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Thread: Is This Acceptable?

  1. #1

    Is This Acceptable?

    Hi everyone.
    Please forgive me as I am still very new but is there anything 'wrong' with how I practice? eg:

    I have a small alter. It sits on the top of my bookcase (we have a cat, so you know how much they like to knock things over and this stops him.)
    I have The Buddha central and up higher again on a small raised platform. On one side of the Buddha, I have a Jizo Bosatsu and a Kannon Bosatsu on the other. I use them to focus my thoughts on compassion, mercy, people far from me etc. To their outer sides, I have a candle that I light - so two in all - one on each side of my alter.
    I will light the candles, ignite three sticks of incense from one of them and 'flick' the sticks to extinguish them. I will then, while standing, pay homage to the Buddha (Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the fully Enlightened One), bow three times and place the incense in a small holder before the Buddha.

    I then 'kneel' using a homemade folding meditation stool, as it's the only way that I have found that stops my left leg from going numb and I recite The Heart Sutra.
    I set a timer app that sounds like a rin bowl and I practice zazen by turning myself and my stool 90 degrees left and face the wall. After completing zazen, I turn back, facing the Buddha and still kneeling, I recite the Four Vows and then the Verse of Atonement.

    (Once a week, following the above, I recite the Metta Chant.)

    I'll sit in calmness for a short time, usually looking up and contemplating the Buddha, before bowing three times from my kneeling position, again paying homage and then fold up my stool, wrap it up and place it aside in a spot next to my bookshelf.

    I leave the incense to finish burning and then cover the candles to put them out. I bow once more, facing the Buddha and generally leave by turning right, into my loungeroom, where my shoes are waiting for me.

    This is my own ritual. I don't see it as 'wrong' as I'm doing it in good conscience and I don't think the Buddha would be offended but because I'm not 100% sure, this is why I'm posting this. It felt right to do it now. Any thoughts and advice are gratefully accepted, my friends.
    I will not lie and said that I have sat today. I have not.

    Gassho.

    Rob.

  2. #2
    It all sounds lovely to me, Rob Thank you for your practice!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  3. #3
    What Jakuden said.

    If you are interested here is a link to an "RECOMMENDED 'At Home' Liturgy" thread - just in case you want to look at how it is generally done at Treeleaf.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...t=home+liturgy

    Also

    Jundo has a video of - Basic Zendo Decorum At Home

    Which you can find here.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...nners-%2812%29

    Not better, just some alternatives in case you are interested in exploring.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  4. #4
    Hi Rob,

    What Jakuden and Shinshi both said, including the resources. Thank you for sharing your practice with us, it sounds beautiful.

    I think we each tend to have our own style, some have more ritual, some have less, but we all sit zazen.

    I have different zazen postures because, like you, I have certain health conditions that require accommodations. Currently I am experimenting with a different arrangement to deepen my daily practice and am pleased that it is going well so far.

    Sometimes I chant, using verses from the Weekly/Monthly Zazenkai Chant Book -- that is also in the Resources link that Shinshi provided you. This is not required, it's just another idea to try if you want to.

    Personally I don't usually use incense or statues when I sit, but that doesn't mean it's wrong -- my way is just different. Also, other than my daily morning practice (my only scheduled practice so far), my other zazen sessions are as they come, and untimed. For instance, we just had a powerful storm come through. I enjoyed it safely, and decided to sit with it No idea how long

    Your practice is working for you, and it fills you with peace -- do what works for you. Learning about others' practices and exploring alternative ways and ideas is good also. Just my opinion, as I am still learning also (I'm still a baby in this).

    Thank you for posting and sharing, Rob. Welcome.

    gassho
    kim
    st lh
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    Underestimating a warrior, serves the warrior's advantage.
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  5. #5
    Hi Rob,

    It sounds lovely, especially if it resonates in your heart. With those cats, just be careful with the incense and candles to knock over!

    You know, even if one goes to various Zen groups around America or Europe, or even China and Japan, one finds small differences in fine points in procedures and traditions. All are authentic because true in that place and, the funny part is, all will say that there way is the "tradition."

    Some folks show photos of their Altars at home. (I can't find the link to that). Each is a work of art and heart if meant sincerely with good intent, very unique to that person. I do not believe that there has to be orthodoxy so long as the place is sincere and respectful. An altar, a statue or stick of incense can be a good reminder that this moment and place is sacred. The "statue" can be a Buddha or Bodhisattva, or a stone, a flower ... and empty space. Really, if the heart was sincere and wise, it could be a coca-cola bottle or a plastic panda, because ... what is not Buddha??

    However, you know what?

    Every moment and place is sacred too. So, while an altar and statue is lovely, the whole world is our Altar and every moment is the embodiment of Buddha. Thus, it is good to sit in a special room, but one can literally sit anywhere if one's eye is open: In a hospital bed, on a battle field (a soldier friend in Afghanistan once wrote me of doing so), a child's nursery, in a pit or on the highest mountain, by the side of the road or in the road (but watch for trucks! )

    This is also why I have sometimes replaced the "Buddha Statue" on our Altar in Tsukuba with a coke bottle, flower, empty space or a bag of dirty diapers. All beautiful, sacred, manifestations of Buddha when the heart is open.

    The only time I really ran into protest from folks was once, after 911, when I put up images of Bin Laden and George Bush, side by side, on the Altar with Mother Theresa (if I recall). That was harder for people to see as Buddha despite my explanation of how sometimes Buddha is harder to see because hidden by death, war, anger and violence. But, you know, what isn't the Buddha beyond all the ugliness? And for me, if you think I degradate or insult the Buddha by replacing him(her) with a trash can, or that I raise up the trash can in praise, you miss the point I think. All of life is sacred, all the "Buddha" when seen as such. I take a Buddha statue as primarily a reMINDer, a symbol, like a Crucifix or Star of David (for the other folks), which reminds us of a "greater reality". At heart, it is just wood or stone. However, all wood and stones are sacred.

    This Zazenkai, we had an Enso, a Mercedes Benz ornament and a Peace Sign ...



    Of course, it takes a very Wise heart to see through ugly images of materialism in this world to the underlying Peace of Buddhism. Even a beautiful stone Buddha, on the other hand, could be used as a weapon in the hands of a person with an angry heart. All depends on the heart which sees.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday LAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    PS - And, yes, please sit Shikantaza Zazen each day as you can, for a time. Especially before coming to chat. That is our core Practice here. Zazen is our true Altar.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Hi Rob,

    What do you are doing sounds great and your intent is good.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_, LAH

  8. #8
    Hey Rob,

    It sounds like your practice is unfolding in a lovely way. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  9. #9
    Hello, all
    Thankyou so much for all of your responses. I feel more at ease knowing that I wasn't doing anything that could be seen as insulting or plain wrong. Thankyou for all of the advice and the links that you have provided for me too.
    May you all have a beautiful, peaceful day.

    Gassho.
    Rob

    Sat Today.

  10. #10
    Sounds all good to me. Have only skim-read the topic, but the Soto website has something on “correct” altar set up. However I see them as more guidelines.

    My first buddha statue was made of 4 stacked pebbles from a trip to Ireland. Nowadays, I do have a little more traditional setup, but it is personal to me.

    Keep up the good work.

    Live long and prosper,

    Chishou


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ask not what the Sangha can do for you, but what you can do for your Sangha.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Chishou View Post
    Sounds all good to me. Have only skim-read the topic, but the Soto website has something on “correct” altar set up. However I see them as more guidelines.

    My first buddha statue was made of 4 stacked pebbles from a trip to Ireland. Nowadays, I do have a little more traditional setup, but it is personal to me.
    The Soto-shu "correct" set up is basically geared to a home altar for a Japanese family for ancestor worship of grandparents and such. Here are instructions direct from the Soto School "Head Office" in Japan.

    https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng...ion/altar.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).

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The Soto-shu "correct" set up is basically geared to a home altar for a Japanese family for ancestor worship of grandparents and such. Here are instructions direct from the Soto School "Head Office" in Japan.

    https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng...ion/altar.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).

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Hi Jundo,

    My knowledge on this is minimal at best, but is this (ancestor honoring and altar) a form of Shinto in Japan? I've read about this elsewhere due to some class projects (about Toyota Company and Japanese culture) but I don't want to assume. Please correct my mistakes on this.

    I find this very interesting, how can I learn more about this (Shinto?) practice? Because I like learning about these traditions, as always. I'm not sure if I'm asking questions correctly, so please forgive me if I say anything rude or wrong, it is unintentional.

    Any information is appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    Underestimating a warrior, serves the warrior's advantage.
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    My knowledge on this is minimal at best, but is this (ancestor honoring and altar) a form of Shinto in Japan? I've read about this elsewhere due to some class projects (about Toyota Company and Japanese culture) but I don't want to assume. Please correct my mistakes on this.

    I find this very interesting, how can I learn more about this (Shinto?) practice? Because I like learning about these traditions, as always. I'm not sure if I'm asking questions correctly, so please forgive me if I say anything rude or wrong, it is unintentional.

    Any information is appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    I would not say that it is "Shinto," but that it is ancient throughout Asia for thousands of use. One honors the Ancestors, who are still "present" in the household in some way. In fact, one might say that most Japanese have contact with their local parish Buddhist temple ... not for Zazen, not to learn about Sutras or the teachings of Buddha ... but by far, in most cases, to have funerals and memorial ceremonies performed to honor the dead Ancestors.

    Shinto, in fact, is a nature religion much more associated with life, agriculture, birth and fertility, so one does not go there generally for funerals to honor the Ancestors.

    Many Buddhist holidays and customs in Japan surround the ancestors. For example, many of you may know "O-bon," when a Bon dance is performed. This is actually one of the traditional Buddhist times of the year (the other are the Spring and Fall equinoxes) when the Ancestors come home for a family visit ...



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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