I figured I would post this in the "Discovering Theravāda" subforum because it is a question that is probably most relevant to other readers on this site who are, as I am, "discovering" Theravāda.
I moved from Toronto about a year and a half ago to the much smaller town of Whitby in Ontario for gainful employment at the local General Motors plant, but in doing so, I left behind easy/feasible access to the Jōdo Shinshū temple I used to attend in North York.
I recently reconnected with an old friend from university, who I am able to carpool with to his local temple, the Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery in Markham. I am very excited to finally be able to attend a temple again, however I am also quite nervous, both because of my tendencies toward shyness and cultural unfamiliarity. This will be the first temple I attend that:
a) isn't almost entirely comprised of other white converts,
and b) is a Theravāda institution rather than a Mahāyāna one.
In the past, my interaction with monks has been based on the philosophy "just be polite" by the standards of my own upbringing. Obviously I know to take my shoes off where everyone else has taken theirs off. But, for the sake of example, I have never done a "traditional" añjali, I've always just bowed my head slightly, almost like a nod, and the monk, who I assume is used to awkward converts unfamiliar with foreign cultural practices, has never been particularly taken back. Similarly I've never had a special way of referring to monks that I was told was polite. I first encountered the term "bhante" online here at DhammaWheel, for instance, so I wouldn't have known that convention of politeness.
Obviously I am going to ask these things of my friend, in person, as we head there, and I am sure that they will be quite understanding if I stick out a bit for not knowing certain conventions, but I thought I would also ask this online community here too. What are the "basics" of temple etiquette? If there is already a thread on temple etiquette I apologize for the redundancy.
And similarly, are there any common faux-pas committed by newcomers to Buddhist places of congregation where the constituents come from traditionally Buddhist societies?
For instance, apparently it is rude to shake a monk's hand. That is something I had never known.
Last edited by Coëmgenu
on Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.