
Be sure you have all your belongings when you leave the centre.
The centre bell is rung to indicate the next activity will begin in five minutes. When the centre bell is rung prior to a session in the cultivation hall, put on your haiching and go to the cultivation hall. When the centre bell is rung prior to a meal, go to the dining room and wait quietly to be seated.
Please refrain from planting anything on the grounds without first consulting the centre staff. Be sure to put away all tools after completing the community work sessions. When leaving the grounds, kindly do not beep your horn.
Thank you for helping to foster harmony
and for respecting our Teacher and all who attend the centre.