As Magnificent as a Cathedral! Lovely!Originally Posted by ChrisA
There are no "permanent" altars, only "timeless" altars. 8)
As Magnificent as a Cathedral! Lovely!Originally Posted by ChrisA
There are no "permanent" altars, only "timeless" altars. 8)
I can't believe I used the word "permanent"! ops: My beginner's mind requires no effort whatsoever!!
Love the altar Chris. Perfect.
I have a little Wiccan stool altar made of wood with a bunch of crystals and rocks I've collected and a little Tara Buddha statue. There is also a candle. It changes a lot, since it is more of a decorative piece than a mediation focus.
Chris -- I've got a beginner's mind just like that! Your altar is fantastic.
Amelia, it's always been interesting to me to consider the decorative aspects vs. the utilitarian aspects of having an altar. I haven't posted a picture of mine yet (that's forthcoming) but I sometimes feel like I've "dressed it up" too much. I try to keep it simple, but I definitely have an aesthetically sensitive streak in me that wants to make everything around me pretty. :roll: One of these days I should maybe just strip it down a bit, get rid of a couple of things and feel the space that's left, and breathe.
I am really trying to minimize on my objects, and one of the things I am trying to do in the process is only keep things out which I find pleasing to the eye, or things that are used very often, and then craftily hide everything else in cabinets and such if they can't be got rid of or given away. My altar is starting to become a subject of minimalist stress to me because I don't actually do anything at my altar. When I was Wiccan, even, I didn't feel like ritual was something necessary beyond just having an intention for something. So, these days, when I am feeling like giving thanks, or praising the beauty of the world, or meditating, I still don't go to my altar-- I'll hold my hands together for a moment and "think out" to the world how grateful I am-- or how I am hoping for healing somewhere or for someone-- or how I really could use a more lucrative job situation... then I just try to continue flowing in the Dao-stream...
Whenever I see my altar, I am reminded of the fact that I don't use it. Then, I ask myself, "Why do I even have an altar?" Well, I guess the answer is simple... I like the objects, they are pleasing to my eye, because it definitely isn't around because I use it for anything. Even when I sit, it is never in the same place on my floor.
It seems the moment I try to ritualize anything-- even bowing Gassho-- an alarm goes off in my head that says, "You're playing copy-cat-- the true meaning is in the intention!"
Can you explain to me how you went from Wicca to Zen? I can hardly think of two more different religions.
No judgement, just puzzlement.
I know people who were wiccans in their adolescence and came to practice Buddhism, especially Vajrayana Buddhism to be honest.Originally Posted by disastermouse
They shared that Wiccan practices opened their eyes about the beauty of rituals, that the dual practice of the "Great Mother" and the "Horned God" was transcended into a certain sense of unity, that the community was also essential and that the core of the practice was something like "If you harm no one do what you want".
And all these things are used, with Tibeto-indian archetypes in the path of transformation of Vajrayana Buddhism. Even the credo of harming no one is called the "source or core precept in Vajrayana Buddhism".
Now I don't want to talk for Amelia, and Zen has not all these esoteric aspects (well, esoteric practices and rituals exists in modern Chinese Chan but they are not the core of the practice, they are more rituals and expedient means, upayas, that were added when esoteric Buddhism was the mainstream school in China).
Anyway, hope that helps a little bit...
Have a nice day everyone!
Jinyu's description is pretty accurate. It is not too different from Buddhism (and yet very different from Buddhism!). There are the concepts of karma and oneness, there is also ahimsa. There are meditation practices and all that... There is just a lot more of that New Age flavor that turn a lot away. I like to think that I was a Wiccan without a bunch of frills. I hardly did ritual-- what I was interested in was meditation and learning. I also wanted to know if there were certain patterns of thought which would create certain situations in my life, and I can't deny that "magic", however it works, has some effect. To me though, it is just further evidence to suggest that we are what we think. No rituals needed-- no worship of any particular deity. However, I don't really consider myself having switched from one religion to another-- it's more like I enjoy learning about all religions, I keep the information I like and find useful, and I let go of the rest, or pick it up again when appropriate. Right now, I am finding Buddhism most useful, though I also really enjoy Daoism.
I wonder if Wicca is a bit like Taoism in drag....like a western version of Taoism....just a thought.Originally Posted by Amelia
I don't know. Words are just words. Names are just names. The Dao that can be named is not the Dao. :P
Never thought about it... it is not false at all... but the New Age influence in the very eclectic practices of Wicca is difficult to describe and imagine...Originally Posted by disastermouse
I see similarities, but it's no doubt wrong to equate the two.Originally Posted by Jinyu
My little chalkboard-backed altar (I like the black backdrop and we have this chalkboard laying around the house). Boyfriend gave me the buddha for Christmas -- before that, the presiding buddha was Master Mu given to me by my mother: http://www.etreasuresgifts.com/chpldo.html. (Yes, a commercialised Zen product like what we were talking about, but it's Mom, gotta give her a break.)
I made the beaded lotus. The other objects were thrift-store findings. There's a painted pin sitting there from the last Matsuri, or the one before it. Black square dish with sand in it for incense burner. Sake cup holding the incense (does that violate a precept? :O) The silver ball is a Christmas candle, putting the little lid on snuffs it right out. I don't even know what that textile placemat-thingy is supposed to be, maybe a tissue box holder or a chopstick keeper? I just like it there.
Oh yes, and the big mind-blowingly adorable maneki neko collection my daughter and I share...I want a separate wall shelf for them, but they are very good at sitting, so I'll leave them where they are for now.
The Thai box has some incense, matches and some other crap in there, I don't know what.
The whole thing has sort of evolved over time; I never meant it to get that elaborate, but the pieces all seem to fit there now, so I don't want to change it.
Originally Posted by murasaki
It is beautiful! Have you ever considered using the blackboard to draw a Rose Apple Tree behind the Buddha?
Thank you! That's a brilliant idea, but I'm a poor drawing artist at best...sounds like a job for my talented daughter
...or, I could just write "NOW" above and behind the buddha
Perfect!Originally Posted by murasaki
Saw this quotation from John Daido Loori and thought of this topic:
(I saw this in Essential Zen, but thanks to google I learned that Treeleaf's own Fugen has posted about it on his blog!)Americans like to refer to one of the old Zen stories about how a master took a wooden Buddha image, chopped it up, and made a fire, warming himself by its flames. Seeing this, a monk asked, “What are you doing, setting fire to the Buddha?”
The master replied, “Where is Buddha?”
The opposite goes on in America. In America we want to burn the Buddha images to begin with. You see, that monk was stuck on the form. In America, we are antiform, so the pointing goes in another direction. If you’re attached to neither existence nor nonexistence, you manifest a sixteen-foot golden Buddha in a pile of rubbish, appearing and disappearing.
Got me to thinking about whether I too held the desire "to burn the Buddha images to begin with." Hrm....
I like altars and there are some great pics u here of them!
I have a Tibetan style altar
I don't have an altar. I've been thinking up some designs for a "matchbox" altar, a small box with a few items that could be put out anywhere one needs. The box would serve as the platform itself, with little fold-out legs for a makeshift table. Just thoughts. Right now my altar is just a patch of carpet
Hi Chris,Originally Posted by ChrisA
Yes, this is a comment by Daido that I always recall, and I am very much of the same mind. If I encounter a student of Zen who is all "Bowing is stupid, statues are made of wood, chanting is pointless" ... I strongly encourage them to bow, place a statue and chant. We learn so much in this way by doing what we resist. Also, if a practitioner thinks "Buddha is only within and has no form" ... I tell them that Buddha is not "inside" or "outside" "both" or "neither", is form and formless.
If I meet a practitioner who thinks one must bow to a statue and chant ... I encourage them to sometimes stop or give it up for a time, or to find that bowing, statue and chanting that is accomplished and sung silently within one's heart without need for external manifestation. If a practitioner thinks "Buddha is only found in such traditional forms and rituals" ... I tell them that Buddha is not "inside" or "outside" "both" or "neither", is form and formless.
In all cases, I encourage the student to find the meaning of these things in one's own life without attachment or need for outside show or objects, or only looking within.
Gassho, Jundo. I remember reading something you wrote about chanting that had a similar effect on me, and has prompted me to be sure to include the Heart Sutra each and every time I sit now.
Meanwhile, on the subject of Buddhas, I think that this little guy is about to make an appearance on my stepstool altar:
Nice thing to have ones alter in ones pockets. (why can't I upload a bmp file?)
No altar for me. My wife and I are planning to have one in the future, though. There was some discussion in my family about dividing Dad's ashes (and I guess Mom's as well, now that she's dead) among us. So when our little butsudan is set up, there's gonna be two urns there along with Buddha.
Not sure what happened along the way that I never posted this picture for show and tell.
Lots to show, not much to tell:
How do y'all use your altar during zazen? What procedures/rituals do you follow? When you're sitting, do you look at the stuff in there, or what?
The only two things I do with my altar is lighting of incense and ringing the bell. I start my sit by lighting the incense and touching it to my head three times (for the Jewels) and then just before I sit, I ring the bell three times and then once at the end of zazen. The incense I've done from the very beginning of my practice, I added the bells after joining Treeleaf as a mimicry of Jundo. I'm not sure if the ringing of the bells before/after zazen has a meaning, but I have always seen it as a parenthesis on my sit. (Also works to tell my house (wife & kids) to shut up as I'm about to sit...with loving-kindness). :twisted:
So you don't look at anything in there while you're sitting?
In the zendo the altar is a central focal point, NOT :shock: . Participants sit about the perimeter and face the wall (Soto shu) or inward (Rinzai). The body is erect and the eyes open gazing at a non-point (approx. 45° below horizon) not looking (outward, at least). The altar becomes an object in memory only and since one is NOW, the altar doesn't exist. So, why look at it
Yes, I realize that is true for zendo altars, but I've seen some people who sit zazen facing their altars at home. I also do that, but focus only on the wall behind the altar or on my little rock (to prevent my eyes from crossing!).
I look at non-looking. Basically I keep my eyes un-focused (as I also 'try' to do with my mind). I feel Dogen teaches it perfect in Fukanzazengi:Originally Posted by ChrisA
"At the site of your regular sitting, spread out thick matting and place a cushion above it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, you first place your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, you simply press your left foot against your right thigh. You should have your robes and belt loosely bound and arranged in order. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left palm (facing upwards) on your right palm, thumb-tips touching. Thus sit upright in correct bodily posture, neither inclining to the left nor to the right, neither leaning forward nor backward. Be sure your ears are on a plane with your shoulders and your nose in line with your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips both shut. Your eyes should always remain open, and you should breathe gently through your nose.
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking? Non-thinking. This in itself is the essential art of zazen."
Hope that helps or at least doesn't confuse things more.
I'd really like something like this
Close-up shot: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/boonmee_2179_1252527455
as I don't have much room and it would be nice to be able to close everything up and tuck it away. But man that's pricey. I can't imagine it would be too tough to build one for someone with some decent woodworking skills (not me!). :mrgreen:
Maybe a possible side business for those of you who have spouses who are good woodworkers (hint hint Jen and Shawn )
one of the four i have,
kitchen, bedroom, livingroom and outside
this one is in the kitchen
Haha, I read this to her to plant the seed...will keep watering it and let you know.Originally Posted by Matto
I mentioned this in a previous thread on home altars but I'll mention it here and see if it is useful to anyone. I usually put together my altar to represent the five elements.
stones or plants= Earth
cup of water= Water
incense burner= Air
Probably more a throwback to my "neo-pagan" days, but it is fun to play with a mythic framework from time to time.
Very nice...Buddha on top and a Buddha on the bottom.
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Hi Rod,Originally Posted by Rev R
I like that you put your alter together representing the 5 elements! Just thought you may find this interesting......
The Tana(tea stand) pictured below is called a Gogyo Dana. It was created by the Gengensai, the 11th generation head of the Urasenke lineage of tea. His inspiration for it was the 5 elements(gogyo) of all creation(acording to classical Chinese theory). Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal, and Water are all represented in this shelf. Wood(the shelves), Earth (the clay brazier), Fire (the charcoal fire in the brazier), Metal (the kettle), Water (water inside the kettle).
Finally got my portable altar put together:
I have a Buddha on my bureau near my sitting area. A bodhidharma buddhabadge and the pine needle from jukai sit on his lap.
This is my little altar at home...but it is a work in progress, as many as the things I still have to finish :wink:
As my Buddha I chose three stones from my favorite place in town ... they remind me of the three refuges, and the balance with always possibility of falling (which sometimes happens ops: ), the impermanence of things and that everything in this universe actually is sacred.
I don't have a home altar but I do have one in my office (kinda)
I work in a Christian Seminary and am new so I've been keeping the fact that I am a buddhist a little under wraps. Hince the altar in a folder. the zafu is made of inflated packing material and a knit cap.
Here is the picture that is in the folder
That's a creative solution Threethirty. I especially like the zafu, but I'm not sure it would be substantial enough for me. :wink: