Easily one of the most recognizable images of Buddhism to most people is a shrine, decorated with flowers and candles and, oh yes, statues. Newcomers to the practice often want to know how to set up a shrine, or if they even should. Here are some guidelines on how to set up a simple home shrine.
You will want to set up your shrine in a quiet, peaceful room. Avoid putting your shrine near hallways, kitchens, or bathrooms. Set up a small table, about two feet high, and cover it with a maroon or gold colored cloth.
On the center of the table, place a picture or image of Buddha Shakyamuni. To the right of the Buddha, place an image of Padmasambava, and to the Buddha’s left, an image of Green Tara. In front of the Buddha place a clear quartz crystal or clear crystal ball.
You’ll want to add candles for light offerings to your shrine, and fresh flowers whenever possible. Finally, you’ll need an incense burner and incense. You can place your incense burner on your table if you have room, and on the floor if you don’t.
The shrine represents the mandala of the Buddha and the hidden qualities of the nature of our minds. Try to keep your shrine neat and clean and the atmosphere around it possible.
If you can’t find images of the deities, or can’t afford them, don’t worry. I only have a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni on my shrine right now, because the other images can be really expensive. Some are hundreds of bucks! In that case, you can put up a picture of Padmasambava and Tara. I have a printed picture of Padmasambava on my shrine. Still working on getting the Tara image. Do what you can and don’t stress the rest. You have plenty of time to build a magnificent shrine.
One more note on your home shrine. For some people, putting up a shrine in their home might cause conflict with family members or roommates. If setting up a shrine will cause conflict in your home, it is best to wait. You can still do you practice without it. As Buddhists, it’s our job to promote peace and non-violence, so if setting up a shrine might cause your family to act negatively then don’t worry about it right now. You don’t want to cause a fight over it.
If you do really want to set up a shrine and want to avoid conflict with family, talk to them about it. Don’t just set up a shrine one day while everyone’s away and suprise them with it. Explain it to them. Explain the deities and images and why you are doing it. This can help you to avoid conflict and promote peace in your home.
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