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Thread: EXPRESSING CREATIVITY: your zazen practice space

  1. #1

    EXPRESSING CREATIVITY: your zazen practice space

    An interview with Ven. Tenzin Yignyen (Tibetan Buddhist) by Gail Birnbaum Shambala Publications..

    Why have an altar?
    A proper altar holds images or representations of the Buddha’s enlightened body, speech and mind which serve as reminders of the goal of Buddhist practice—to develop these qualities in oneself so as to be able to fully benefit all sentient beings.


    Hello everyone.

    We all have a special place to sit. And we want it to be a safe and a pleasing sanctuary. Not everyone can have a dedicated room/building for this personal ‘zendo’. But we each have a corner, tiny or spacious for our practice.

    I am most fortunate. I have a nice sized room in my studio that doubles as a zendo and a gallery. I use the gallery to hang my own work to view but also… as a real gallery (called the ACOG- Anne Cooper Occasional Gallery) where we have exhibits 2-3 times a year of work from artists in the community. The exhibits are one evening, called pop-up shows, 2 hours only with refreshments, conversation and lots of celebration of creativity. Fun events. Of course, those are on hold until we have a vaccine. http://annecooperstudio.com/ACOG.html

    But mostly the room serves as a zendo for my morning and afternoon sits.

    Candles, incense, statuary, bells, flowers (I know now that there are remarkable gardens out there to bring into your personal mediation space)? How and where do you carve out your sacred space for sitting? Do you have an altar? What finds its way onto your altar? Any why? Is there an accompanying ritual when you enter the space to help set your mind free to be present for the sit? How do you care for it? Let us know how you realize your special and sacred space.

    And now from Meitou.

    Hello everyone and welcome to the second in our series about expressing creativity. When I first thought about a prompt for this subject, I had it in mind to keep it very simple and ask you to show where you sit, what kind of altar you have ( if any) , how you maintain it. Please feel free to do that. I thought to post some photos of various altars, from various Buddhist traditions, and other religions, ranging from the big elaborate public altars to small simple home spaces, and I will do so in my next post. But as I was researching altars, I came across some items that inspired me to make this into a practical project, for those of you who wish to join in.

    I like making things out of found objects and using material which is readily accessible. Something else that I like is the world of miniatures – one of my big loves as a child was my dolls tea service and my dolls house. So when I found a picture of an altar made out of a shoebox, I was hooked immediately. I was fascinated to find that shoebox altars are a thing, as are altars in tins, and matchbox altars. I'm posting some examples for you to see, and you'll notice that some of the most delightful examples are dedicated to The Day of the Dead, with their bright hot colours and vibrant home made decorations. Some of these are designed to be displayed as they are, some are made to be used when a practitioner is travelling and wants to create a sacred space in a hotel room etc. The thing they all have in common is that they are portable.

    So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make a portable altar, preferably using accessible household items -no need to go out and buy a fancy shmancy little butsudan if you have a cereal box, or a shoe box or an old tin with a lid etc. You can of course just post a pic of your own altar, but do consider having a play around with making a boxed Buddha – and of course, have fun!



    Gassho
    Anne and Meitou

    we both sat today
    Last edited by Cooperix; 06-19-2020 at 05:40 PM.

  2. #2
    I will remind everyone, however, that Shikantaza Zazen --is not-- "meditation." We should not call it so.

    Would you mind to change the heading of the thread?

    It is a small matter of a word, but I want folks to be clear on this.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    My Shikantaza space varies. Yesterday for example it was sitting next to our ute on The Game Changer, my wheelie walker in a multi-level car park while my partner shopped. Wherever I am doing Shikantaza at home though, inside or out there's always this tiny Buddha and the heart shaped stone my partner found. This photo is my 'alter' from my most recent stay in hospital.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today

    Sent from my SM-A205YN using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  4. #4
    Very nice Onka, portable altar. I don't think we 'need' any 'thing' to sit, but the touch of the familiar is welcome.

    Bows
    Anne

    ~st~

  5. #5
    Just a few of the hundreds of examples of every type of altar that can be found on the internet. For those of you interested in making a portable shrine, just google shoebox/matchbox/ altoid tin shrines - there are so many amazing little works of art. At the other end of the scale it's interesting to compare these home made shrines with the hugely elaborate temple shrines, but also some of the shrines in Asian homes.

    Shoebox shrines
    shoebox.jpg

    Ann Riley altar.jpg

    day of the dead 1.jpg

    Tin box shrines

    tin box altar zen.jpg

    altoid tin shrine.jpg

    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  6. #6
    And some more...

    Matchbox shrines

    matchbox shrines.jpg

    firestarter shrine.jpg

    our lady of guadalupe.jpg

    Various Portable shrines

    portable shrine 2.jpg

    firestarter buddha.jpg

    Meitou
    sattodah lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  7. #7
    And a few more...


    Beautiful, modern, simple

    ATTACH=CONFIG]6543[/ATTACH]

    small simple.jpg

    Home and Temple

    large home altar.jpg

    large ornate.jpg

    There are so many different styles and sizes, such a vast variety of materials used, way too many to post here, so please do have a look on the internet for inspiration. There have also been threads here about Treeleafers home spaces, do feel free to post your own.
    Of course there are many people who don't have any kind of altar, and people who find them off putting because they are redolent of theistic religion etc. So just a reminder that this project is about opening up to our creative imagination, and should be liberating, enjoyable and light hearted. Have fun.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    sattoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  8. #8
    Meitou,
    I love these! And I am working on putting together a tiny altar. I too enjoy miniature, so I have lots of Zuni pueblo animal fetishes, tiny baskets, pots etc.
    Will post as soon as I get something together.

    bows
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  9. #9
    Member RobD's Avatar
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    Massachusetts, United States
    What and inspiring thread. Thank you Meitou.

    I've always found that having a dedicated space helps add a touch of formality/structure to my practice, but I don't go overboard with it.

    I have carved out a small corner of a finished basement space for Zazen practice, and I'm putting a few finishing touches on it over the next few days. I'll post a pic as soon as it's "done".

    On a related note, I would like to share a photo of the sign my son made for me. As my sitting space is right next to the stairs, it's less disruptive if folks don't come downstairs while I'm sitting. Therefore, I hang this sign on the doorknob at the top of the stairs to remind my family that Zazen is "happening".



    I love his play on words.

    Additionally, I love the idea of a portable shrine/altar. Thanks for the inspiring examples. I'm working on one now as well. Pics to come!

    Gassho,

    Rob
    SatToday


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Cool sign there Rob.
    One of my friends has a coffee cup that says ZEN AS F***. I'll leave it to your imagination to fill in the blanks lol.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

    Sent from my SM-A205YN using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  11. #11
    CD4FE538-E9EA-4DF4-B143-C6913F5EB33C.jpeg

    The story that I heard goes that Buddha was born outside, became enlightened outside and died outside. That resonates well with whomI think I am. I often sit here with the sounds of insects and birds and the feel of wind. It seems right for me.

    Doshin
    St

  12. #12
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    CD4FE538-E9EA-4DF4-B143-C6913F5EB33C.jpeg

    The story that I heard goes that Buddha was born outside, became enlightened outside and died outside. That resonates well with whomI think I am. I often sit here with the sounds of insects and birds and the feel of wind. It seems right for me.

    Doshin
    St
    Yes! Same here. I spend as much time as I can outside. It used to be down by the dam at the back of the property where we live but now I'm currently less mobile it's under bamboo looking over native grasses and weeds we let grow to seed.
    Gassho Onka
    ST

    Sent from my SM-A205YN using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  13. #13
    Hi,

    I would like to invite everyone to join in our special BYOB (Bring Your Own Buddha) Zazenkai this week, in which I ask everyone to place in their sitting room at home something ... an image or thing that is ugly to the eye, harsh and human-made, something most mundane and ordinary like a rusty tin can ... even an image which is harsh, violent, scary and painful in this world or in your personal life making it hard to see "Buddha" in all the pain.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-Own-Buddha%29

    I explain more about it here:

    ... I sometimes try to remind folks that ... because everything and all spaces, full or empty, beautiful or where the beauty is not so apparent to the human eye, are special and sacred spaces ... are "Buddha," thus a "Buddha Statue" or Altar can be about anything.

    ... That is 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. I sometimes put difficult peoples' pictures or "ugly" objects to remind folks to see beyond surface opinions and our personal preferences. After 911, I put up images of Osama Bin Laden and George Bush, side by side, on the Altar. That was harder for people to see at the time, but I asked people to see beyond the divided surface appearances of violence and war that such images represent in human terms.

    All contain, below the surface, beautiful, sacred, manifestations of Buddha when the heart is open, and one can find "Buddha" beyond the ugliness, the greed, anger, violence, war, jealousy, discrimination among peoples and divided thinking.

    So, please "Bring Your Own Buddha" today ... something that does not look like a Buddha, and which you would not usually consider a "Buddha," and perhaps even something ugly or an image of someone hard to see either in this world or in your own life. We will offer our Bows and a recitation of the Heart Sutra's reminders of Emptiness, peace and healing, beyond appearances and form.
    For Buddhist folks, the Beautiful sometimes looks beautiful but, alas, sometimes anything but beautiful.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLentAHand
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2020 at 03:15 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Altar at the hut:

    DSCN3184.jpg

    It goes through a lot of changes.

    Altar at the hut/shop/garden shed that is at Daughter's house:

    1-IMG_0907.jpg

    This is on the wall out of the way of swinging timbers, rakes and such. The three dollar thrift-shop Kannon was missing a few fingers, and so is appointed cautionary shop steward; however it is still true that "all over the body is hands and eyes." _()_

    gassho
    shonin sat and lah today
    I'm a visiting unsui from Bird Haven Zendo. Take what I say with a box of salt. Mmm!

  15. #15
    Member RobD's Avatar
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    Massachusetts, United States
    Lovely altars Shonin! And I like how you mention that the one in your hut is always changing. Such is life, right?

    Gassho,
    Rob

    SatToday

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    In addition to outside I have a more “standard” zen place. This is where I sit with you on Zoom. My printer shares the space because my computer is next to the altar. The Green Tara represents restoration/Mother Earth to me. The tea cup with the Heart Sutra is a reminder of Treeleaf and my time with Jundo and Jishin and the comb is for trying to look my best before the Zoom camera goes live

    I am working on ideas to comply with Jundo’s request above to add to the altar.

    63C3AED8-F5BA-46D2-99DE-116985CE1D31.jpeg]

    Doshin
    St
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #17
    Hello all!

    I love this prompt and this is my newly made portable 'altar in a box'!

    Altar in a box 1
    Altar in a box 2

    This is my sitting room shrine: https://postimg.cc/gxfnw5Bc

    And my bedroom shrine: https://postimg.cc/sB715ctY


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  18. #18
    altar.jpg

    This is a tiny altar in my bathroom.
    (Maybe that combines Jundo's 'ugly'...?)
    The tiny (2") bowls are Acoma Pueblo pots. The Acoma believe themselves the descendants of the Mimbres, who disappeared from southwestern NM many centuries ago. They are known for their amazingly beautiful pottery and design work. The Acoma replicate many of the Mimbres designs. As shown in these sweet little bowls.

    Gassho
    Anne

    ~lahst~

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post
    altar.jpg

    This is a tiny altar in my bathroom.
    (Maybe that combines Jundo's 'ugly'...?)
    I told folks, at the end of our Zazenkai this week where my "Buddha" was a piece of rusty tin roof from our collapsed pig house ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post264587

    ... that they do not need to keep the "ugly" on the Altar all the time. They can keep beautiful and peaceful things because an Altar is to serve as a reminder (re-MIND-er) of the beauty, peace and goodness which is the Buddhist ideal. That is why we usually put a peaceful statue, flowers and sweet smelling incense, not a plastic ketchup bottle, broken glass and gasoline.

    However ...

    ... they should keep in their hearts always and recall from today's lesson that Buddha is all things, even if buried in ugliness and hard to see. There is beauty shining through the rusty tin can at the side of the road, but let us clean it up. There is Buddha Nature even within the person who acts with greed, anger, violence and jealousy ... but it is not manifest until we stop acting so. A shining precious jewel still shines and is precious even when buried in the mud, yet let us constantly polish away the mud as best we can.

    So, no need to keep the ugly things on the Altar if you don't wish, but don't expect a Buddha's Beauty to always look beautiful to the human eye.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Another inspiring thread!

    Thanks,

    Jinyo

  21. #21
    I love the idea of matchbox shrines!

    Gassho

    Nanrin

    Sat today

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