home altar

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  • shogyo
    Member
    • Aug 2008
    • 44

    home altar

    Does anyone have any advice on setting up and maintaining a home altar within this tradition.

    Thanks
    Brian
  • chicanobudista
    Member
    • Mar 2008
    • 864

    #2
    Re: home altar

    IMHO, YMMV, and really depending if you want to go "traditional" vs "American" :P, my altar has the Buddha, a candle, incense burner, a flower base, and a lil' glass cup for water. I have added a couple of Kwan Yins (plural cuz you never how much compassion you can get in one altar :mrgreen: ), and a set of Tibetan designed Boddhisattvas given to me by a friend.

    blue.star.buddha.big.jpg
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-03-2018, 05:19 PM.
    paz,
    Erik


    Flor de Nopal Sangha

    Comment

    • Shohei
      Member
      • Oct 2007
      • 2854

      #3
      Re: home altar

      I'm going to lose mine to a bassinet soon but im perdy simple and so is my altar, Big ol plastic Buddha statue (intended to be a garden bird feeder), with in its lap sits a small brass Buddha , sitting on top of a porous rock I found... lol empty form...surrounded by well over a hundred other Buddhas (stones), a haggard avocado tree i started a few years ago, and very nice incense burner storage thingy my wife gave me and a blow torch. (lights incense and acts as a bell when needed - living dangerously banging on a can of propane?) hmm okay its not simple when described but looking at it its pretty simple.



      I think most anything/nothing/anywhere will do. Heck more often than not its 4 cats on the bed or the back of someones head or my daughter running around or climbing me...




      Gassho, Shohei

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39074

        #4
        Re: home altar

        Hi,

        Here are instructions direct from the Soto School "Head Office" in Japan.

        http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/how ... uddha.html

        However, those appear to have first been written directed at Japanese lay families. Please remember that, in Japan and China, Zen and all schools of Buddhism are largely encountered by lay people as a means to honor, remember (and appease the spirits of) their deceased ancestors. Thus, the Japanese home altar is meant primarily as a place of Confucian ancestor worship (and thus the emphasis on "memorial tablets of our ancestors" and such).

        Also, most Japanese lay people would have a tough time to tell you the difference between one sect of Buddhism and another, and are just looking for a little support and comfort from the Buddha(s) to keep their family safe, healthy and prosperous. Thus, in the eyes of most people, Pure Land has "Amida Buddha", Nichiren Buddhism has the "Lotus Sutra", esoteric Shingon has "a bunch of Buddhas and Budhisattvas" ... and we have 'ol Shakyamuni looking out for us.

        Now, in my opinion, one may place within one's home altar whatever speaks to one. One should have a "Buddha Statue" (but please see my recent talk on what that means ... for it can be anything that seems right, such as a stone, a coke bottle, a flower, a coat hanger, an empty space ... ) ...

        http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/11 ... t-iii.html

        Also, of course, the "True Altar" is not limited to any table top ... nor by time and space for that matter!

        Of course, recall that to the art afficionado, or to purists and many in Asia in the "Know", all those Buddha statues are really quite different figures, and limited to various sects. In Soto Zen, we are not so much into statues of "Amida", but "Amida" is perhaps the most common Buddha figure you encounter on Zen altars in the West (you can usually tell a sitting Amida Buddha by the different hand mudra in Zazen, with backs of the fingers and knuckles touching) ...

        http://oop-edge.blogspot.com/2006/08/am ... mudra.html

        We are not too much into Mandalas and Mala beads either (although that depends on how much there has been an influence of "esoteric" Buddhism on the particular lineage of Soto Zen over the centuries).

        Incense is great ... until the recent health warning about incense "second hand smoke" :roll:

        http://www.clinicalmolecularallergy.com/content/6/1/3

        I sometimes light a stick for a moment, then flip it over so that it extinguishes. Or sit in a well ventilated room. "Life and Death" are nothing (I will write about that later today as a "BIG" Question), but no need to rush that along!

        A statue of Kannon (Kwan Yin) is a powerful reminder of the 'Compassionate' face of the Buddhist equation.

        Flowers are lovely for any occasion!

        In other words ... let you heart guide you on that.

        Gassho, Jundo
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • jcsuperstar
          Member
          • Nov 2008
          • 39

          #5
          Re: home altar

          here's mine, though it's all thai except for the japanese insence burner and statue of bodhidharma
          it's actually not done, theres more stuff for it but my girlfriend who's visiting her parents in thailand hasnt brought it home yet

          [color=#FF8080:2xha6u8u][size=150:2xha6u8u]????? ????? ?????? ?????[/size:2xha6u8u][/color:2xha6u8u]
          "i need not to know all the answers but merely to understand the questions" - Tozen Akiyama Roshi

          Comment

          • KellyRok
            Member
            • Jul 2008
            • 1374

            #6
            Re: home altar

            Hello Brian and all,

            My altar is very simple...two candles, incense burner, a little Buddha - he's about 2.5 inches high and is carved from green aventurine, and an Anchor. Yes, it is a plastic toy anchor...

            One day, I was getting ready to sit zazen in my little corner of our computer room when I noticed that my boys had been playing with their pirate ship next to my Zafu. The anchor was sitting right next to Buddha...so I meditated with Buddha and the anchor. The anchor reminded me that I should always stay grounded in my practice, yet never remain too attached to anything, or any one place (no matter where you are or the circumstances you are in, you can always pick up and move on - just like an anchor). So, the anchor has stayed with Buddha on my altar. Strange...maybe! :wink:

            I would like to have a figure of Kannon one day.

            Your altar is what you make of it, as you see it.

            Gassho,
            Kelly - Jinmei

            Comment

            • Hoko Steve
              Member
              • Jan 2009
              • 47

              #7
              Re: home altar

              thanks for asking this question! i have often wondered myself. i dont really have a traditional alter, (part because i had no idea what that was, and part becasue i dont have much to put there yet, or at least didnt know i did) i have a candle and a small statue, like one and a half inch tall, buddha. though this is where i have a question, im not so sure that the figure is a budhha.....maybe a bodisattva? its the figure with the big belly..... i do plan on getting a larger buddha statue as well as some other objects that seem to fit.

              as for the Anchor idea, that makes perfect sense! great thought!
              Gassho,

              Hoko
              法 (Dharma)鼓 (drum)

              “Right now, its like this”

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39074

                #8
                Re: home altar

                Originally posted by aksteve
                this is where i have a question, im not so sure that the figure is a budhha.....maybe a bodisattva? its the figure with the big belly..... i do plan on getting a larger buddha statue as well as some other objects that seem to fit.
                You mean this fellow ...



                Who looks, unfortunately, like fat Jundo trying to demonstrate Zazen today on the sit-a-long?



                That's Maitreya (also known as Hotei or Pu Tai) ...

                The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack. It is usually filled with many precious items, including candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children, as they are seen as some of those precious items of this world. In some scenes he may be found sitting on a cart drawn by boys.

                The large, fat belly is a symbol of happiness, luck, and generosity.

                The name Hotei actually means "cloth bag" or "glutton." A legend has it that if a person is to rub his belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity.

                The Laughing Buddha, also known as Hotei in Japan, Pu-Tai in China, embodies the ideals of the good life: health, happiness, prosperity and longevity.

                Monks and commercial travelers spread the Buddhist message throughout the East, northward into Afganistan and Tibet, eastward to China and Japan, as well as south into Ceylon and Indonesia. As with any religious message, changes in the nature of Buddhist practice and understanding were inevitable as the religion was absorbed within different cultures.

                Scholars have long commented on the contrast between India’s penchant for lofty idealisms as against the Chinese focus on the practicalities of the here-and-now. Over the centuries within China, Buddhist notions of happiness based on self-mastery and enlightened insight were fused with popular Chinese life-ideals of happiness through material prosperity.

                Iconographers in the 10th century summed up these various elements of happiness in a representation of the fat Laughing Buddha, clutching his prayer beads in one hand and with a bag of gold in the other. The large number of children usually surrounding him illustrates another Chinese virtue - a large family consisting of many children.

                Moreover, there is belief, that the Laughing Buddha is in fact modeled on an historical figure, a fat wandering Zen monk named Pu Tai, who possibly claimed to be an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya (Chinese Mi-lo-fo; Japanese Miroku). One poem attributed to him reads:

                Mi-lo, true Mi-lo
                Reborn innumerable times
                From time to time manifested to men
                The men of the age do not recognize you
                Read more here

                Last edited by Jundo; 06-17-2013, 07:11 AM.
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Hoko Steve
                  Member
                  • Jan 2009
                  • 47

                  #9
                  Re: home altar

                  yep, that would be him! thanks Jundo, i will do some more reading up on that

                  Gassho,

                  Steve Taylor
                  Gassho,

                  Hoko
                  法 (Dharma)鼓 (drum)

                  “Right now, its like this”

                  Comment

                  • Rev R
                    Member
                    • Jul 2007
                    • 457

                    #10
                    Re: home altar

                    Sometimes it can be filled with children...
                    Git in mah belleh! :lol:

                    My personal altar is built around the idea of the five elements
                    Earth- a stone
                    Water- a cup of water
                    Air- incense
                    Fire- a candle
                    Consciousness/ Void- the Buddha Image

                    I suppose with the health concerns about incense, that one could easily replace it with essential oils or potpourri.

                    Comment

                    • KellyRok
                      Member
                      • Jul 2008
                      • 1374

                      #11
                      Re: home altar

                      Hello all,

                      Git in mah belleh!
                      :lol: heeheehee

                      Rev R - I like your idea of including the elements...I need to do that. I also want a small vase to put flowers in...I will get there eventually.

                      Jundo - Your smile is as warm as Maitreya's, but you are not fat. :wink:

                      Gassho,
                      Kelly - Jinmei

                      Comment

                      • Tb
                        Member
                        • Jan 2008
                        • 3186

                        #12
                        Re: home altar

                        Hi.

                        My altar is an bowl with some fine sand. got the sand 15 or 16 years ago when i moved away from home, from an nowadays overgrown sandquarry and carefully removing any "big" stones, it has been with me all the time.
                        Now, my wife (kishinemma) uses it as a candleholder though...

                        A very versatile altar...

                        Mtfbwy
                        Fugen
                        Life is our temple and its all good practice
                        Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

                        Comment

                        • Rev R
                          Member
                          • Jul 2007
                          • 457

                          #13
                          Re: home altar

                          Hey there Jinmei

                          Originally posted by KellyRok
                          Rev R - I like your idea of including the elements...I need to do that. I also want a small vase to put flowers in...I will get there eventually.
                          Can't remember where I got the idea, but elemental symbolism has been a part of my thoughts since before I "converted".

                          Flowers can be rather poignant reminders of impermanence.

                          Comment

                          • Undo
                            Member
                            • Jun 2007
                            • 495

                            #14
                            Re: home altar

                            .

                            Comment

                            • Fuken
                              Member
                              • Sep 2006
                              • 435

                              #15
                              Re: home altar

                              Originally posted by Jundo

                              Moreover, there is belief, that the Laughing Buddha is in fact modeled on an historical figure, a fat wandering Zen monk named Pu Tai, who possibly claimed to be an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya (Chinese Mi-lo-fo; Japanese Miroku).
                              Here is a nice related story from Zen Flesh Zen Bones:

                              Those who have visited Chinatown, any Chinatown, will observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha. This Hotei lived in the T'ang Dynasty and he had no desire to gather disciples around him. Instead, he would carry around the sack filled with gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to the children of the streets who gathered around him in play.

                              Whenever he met a Zen devotee, he would say, "Give me one penny." If any asked him to return to the temple to teach others or pray, he would say, "Give me one penny."

                              Once, as he was about his play-work, another Zen master happened along and inquired, "What is the significance of Zen?"

                              Hotei slouched and immediately dropped his sack down to the ground in silent answer.

                              Then, another Zen master asked, "What is the actualization of Zen?"

                              At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his merry way.


                              Gassho, (Fuken) Jordan
                              Yours in practice,
                              Jordan ("Fu Ken" translates to "Wind Sword", Dharma name givin to me by Jundo, I am so glad he did not name me Wind bag.)

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