Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

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Hazel
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Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by Hazel » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:01 pm

Hello all.

I got rid of my modest altar (and by that I mean piano bench with a candle on it - I gave away the piano) and am now looking for a new base structure to use.

My father is an accomplished woodworker and I figured it would be more meaningful if I actually built the structure instead of just ordering one online.

Are there specifications that one should adhere to or anything members suggest? I don't mean the stuff that goes in it, but the structure itself.

I will need to have some kind of doors/enclosure to keep my cat out when not in use. Butsudan(s?) look promising, but from my research that is specific to Japan and I am unsure whether that would be appropriate..?

I currently am not dedicated to a specific tradition (which is getting tiring).

TrimePema
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by TrimePema » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:30 am

Well without a tradition to adhere to it's difficult to give you some kind of guidelines that are specific but in general just a place to make offerings, maybe in front of the shrine itself, and then the shrine itself should have some kind of bottom platform that brings it to a mid-height and on top of the that the main shrine should sit, so it's raised off the ground and at a respectable height. The main shrine can have statues and holy objects and above that maybe on the wall there can be photos of Masters you feel connected to and different images of the deities you feel connected to or even just Shakyamuni.

The main thing is that it's at a respectable height IMO and that you have some image/statue of Shakyamuni. Preferably you can get the statue filled at a local monastery or practice center.

And also I am not sure what others say but I think it's fine to incorporate different traditions' 'things' like butsudan - if you use that as your main shrine you'll see it fits all the specifications I outlined above.

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futerko
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by futerko » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:41 am

I have only recently upgraded from an upturned cardboard box. I would say that whatever is appropriate is whatever you deem it to be - who else is the shrine for?
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:47 am

As mentioned, there are no real specific guidelines if you aren't following a tradition. Something aesthetically pleasing with a Buddha image or statue is always a good start. If you don't like anthropomorphic images, you can always find any number of Buddhist symbols, the Dharmawheel, Footprints of the Buddha, etc.
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Hazel
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by Hazel » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:55 am

Thank you all for the insight!

Announcing my brand new state of the art shrine based on cherry picked advice from here....
20191014_215827.jpg
20191014_215827.jpg (4.2 MiB) Viewed 543 times
Features include
* platform to make offerings
* upturned cardboard box

This is meant to be funny, but also what I plan on using as an altar until I pick a tradition. I want to put a fair amount of effort into the real deal, but maybe it's not time yet. This will get the job done for now. Maybe I'll give it a paint job.

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futerko
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by futerko » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:23 am

Hazel wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:55 am
Thank you all for the insight!

Announcing my brand new state of the art shrine based on cherry picked advice from here....



Features include
* platform to make offerings
* upturned cardboard box

This is meant to be funny, but also what I plan on using as an altar until I pick a tradition. I want to put a fair amount of effort into the real deal, but maybe it's not time yet. This will get the job done for now. Maybe I'll give it a paint job.
beautiful! hehe

I just draped a large cloth over mine - but had to upgrade because I bought a statue that was too heavy and collapsed the box! lol
may all beings be free from the delusion of humanism

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Mantrik
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by Mantrik » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:21 pm

Start with the environment: Space available, weather, dust, damp, privacy etc. (You mentioned doors)

Then consider what needs to be placed on it, height and also 'hierarchy' (ask your Lama):
Rupas, offering bowls, other implements such as phurba, vajra, bell, maybe pics of Gurus

Then consider how you will use it:
A permanent setup with a small area for offerings which is changed, or many changes as you perform different rituals.

A simple setup may be a sideboard with bookshelves attached on top.

A really nice bit of furniture to use is a Welsh Dresser with glazed cupboards for the top half. This means you have a display rupa area which is dust free on the top, a large flat surface in the middle for offerings etc, drawers and cupboards beneath, and the possibility of locking it to keep tiny hands away.

I have a large Indian chest with doors at the front, and an Indian glazed cupboard on top with 3 shelves.

Something I have noticed is that I used to use more and more of it, and now I use less and less and visualise more.
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futerko
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by futerko » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:35 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:21 pm

Something I have noticed is that I used to use more and more of it, and now I use less and less and visualise more.
that's a very good insight into how meditation/practice supports are effective and just how we can work with them
may all beings be free from the delusion of humanism

narhwal90
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by narhwal90 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:28 am

There is a fine tradition of starter altars built out of milk crates, phone books (back in the day) and cardboard boxes in some of the Nichiren traditions. Generally they are upgraded over time as an offering to reflect gratitude for the practice.

There was a machine shop where I volunteered a while back, making pins on a turret lathe to re-gauge streetcar trucks. A homeless guy who practiced Islam lived on the loading dock and he had a small space built of discarded furniture and found items, all neat and orderly with a spot for his Qur'an. So I think the important parts of the altar aren't about the dimensions or decorations or how fancy it is, but how sincerely you make it part of the practice.

Hazel
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Re: Specs for shrine structure (not contents)

Post by Hazel » Thu Oct 17, 2019 8:13 pm

My original starter structure was my piano bench, but I gave that away. Was hoping to up the ante a bit with physical labor as a gesture of devotion. I think the cardboard box I posted above does just that as a more gradual step. It took some effort/fabrication; I had to cut up cardboard boxes, make a couple slits, and weave in cardboard. I'm going to add an additional back drop to hang an image of Buddha.

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