Questions about items on an altar

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CrowTRobot
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Questions about items on an altar

Post by CrowTRobot »

Hi y'all!

I've been building up my altar and there are a few items I've been thinking about adding. I know they are personal and there are no hard and fast rules. But I want to make sure I am not causing any unintentional disrespect to anyone. No one sees it except my fiancee, daughter, cats and myself.

First: any issues using saffron cloth as an altar cloth? Not only do I find the color relaxing, it brings to mind monks, which inspires me.

Second: I have a jar of my dad's ashes on my altar for 2 reasons. One, he was my best friend and his death last year is what lead me to the dhamma. But I also use it as a strong reminder of impermanence and attachment. The question is this. I found a small urn shaped like a stupa. I know stupas usually hold relics and ashes of enlightened buddhists, would it be wrong to put the ashes of a non-buddhist in a small model of a stupa?

Thank you for your time.
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cooran
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by cooran »

Hello CrowTRobot,

I find nothing offensive or disrespectful in what you wish to do with your fathers ashes, or the container you wish to enclose them in, or the saffron cloth.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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L.N.
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by L.N. »

CrowTRobot wrote:... would it be wrong to put the ashes of a non-buddhist in a small model of a stupa?
No. Your intention is beautiful, as expressed here. Metta.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。
Caodemarte
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by Caodemarte »

I am not an altar specialist, but it sounds quite beautiful and meaningful to me.
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CrowTRobot
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Location: East Texas

Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by CrowTRobot »

Thank you all! I will move forward with both items.
plwk
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by plwk »

Well, here's some Asian musings (at least in some Asian cultures that I have observed)...

Urns with ashes of the dead are usually not kept at home for reasons of it being a bio hazard, for removing attachment for the departed and the folklore beliefs like separating the boundary of the living from the dead as the latter are oft thought of as petas which are believed to have adverse influence on various factors like geomancy, lifespan & generational blessings of the living and as a sign for them to move on amongst others...

And when it comes to the altar, for the countless ones I have seen across Buddhist Traditions, the dead are commemorated by a framed picture or an ancestral plaque placed in a lower position (hence, some Asian altars have up until 2-4 tiers) than the principal 'deity', here being the Buddha and sometimes Dhamma texts to denote the sublime nature of what subscribes to.

And you're right about the stupa thingy, only the four types of persons are deserving of a stupa as per Mahaparinibbana Sutta but a rose is a rose is a rose huh? Just don't let the cat topple it :tongue:

But otherwise, you do you.... that's what matters most...
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CrowTRobot
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by CrowTRobot »

I appreciate your insight. It may definitely be a western attachment to remains pushing me to do this. But it has been helpful having the visual reminder of impermanence. And it's my way of showing respect to his remains, since he is currently hanging out in a cardboard box. It obviously doesn't matter to him, but it does to me lol.

My cats have been oddly respectful of my altar, considering they act like they own the rest of the apartment. They have barely even looked at it.
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Tex
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Re: Questions about items on an altar

Post by Tex »

Best advice I've heard on this: the most important thing about your altar is that you use it.

I think you're on exactly the right track in setting up your altar in a way that inspires you to come back often.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus
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