Etiquette at Wat Buddhametta
We have provided these etiquette guidelines for our community members who are new to Buddhism and would like to know the appropriate behavior when visiting Wat Buddhametta, Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center. Lay people visiting the temple are encouraged to develop their mindfulness and these guidelines help to support their own spiritual practice.
Buddhist temples have certain social conventions and a body language meant to convey a sense of composure, grace, and respect that help to support the spiritual practice. For people visiting the temple and unfamiliar with the etiquette, it can often feel intimidating: "I think there is a way I am supposed to behave, but I don't know what it is!" No good monk will be offended by the absence of proper etiquette. Much more important is a well-intentioned attitude. Courtesy and respect go a long way and are the basis for many of the forms of etiquette we use in the temple.
As well as promoting harmony and grace within the community, the forms of etiquette we use are also a means of training oneself in mindfulness, loving-kindness, and awareness in everyday social interactions with others and especially with the monks. The most commonly used expression of body language in the temple is the Añjali. The hands are held palm-to-palm in front of the heart and are sometimes raised to the lowered forehead. It is a gesture of respect that can be used as a greeting, a goodbye, a thank-you or when speaking with one of the monks. Lay people must not shake hands, touch, or come too close to the monks.
When visiting the Buddha room of our temple for a ceremony, meditation, class or any other service or event, please turn cell phones off or set to vibrate. The temple is sacred to Buddhists and we ask that you refrain from conversation when a monk is speaking or giving a Dhamma talk. Before a ceremony or meditation, we bow three times to show our gratitude to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. If you are not a Buddhist, you may bow just one time to show respect to the Buddha and the monks.
If your legs become tired when sitting, it is traditionally considered impolite to point one's feet toward the altar or the monks. You may put your legs behind you or to your side. Also, lying down or stretching out is considered inappropriate in the Buddha room. Also, books and materials about the Buddha's teachings are sacred and should not be placed on the floor or stepped over.
One should remove one's shoes when entering the temple building. The standard is to try to leave it cleaner than when you arrived. An overall attitude of care and respect for temple property is the rule.
For both men and women, we discourage strong smells such as smoke, cologne, and perfume during the time of meditation. Dress can be casual but should be modest. Due to our hot climate, we allow the wearing of shorts but we prefer that they are not more than two or three inches above the knee. The wearing of tank tops is discouraged. In the temple environment dressing modestly helps to support the monks practice of living a spiritual life.
Do not worry about making a mistake and offending anyone. This temple is open to everyone and we want you to be comfortable. Please come with a respectful attitude and you are always welcome.