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 Setting Up A Shrine/Altar

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dominic.cutts



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Join date : 2011-01-17

PostSubject: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:12 pm

I am new to OBC/Soto Zen and would like to know how to set up a shrine/altar at home. I also fell this thread would be helpful to other newbies

1. How high should the shrine/altar be off the floor?
2. What should be on the shrine/altar?
3. Where should things be placed on it?

Any help will be greatfully recieved.Thanks for all your help in advance.

Dom
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:21 pm

Where is the altar going to be Dominic ?
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dominic.cutts



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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:51 pm

I only have a 1 bedroom flat so it will have to be in the bedroom if thats OK. It means I can shut the cats out when I meditate.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:57 pm

Dominic I think you will get on well here. My cat has one eye and I have warned her repeatedly , that her purring disturbs my meditation
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:38 pm

Hey Dom

There are as many answers to your questions as there are Buddhists. Many of these Buddhists will be very definite on how to set up your alter..

I've known Buddhists who have meditatively included more and more of the world onto their alter until the alter itself became irrelevant because nothing was excluded from it. These Buddhists moved with freedom and joy in the world and I've admired them.

I've known other Buddhists who have become so attached to their Buddhist iconography that their own meditation stalled and they move about today as if in chains and with sadness.

If you think of an alter as the physical representation of the direction you'd like your meditation to head towards then questions 1, 2, & 3 will take care of themselves and it will remain helpful and personal for you.

Cheers and good luck
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dominic.cutts



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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:34 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Dominic I think you will get on well here. My cat has one eye and I have warned her repeatedly , that her purring disturbs my meditation

Just tell her that in Tiawan they eat cats and threaten to send her there if shes naughty (only joking of course). I do it works wonders but I never would in real life. lol!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:28 am

Ha good one Dominic I see you are getting the feel of things
How did you get on with your alter?
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:35 am

Hi Dominic , you have not had too many responses to your question.

It is a difficult question you know,I have been sitting meditation for 45 years and no one has ever asked me that question. It would have been nice to find out a but more about you before tackling your question, I am sure also Lise is waiting to welcome you to the forum too.

However it is a worthy question, it is an innocent question,a very pure question,when one understakes zen buddhist practice in one way one builds ones own altar. How and why sometimes remain unanswered , and some times it does not matter. Our silence is not meant to be rude, it is that your question is hard to answer. there could an answer of whatever size fits the room or a definite size,but really your quest may be far more deep meaning than you or I know.

So my advice to you is to build your altar in the right way using the right materials,from experience it takes a long time maybe a lifetime, but you have a sense of humor, that will come in handy, other useful tools for your tool kit would be perseverence,honesty and the ability to leave any preconceived ideas behind. Our practice of gentle sitting quiet and still may help too in finding the direction and answers that really only you can find

I hope this helps,and please understand why it was difficult to answer your very good question
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dominic.cutts



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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:20 pm

Went to a White Plum Sangha meditation class yesterday. It was my first time in a Zen meditation class. He set it up exactly how I have mine at home. A Buddha statue, offering bowl with water in, candle, insense holder and flowers. Very simple!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:34 pm

There you go Dominic,to do that when you have never seen one before,is amazing
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:49 am

Hi Dominic
A few possible suggestions:
http://www.altar-bot.com/
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:44 am

The standard practice is to show respect by having the Buddha figure seated higher than your seat, but if you want show respect some other way thats fine.

After all Zen is pretty iconoclastic:
Zen master Ikkyu was guest staying in a very cold zendo and showed his respect by burning one of three wooden Buddhas. When a monk remonstrated with him he asked whether you should sacrifice the living Buddha to the wooden one, or sacrifice the wooden one to the living one. He then poked around in the ashes looking for the Buddha bones (holy relics). Not finding any he called for the monk to bring the other wooden Buddhas as it was still very cold!

You may notice some similarity with the way 'icons' are treated on this forum site! However even in Zen Ikkyu's behaviour is considered advanced altar building!


Last edited by mstrathern on Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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dominic.cutts



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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:37 am

Thanks 4 your advice mstrathern, the website is brilliant. As I am non denominational and take teaching from all diffrent schools of Buddhism my shrine kinda fluctuates whats on it and how it looks. I suppose the most importatant thing is your practise.
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Stu



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Join date : 2010-08-06
Age : 45
Location : Scotland (Edinburgh/Inverness)

PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:46 pm

Thanks Mark, wonderful Ikkyu story - very humanistic in tone. I wish all religious traditions would show this sort of insight, and value living people above all else....

Stu
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Sophia

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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:11 pm

Hi Dominic,
This is what I learned from Rev. Master. The buddha statue is in the middle on a raised platform (if possible), directly in front is the water bowl and, in front of that, the incense bowl. Facing the altar, to the left are the flowers or plant and to right the candle. You are setting up the circle of light. You offer flowers and incense to That Which Is. The candle symbolizes the light that streams forth. The water is the water of the spirit. The incense is an offering, but it is also the scent of enlightenment. It fills the universe. Just as bowing or offering should never stop, so this circle of giving and receiving is without end.
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Ikuko



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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:17 am

I'm fifteen months a bit late with this.

What a lovely site-something we can rejoice in.The multiplicity diversity wonderful complex simple humanness of altars-hooray!!
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Setting Up A Shrine/Altar   Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:53 pm

Ikuko, I'm later than you - I didn't see this thread until now.

Dominic, if you're still reading the forum, I am sorry for the belated welcome

I wanted to say this about altars, I have not ever set one up formally but I do have Buddha statues here and there, at home. They make the house better wherever they are. I don't follow any type of iconography, but small items and tokens that are important to me, I sometimes place near one of the statues for awhile. Things come and go; possibly my Buddhas thinks they're in a flea market or Ops shop -
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