South Carolina 
Dharma Group

Studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism in Columbia, South Carolina
Join us for meditation Sundays at 10 AM at the Dharma Center (off Florence Ave., right behind the house at 3003 Columbia Ave., Columbia, SC 29201).

Please join us for meditation!

Please join us for meditation at 10 AM each Sunday! If you'd like an introduction to meditation, contact us at and we can schedule a time to meet with you before or after meditation.

Geshe Dakpa Topgyal teaching in Columbia this weekend (Aug. 26, 27, 28)

Geshe Dakpa Topgyal from Charleston will be teaching at the Dharma Center this weekend. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Here's the schedule

Friday, Aug. 26  7-8 PM

Saturday, Aug. 27  10-12 AM

Sunday, Aug. 28 10-12 AM  

Please note that Geshela asks that people arrive on time and not leave early.

Tibetan classes at the Dharma Center!

Please join us for Tibetan classes at the SCDG Dharma Center, the third Sunday of each month, at 11 AM! 

These classes will be for absolute beginners, who would like to understand and pronounce the words in recitations and prayers correctly, but students who know a little Tibetan will also benefit. Eric Winter and John Tasevski, who have proficiency in classical Tibetan, will teach the classes.

The class will begin Sunday, Aug. 21, and will be offered on the third Sunday of each month, so dates this fall will be Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20, and Dec. 18. The classes will begin after meditation, at 11 AM at the Dharma Center. 

On other Sundays at that time, we'll continue the discussion of The Path to Enlightenment by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Please let us know if you'd like to participate but don't have the book. We can order additional used copies, or you can buy your own online (the ISBN of the edition we use is 978-1559390323).

Please let us know if you need more information about either of these!

Join us for meditation Sundays at 10 AM!

Please join us for meditation each Sunday at 10 AM at the Dharma Center! For more information, email or call 803-467-7759.

Ahbay Rinpoche Returns to India

After a wonderful three-month visit, Ahbay Rinpoche has returned to India. He will travel in India and attend the Kalachakra offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, India, in January. Rinpoche La will also travel in Europe, and we hope will soon return to South Carolina for another visit, if possible.

Here are Rinpoche La and the students attending his last teaching before leaving in July, 2016:

A Peaceful Mind: A Public Talk by Ahbay Rinpoche June 1

A talk on the Buddhist path to mental and spiritual peace will be given by Ahbay Rinpoche at 6 PM on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in the Seibels House at 1601 Pickens St, Columbia, SC 29201 (at the corner of Pickens and Richland Street. The free talk is sponsored by the South Carolina Dharma Group.

The talk will focus on achieving peace by working to eliminate the negative mind of anger and hatred. Ahbay Rinpoche (Lama Ahbay Tulku Jigme Thupten Tendar Rinpoche) has been recognized by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Lama Lobsang Tenzin, and has taught widely in Europe and the United States.

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche Returns to Columbia!

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche has returned to Columbia for a three-month stay! He is with us April 13-July 4, 2016, and will offer regular teachings and meet with individuals for spiritual advice. He will offer teachings on on Monday and Wednesday nights on various topics. The teachings on both nights will be at 7 PM at the Dharma Center. He will also teach on meditation on Sunday mornings at 10, and may perform pujas and other practices then, as well. He is available for individual meetings--contact us at to schedule appointments. Please join us! We hope everyone has an opportunity to meet this remarkable teacher!

SCDG members greet Ahbay Rinpoche at the Columbia Airport.


Sand Mandala in Columbia

Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery created a Miedicine Buddha sand mandala in Columbia in November, 2015. See pictures from the making, dismantling, and dispersal of the mandala here.

Visit from Lama Ahbay Rinpoche, July 24-31, 2015

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche

We were fortunate to have a long visit from Lama Ahbay Rinpoche. He gave teachings at the center at on July 24 and 25 and a public talk at Siebels House on July 27, and also visited Charleston Greenville.

Ahbay Rinpoche (L) and Geshe Dakpa Topgyal (R) in Charleston

Ahbay Rinpoche (R) with SCDG President Robin Waites (L)

Ahbay Rinpoche at public talk at Siebels House

He returned to Columbia on July 31 for a Medicine Buddha puja. Many thanks to Karine Raybaud-Poux-Debaty for the beautiful pictures from the last puja:

Ahbay's hand on a participant's hand

Ahbay Rinpoche preparing the offerings

Offering bowls at the puja
Lined up for blessings

One person being blessed

Ahbay Rinpoche with participants

Saga Dawa 2015

scdg members at sagadawa

Members of the South Carolina Dharma Group celebrated 

Saga Dawa, the remembrance of Shakyamuni Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and passing into Parinivana. We said prayers and mantras, and released crickets (who would otherwise have been used for bait), reminding us of compassion and liberation.

Aid for Earthquake Victims in Nepal

Many of the victims of the earthquake in Nepal are Buddhists, some in our lineage, and some may even be relatives of a member of CTS, our sister organization in Charleston.  We hear that there are many problems with relief money sent to Nepal going only to the cities, while people in the small villages receive nothing. 

The Nepalese family in Charleston has connected us with a new fund set up to send aid directly to the villages that so far have had no relief from the government. (A helicopter that  was flying up to the mountain to rescue critically injured villagers  was taken by the government to rescue rich mountain climbers on Mt. Everest).

If you would like to send aid that will go directly to help the villages in the mountains, please:

1. Send checks made out to “Jampa Gompo” 

2. Mail them to:

Charleston Tibetan Society

ATTN: Karma G. Sherpa

12 Parkwood Avenue

Charleston, SC 29403

Unfortunately this fund is too new to be a 501c3, so there can’t be a tax write-off, but all money will go directly to the villages in Nepal.

Meditate with us at our new location!

The South Carolina Dharma Group has a new location in the Earlewood neighborhood of Columbia, in a building on Florence street just behind the house at 3003 Columbia Street (please come to the building on Florence, not to the house). Please join us for meditation there each Sunday at 10 AM.  For more detailed directions, write us at or call 803-467-7759.

Talk on "Meditation and Neuroplasticity"

by Dr. Dieter Borrmann

(student of Geshe Topgyal and Neurologist at the Gemeinschaftspraxis für Neurologie, Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie in Emmerich, Germany.)

             We were fortunate to have a talk on the effects of meditation on the brain by Dr. Dieter Borrman in April, 2015, co-sponsored by the USC Department of Religion.

Dr. Dieter Borrmann is a Neurologist at the Gemeinschaftspraxis für Neurologie, Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie in Emmerich, Germany.  He is a student of Buddhism under Geshe Dakpa Topgyal at The Charleston Tibetan Society, Charleston, SC. and under Geshe Pema Samten at the Tibetisches Zentrum e.V., Hamburg, Germany, where he is more than halfway into a seven year systematic course of study in Tibetan Buddhism. With the Universität Bonn he has contributed to the research on "Meditation and White Matter". His fascinating book about meditation from the perspective of a neurologist, both in personal experience and in medical practice, will soon be translated and published in English.

Stupa Completed


A stupa honoring the memory of the late Geshe Ngawang Phuntsok, former resident teacher of the South Carolina Dharma Group, has been completed and was consecrated in a formal ceremony in April 2014 in Bomdila, which lies in the mountains of northeastern India.

Stupa dedication ceremony

The stupa not only honors the memory of Geshe Phuntsok but also serves for the long-term spiritual benefit of visitors to Bomdila and residents of the region. Stupas represent the enlightened mind of buddhas and exhibit the spiritual road map to enlightenment. The stupa will exist as a source of merit for generations of numerous devoted people who can make offerings at and circumambulations around the sacred monument.

Erection of the stupa was made possible through the generous donations of Dr. Jamie Felberg and members of the Asanga Institute of Montrose, Colorado.


Geshe Phuntsok, who passed away September 18, 2012, was an ordained senior sangha member of Drepung Loseling and Gyuto Monasteries and taught in India and the United States. 

Teachings from Ven. Chonyi

Ven. Thubten Chonyi, of Sravasti Abbey in Washington State, visited SCDG for teachings Dec. 31-Jan. 5.  Below are pictures from the visit.

Ven. Chonyi teaches the weekend session on Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind to the Dharma

Members with Ven. Chonyi at the end of the teachings.


w Book by Spiritual Director Published

A new book, titleDeath: A Natural Part of Life, has been released by Geshe Dakpa Topgyal, the Spiritual Director of the South Carolina Dharma Group and Charleston Tibetan Society. This text shows how we can prepare for our inevitable death by 1) living an ethical life, 2) learning about the meaning of death as built into every birth and 3) practicing or training to become familiar with the process that we will all go through at the end of this life in order to develop the ability to maintain a calm and virtuous state of mind at the time of our death
 also discusses what is needed in those around a person who is dying.

Although Geshe 
 teaches from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, this book is not only for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. Death is a universal condition and each one of us must face it regardless of who we are--religious or nonreligious. Death: A Natural Part of Life will benefit every reader who wishes to examine death to reduce fear and who seeks to come to terms with the fact that as we were born we all must die.

The book is now available at the Dharma Center. For more information email us at

Geshe Phuntsok Memorial Fund

The South Carolina Dharma Group, in conjunction with Dr. Jamie Felberg, the Asanga Institute of Montrose, Colorado, and the Charleston Tibetan Society, has established a scholarship fund in memory of Geshe Ngawang Phuntsok. Geshe Phuntsok was the South Carolina Dharma Group’s resident teacher in 2002 and 2003 and was the Asanga Institute’s resident teacher from 2007 to 2012.

As devoted dharma students of Geshe Phuntsok, and following the moral suggestion of Geshe Dakpa Topgyal, SCDG’s spiritual director, the members of SCDG, CTS, the Asanga Institute, and Dr. Jamie Felberg, donated to the scholarship fund to make Geshe Phuntsok’s dream reality. We made contributions out of heartfelt respect for our teacher and out of the wish that Geshe Phuntsok’s dream be realized.

A second moral imperative, as pointed out by Geshe Topgyal, is to build a stupa in memory of Geshe Phuntsok in his home village, Bomdila, in northeastern India where he was born and where his parents currently reside. We are uncertain if we can succeed—that will depend on collecting funds the needed to build the stupa.

The purpose of the stupa will not just be to honor the memory of Geshe Phuntsok, but also to serve for the long-term spiritual benefit of as many sentient beings as possible. The stupa would exist as a sacred source of merit for generations of numerous devoted people who may make offerings at the stupa and circumambulations around the monument.

Dr. Jamie Felberg has made a commitment to help make the stupa a reality, but any individual who would like to donate can donate online or by mailing a check to the South Carolina Dharma Group, PO Box 50357, Columbia, SC 29250. Contact us for more information at

Please join our email list to find out about future SC Dharma Group events.


Portrait of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

Photo credit: Tenzin Choejor, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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We Depend on Donations from Members and Friends Like You
Your contributions help support our programming, such as teachings by accredited teachers in the Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist lineage, retreats and meditation lessons. 

You can securely make a donation online by clicking the button below. You do not need a PayPal account to donate online. Look for the "Continue" link by the bank card icons on the PayPal donation page.

You may also donate by mailing us a check (SCDG, PO Box 50357, Columbia, SC 29250) or by leaving cash or a check at the Dharma Center. 

The South Carolina Dharma Group is a federally-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.