Past Event Archive

Meditation at the Dharma Center is on hold, but we will meet online for Dharma Discussions

Meditation will not be held at the South Carolina Dharma Center until further notice, due to the coronavirus. We are meeting online weekly on Thursdays for Dharma discussion via Zoom, so contact us at if you would like to be part of that.

Meanwhile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has suggested saying the Green Tara mantra to help with the spread of the illness.

Buddhist Global Relief Action to Feed the Hungry $200 Match

Update: We Exceeded Our Match Goal by 200%!

The South Carolina Dharma Group matched $200 in donations designated for Buddhist Global Relief though October 26, 2020, and we reached 200% of our match goal.

Thank you for your the generous donations of $408!

With the SCDG match, $608 was sent to BGR.

If you would still like to a donation, even though the match period is over, you can donate directly to Buddhist Global Relief.

The Venerable Thubten Chonyi, a nun from Sravasti Abbey who hosted a Zoom retreat for SCDG this summer and has come to South Carolina multiple times as a visiting teacher, has reached out to ask for our participation in fundraising for the organization Buddhist Global Relief.

As Ven. Chonyi explained:

"Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) is a US-based humanitarian organization that combats chronic hunger and malnutrition, founded by well-known Buddhist scholar, translator, and (now) activist, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. Bearing in mind the Buddha’s words that 'hunger is the worst kind of illness' and 'the gift of food is the gift of life,' BGR focuses on direct food aid, sustainable food production methods, and education and empowerment for women and girls. BGR supports projects in 20 countries, including the US, and they need our help.

BGR’s biggest source of funding comes in hundreds of pledges raised through annual Walks to Feed the Hungry—large public events, often in major cities. This year, due to the coronavirus, doing live walks is dangerous. And, due to the coronavirus, the pressing danger of world hunger has exploded. This is why the Abbey has pledged to help them. I am writing SC Dharma to invite you to join us to raise $10,000 to support their efforts."

For more information on Buddhist Global Relief and their many projects, check out their website and Facebook page.




JUNE 27-28, 2020

TIME: Saturday, June 27—11 AM-1:30 PM, 3:30-5:30 PM

Sunday, June 28—11 AM-1:30 PM

TOPIC: “Accepting Suffering as a Practice of Patience”

Ven. Thubten Chonyi of Sravasti Abbey

This will include some background on suffering (middle scope review and how this fits with the bodhisattva practices); the advantages of accepting suffering; how to practice with this idea.

The retreat will include formal teaching and discussion, along with some instruction and practice in tonglen. You are encouraged to use free time in silence as much as possible, reading dharma books and practicing meditation and mindfulness.

VENERABLE THUBTEN CHONYI: Venerable Thubten Chonyi has studied Buddhist meditation and philosophy with author and well-known Buddhist Venerable Thubten Chodron since 1996. In 2007, she joined her teacher at Sravasti Abbey, an American Buddhist monastery, where she ordained as a novice in 2008. She received full ordination at Fo Guang Shan temple in Taiwan in 2011. At the Abbey, Ven. Chonyi focuses mainly on communications—website content, publicity, and so forth—and supports the Dharma programs.

NO FEE, but DANA is encouraged via PayPal to or by personal check to SCDG (we will send to Sravasti)—give as you can

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Send name, email address, phone number, and Zoom username to


SCDG offers a free introduction to meditation and Buddhism at 11 AM at the Dharma Center--first on Jan. 12,2020 and after that on the first Sunday of each month. Join us!


Lama Karma Rinpoche visited SCDG in October, 2019, and gave teachings and blessings. We were honored to meet him!


Lama Kharma from Bhutan will speak at 10 AM at the SCDG Dharma Center on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2019. Lama Karma is a lineage holder in the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism.


Rinpoche La is pictured with the altar set up for the blessing.


AUG. 4-28, 2019

Geshe Lama Ahbay Rinpoche will visit the South Carolina Dharma Group in Columbia Aug. 4-28. He will teach or perform pujas at the Dharma Center on Sunday mornings, 10-12, Monday and Thursday evenings 7-9, a retreat Aug. 23-25, and public talks. A complete schedule is here.

For more details, email or text or call 803-467-7759.

Consecration of Newly-Renovated Shrine Room

On March 3, 2019, Geshe Dakpa Topgyal, our spiritual director, consecrated the newly-renovated shrine room. It is much larger and more comfortable, and very beautiful! Many thanks to Eric for all his generous work and dedication. We hope you will join us Sundays at 10 AM for meditation.

If newcomers need directions or want to meet early for an introduction, let us know at


The Dharma Center for the South Carolina Dharma Group will reopen Sunday, Feb. 10. Please join us at 10 AM for meditation in the Gelugpa lineage of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. If newcomers need directions or want to meet early for an introduction, let us know at

We'll have pictures once the finishing touches have been added, but you'll like the beautiful and spacious renovation!


SCDG will hold its annual meeting and potluck at noon on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Claudia's house. We will eat at noon and begin the meeting at 1 PM. Everyone is invited to attend, though only members may vote. If you want to join us for the meal but won't be able to cook, takeout or fruit, beverages, bread, etc., are welcome.

The agenda includes election of officers and plans for the coming year. Please contact us at or 803-467-7759 to get directions to Claudia's house and answers to any other questions.

SAGA DAWA May 29, 7 PM

at the SCDG Dharma Center

Please join us!

Please join us to celebrate Saga Dawa (Vesak), the remembrance of Shakyamuni Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana, on Tuesday, May 29, at 7 PM at the Dharma Center.

We'll be releasing animals (probably crickets) who would otherwise be killed. We'll also make offerings and share tea, cookies, and anything else.

If you want to bring any kind of offering (cookies, fruit, flowers, etc.), please do!






It's a common American pastime to read the news each morning. Yet recently, reading the news is a sure cause for frustration, anger, or despair for many people. Polarization is the norm, and people with different views find it hard to speak to each other. Is this how we want to live?

Buddhism teaches the futility of anger and the damage

it brings, while its opposites -- love, fortitude or

patience, and compassion – bring only benefit to

ourselves and others. Are these ideas practical in today's

world? If so, how do we get from anger to love?

Ven. Chonyi shared this quotation from The Twenty-Seven

Verses on Mind Training, by Je Tsongkhapa:

"20) So sensitive an ecology is the interdependence of all,

that the slightest attention and assistance to others creates

moral elevation for ourselves and humanity, while the

slightest indifference or neglect toward others creates

moral harm for ourselves and our civilization.

The faintest spark of ill will toward other beings can burst forth into a terrible forest fire, consuming vast expanses of sympathetic joy. Even the faintest negative reaction or malicious wish opens wide channels throughout our entire being for life-destroying poisons of negation and life-obscuring shadows of self-cherishing."

Ven. Chonyi arrives!

Grigori, John T, Eric, Nancy, Carolyn with Ven. Chonyi at CAE. John V took the picture!

Ven. Chonyi Teaches at the SCDG Dharma Center,

Apr. 21-26

Ven. Chonyi of Sravasti Abbey is returning to Columbia! She will offer teachings at the Dharma Center Apr. 21-27, 2018. We hope you will join us!

The theme of the teachings is "The Opposite of Anger" and will focus on how we can turn from anger to compassion in these contentious times. Ven. Chonyi grew up in Atlanta and was ordained in 2011. She resides at Sravasti Abbey where Thubten Chodron is abbess.

Below is a schedule for Ven. Chonyi's teachings at the Dharma Center, as well as a public talk. We hope you can join us! Please feel free to forward to others who might be interested.

Saturday, April 21

Morning (9-11:30 AM) and afternoon (1-3:30 PM) teaching at Dharma Center: "Cultivating Kindness in Contentious Times"

Sunday, April 22

Morning (10-12): Meditation and teaching on Chenrezig, Buddha of Compassion

(12-2:30) Lunch at 2 Gingers for those who want to join us

Afternoon (2:30-4): Informal Discussion of Rebirth in the Pure Land

Monday evening, April 23--7 PM . "Kindness in Contentious Times, continued"

Tuesday evening, April 24--Public talk 7 PM Seibels House

Topic: "The Opposite of Anger"

Wednesday evening, April 25, 7 PM--talk at Dharma Center "Can Anger Be Righteous"?

Thursday is still TBA--probably a talk at an interfaith group open to public

Ven. Chonyi will also lead a retreat at Radiant Mind Retreat Center Apr. 27-29.

Join Us for Meditation

Please join us for meditation Sundays at 10 AM!



Venerable Thubten Chonyi from Sravasti Abbey will visit the South Carolina Dharma Group April 21-29, 2018. She'll offer teachings and public talks. We'll announce the details here and on Facebook and via our email list, so sign up if you want to hear as soon as we know!

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche

How to Deal with Anger and Hatred


Wednesday, April 26, 2017 6 PM

Siebels House

1601 Richland Street

(corner of Pickens and Richland)

Columbia, SC 29201

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 teaches Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 PM at the Dharma Center

Please join us to hear teaching from Ahbay Rinpoche on Mondays and Thursdays until May 25, starting this Thursday, Apr. 8. Teaching will be offered at the Dharma Center at 6 PM on those days. He will also be with us for meditation on Sundays at 10 AM. We hope you can join us!

Ahbay Rinpoche returns to Columbia April 1-May 25, 2017

Lama Ahbay Rinpoche will return to teach in Columbia April 1-May 25, 2017. He will offer regular teachings on various topics

and meet with individuals for spiritual advice. He will offer teachings on on Monday and Thursday nights. The teachings on both nights will be at 6:30 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!

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

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.

learn more about stupas

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.

New Book by Spiritual Director Published

A new book, titled Death: 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. Geshe Topgyal also discusses what is needed in those around a person who is dying.

Although Geshe Topgyal 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