Author Topic: Family Altar  (Read 9521 times)

negra orquida

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Family Altar
« on: July 08, 2012, 12:37:22 PM »
Quote
One day, there was a very poor little Buddhist boy who was invited to the home of
another boy. In the home of the other boy was a large and shiny Obutsudan. Oh how the poor
boy wanted to have such a beautiful family altar. - He cried himself to sleep that night.
During the night he had a dream. In this dream a gentle voice spoke to him ............

When the poor little boy awoke the next morning, he felt very happy. He took a little
picture of the Buddha from a book. He pasted it on a clean piece of paper. Little flowers from
the yard were carefully put in front of the picture and there was the most precious little altar that
he ever saw.

What do you think the gentle voice spoke to the poor boy to make him feel so happy the next day? (NO GOOGLING!)

Tammy

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 12:51:08 PM »
No matter how is our financial, it would be best offerings to the Buddha if it is by the best of our ability. A sand mandala from a poor little boy is as good as gold offerings for a rich man.

Similarly, the little boy who could not afford to buy a statue, he could set up an altar just as beautiful using a paper image.
 It's our depend on our motivation n sincerity.
Down with the BAN!!!

Jessie Fong

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2012, 01:30:29 PM »
We offer what we can from the best of our ability.

Any offering should come from the heart.  So whatever is offered up is sincere.  It need not be something expensive if you cannot afford.  You do not need to compete with the Joneses.

bambi

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2012, 01:39:19 PM »
Similarly, the little boy who could not afford to buy a statue, he could set up an altar just as beautiful using a paper image.
It's our depend on our motivation n sincerity.

I agree with you Tammy. No matter how big and beautiful one's altar is, its the motivation and sincerity of one's practice. Our altar may look beautiful but without mind transformation, there is no point. I remember when I had only 1 painting and I was already so happy. Even without an actual altar.

I think the boy understands that even without an altar, an offering to any Buddha image, will be making direct offerings to Him.

biggyboy

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2012, 01:49:35 PM »
The gentle voice said, “ Buddha will always be there, be it a magnificent golden statue of Buddha or a plain picture of Buddha.  Your sincerity, your motivation and your desire to have Buddha is what that counts.

The little boy is naturally happy and relieved to hear that because that is all that he can afford. With the right motivation, sincerity and the burning desire to set up Buddha’s image he did it with great love and care, a picture of Buddha on clean white sheet of paper and hand picked fresh flowers from his garden.

RedLantern

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2012, 03:26:07 PM »

An altar is a sacred place for meditation,so it should be in our eyes made from objects that have deep personal meanings.It should be done with a generous heart and mindful motivation,as an altar serves as a prominent,central symbol of a wish to cultivate a generous heart and to invoke beautiful blessings into the lives of our family,friends and community.
We offered the best of what we can afford to the Buddhas,but it's our pure motivation and rightful thinking that's important to our own karma and well being.

dondrup

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2012, 04:00:25 PM »
The Gentle Voice spoke to the poor boy the significance of an altar and how to set up a meaningful one.  An altar is a platform for practitioner to accumulate merit.  It is traditionally represented by the body, speech and mind of a Buddha.  The body of the Buddha is in the form of an image or statute of the Buddha.  The speech of the Buddha is in the form of a Dharma Text.  The Mind of the Buddha is in the form of an image of a stupa or a stupa.  The altar helps the practitioner to remember the good qualities of the Buddha when he performs his prayers in front of the altar.  The practitioner aspires to eventually acquire these supreme and perfect qualities of the Buddha.

Of course if the practitioner can afford, he should set up the best and most beautiful altar that he could afford.  If the practitioner could not afford this, he could still setup something simpler like what the poor boy did.  It is the act of veneration, sincerity, purity of mind that counts not the external representation of the altar. In advanced meditation, we can even visualise our altar or the field of merit in our mind as elaborately and beautifully as possible without having to set up the physical altar.


Galen

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2012, 06:55:35 PM »
The gentle voice said:

Hello boy, this is BUddha. Don't be sad that you do not have a huge altar. It doesn't matter to me whether your altar is big or small, it matters to me that as long as you are kind and all you do come from your heart, I will be happy. I will be happy even if you just have a picture of me on the altar, to me it is the most beautiful image you can offer.  Same as any offerings you can offer. As long it comes from your heart, i love everything you offer.

Always remember, I love you and I am with you all the time.

Tenzin K

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2012, 07:33:57 PM »
This gentle voice must have told the boy the significance of having altar and making offering be it small altar/offering or extensive one.  They boy was happy because he is able to set up an altar even though it’s simple and minimal but he is given the opportunity to collect merits.

A proper altar holds images or representations of the Buddha's enlightened body, speech and mind which serves as reminders of the goal of Buddhist practice -- to develop these qualities in oneself so as to be able to fully benefit all sentient beings. The reason for setting up an altar is not for fame, for showing off wealth, or to increase pride, but rather it is to reduce one's mental afflictions and to seek the ability to help all sentient beings.

In term of the offering, there is no limitation to what can be offered, and there are many levels of offering. In general, one can offer any pleasing object, particularly objects pleasing to the five senses -- form, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition it is customary to offer seven bowls of water which represent the seven limbs of prayer -- prostrating, offering, confession, rejoicing in the good qualities of oneself and others, requesting the Buddhas to remain in this world, beseeching them to teach others, and dedicating the merits.

Flowers, candles or butter lamps, and incense are also commonly offered. It is customary to offer a part of every meal on the altar before eating and a portion of tea before drinking.
The things that should be offered should be clean, new and pleasing.  . . . only the best part, fresh, and clean -- never old, leftover, or spoiled food.

It is best to offer things that you already have or can obtain without difficulty. Don't think that you have to deceive others in order to get offering materials -- they should not come from stealing, cheating or hurting others in any way. Rather, they should be honestly obtained. In fact, it is better not to offer things that were obtained in even a slightly negative way.

As you make offerings, think that what you are offering is in nature your own good qualities and your practice, although it appears in the form of external offering objects. These external offerings should not be imagined as limited to the actual objects on the altar, but should be seen as vast in number, as extensive as space.

Offer food with the wish that all beings be relieved of hunger, and offer water with the wish that all beings be relieved of thirst. 

It is important to think that the deities accept the offerings, enjoy them and are pleased.  Think that by making these offerings all beings are purified of their negative qualities and their thirst for knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality is satisfied.

The purpose of making offerings is to accumulate merit and in particular to develop and increase the mind of generosity and to reduce stinginess and miserliness. By making offerings you also create the causes for the future results of becoming wealthy and becoming naturally and spontaneously generous.

Dorje Pakmo

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2012, 10:14:44 PM »
Quote
One day, there was a very poor little Buddhist boy who was invited to the home of
another boy. In the home of the other boy was a large and shiny Obutsudan. Oh how the poor
boy wanted to have such a beautiful family altar. - He cried himself to sleep that night.
During the night he had a dream. In this dream a gentle voice spoke to him ............

When the poor little boy awoke the next morning, he felt very happy. He took a little
picture of the Buddha from a book. He pasted it on a clean piece of paper. Little flowers from
the yard were carefully put in front of the picture and there was the most precious little altar that
he ever saw.

What do you think the gentle voice spoke to the poor boy to make him feel so happy the next day? (NO GOOGLING!)

I would imagine, the voice told this boy that it is not important how big, shiny and beautiful the altar is. The truly important thing is what is inside of him. To constantly think and aspire to achieve the qualities of a Buddha is far more admirable than setting up a huge and expansive altar.  A simple altar will be the most beautiful if he practices and give offerings sincerely from his heart.  It is more important to have a pure and beautiful heart that wish to practice Dharma for others, than to have a beautiful altar just for decoration.
DORJE PAKMO

kurava

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 01:49:56 AM »
Gentle Voice told the boy :

I'm omniscient , I go wherever one makes a sincere prayer to me. You don't need to have a big ornate altar. Any body can set up an altar based on what one can offer. A piece of paper with my image drawn on it is representation of my body and you can offer anything from flowers, water or even visualization of offerings to my representation.

Most importantly if you have me in your heart, I will always be with you day and night, this life and all future lives.

Always contemplate what I teach, apply my teachings in your life for that will be your ultimate refuge and protection.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2012, 02:12:24 AM »
Buddha to Boy:
It is not how big or expensive an image is , as long as it reminds you of who I am and the good qualities I embody. Any representation of me will do .
Offerings are expressions of your virtuous or good  thoughts from your heart . Any object which you can find which serves this purpose will do. An offering of a single  flower plucked from a roadside is no different from a bouquet   as an expression of your love and respect for me.
What makes an altar beautiful is not the objects but a mind that is pure and virtuous.

Big Uncle

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2012, 08:54:31 PM »
I think we should not discredit large images and beautiful offerings to the Buddha. Too often people had used the excuse of making offerings from the heart. But are we really making offerings from the heart? It really depends upon our financial capability. We want so much from Dorje Shugden and the 3 Jewels but we can't bear to offer a little few cheapskate offerings? That's the sorry state of our practice.

People often think that maintaining an altar is superstitious and unnecessary but the truth is that we need it badly, especially for us lay people. How much real Dharma practice do we do? Do we hold our vows well and do we spend many hours a day doing our meditations? Since, we don't really do that much Dharma practice, if we invest in a decent altar, we are investing into our spirituality and the well being of our future lives. For many of us, our altars are our biggest and perhaps the only link we have to the 3 Jewels. Hence, it wouldn't be good if we are stingy or calculative on our altars. We should only offer the best we can afford.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 04:32:43 AM »
People often think that maintaining an altar is superstitious and unnecessary but the truth is that we need it badly, especially for us lay people. How much real Dharma practice do we do? Do we hold our vows well and do we spend many hours a day doing our meditations? Since, we don't really do that much Dharma practice, if we invest in a decent altar, we are investing into our spirituality and the well being of our future lives. For many of us, our altars are our biggest and perhaps the only link we have to the 3 Jewels. Hence, it wouldn't be good if we are stingy or calculative on our altars. We should only offer the best we can afford.

What Big Uncle say is true, the altar is a great platform for us to connect to the 3 jewels. The late Buddhist teacher, Yogi Chen, offered the following five reasons for setting up a home altar:

•To invoke holy beings to come down and stay so as to enrich the wisdom and compassion of the practitioner and his family daily until perfect enlightenment is achieved.

•All sorts of attendant practices such as prostrations, offerings, praises, etc. are included in the daily practices before the shrine, which helps develop bodhicitta (altruistic spiritual aspiration) and fulfill the accumulations of merit and wisdom necessary for the ultimate achievement of enlightenment.

•By means of gazing at Buddhas, lighting lamps, burning incense, offering flowers, prostrating, etc., the functions of the five sense organs are completely absorbed in the Buddhist practices and hence the purification of the practitioner’s mind is enhanced and accelerated.

•It is easier to form a habit of contemplative practice by performing daily practices at a definite place in the home, as well as at a regular time.

•The grandeur and serenity of a Buddhist altar would demonstrate the practitioner's faith in taking the Refuge and give visitors chances of becoming acquainted with the delight and benefits of such practices."


yontenjamyang

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Re: Family Altar
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 06:30:07 AM »
I remember stories told by my lama about altar and offerings. One needs to set up a shrine and make offerings to one's best ability. That means offering with generosity . If a rich man were to offer gold and diamonds but it is only a small fraction of his wealth, the generosity is less then a poor person who offers everything.
Most important is to offer the three jewels with generosity. That is everything one can or the best.
Ultimately it is from the heart.

Perhaps the poor boy heard the buddhas advise him as such.