Setting up an altar

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Seiren
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Setting up an altar

Post by Seiren »

Hello my dear dharma friends!

I make a checklist of things I'll need to get to make myself a small altar (I have only one shelf in my bedroom yet). I'd like to start practicing in the drikung kagyu lineage (as I wrote before I plan to take refuge with H.E.Garchen Rinpoche).

Right now I have on the list a Buddha statue, a butter lamp, small bowls for water offerings and I already have an incense holder.

Is there anything else I should have on the altar?
And also, is a counter for mala a useful thing? I can't decide if I need it or not (108 mala I already have and plan to get a wrist mala of 27 beads. Later maybe 21 but with it I'm not sure of its use).

Thank you for help!

Om Mani Padme Hum
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Setting up an altar

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Three representations of the objects of refuge:
Buddha
Dharma (Buddhist text or book with a sutra)
Sangha (such as an image of your teacher)

That is all you actually need to constitute a Buddhist shrine or altar.
Everything else is details and traditions.
EMPTIFUL.
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dzoki
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Re: Setting up an altar

Post by dzoki »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:06 pm Three representations of the objects of refuge:
Buddha
Dharma (Buddhist text or book with a sutra)
Sangha (such as an image of your teacher)
Akshually, it is a statue that represents Sangha, since it represents a body of Buddha. Stupa represents his mind, therefore Buddhha himself and the sutra (or other Dharma text, such as tantra, or shastra like Bodhicharyavatara) represent his speech.

So traditionally you would have these three objects - Buddha in the center, Dharma text to his right hand side, stupa to his left hand side.

The photo of the teachers is quite a modern thing and I think it should be done away with.

Then if you can add some offerings, ideally refreshed daily, such as seven bowls with water and a candle, some flowers and fruits, that is also good.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Setting up an altar

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

dzoki wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2022 8:39 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:06 pm Three representations of the objects of refuge:
Buddha
Dharma (Buddhist text or book with a sutra)
Sangha (such as an image of your teacher)
Akshually, it is a statue that represents Sangha, since it represents a body of Buddha. Stupa represents his mind, therefore Buddhha himself and the sutra (or other Dharma text, such as tantra, or shastra like Bodhicharyavatara) represent his speech.

So traditionally you would have these three objects - Buddha in the center, Dharma text to his right hand side, stupa to his left hand side.
I was just going by what my lama told me:
With taking refuge, we got cards with our Buddhist name on it. The card included an image of the Buddha (Buddha) the refuge prayer (Dharma), and an image of the head of the lineage (Sangha).
The lama said that, if one had nothing else for a shrine, this card is sufficient as it includes representations of all three objects of refuge.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Setting up an altar

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Objects representing the body, speech, mind of Buddha is what I was taught. Kagyu specifics idk.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Setting up an altar

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2022 3:42 pm Objects representing the body, speech, mind of Buddha is what I was taught. Kagyu specifics idk.
Well (per previous comment), my lama is kagyu.
But body, speech, and mind also ‘translates’ as sangha, dharma, and Buddha, respectively.

There are almost as many variations of shrine/altar as there are Buddhists.

It’s probably better to have objects that have some special meaning, than to just “junk it up” as they say, with all sorts of decor, just because you see it done somewhere else.
… and there is literally no limit to the stuff you can add to a shrine. Flashing colored lights, electronic butter lamps that play music, lots of expensive statues, and on and on. None of it is necessary.

A Shrine can turn into a model-railroad hobby if you are not careful! Model railroad builders are always adding a few more buildings here, some more trees there, another tunnel…
The same thing can happen with a shrine. More statues, banners, another row of bowls, little objects…

At the same time, one should be generous. Imagine you are having guests over for tea and you want to serve them very good snacks with very nice cups and plates and so on. And the area should be kept clean.

So, as always, in Buddhism, there’s a balance.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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