Greeting the Teacher:
Presenting a Khata (silk scarf) is used as a greeting in the Tibetan tradition. It is usually handed to a Geshe or Rinpoche especially when one has an audience with the teacher, on special occasions or at Dharma festivals, or at the conclusion of a teaching or initiation. Once presented, the Khata is generally returned by placing it around your neck and giving you a blessing.
Addressing the Teacher:
High lamas, tulkus (i.e., reincarnated lamas), are referred to as “Rinpoche,” and when speaking of him, one refers to him by his name as well as his title, for example, “XXX Rinpoche.” In addressing very high Tulkus, such as His Holiness the Karmapa or His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one would refer to them as: “Your Holiness. In some instances, the term “Kyabje” is used: “Kyabje XXX Rinpoche.”
The title “Geshe” (pronounced ge-shey), which means teacher of the highest degree, is usually supplemented with the addition of the Tibetan honorific suffix “la.” However, the honorific “la” can be used with any name (e.g., Tashi la, Tsering la, or Lobzang la) as a sign of respect. Using this honorific to address monks and nuns is very respectful.
Before the Teaching
Please arrive early, so as not to disturb the class once it has started. This consideration also shows that you value the teachings and the teacher. If you must enter the shrine room after meditation sessions or teachings have begun, please do it as quickly and as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb others.
Avoid loud talking or laughing around the area of the teaching. It is best to sit quietly, placing yourself in a calm, receptive state of mind.
Visitors and students are welcome to bring items as offering for the altar (i.e., flowers, fruit, or food for our teachers or the food bank). Items should be clean and fruit should be washed and set in a container so it isn’t placed directly on the altar.
When Teacher Enters and Exits
Please stand when a teacher enters or leaves a room. It is also typical to bow slightly towards the teacher with one’s hands at the heart, as a symbol of prostrating. Once the teacher has taken his/her seat, attendees make three prostrations. At the conclusion of the teaching, attendees stand and perform three prostrations before the teacher leaves the shrine room.