Do I have to know anything about Buddhism to attend a meeting?
Absolutely not; you will be guided through the practices as we go along. Nor do you need to believe anything about Buddhism; you will not be asked to make any prayers or affirmations of faith of any kind. All that is required is an attitude of openess and the natural respect for the "traditions of the house" that one would normally grant to any host.
We also believe that a meditation space is sanctified by Noble Silence (both external and internal!), so we cease social conversation when we enter the hall. Some discussion takes place during the meeting, but unlike in normal Western situations, speaking is done mindfully, and deep listening and mindful reflection precedes speech. Most of the meeting, however, is conducted in silence, except for the directions given by the leader.
In our tradition, speaking is preceded by bowing to the sangha slightly and pausing for this bow to be returned by the sangha before speaking. In our tradition, bowing is a sign of respect, acknowledging the sanctity of the individual and of the relationships among individuals.
Will I be forced to sit cross-legged on the floor or assume any other uncomfortable positions?