Lama Jigme Gyatso
Altars, Chaos, and Peace - 30oct22
Those new to Buddhism sometimes feel drawn to set up an altar. Some set offerings upon them, some bow before them, but what did the Buddha have to say on the subject. In the Dhammapada we read that a single hour of meditation is better than an entire lifetime spent tending a sacred flame; and thus we learn that Gautama had no use for ritualism.
The four noble truths teach us that the stressors in our life are exacerbated by the tyranny of the hating, craving, and clinging that tug at our choices, utterances, and deeds. Our altar, therefore, is NOT an instrument for wish-fulfillment but rather tool to aid our mindfulness and release.
On an uncluttered piece furniture or shelf set an image or statue (that inspires your meditation) at your eye level, when you’re sitting. Burn incense ONLY as a time keeping device, and light candles ONLY if you feel they’re pretty. No sit down and meditate like a Jedi.
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