Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our lives are our altars

Last week I wrote about how to assemble a Buddhist altar. I provided pictures of the altar I use for online meditation. Below are some photos of my bedroom altar. This is a brand new Korean Buddha statue I was fortunate enough to locate. Most of the altar items--candles and bases, offering bowl and cup, cloth, and vases--I found at the local thrift store. The tea candle holders are Tibetan butter lamps. In the front is a Korean jukbi (clapper) and on the right a moktak (small drum). The altar itself is simply a black cedar trunk.

Here's a close up of the Buddha. My wife doesn't like his goatee, but I do; it humanizes him. The fiery aureole behind him represents, at least in my mind, our Buddha nature.

And lastly, a shot of just the Buddha. It's hard to see because it's black, but the riser the Buddha sits on, I found at Salvation Army for $1.

So that's that. It's my Buddhist show-and-tell. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. As I wrote last week, altars are a way to make the inward visible. I don't think that they should be stagnant; maintaining an altar can be a valuable form of practice. Bowing, chanting, cleaning, how do we keep our minds during these moments? Altars can teach us to be meticulous, for as we practice paying more and more attention to the details of our lives, our lives themselves become altars or mandalas--sacred grounds for celebration and awakening.

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