Building an altar?

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Re: Building an altar?

Postby Tatsuo » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:30 am

spiritnoname wrote:Why would a Zen person need an altar?

No Buddhist needs an altar for practice, but it is nevertheless a good thing to remind you of your practice, as a focus for your life and as a place you can take refuge. There is no exception for that in Zen (why would it?).

Knickknack altars littered with every little think people pick up that reminds them of Buddhism, Big kuan yin here, little Shakyamuni there, maybe a tara or ho tei. These kinds of altars are basically the change bowl where you through your keys, pens and pocket change of Buddhism.

I don't think Kannon or Shakyamuni are knick-knack. I am not sure, if you've been to a Zen Temple before, but on some of the altars of Zen Temples in Japan are many different statutes like Jizo, Kannon, Shakyamuni, Benzaiten/Saraswati etc. I don't see, why this should be a problem... Or do I get you wrong?
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby Individual » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:07 pm

In lesser esoteric practices, one relies on particular symbols, particular objects, particular sounds, particular words and thoughts, particular pictures, particular rituals, particular teachers. In some cases, these things can be a burden: superstitions that do not lead to either good karma or enlightenment, which are merely an ignorant expression of egoism; money that is wasted, on impermanent rupas, which would be better spent on charity. Because either way (with a good altar or good charity) there is no fruit or enlightenment, so if you're going to waste your money, at least waste it skillfully, in a way that helps others and doesn't just create an odd-looking but pleasant-smelling cabinet.

In the highest esotericism, one can pick up a handful of dirt off the ground and turn it into whatever they like. :)

Then foolish people might see this and think, "The dirt he grabbed must be magical! Let's gather it!"
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:24 am

tatsou,
you want to explain to me how I am going to do altar practices without an altar?

When you take any little statue you find, every little bell or shiny rock you find and put them on your altar, it's a knickknack altar because you collect and arrange your Buddhist odds and ends like a person collecting and arranging knicknacks.

Individual,
lesser, really?,.... so like,.. next time a lama is giving out HYT initiation and they set out all sorts of complex tormas and mandalas, why don't you go up to him and tell him what you said here about his initiation being a lesser esoteric whatever.

:coffee: And you know, why don't you find a nice quiet room in your house and fill it with dirt and when other people start thinking it's magical you can sell it and give the money to charities.


Am I really going to have to explain the history, benefits, procedure and how the activity gets results on a Buddhist forum?

:thinking:
Well I guess I don't have to.
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby Tatsuo » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:43 am

Well no, I didn't ask you to explain how to do buddhist practices without an altar. I clearly said, that you don't have to have an altar to do buddhist practices. I just disagree with you, that non-traditional (or non-Vajrayana as it seems, because you only refer to Vajrayana) arrangement is like "knick knack". Btw. i am only referring to Buddhist items, not "shiny rocks or little bells" - those are not the same than Buddhist statues.
And what are you talking about magic all the time? I was talking about altars as reminder of your practice, as a focus for your life and as a place you can take refuge. There is nothing "magical" in that (btw. what do you mean by magical anyway?) :shrug:
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby Individual » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:01 am

spiritnoname wrote: :thinking:
Well I guess I don't have to.

You're right. Also, I'm sorry if I offended you.

About HYT, I noticed on Wikipedia (yes, this is where I get my information from :emb:) an interesting fact about its etymology:

Anuttarayoga Tantra literally means 'Unexcelled Union Continuity'. While the term is frequently translated as 'Highest Yoga Tantra' in English writings, this is not quite accurate. The Tibetan term bla med (back translated to Sanskrit as anuttara) is a negation of a comparative—not or none (med/an-) higher (bla /uttara)—rather than a superlative. Had the authors of this term intended to indicate directly "highest," superlatives were readily available: e.g. mchog ("supreme" or Sanskrit uttama, "highest"). Rather, they chose consistently to use a comparative rather than a superlative. Similarly, the terms used in Sanskrit also uniformly utilize comparatives: yogottara ("higher than yoga") and niruttara (also a negation of the comparative). English usage, and European usage in general, has largely overlooked this nuance.

By the way, I am going to take a crazy guess that you are a follower of Nyingma. Is that correct? :)

Tatsuo wrote:Well no, I didn't ask you to explain how to do buddhist practices without an altar. I clearly said, that you don't have to have an altar to do buddhist practices. I just disagree with you, that non-traditional (or non-Vajrayana as it seems, because you only refer to Vajrayana) arrangement is like "knick knack". Btw. i am only referring to Buddhist items, not "shiny rocks or little bells" - those are not the same than Buddhist statues.
And what are you talking about magic all the time? I was talking about altars as reminder of your practice, as a focus for your life and as a place you can take refuge. There is nothing "magical" in that (btw. what do you mean by magical anyway?) :shrug:

It was something relevant in response to what I said and arguing about it in detail is way off-topic. :)
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:20 am

Individual,
I've done Nyingmapa practices at one time, but I wouldn't call myself Nyingmapa. I belong in Sakya, but primarily Geluk.

Right now in my life I am learning sutta. I want to start a credible shedra in the USA when I am older and I really need to know sutta, then I'll focus on tantra and picking up all the transmissions and teaching texts I'll need.

Tatsou, I've been dividing some of my messages to address one person or another. The magical bit was aimed at Individual.
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Re: Building an altar?

Postby Individual » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:37 am

spiritnoname wrote:Individual,
I've done Nyingmapa practices at one time, but I wouldn't call myself Nyingmapa. I belong in Sakya, but primarily Geluk.

Right now in my life I am learning sutta. I want to start a credible shedra in the USA when I am older and I really need to know sutta, then I'll focus on tantra and picking up all the transmissions and teaching texts I'll need.

Cool! :)
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