Is a shrine important

Pictures of revered teachers, places, rupas, temples, shrine rooms etc. that bring inspiration to our members. Pilgrimage advice etc.
Schwarz
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Is a shrine important

Post by Schwarz »

Hello,

is it important for you to have a shrine at your home? Why or why not?
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

For most practitioners, I'd guess probably yes. Some kind of space set aside for practice where that is our only focus. A space that is somewhat blessed or transformed.

Really advanced practitioners might not need one at all, because they need less of a formal practice.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

The shrine is what is known as a ‘support’ for practice.
The purpose of a shrine is to make offerings.
This originally purpose of shrines/altars was for making offerings to gods, but in the Buddhist context, the objects on a shrine represent the ‘three jewels’ (Buddha Dharma, Sangha) in one way or another, and the act of making offerings is not to feed gods or get wishes granted.

Rather, the purpose is to provide you with an opportunity each day to practice generosity (and other virtuous actions such as mindfulness. discipline, and so on) and here one cultivates the idea that generosity towards the three jewels is unsurpassable. If you think about it, what a great way to begin each day, practicing generosity (even symbolically). It can really set your mind in the right place for whatever follows.

What “unsurpassable” means is, think about when you toss a pebble into a pond, and ripples radiate from the point where the pebble hit the water. The ripples radiate outward a short distance, then diminish and disappear. This is like the benefit of generosity towards ordinary objects.
When you make offerings to the three jewels, this is like the ripples in the water continuing forever. It’s like radio waves beamed out into outer space, that just travel forever.

Generally, a shrine in the vajrayana tradition should at least have an image of the Buddha (stature or picture), something that represents the Dharma teachings (a book, or even a single quote, or a scroll of prayers of mantras), and a representation of the sangha, which is usually a picture of one’s teacher or maybe HH Dalai Lama.

In the Mahayana Pure Land traditions, Buddha Amitabha, along with Avalokiteshvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta are usually represented together.

In some schools such as Nichiren, a written scroll is the object of one’s attention, and embodies all the qualities of the three jewels.

Offerings may include water, flowers, light (candles), incense, food and other nice substances.

A ‘formal’ shrine is not mandatory. But if you can set aside some place that is clean and relatively high up, even a small table, a shelf, even part of a bookshelf, and let that become a point in your universe that is especially for the purpose of focusing on the Dharma, that’s very helpful. Traditionally, a Buddha statue on a shrine would be consecrated and filled with prayers and so on. But if there is some thing that works for you, that’s fine. If you have a space where you do sitting meditation, and the shrine is sort of a focus for you during that time, then it should be at least as high from the ground as your shoulders are while sitting. Not any lower than that.

I have a friend who has on her busy bookcase in her crowded and cluttered office, one shelf that is completely empty except for in the center, a small shiny rock she found in a stream after meditating in the woods one day while camping. It has a very “zen” feel about it, the way a traditional Japanese house would have a lot of empty space. That’s her “Dharma” space. No matter how hectic her day becomes. That quiet shelf with one stone in it is always there. It’s very nice!

If you do a web image search: “my Buddhist shrine” you will find lots of pictures of altars and shrines in peoples homes, and each one is different. Each one is very personal.
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by avatamsaka3 »

is it important for you to have a shrine at your home? Why or why not?
Depends on the tradition and the mentality of the practitioner. But any good teacher I've encountered would say that an external shrine is only a support for practice, at best. It doesn't replace the real gem, which is true refuge, true mindfulness of the karmic effects of action, true understanding of the nature of the mind. It's the shrine in the heart that matters most. A lot of Tibetans learned this lesson when they got kicked out of their homes and had to move south, where they had to start over in rough conditions.
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 5:29 am The shrine is what is known as a ‘support’ for practice.
The purpose of a shrine is to make offerings.
This originally purpose of shrines/altars was for making offerings to gods, but in the Buddhist context, the objects on a shrine represent the ‘three jewels’ (Buddha Dharma, Sangha) in one way or another, and the act of making offerings is not to feed gods or get wishes granted.

Rather, the purpose is to provide you with an opportunity each day to practice generosity (and other virtuous actions such as mindfulness. discipline, and so on) and here one cultivates the idea that generosity towards the three jewels is unsurpassable. If you think about it, what a great way to begin each day, practicing generosity (even symbolically). It can really set your mind in the right place for whatever follows.

What “unsurpassable” means is, think about when you toss a pebble into a pond, and ripples radiate from the point where the pebble hit the water. The ripples radiate outward a short distance, then diminish and disappear. This is like the benefit of generosity towards ordinary objects.
When you make offerings to the three jewels, this is like the ripples in the water continuing forever. It’s like radio waves beamed out into outer space, that just travel forever.

Generally, a shrine in the vajrayana tradition should at least have an image of the Buddha (stature or picture), something that represents the Dharma teachings (a book, or even a single quote, or a scroll of prayers of mantras), and a representation of the sangha, which is usually a picture of one’s teacher or maybe HH Dalai Lama.

In the Mahayana Pure Land traditions, Buddha Amitabha, along with Avalokiteshvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta are usually represented together.

In some schools such as Nichiren, a written scroll is the object of one’s attention, and embodies all the qualities of the three jewels.

Offerings may include water, flowers, light (candles), incense, food and other nice substances.

A ‘formal’ shrine is not mandatory. But if you can set aside some place that is clean and relatively high up, even a small table, a shelf, even part of a bookshelf, and let that become a point in your universe that is especially for the purpose of focusing on the Dharma, that’s very helpful. Traditionally, a Buddha statue on a shrine would be consecrated and filled with prayers and so on. But if there is some thing that works for you, that’s fine. If you have a space where you do sitting meditation, and the shrine is sort of a focus for you during that time, then it should be at least as high from the ground as your shoulders are while sitting. Not any lower than that.

I have a friend who has on her busy bookcase in her crowded and cluttered office, one shelf that is completely empty except for in the center, a small shiny rock she found in a stream after meditating in the woods one day while camping. It has a very “zen” feel about it, the way a traditional Japanese house would have a lot of empty space. That’s her “Dharma” space. No matter how hectic her day becomes. That quiet shelf with one stone in it is always there. It’s very nice!

If you do a web image search: “my Buddhist shrine” you will find lots of pictures of altars and shrines in peoples homes, and each one is different. Each one is very personal.
:good:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Malcolm
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Malcolm »

Schwarz wrote: Thu Apr 01, 2021 10:57 pm Hello,

is it important for you to have a shrine at your home? Why or why not?
Yes, you need a place to store all your Dharma kitsch.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Nemo
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Nemo »

Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

Nemo wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:11 pm Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Malcolm
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Malcolm »

Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:03 am
Nemo wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:11 pm Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
Would recommend you don’t.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:14 am
Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:03 am
Nemo wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:11 pm Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
Would recommend you don’t.
There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
Malcolm
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Malcolm »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:20 am
Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:14 am
Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:03 am

I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
Would recommend you don’t.
There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
Then there is selling your house, etc.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:03 am
Nemo wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:11 pm Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
You can buy stone pagodas in a wide variety of sizes and styles, I mean lots of people will doubt the authenticity of such a thing, but factually a pagoda is symbolically the same thing, and will look "normal" such that no one would think twice, if you're worried about building inspectors, public eyes, etc.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Hazel »

Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:45 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:20 am
Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:14 am

Would recommend you don’t.
There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
Then there is selling your house, etc.
How does that fit in?
We say, "Our contemplations achieve nothing." Why do you think that is? Don't lie: you are distracted in the daytime and fall asleep at night! -- Geshe Kamaba
Malcolm
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Malcolm »

Hazel wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:45 am
Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:45 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:20 am

There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
Then there is selling your house, etc.
How does that fit in?
What if your buyers are not Buddhists and they decide to demolish your stupa for a hot tub?
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:45 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:20 am
Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:14 am

Would recommend you don’t.
There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
Then there is selling your house, etc.
Lol. I'm the neighbor who doesn't give a shit about property value. And if the next owner want a hot tub, it's their property. But if things go as planned the property will become a temple ground in perpetuity. I'm not quite American in how I view my possessions. It's not all about commerce. It will be a dharma landmark. As Stupas are supposed to be.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 1:08 am
Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:03 am
Nemo wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:11 pm Do you need one for your spiritual development? Probably not.
Are they useful as a support for magical activities like gaining merit, etc? Definitely yes.
95% of the matter and energy in the universe is of unknown composition and origin. Dark matter is a good analogy for the world we inhabit. We can see and interact with 5%. A shrine or shrine room is a scared space that can cross over into those unseen realms. Natural ones exist too.

I'm a big fan of stupas. Damn they can transform a place. Fill them with a few relics and sprinkle on some faith and you will fall in love with them too.
I plan to build a stupa in my yard. Wondering how big I can go without getting the building inspector on my case.
You can buy stone pagodas in a wide variety of sizes and styles, I mean lots of people will doubt the authenticity of such a thing, but factually a pagoda is symbolically the same thing, and will look "normal" such that no one would think twice, if you're worried about building inspectors, public eyes, etc.
Yes. I've looked into these. Next trip to Japan I'll look for one and see about shipping. Also a Jizo statue to bless passersby.

I have my heritage as my pass. I can't appropriate my own culture.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Malcolm
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Malcolm »

Queequeg wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 2:22 pm
Malcolm wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:45 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:20 am

There are specific guidelines for the construction and placement of stupas.
Then there is selling your house, etc.
Lol. I'm the neighbor who doesn't give a shit about property value. And if the next owner want a hot tub, it's their property. But if things go as planned the property will become a temple ground in perpetuity. I'm not quite American in how I view my possessions. It's not all about commerce. It will be a dharma landmark. As Stupas are supposed to be.
My comment was not directed towards resale value, but making sure the stupa is respected, not demolished, etc., after you sell. Most teachers I know discourage people from building stupas property that might in future be sold to non Buddhists.

Also stupas are not merely dharma landmarks, they represent the mind of the Buddha.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
Norwegian
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Norwegian »

I feel it's already a very heavy responsibility to have Dharma statues in ones home. For example, they are very nice, but when I die, who will take care of these statues? I don't want them to be thrown in the dumpster, or sold on eBay, because they are not just "a statue". Thus there's a level of responsibility here which is important to take care of.

With something as big as a stupa, it's even more serious. After you have passed away, maybe your relatives or someone else sells the property or takes down the stupa, how can you know? And so having a stupa on it would be very bad. Better then to sponsor the construction of a stupa on some land where it will remain respected for however long into the future, and where it would benefit many instead of few.
"The Guru is the Buddha, the Guru is the Dharma,
The Guru is the Sangha too,
The Guru is Śrī Heruka.
The All-Creating King is the Guru."

-- The Secret Assembly Tantra
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

Good points.

I am contemplating my time here as part of a continuous Buddhist community that I expect to endure beyond me. I simply assume that others will come along to take my place. I think this might have to do with the fact that I am part of a Buddhist world that has been Buddhist in to the haze of my ancestors. We have a sense of this being the way things are. I am doing my best to ensure a present community. I have the important implements of my ancestors and I expect to pass these on. I can only trust others will internalize these values and do their part and carry the responsibility for a while.

To have a mind of worry about what will become of my traces is pointless beyond passing dharma on to others and do my best to make sure those seeds take root now. Doing things like building enduring landmarks like Stupas and establishing temples are directly related to this.

No offense to you guys but you are converts and so this sense of continuity is not in your flesh. It can be and you are perfectly poised to pass this on and be part of the continuity.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Queequeg
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Re: Is a shrine important

Post by Queequeg »

Norwegian wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:23 pm I feel it's already a very heavy responsibility to have Dharma statues in ones home. For example, they are very nice, but when I die, who will take care of these statues? I don't want them to be thrown in the dumpster, or sold on eBay, because they are not just "a statue". Thus there's a level of responsibility here which is important to take care of.

With something as big as a stupa, it's even more serious. After you have passed away, maybe your relatives or someone else sells the property or takes down the stupa, how can you know? And so having a stupa on it would be very bad. Better then to sponsor the construction of a stupa on some land where it will remain respected for however long into the future, and where it would benefit many instead of few.
Not a matter of either or. There are ways to legally establish enduring landmarks protected by law. It just takes money and money is something that can be gathered with saavy and effort.

You guys are so pessimistic and negative. Fear is not conducive to endurance.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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