Monday, 26 July 2010

Buddhist Altar

Not long after my week long retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, I gave some thought to the Reverend's comment "If you haven't already got an altar, now is the time to get one".
So, looking around the room I found these items to put together to provide an area for Buddhist practice. The altar gives the Buddhist something to bow in front of, and bowing is very important to Zen Buddhism.

What do we bow to?

We bow to Buddha nature in everything, and our willingness to train. See the link above for more explanation.
The cabinet is an old teak sideboard which I inherited from my maternal grandmother some years ago. Maybe made in the 1950s?
In the centre is a photo print of Buddha sitting in meditation, which I bought in the bookshop at Throssel at the end of one of my retreats. It used to hang on the wall. The photo stands on a lace mat which came with the sideboard from my grandmother. They both sit on a CD player which I use to listen to Dharma talks and music which I like.
The Kesa (small ceremonial scarf) which I was given during the Jukai retreat, is stored in front of the Buddha when not in use, I think it will keep him warm if he feels cold.
In front of the Buddha is an aromatherapy burner with a scented candle inside it, sometimes I put incense in this spot instead but I have run out of incense.
On the left is a bowl of fruit, which I have just started to put on the altar as an offering. The fruit can be eaten normally, nothing in Buddhism is wasted.
Behind the fruit bowl is a photo of Jeff and I at Scotswood Natural Community Garden a few years ago. Some Buddhists put photos of deceased family members on their altars.
On the far left are some special papers with teachings in them that I was given.
On the right hand side there is a card with flowers on it which Jeff gave me when I returned from the Jukai retreat. I have learned it is traditional to put flowers on the altar. On the left of the flower card is a bowl of pine cones from Scotland, another kind of fruit. Mainly pine cones from Dalbeattie Town Wood, in Dumfries and Galloway.
We can put stuff we are going to give to someone on the altar before we give it, so there is a bag of tea lights to take to the meditation group tomorrow, and a CD which I was loaned, which I am going to return.
There is also a decorated pot with water in it, the water symbolises the refreshment of meditation and the willingness to offer hospitality and help.

1 comment:

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