Tradition-specific Altar Accoutrement

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Tradition-specific Altar Accoutrement

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

wei wu wei wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 11:56 pm Do you feel any pull towards setting up an altar that is in keeping with your tradition (e.g., a more Tibetan altar would look pretty different from a Zen altar)? Or do you go more universal or simply go with personal preference? What happens if you've changed traditions--do you feel any need to re-align your altar with your new tradition? Should one try to keep an altar in line with their tradition or simply go with whatever inspires them?
As far as altars go I follow the Tibetan tradition loosely, as it was taught to me… but truthfully during my time in Zen no one ever talked or asked about how to set one up, so I have no comparison. Mine is also technically wrong in many ways I’m sure, but the teachers whom I talked to about it were always very encouraging and not doctrinaire about it.

At any rate, to keep up with one in my experience it has to be meaningful to you, aesthetically, symbolically, etc.
Don’t you see what’s wrong with the world today? Oh Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay.

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nyonchung
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Re: Tradition-specific Altar Accoutrement

Post by nyonchung »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 2:10 am
As far as altars go I follow the Tibetan tradition loosely, as it was taught to me… but truthfully during my time in Zen no one ever talked or asked about how to set one up, so I have no comparison. Mine is also technically wrong in many ways I’m sure, but the teachers whom I talked to about it were always very encouraging and not doctrinaire about it.

At any rate, to keep up with one in my experience it has to be meaningful to you, aesthetically, symbolically, etc.
One (alas late) good dharma-friend of mine had been a close disciple and translater of Taishen Deshimaru (1914-1982) , who introduced Zen practice in France and Europe; I'm not in the impression that he encouraged things as shrines etc.
An empty wall ...
In a Tibetan context, when Bokar Rinpoché (1940-2004) built the 3 years-retreat center in Mirik, he showed me the cells, with a concrete shelf high-up the wall ( over 6 feet) where retreatants will store their their stuff (if any) and empty walls and a window - so they will not be distracted, said he smilingly - but an elaborate collective shrine and two gönkhang (Protectors' chapels)

Rinpoché gave some advice on shrine maintenance (if I remember well) in "The Day of a Buddhist Practitioner", Clearpoint Press, 1998, a rather small volume, but specifically dedicated to Western practitioners eager to actively practice and meditate without entering 3 years-retreat.

As for the Tsurphu retreat center when rebuilt around 1987, stone cells less than 6x6x6 feet, no shrines
The drugpa-kagyüpa monastery of Dingboché, near Gongkar, even had no cells, square holes dug in the ground some 5x5 feet, even less shrines
"Me and the sky don't hold views - Me and the river have no fixed practice
Me and the madman don't have a guide- Me and the rainbow have no experiences
Me, the sun and the moon have no certitudes - Me and the jewel bear no fruit" - Dampa Sanggyé as quoted by Domar Mingyur Dorjé (born 1675)
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