Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.Phone: 803-256-0150
Activities and ScheduleGeneral program (beginner-level, open to anyone):
Wednesday 7-8:30 P.M.
Meditation and talk on a certain aspect of Buddhism. In 2003, the Monday classes were on the book “Eight Steps to Happiness” and the Wednesday classes were on the book “Understanding the Mind.”
Thursday 7-9 P.M., Sunday 10:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
Meditation and in-depth study of a Buddhist text. Program designed by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (current spiritual leader of the Kadampa tradition). In 2003, these classes examined the book “Joyful Path of Good Fortune.”
Monday - Friday 8 A.M.
Chanted prayers (“Heart Jewel”), 15-20 minute guided meditation taken from The Meditation Handbook.
Sunday 9:30 A.M. - 10:15 A.M.
Meditation on a certain teaching for an entire weekend
Meditation on a certain teaching for an entire day
--8th of every month: Tara Day (female enlightened Buddha)
--Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day (commemorates when Shakyamuni Buddha first began teaching)
--Je Songkhopa Day (day to honor Je Songkhopa, 14th-15th century Tibetan lama important to Kadampa Buddhism)
--Buddha (Sakyamuni)’s Enlightenment Day
--special vows every full moon
HistoryMichelle Gauthier went to Atlanta in 1998 to set up a Kadampa Buddhist center there. In 2000, the teacher from the Atlanta center started coming to Columbia and giving classes at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. These classes went on for about a year, and then another teacher from Atlanta started giving teachings at the Yoga and Wellness Center of Columbia (located in same building as the current Ganden Mahayana Buddhist Center). The current center was rented in January of 2002 and Gauthier moved to Columbia to become the official resident teacher in January of 2003.
DemographicsA “range of everyone” attends the Ganden Mahayana Buddhist Center, according to Gauthier. Attendees range in age from people in their early 20s (mainly students from USC) to people in their 50s. The group is ethnically diverse, including African-Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Indians. No one ethnic group is dominant. The "core group" (people who regularly attend events) numbers around 15, and there may be as many as 20 to 25 people attending any given teaching.
DescriptionThe center is located on the top floor of a business building on the outer edges of downtown Columbia (Devine street is behind Five Points, the "college hang out" area for USC students). The entrance to the building is on Devine Street, a small door wedged between two businesses, “Non(e) Such” and “The Bohemian.” The door to the upstairs area has a sign hanging above it listing the various organizations located in this office space, which include a yoga center, a marketing business, and some kind of “studio." The door is covered with various posters related to the businesses and organizations that occupy the upstairs suites.
Relations With Other Buddhist CommunitiesThe Ganden Mahayana Buddhist Center is relatively young, and resident teacher Michelle Gauthier just moved to Columbia in 2003, so she has not made many connections with other Buddhist communities. She said the Zen priest had called to "say hi" when she moved to town, but this was the only connection she has had with other Buddhist groups in the area. She said the five sects of Buddhism present in Columbia (Tibetan-Gelupka, Shambhala, Zen, Kadampa and Soka Gakkai) are so different that it would not be likely for the groups to do activities together.
Interfaith RelationsAgain, since Gauthier is so new to town, she has not yet been involved in any interfaith activities. She has spoken to area churches about Buddhism on several occasions. She said, however, that it was surprising to her when these churches asked her to speak to their congregations, because, she noted, she has experienced a great deal of proselytizing in Columbia.