FAQ

FAQ 2018-09-11T18:06:17+00:00

Program FAQ’s

Buddhism is the collection of profound and transformative teachings and meditations which trace their origination to Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived and taught 2,500 year ago in India. The goal of Buddhist teachings and practices is enlightenment, the understanding and experience of true reality, a joyous state completely free of the suffering.

Buddhism provides a path out of the inevitable suffering of life, the suffering from day to day challenges of living in the world. Through meditation and study it helps us the liberate the deeper roots of ignorance that underlie all of our experience. To find the way out of suffering, Buddhism does not require belief in any particular concept, simply the willingness and curiosity to explore and investigate with focused attention the true nature of experience and reality. Meditation helps us to open to our innate wisdom and loving kindness.

Buddhism does not posit an ultimate god but rather teaches that True Nature, Reality itself, Pure Being are the nature of all that is, pervading everything. Awakened wisdom and love are the nature of and are inseparable with all that is.

Buddhism spread from India to Tibet primarily during the 7th- 12th centuries, where it was actualized by yogis and yoginis down to the present day. The technical term for Tibetan Buddhism is Vajrayana. It is part of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, and includes the fundamental teachings and meditations of the Thervadin, Mahayana as well. Vajrayana works with tantric methods as well as the direct simple approaches of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.

Lama is the Vajrayana title for a priest. This is also synonymous with rabbi, roshi, etc. A lama generally has completed a three year intensive practice retreat, or the equivalent meditation and philosophy training in daily life and may be a monastic or layperson.

Membership and Logistical Questions

Sukhasiddhi Center is located at 771 Center Boulevard, Fairfax, CA. It is in the Fairfax Plaza, across from the Good Earth Natural Foods market.

Sukhasiddhi is not a residential center, so we cannot accommodate overnight guests. There are places to stay near us. Click Here for a list of nearby inns and places to stay.

Yes, there are many places to eat within walking distance. In the same plaza are two restaurants, and across the street is the Good Earth Natural Goods kitchen and café, offering 100% organic take out or eat in food, including many vegetarian and vegan options. Two blocks away is the town of Fairfax which has many cafe and restaurant options.

Yes, we have a break room including a refrigerator and microwave. Your are welcome to eat your lunch in the break room, the office or outside on a walkway.

Our classes and events generally on time, so we ask participants to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the event. The Center is usually opened a half hour early. Because we are in a public area, we generally have to lock the door once the class starts. If you arrive late, and there is not sign on the door saying to wait, you may knock gently on the door and someone will let you in. However, it is important if at all possible to arrive on time, to avoid this type of disruption to meditation. In some classes and events, late comers will not be let in.

Yes, there is a free parking lot in front of the center and across the street. There is two-hour free street parking, and if necessary, a free parking lot three block away in Fairfax is available, though we have not had to use that option yet.

Registration is not necessary for the Monday evening meditation and Tuesday morning classes. Registration is optional for the Sunday Wisdom River events. For most other events, we do ask that you register so that we know how many to accommodate. Registration is done through the event calendar.

The Monday night meditation and Wisdom River Sunday’s are free events, though donations are always welcome. Most other classes and events have a suggested donation, though many can be attended on an offer what you can basis. Each class and event describes what the suggested donation is. Retreats and programs have fees.

  • In general, we are a relaxed center which tries to avoid too many rules. However, we do have a few:
  • We ask people to remove their shoes before entering the shrine room. There are shoe racks in the entrance hall.
  • The lama or teacher will often do three prostrations before the start of a class. You may join in doing prostrations, but it is not necessary. In some classes, students will be standing when the lama enters, but this is not necessary. Do what is comfortable for you.
  • You may bring coffee, tea or water with you, and tea and water is available in the break room.
  • Please do not touch the sacred items on the altars and walls.
  • Silence is appropriate once the class starts, except for group discussions. Conversation is fine before or after class.
  • We ask that our prayer books, songbooks and any texts that are handed out are not put on the floor. There is a table provided with each chair to hold these things, and an extra cushion can be used to place these on for those on the floor.

Our shrine room has both floor cushions (zafus and zabutons) and chairs.

Yes, most of our weekly classes can be attended either in person or online (or a combination). Online options include video live stream (viewing the class while it is going on), watching a video recording,or downloading an audio recording to listen to. Class video and audio recordings are available to members as long as they are members, and to students for several months after the class series is over. Online instructions are emailed to each student who registers for a class.

Not at all. Virtually every class or event is open to non-members, with the exception of the year-long or multi-year programs. However, students who want to study for a period of time at Sukhasiddhi are recommended to become members. Membership is an important source of support for Sukhasiddhi, and develops a close community. Membership offers discounts on retreats and events, access to more recordings, and member social events.

No, Buddhism is not exclusive. Many people participate whose primary tradition is another faith or secular tradition. People of all faiths and traditions often find that Buddhism is a good augmentation for their spiritual development even if they are committed to a different tradition.. In Tibetan Buddhism, this is called Rimé, and is based on the approach that spiritual practices and teachings are the “finger pointing to the moon”, and not the moon (actual realization of reality) itself. In Tibet, Rimé meant that people trained and meditated in other Vajrayana lineages as well as in their own.

Terminology

Dharma has multiple meanings, but in general refers to truth, and in common practice to Buddhist teachings.

The three turning of the wheel of dharma is a framework for understanding the different levels of teachings taught by the Buddha. Different schools of Buddhism may view this framework differently; this description is from the Tibetan Buddhist perspective. The three turnings build on each other. The first turning is the foundation of the house; the second turning is the first floor; and the third turning is the top floor.

The first teachings given by the Buddha, which includes the Four Noble Truths. This set of teachings involves personal discipline, and the emptiness of the self.

The second level of teachings focuses on the realization of compassion and emptiness, the desire to reach enlightenment not just for the self but for the benefit of all beings. In Mahayana includes the emptiness of all phenomena as well as emptiness of self.

This set of teachings emphasizes Buddha nature, the ever-present awake nature inherent in all sentient beings and works with a vast variety of methods to help the individual to actualize this.

Vajrayana includes the tantric aspect of Buddhist practice, part of the Mahayana or Greater Vehicle. It spread to Tibet, China, Japan and other parts of Asia from the highly realized mahasiddhas (adepts) of ancient India. There are vast ancient writings of Vajrayana texts known as tantras. This path engages all of who we are as human beings, our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual aspects, transforming ignorance and neurotic habitual patterns into awakened body, speech, and mind through various types of meditation including quiet sitting, visualization, mantras, prayers, music, yoga, and mudras (gestures).

Lineage is the line of transmission of a body of Buddhist teachings and practices from the Buddha down to our current day. In each generation certain disciples have taken the teachings from a master and fully actualized the transmission, and in turn have in turn transmitted the teachings to the next generation. Over time, the different lineages of Buddhism have developed with their own flavor of teachings and practices. In Tibetan Buddhism, the four main lineages are the Gelugpa, the Nyingma, the Kagyu and the Sakya.

Bodhicitta is the wish to attain enlightenment in order to be able to help bring all beings to liberation. Bodhicitta, a Sanskrit term translates as awakened (bodhi) mind (citta). Relative bodhicitta is our wish and our efforts to be of benefit of others; ultimate bodhicitta is the enlightened state which is of immeasurable benefit to others.

The Shangpa lineage (also known as the Shangpa Kagyu lineage) was founded by Khyungpo Naljor, an 11-12th c. Tibetan who traveled several times to India to study with the Vajrayana Buddhist gurus. He had 150 teachers, but said that he had four primary gurus: Niguma, Sukhasiddhi, Rahula and Métripa. Of these Sukhasiddhi and Niguma were primary.

Most of the practices and teachings in the Shangpa come from one of these fully and completely awakened women, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi The entirety of the Shangpa meditation curriculum is engaged with as part of the long-term practice programs at Sukhasiddhi Foundation.

The Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism began with Marpa, who traveled from Tibet to India many times to receive teachings. His principle teacher was Naropa, whose guru was Tilopa. Milarepa was Marpa’s most famous disciple, the preeminent yogi of Tibet. A primary teaching of the Kagyu lineage is Mahamudra, the Great Seal. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is the head of the Kagyu lineage.

Yes, most of our weekly classes can be attended either in person or online (or a combination). Online options include video live stream (viewing the class while it is going on), watching a video recording,or downloading an audio recording to listen to. Class video and audio recordings are available to members as long as they are members, and to students for several months after the class series is over. Online instructions are emailed to each student who registers for a class.

Not at all. Virtually every class or event is open to non-members, with the exception of the year-long or multi-year programs. However, students who want to study for a period of time at Sukhasiddhi are recommended to become members. Membership is an important source of support for Sukhasiddhi, and develops a close community. Membership offers discounts on retreats and events, access to more recordings, and member social events.

No, Buddhism is not exclusive. Many people participate whose primary tradition is another faith or secular tradition. People of all faiths and traditions often find that Buddhism is a good augmentation for their spiritual development even if they are committed to a different tradition.

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Giving is not just about making a donation, it is about making a difference.

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Get Involved

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

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