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Thread: home altar

  1. #1
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    home altar

    Does anyone have any advice on setting up and maintaining a home altar within this tradition.

    Thanks
    Brian

  2. #2

    Re: home altar

    IMHO, YMMV, and really depending if you want to go "traditional" vs "American" :P, my altar has the Buddha, a candle, incense burner, a flower base, and a lil' glass cup for water. I have added a couple of Kwan Yins (plural cuz you never how much compassion you can get in one altar :mrgreen: ), and a set of Tibetan designed Boddhisattvas given to me by a friend.

  3. #3

    Re: home altar

    I'm going to lose mine to a bassinet soon but im perdy simple and so is my altar, Big ol plastic Buddha statue (intended to be a garden bird feeder), with in its lap sits a small brass Buddha , sitting on top of a porous rock I found... lol empty form...surrounded by well over a hundred other Buddhas (stones), a haggard avocado tree i started a few years ago, and very nice incense burner storage thingy my wife gave me and a blow torch. (lights incense and acts as a bell when needed - living dangerously banging on a can of propane?) hmm okay its not simple when described but looking at it its pretty simple.



    I think most anything/nothing/anywhere will do. Heck more often than not its 4 cats on the bed or the back of someones head or my daughter running around or climbing me...




    Gassho, Shohei

  4. #4

    Re: home altar

    Hi,

    Here are instructions direct from the Soto School "Head Office" in Japan.

    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/how ... uddha.html

    However, those appear to have first been written directed at Japanese lay families. Please remember that, in Japan and China, Zen and all schools of Buddhism are largely encountered by lay people as a means to honor, remember (and appease the spirits of) their deceased ancestors. Thus, the Japanese home altar is meant primarily as a place of Confucian ancestor worship (and thus the emphasis on "memorial tablets of our ancestors" and such).

    Also, most Japanese lay people would have a tough time to tell you the difference between one sect of Buddhism and another, and are just looking for a little support and comfort from the Buddha(s) to keep their family safe, healthy and prosperous. Thus, in the eyes of most people, Pure Land has "Amida Buddha", Nichiren Buddhism has the "Lotus Sutra", esoteric Shingon has "a bunch of Buddhas and Budhisattvas" ... and we have 'ol Shakyamuni looking out for us.

    Now, in my opinion, one may place within one's home altar whatever speaks to one. One should have a "Buddha Statue" (but please see my recent talk on what that means ... for it can be anything that seems right, such as a stone, a coke bottle, a flower, a coat hanger, an empty space ... ) ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/11 ... t-iii.html

    Also, of course, the "True Altar" is not limited to any table top ... nor by time and space for that matter!

    Of course, recall that to the art afficionado, or to purists and many in Asia in the "Know", all those Buddha statues are really quite different figures, and limited to various sects. In Soto Zen, we are not so much into statues of "Amida", but "Amida" is perhaps the most common Buddha figure you encounter on Zen altars in the West (you can usually tell a sitting Amida Buddha by the different hand mudra in Zazen, with backs of the fingers and knuckles touching) ...

    http://oop-edge.blogspot.com/2006/08/am ... mudra.html

    We are not too much into Mandalas and Mala beads either (although that depends on how much there has been an influence of "esoteric" Buddhism on the particular lineage of Soto Zen over the centuries).

    Incense is great ... until the recent health warning about incense "second hand smoke" :roll:

    http://www.clinicalmolecularallergy.com/content/6/1/3

    I sometimes light a stick for a moment, then flip it over so that it extinguishes. Or sit in a well ventilated room. "Life and Death" are nothing (I will write about that later today as a "BIG" Question), but no need to rush that along!

    A statue of Kannon (Kwan Yin) is a powerful reminder of the 'Compassionate' face of the Buddhist equation.

    Flowers are lovely for any occasion!

    In other words ... let you heart guide you on that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: home altar

    here's mine, though it's all thai except for the japanese insence burner and statue of bodhidharma
    it's actually not done, theres more stuff for it but my girlfriend who's visiting her parents in thailand hasnt brought it home yet


  6. #6
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Hello Brian and all,

    My altar is very simple...two candles, incense burner, a little Buddha - he's about 2.5 inches high and is carved from green aventurine, and an Anchor. Yes, it is a plastic toy anchor...

    One day, I was getting ready to sit zazen in my little corner of our computer room when I noticed that my boys had been playing with their pirate ship next to my Zafu. The anchor was sitting right next to Buddha...so I meditated with Buddha and the anchor. The anchor reminded me that I should always stay grounded in my practice, yet never remain too attached to anything, or any one place (no matter where you are or the circumstances you are in, you can always pick up and move on - just like an anchor). So, the anchor has stayed with Buddha on my altar. Strange...maybe! :wink:

    I would like to have a figure of Kannon one day.

    Your altar is what you make of it, as you see it.

    Gassho,
    Kelly - Jinmei

  7. #7

    Re: home altar

    thanks for asking this question! i have often wondered myself. i dont really have a traditional alter, (part because i had no idea what that was, and part becasue i dont have much to put there yet, or at least didnt know i did) i have a candle and a small statue, like one and a half inch tall, buddha. though this is where i have a question, im not so sure that the figure is a budhha.....maybe a bodisattva? its the figure with the big belly..... i do plan on getting a larger buddha statue as well as some other objects that seem to fit.

    as for the Anchor idea, that makes perfect sense! great thought!

  8. #8

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by aksteve
    this is where i have a question, im not so sure that the figure is a budhha.....maybe a bodisattva? its the figure with the big belly..... i do plan on getting a larger buddha statue as well as some other objects that seem to fit.
    You mean this fellow ...



    Who looks, unfortunately, like fat Jundo trying to demonstrate Zazen today on the sit-a-long?



    That's Maitreya (also known as Hotei or Pu Tai) ...

    The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack. It is usually filled with many precious items, including candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children, as they are seen as some of those precious items of this world. In some scenes he may be found sitting on a cart drawn by boys.

    The large, fat belly is a symbol of happiness, luck, and generosity.

    The name Hotei actually means "cloth bag" or "glutton." A legend has it that if a person is to rub his belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity.

    The Laughing Buddha, also known as Hotei in Japan, Pu-Tai in China, embodies the ideals of the good life: health, happiness, prosperity and longevity.

    Monks and commercial travelers spread the Buddhist message throughout the East, northward into Afganistan and Tibet, eastward to China and Japan, as well as south into Ceylon and Indonesia. As with any religious message, changes in the nature of Buddhist practice and understanding were inevitable as the religion was absorbed within different cultures.

    Scholars have long commented on the contrast between India’s penchant for lofty idealisms as against the Chinese focus on the practicalities of the here-and-now. Over the centuries within China, Buddhist notions of happiness based on self-mastery and enlightened insight were fused with popular Chinese life-ideals of happiness through material prosperity.

    Iconographers in the 10th century summed up these various elements of happiness in a representation of the fat Laughing Buddha, clutching his prayer beads in one hand and with a bag of gold in the other. The large number of children usually surrounding him illustrates another Chinese virtue - a large family consisting of many children.

    Moreover, there is belief, that the Laughing Buddha is in fact modeled on an historical figure, a fat wandering Zen monk named Pu Tai, who possibly claimed to be an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya (Chinese Mi-lo-fo; Japanese Miroku). One poem attributed to him reads:

    Mi-lo, true Mi-lo
    Reborn innumerable times
    From time to time manifested to men
    The men of the age do not recognize you
    Read more here

    http://www.newsfinder.org/site/more/...ughing_buddha/
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-17-2013 at 07:11 AM.

  9. #9

    Re: home altar

    yep, that would be him! thanks Jundo, i will do some more reading up on that

    Gassho,

    Steve Taylor

  10. #10

    Re: home altar

    Sometimes it can be filled with children...
    Git in mah belleh! :lol:

    My personal altar is built around the idea of the five elements
    Earth- a stone
    Water- a cup of water
    Air- incense
    Fire- a candle
    Consciousness/ Void- the Buddha Image

    I suppose with the health concerns about incense, that one could easily replace it with essential oils or potpourri.

  11. #11
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Hello all,

    Git in mah belleh!
    :lol: heeheehee

    Rev R - I like your idea of including the elements...I need to do that. I also want a small vase to put flowers in...I will get there eventually.

    Jundo - Your smile is as warm as Maitreya's, but you are not fat. :wink:

    Gassho,
    Kelly - Jinmei

  12. #12

    Re: home altar

    Hi.

    My altar is an bowl with some fine sand. got the sand 15 or 16 years ago when i moved away from home, from an nowadays overgrown sandquarry and carefully removing any "big" stones, it has been with me all the time.
    Now, my wife (kishinemma) uses it as a candleholder though...

    A very versatile altar...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  13. #13

    Re: home altar

    Hey there Jinmei

    Quote Originally Posted by KellyRok
    Rev R - I like your idea of including the elements...I need to do that. I also want a small vase to put flowers in...I will get there eventually.
    Can't remember where I got the idea, but elemental symbolism has been a part of my thoughts since before I "converted".

    Flowers can be rather poignant reminders of impermanence.

  14. #14

  15. #15

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Moreover, there is belief, that the Laughing Buddha is in fact modeled on an historical figure, a fat wandering Zen monk named Pu Tai, who possibly claimed to be an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya (Chinese Mi-lo-fo; Japanese Miroku).
    Here is a nice related story from Zen Flesh Zen Bones:

    Those who have visited Chinatown, any Chinatown, will observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha. This Hotei lived in the T'ang Dynasty and he had no desire to gather disciples around him. Instead, he would carry around the sack filled with gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to the children of the streets who gathered around him in play.

    Whenever he met a Zen devotee, he would say, "Give me one penny." If any asked him to return to the temple to teach others or pray, he would say, "Give me one penny."

    Once, as he was about his play-work, another Zen master happened along and inquired, "What is the significance of Zen?"

    Hotei slouched and immediately dropped his sack down to the ground in silent answer.

    Then, another Zen master asked, "What is the actualization of Zen?"

    At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his merry way.


    Gassho, (Fuken) Jordan

  16. #16

    Re: home altar

    thanks for the story!

    Gassho,

    Steve Taylor

  17. #17

    Re: home altar

    Here is mine. Pretty simple.



    -Chris

  18. #18

    Re: home altar

    I would love to setup an alter in my home but it would beyond upset my wife.

    To my wife and the rest of my family, seeing an alter would solidify the image in their mind that I have become an idol worshiping atheist.

  19. #19

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottyDoo
    I would love to setup an alter in my home but it would beyond upset my wife.

    To my wife and the rest of my family, seeing an alter would solidify the image in their mind that I have become an idol worshiping atheist.
    So please set up an invisible altar or one in your heart.

    By the way, we do not "worship the idol". I take a Buddha statue as primarily a symbol, like a Crucifix or Star of David, which reminds us of a "greater reality". At heart, it is just wood or stone. However, all wood and stones are sacred.

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.S. - Also, personally, I do not consider myself an "atheist" (I am pretty sure, Scotty, that you did not mean you are one either), for "atheism" is another belief and conclusion, often clung to too relentlessly. I prefer to describe myself as a "mystical agnostic" (or "pragma-mystic") who tastes and sees something wonderful, yet prefers not to impose too many names and limiting ideas upon that (and remains skeptical of many exotic ideas about "ultimate reality" that some impose) and just "lets that be". For what is will be anyway! I have some very definite ideas and conclusions about that (yes, Zen Practice lets one see reality in wonderful ways), but other things I keep my nose out of!

    However, one could be a "Zen Buddhist" and be an atheist if one wanted I suppose, just as one can be a "Zen Buddhist" and Jewish, Christian, Republic or Democrat, butcher or baker at the same time.

    Gassho, J

  20. #20

    Re: home altar

    I love this thread! And the pictures, thank you all! Many long years ago when I was with a Nichiren group I had a full blown altar set up--one of the bedrooms upstairs in the house I then lived in had a built-in alcove of sorts. It was perfect set up, and I had a cloisonee dish of rice, a stone rectangular box with some sort of Mayan-type Indian engraving on the lid for the incense, the bell & mallet, the butdsodan, and I think a water dish and vase of some sort. I can totally relate to Scotty's comments about family, since I still recall comments about my 'devil worship' set up :roll: I finally just carefully packed up the gohonzon (Nichiren scroll that is the centerpiece of that altar) and had it couriered back to the temple in MD so that no harm would come to it if for any reason I wasn't around to protect it.

    I kept the bell and the stone incense box. And, I keep the altar in my heart

    Gassho, Ann

  21. #21

    Re: home altar

    Mine is pretty simple. I just have a Buddha and a lotus flower incense burner. I'm planning on getting a wider altar to add stuff to it, but as of now, it is a shelf screwed higher up into the wall. Thank you for this post!



    Gassho,

    Adam

    Attached files

  22. #22

    Re: home altar

    Hi Brian,
    I was looking into this recently. I had trouble finding much on the web, but I found this on beliefnet:
    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Budd...ut-Altars.aspx

    There is also a little blurb on tricycle magazine under an article called "The Big Sit".

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottyDoo
    I would love to setup an alter in my home but it would beyond upset my wife.
    To my wife and the rest of my family, seeing an alter would solidify the image in their mind that I have become an idol worshiping atheist.
    Know all to well what you mean. Maybe if you just added some crosses and stuff, and a man with a stake through his hands and blood on his face and a crown of thorns and..... :roll:

    Best of Luck
    Warm Regards,
    Brian

  23. #23

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by torotech
    Hi Brian,
    I was looking into this recently. I had trouble finding much on the web, but I found this on beliefnet:
    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Budd...ut-Altars.aspx

    Well, first, never believe any guy you see or read on Beliefnet! 8)

    The article is nice, but of course, presents a very elaborate, esoteric Tibetan altar in line with Lama Surya Das' tradition.

    I will stick with my comment that an altar can be anything that reminds you of the sacredness of here and this ... it may be a Buddha statue, a branch of a tree, a ????? ... or nothing at all. What is not "Buddha" (in fact, what is Buddha? ... but that is getting a bit too into Buddha-non-speak).

    Anyway ... it is all sacred.

    Gassho, Jundo

  24. #24

    Re: home altar

    We're multidenominational so we don't have an altar. We have a candle, a music player and a little singing bowl to ding when it's time to meditate.

  25. #25

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Well, first, never believe any guy you see or read on Beliefnet! 8)
    Gassho, Jundo
    WILL DO....

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Hi guys

    I don't have an altar. I just sit wherever I can get some peace and zazen.

    I do have a small Buddha that looks like it was made of chocolate, hence my nickname Chocobuda (Buda is Buddha, in Spanish).

    Maybe I will have an altar in the near future. Just need to make room for one.

    I enjoy looking at your altars. They all look fantastic!

  27. #27
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Don't forget that the alter is also state of mind. Just like Jundo Sensei using anything ranging from a rock to an "official" statue of the Buddha. Its much deeper than any image or placement thereof.
    Whatever you decide on keep it clean! It reflects your practice and life. A neglected alter is a sad sight indeed!

    Gassho,
    John

  28. #28
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    My husband just finished making this for me and I am beyond thrilled:



    He also made me a seiza bench once. I think he just supports my Buddhism because it gives him projects to do. :wink:

  29. #29
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Wow! Your husband is a pretty good woodworker! Did he also make the table to the left in the picture? It seems to be of the same style.

    Gassho,
    John

  30. #30
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Wow! Your husband is a pretty good woodworker! Did he also make the table to the left in the picture? It seems to be of the same style.

    Gassho,
    John
    Thanks, I will pass on the compliment to him!

    Yes, he did also make that table. It's low and about 6 feet long so that we can have plants sitting in the front window.

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Beautiful workmanship and design

  32. #32

    Re: home altar

    Looks great... is that a speaker underneath?

  33. #33
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    Beautiful workmanship and design
    Thanks, Shokai!

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Looks great... is that a speaker underneath?
    Thanks!

    Uh, yeah . . . we never could find a good place to put that. ops: Maybe it shouldn't be there, but I kind of like the altar having a practical, everyday, no-big-deal function as well.

  34. #34

    Re: home altar

    I don't have pictures of them, but I have three Butsudan's

    I am Jodo Shinshu but started out studying Soto on my own via Shasta Abbey materials, and still practice shikantaza and often chant sutras from the Soto liturgy.

    In Jodo Shinshu, we either have a a scroll with the nembutsu, or a picture or statue of Amida.
    Strictly speaking any picture or statue of Amida, has Amida standing not sitting. This is based on Amida's appearance in the Contemplation sutra, and also to indicate Amida is active.

    So my main Butsudan features a small statue of a standing Amida, a candle, small gong, incense burner, flowers (fake ones....something of a no,no in Shin), and a stand for my o-nenju (mala).
    I use this one for chanting Shin Sutras, and Nembutsu recitation.
    Above the shrine sit photos of my departed cats.

    Then I have a second one beside, where I practice Shikan-taza. The Butsudan is on a short table and features a seated Amida in a sort of maroon coloured stone, and incense burner, candle and flowers.beneith the shrine is a place where I have Zen Sutra books, and a small mp3 player I use as a meditation timer.

    Then I have a portable Shin shrine, It is wooden with opening doors. At the centre is a scroll with a Standing Amida, and on each open door is a picture of Shinran, and on the other Rennyo. This is my travel Butsudan.

    The somewhat ironic thing is two of my Amida's came from Shasta Abbey, and I have met two members of my Shinshu Temple who studied at Shasta. Sort of an odd connection.

  35. #35

    Re: home altar

    Hello all,
    all these home altars I find most inspiring, in fact I am moved by any Buddhist altar or shrine I come across. So here is mine, it has changed and evolved a lot over the years.

    Gassho

    Attached files

  36. #36

    Re: home altar

    Manjushri got some new digs recently and I thought I'd share it here:

    http://asuradharma.blogspot.com/2011...hri-altar.html

  37. #37
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Manjushri got some new digs recently and I thought I'd share it here:

    http://asuradharma.blogspot.com/2011...hri-altar.html
    Hi Fuken,

    Never saw the previous way you had it setup but this one looks pretty cool!

    Gassho,
    John

  38. #38
    disastermouse
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    Re: home altar

    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!


  39. #39
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer G P
    My husband just finished making this for me and I am beyond thrilled:



    He also made me a seiza bench once. I think he just supports my Buddhism because it gives him projects to do. :wink:
    Ah, you also re-purposed a piece of furniture. Mine used to be a TV stand.

  40. #40

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!


    Mouse, my man, that's teriffic!

  41. #41
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Chet wrote:
    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!
    This is an awesome story! What a perfect gift which would later come to have so much significance to your practice!

    Gassho,
    John

  42. #42

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Manjushri got some new digs recently and I thought I'd share it here:

    http://asuradharma.blogspot.com/2011...hri-altar.html
    Hi Fuken,

    Never saw the previous way you had it setup but this one looks pretty cool!

    Gassho,
    John
    He was perched on the ledge above the register. At the old house he was in a repurposed wing of an entertainment senter that did not make the move due to the weight restriction.

  43. #43
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Manjushri got some new digs recently and I thought I'd share it here:

    http://asuradharma.blogspot.com/2011...hri-altar.html
    Hi Fuken,

    Never saw the previous way you had it setup but this one looks pretty cool!

    Gassho,
    John
    He was perched on the ledge above the register. At the old house he was in a repurposed wing of an entertainment senter that did not make the move due to the weight restriction.
    Sounds like a definite improvement. I see similarities in the new setup with that at the Treeleaf Zendo in Tsukuba. Was this your inspiration?

    Gassho,
    John

  44. #44
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!
    I have the same Buddha head! But it is not on my altar, I have it on the nightstand next to my bed. My best friend gave it to me as a gift a few years ago

    Jodi

  45. #45
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by jodi_h
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!
    I have the same Buddha head! But it is not on my altar, I have it on the nightstand next to my bed. My best friend gave it to me as a gift a few years ago

    Jodi
    My ex-girlfriend gave me that one.

  46. #46

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Manjushri got some new digs recently and I thought I'd share it here:

    http://asuradharma.blogspot.com/2011...hri-altar.html

    Hi Fuken,

    Never saw the previous way you had it setup but this one looks pretty cool!

    Gassho,
    John

    He was perched on the ledge above the register. At the old house he was in a repurposed wing of an entertainment senter that did not make the move due to the weight restriction.
    Sounds like a definite improvement. I see similarities in the new setup with that at the Treeleaf Zendo in Tsukuba. Was this your inspiration?

    Gassho,
    John
    No, I had not noticed it, the inspiration was all from my wife who seemed to think there was something to improve.

    Maybe great minds think alike... The great mind being my wife's and whoever inspired Jundo's set up.

  47. #47

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Here's mine! Second to the right is a Buddha with a laptop given to me by a close friend in 2006 or so (before I found Treeleaf). My friend was prescient!


    I am interested in that Avalokiteshvara. would you post a close-up?

  48. #48
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken

    I am interested in that Avalokiteshvara. would you post a close-up?

  49. #49

    Re: home altar

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken

    I am interested in that Avalokiteshvara. would you post a close-up?

    Thanks, there was a similar image at the temple I used to visit in Portland. Sometimes I enjoy the nostalgia.

  50. #50

    Re: home altar

    A very different set-up in my home. I sit in the study, which has large picture windows facing the back yard. For logistical reasons (two kids and a dog) I have yet to figure out the best way for a permanent altar, and I tend toward minimalism in general. So here's the set-up:



    Folding step-stool with two levels. I use the lower one for liturgical reading materials (that's Daido Loori's book and a printout of the Heart Sutra). The upper level looks like this:



    The fabric is one of those Japanese prints (whose Japanese name I have forgotten; if anyone knows please share) that we bought at Isetan in Tokyo. It had been sitting in a drawer until I found it when looking for something to put over the step, and it's pretty perfect for the purpose, with little fish and bubbles in a steam motif. Atop that is a couple of river stones, one small one propping up the larger front one.

    It's hard to see in the image, but beneath the rocks sits a small piece of paper folded in half. My daughter wrote the words "this here now" on it, and I've stuck it there. Just a little reminder.

    The whole thing, of course, is just a raft, and I expect it will shift as my practice develops. But for now it's doing the trick.

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