Shrine Question

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Shrine Question

Postby dar8888 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:47 am

Hello, everyone!

I'm new to this forum, and I've found a great deal of value in the various posts - so I'm hoping I might get a bit of advice!

I live in a rather small apartment with a roommate. He is very open, but his parents are very strict Christians. Needless to say, I don't want to ruin my friendship by having a shrine in the living room (the only open space) - and suffering through the inevitable tension it would cause with his parents.

So, I set up a shrine in my bedroom. I don't sleep with my feet towards the shrine, but if I followed all of the other recommended etiquette (feet not point towards the altar while sitting, not sitting or standing with the back towards the image, altar facing east, etc..) I would be living in the living room.

I am wondering how strict everyone is in this regard. Since, to my understanding, the Buddha never wanted us to make images in the first place, I get the impression that the shrine is a later, post-Hellenistic innovation (or perhaps a devolution to Hindu practice). If, however, we approach the shrine with the proper state of mind - respectful and not worshipful - I think it creates an aid to meditation. Are the rules as important as the mind-set?

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Don.
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Re: Shrine Question

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:50 am

Hi Don
Don't worry about it too much. Set up your shrine wherever you can.
I actually think its better in a personal space.
The most important thing is not to forget your practice.
Practicing sila, samadhi, and panna: that is a real shrine to the triple gem, your real refuge.
kind regards

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Re: Shrine Question

Postby Viriya » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:38 pm

Whether you keep cultural shrine related practices should really depend on how many old Thai ladies (or similar) you intend on having in your bedroom to pass comment. If only you ever see your shrine, it's a purely personal matter how well you keep 'the rules'. Let's just say I slept with my feet pointing towards the shrine for years: Australians don't have a feet-pointing taboo so I didn't see the harm in it.

Just from an interpersonal relations viewpoint, having lived with strict Christians and non-Buddhists all my life, I don't think putting it in the lounge-room is a very good idea. In fact, I think it's a downright awful idea. Better not to have one at all.

Metta,
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Re: Shrine Question

Postby dar8888 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:07 pm

Thanks for the responses.

Ben wrote:If only you ever see your shrine, it's a purely personal matter how well you keep 'the rules'.


That's pretty much what I assumed would be the answer. After all, if the Buddha specifically wanted us to set up shrines, He certainly would have give us explicit instructions on how to do so, and how to behave when "using" one.

Personally, I've always felt that the Mahayana concept of regarding the Buddha image as being the Buddha Himself is somewhat "non-Buddhist". Not meaning to be offensive, but I think that makes it hard to say that you are not worshiping the image.
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Re: Shrine Question

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:41 pm

dar8888 wrote:Thanks for the responses.

Ben wrote:If only you ever see your shrine, it's a purely personal matter how well you keep 'the rules'.


I didn't say that. Please be careful what you attribute to whom.

dar8888 wrote:Personally, I've always felt that the Mahayana concept of regarding the Buddha image as being the Buddha Himself is somewhat "non-Buddhist". Not meaning to be offensive, but I think that makes it hard to say that you are not worshiping the image.

Can you point to anything that Viriya or I have said that suggests that we regard the Buddharupa as the Buddha?
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Shrine Question

Postby dar8888 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:14 pm

Sorry for the wrong quote.

As to the other matter, I don't think I ever accused either of you of regarding the image as the Buddha. As you may have noticed, I separated that statement into a new paragraph, and I clearly stated that I was speaking of the Mahayana concept. When I used the term "you", it was implied, by the statement itself, that it referred to those that hold the view - not to those reading the statement.
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Re: Shrine Question

Postby Viriya » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:51 pm

Not all Mahayanists regard the Buddha image as the Buddha himself. I'm thinking most would regard it as pretty ridiculous. In fact, I've never encountered the view at all in 5 years of Mahayana Buddhism...except from a little 10 year old Korean novice just learning English. (=
I'm not very good at right speech, although I try, so please guide and correct me if necessary so I don't make bad kamma for myself and cause others to be annoyed. (=
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Re: Shrine Question

Postby son of dhamma » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:41 am

I have a shrine in my room too, Dar. It is a Buddha statue with a framed picture of the Buddha and his five disciples under the Bodhi Tree, sitting on sheets on an alter in front of a candle, with a platform with incense burners and candles and a tea cup for water or tea.
-Out of respect for the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, I burn incense and set out water or tea, and light candles.
-To remind me of the teachings in my own most private place, and to be mindful of the three jewels, I keep my feet from pointing at the shrine.
-I have a shrine/meditation half for my room, and a sleeping part of the room (where my rolled sheets are).
So you see, I practice something quite similar to the tradition, but not for it's own sake.
with metta
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