DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

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DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:04 am

Our local practice group is in the process of settling into a new (rented) practice space. This means we're in need of certain useful furnishings and implements for creating the kind of situation we want to create for practice. Also, we're quite low on cash indeed. I assume this is the norm for many of us who practice in our homes or with relatively small practice groups in areas where temple cultures have not had centuries to develop. It seems to me that this is an important part of the contemporary Dharma experience, so I'm documenting some of it here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 043&type=3

As I reflect on this process, it occurs to me that there are ways in which repurposed practice materials can carry with them certain kinds of meanings that can be inspiring to practice. Knowing, for instance, that the gong in the Dharma hall is was once an old oxygen tank with the bottom cut out but remade with care by a sangha member, can serve as a reminder that we are practicing for more than just ourselves--and that those who support us in our practice would surely prefer we do not waste time and opportunity.

I'd like to know what DW people think of this overall, and if they have any particular advice or guidance on how to make do-it-yourselferism work nicely for Dharma applications.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby yan kong » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:36 am

I was surprised to learn that after getting the money to purchase an old warehouse in New York master Sheng Yen built a table for the altar with wood he found on the street and found meditation cushions in much the same way.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:51 am

My home altar is almost all stuff i've bought at thrift stores, garage sales, etc..it's pretty nice looking too given that. I don't know why, I feel like there's more meaning to it when I have to go find a home for Dharma stuff that's basically been abandoned, is hanging out a goodwill, and whatnot. Honestly to me that's what makes my altar have a life so to speak, it would be far less meaningful to me if i'd just ordered it all from some catalog.

Of course I know nothing about setting anything up institutionally, I only know on a personal level I do not consider "authenticity" to be limited to spending lots of money on products with some official stamp of approval.

Also on craigslist you can sometimes find stuff like Butsudans, statues etc. if you wanted to go that route, in many cases the previous owners will specify that the thing were used for Dharma practice.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:00 pm

yan kong wrote:I was surprised to learn that after getting the money to purchase an old warehouse in New York master Sheng Yen built a table for the altar with wood he found on the street and found meditation cushions in much the same way.


Excellent! Related: At our home temple, Tendai Buddhist Institute, the main Dharma hall was built largely out of timbers that were salvaged from a very old horse barn on the site that had previously hosted some Dharma practice too. This includes many of the furnishings in the building, including the big table up front where the Buddha statues are enshrined. The gong really is made out of a repurposed oxygen tank, but you wouldn't know it by the sound. &c.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:02 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:My home altar is almost all stuff i've bought at thrift stores, garage sales, etc..it's pretty nice looking too given that. I don't know why, I feel like there's more meaning to it when I have to go find a home for Dharma stuff that's basically been abandoned, is hanging out a goodwill, and whatnot. Honestly to me that's what makes my altar have a life so to speak, it would be far less meaningful to me if i'd just ordered it all from some catalog.


I feel much the same way: when you invest your time, energy, and creativity in something, it does become personal much more quickly. It also feels like an offering of my time and labor when I'm working at these projects (intention...).
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:07 pm

make meditation cushions from phone books.
Every day, remove one page from the phone book and dedicate your practice to all the people listed on that page.
Each day your body will move down a little bit lower
and in a year you will no longer need a meditation cushion.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Seishin » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:14 pm

I built my own Butsudan and kyodai (sutra table) from scraps and left overs. I'l have to try and dig out a photo....

I think, if you have some basic skills, it is of immense benefit not to mention financially practical. :smile:

I have also made zafu, samue, juban... but don't let that impress you. I have had varying success to the point where I am now being sponsored by swearing, plasters and paracetamol! :rolling:

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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Seishin » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:25 pm

Butsudan.jpg
Butsudan.jpg (40.54 KiB) Viewed 316 times
Not the best picture and you can't see the whole butsudan. My daughter loves sitting with me. A friend recently made her some of her own beads so she doesn't play with mine. :smile:
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:45 pm

Adorable!

That looks like a good setup you've created, Seishin.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Seishin » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:58 pm

It certainly meets the current needs, and as our flat is small the kyodai's legs fold away giving us a little more space when needed, and the cushions, bells etc are all put away.. I'm sure as I grow in my Buddhist journey, things will need to expand.
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby jikai » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:37 am

Some really lovely stuff here guys. I completely agree with the benefit of making your own stuff. In our Sydney Dojo I have done much myself. As you can see in the first pic on the following page, I made and painted the Kyodai, and Raiban with scraps of wood I had. I also recycled an old t.v cabinet by using it to house the Butsudan itself etc. http://tendaiaustralia.org.au/Sydney-Tendai-Dojo.php
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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Seishin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:50 am

You have a lovely set-up there Jikai. :smile:

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Re: DIY Dharma & Shrine Setups

Postby Jikan » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:20 pm

jikai wrote:Some really lovely stuff here guys. I completely agree with the benefit of making your own stuff. In our Sydney Dojo I have done much myself. As you can see in the first pic on the following page, I made and painted the Kyodai, and Raiban with scraps of wood I had. I also recycled an old t.v cabinet by using it to house the Butsudan itself etc. http://tendaiaustralia.org.au/Sydney-Tendai-Dojo.php
Gassho,
Jikai.


Excellent work there! You have created a lovely and inspiring place for practice.
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