About Us

About the South Carolina Dharma Group

The mission of the South Carolina Dharma Group is to offer teaching and practice of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelugpa lineage, as well as furthering the understanding of Tibetan culture.

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

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

A Little More About Us

We're Tibetan Buddhists, followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. On a regular basis, we hold prayers and meditation as a group, partly using the Tibetan language. Periodically our Spiritual Director, Geshe Dakpa Topgayl, visits from us Charleston, South Carolina and teaches Buddhist philosophy and practice. We also host visiting authentic Buddhist teachers from various traditions, but mostly from the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa tradition.

We Welcome Everyone of All Backgrounds

We welcome everyone at the Dharma Center and there's no charge for attending mediation or teachings. Donations are welcome, however, here online or in the basket at the dharma center. Membership is also open to everyone, Buddhist or not. If you have questions about our practice or anything else, please let us know.

So that you can feel comfortable visiting our center, even if you are new to Buddhism, we wanted to let you know about some dharma center etiquette:

  • Please dress comfortably and be prepared to remove your shoes. We have both chairs and cushions, so if you get there early, you can choose. Feel free to bring your own cushion if you have one you like. We ask everyone to remove your shoes before entering the shrine room. Also, please avoid letting the sole of your foot face toward the altar or the teacher (that's from Asian culture, not a Buddhist belief). If an ordained teacher is present, please stand when he or she enters or leaves the shrine room. Many of us will bow, but you're not required to do so unless you want.

  • At the beginning of meditation or teaching, some of us will do prostrations toward the altar as a way of reminding ourselves to look beyond our egos to the ultimate reality. (Buddha was not a god, and we don't worship the statues on the altar. They represent aspects of mind that lead us to enlightenment.) You don't have to join in the prostrations unless you understand clearly what they mean and want to do so.

  • Our prayers may be said in Tibetan or English. There should be a booklet at your seat with the prayers, and a translation is available in the booklet also. The prayers, translations, and explanations are also available on this page.

  • We will meditate for 30 minutes, usually. If you're not used to meditation, try it for as long as is comfortable and then sit quietly. For beginners, here are a few tips: sit with your back straight and your eyes cast down or shut, and breathe through your nose. Focus your attention on your breath--either where it enters your nose, in your throat, or in your chest or stomach. Your mind will wander. When it does, don't feel frustrated (that's natural)--just remind yourself to return to thinking about your breath.

  • If a teacher is present, we may not meditate at all, or may meditate for a shorter time.

Want to learn more about dharma etiquette? Here's a short article that explains more:

What to Expect at the Dharma Center

South Carolina Dharma Group Board of Directors, 2020-2021

President: Eric Winter

Secretary: Nancy Kreml

Treasurer: John Castillo

At large: Claudia Brinson and John Tasevski

The Complete History of the South Carolina Dharma Group

The South Carolina Dharma Group was found in Columbia, South Carolina in 2000. Here's the history, year by year.

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