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What are the minimum items for a Vajrayana Altar?

TheEccentricTheEccentric South east, UK Veteran
I know you need a table but any specific tyoe or height required? and what items are minimum to place on top and any extra things?

Comments

  • cazcaz Veteran
    This is something you should be asking your teacher if you have access :)

    Bare Minimum

    On the left hand side a Dharma book.

    In the middle a picture of Buddha

    On the right a stupa.

    In front of Buddha 7 water offering bowls.
    Sile
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited November 2012
    Well @caz...

    You know what they say... when the teacher is ready the student will appear.

    ;)

    lobstercaz
  • Put yourself on the alter . . .

    Then do prostrations (thus have I been advised)

    :bowdown:
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    My teacher is from Namgyal, the Dalai Lama's monastery, trained in the Gelug (yellow hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism:
    He advises a minimum of:
    - A candle,
    - a water bowl (1, 3, 5, or 7),
    - a flower (it can be plastic .. in Buddhism it IS the thought that counts!),
    - an offering of food,
    - incense.

    You can have a statue of picture of Buddha, of any of the dieties, a vajra, a bell, etc etc.

  • in Buddhism it IS the thought that counts
    This is why vipassana is mind control perhaps . . . ? ;)

    Any alter must alter us, otherwise it is decoration.
    Whatever you put on an alter is you.
    (to be honest I would rather have a prune as a withered fruited and dying post flower than a false or plastic nature representation)

    Maybe I could with sufficient veneration cover my Buddha head with soil and cress seeds.
    Then I could have a Buddha sandwich meditation . . . :)

    However I am quite willing to use plastic, carbon fibre or even cyber Buddhas (from a tablet or laptop) and even whole cyber shrines in cyberland - loads in secondlife.com.

    Alter rather than enshrine our Buddhas, I think we should cook them; edible Torma Buddha bread.

    This is my Buddha Body
    This is my Fluid . . .

    Buddha Feast.

    Is the Buddha a doughnut, how many prostrations before we dunk the Buddha?

  • SileSile Veteran
    edited November 2012
    From Yowangdu, and ss @caz mentioned:

    image

    *Statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni to represent the Buddha. You may also have other important Buddhist figures, like Tara, Manjushri, or Avalokiteshvara. If you don’t have a statue, it is fine to have a photo or a thangkha with an image of the Buddha.

    *Buddhist scripture, to represent the speech of the Buddha. This can be Tibetan or Sanskrit or a scripture in your own language.

    *A stupha, to represent the Buddha’s mind. (A photo is fine.)

    Besides these, you will often find:

    *A photo of your spiritual teacher(s). For Tibetans this almost always will be an image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

    *A thangka, which is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually portraying the Buddha Shakaymuni, or other Buddhist deities or scenes.

    *Seven offering bowls filled with water. Some people may have multiple sets of these seven offering bowls and fill the other sets with rice or attractive foods, but the basic offering is seven bowls of water. Of course these can be simple bowls.

    *Butter lamps or candles (Collectively known as chomay — which means, roughly, dharma fire or light). You might have only one or as many as you want.

    Also from Yowangdu, a special section, and video clip, about water bowls:

    http://www.yowangdu.com/tibetan-buddhism/water-offering-bowls.html
    caz
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric South east, UK Veteran
    Ok thankyou guys :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2012
    Yes thanks, this gives me some ideas. If I am space limited could I just use a different number of bowls? I have an espresso cup that was a present filled with water and jasmine fragrance drops. And I have a regular cereal bowl (I mean to replace with a special bowl) with artificial flowers and sometimes offerings in it. And I think there is the other espresso cup of the two just without anything in it. Maybe I should get 7 very small bowls??

    On the left are dharma books. And on the right a picture of the stupa of our sangha. So that's cool.
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric South east, UK Veteran
    @Jeffrey I have no acces to a special bowl either so it will be espresso for me too
  • I use two chipped crystal goblets, and one pint glass of water . . . which I usually drink.
    It's the (lack of) thought that counts . . . ;)
    JeffreyRebeccaS
  • My teacher is from Namgyal, the Dalai Lama's monastery, trained in the Gelug (yellow hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism:
    He advises a minimum of:
    - A candle,
    - a water bowl (1, 3, 5, or 7),
    - a flower (it can be plastic .. in Buddhism it IS the thought that counts!),
    - an offering of food,
    - incense.

    You can have a statue of picture of Buddha, of any of the dieties, a vajra, a bell, etc etc.

    What's the food for?

  • The food is an offering I am guessing? Same as everything else. You offer everything real and imagined to the Buddha!
  • Part of the Avatamsaka Sutra http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/pxxyp/index.html

    3 - Flower garlands supreme and wonderful,
    Music, perfumes, parasols, and canopies,
    And other decorations rich and rare,
    I offer up to every Thus Come One.

    Fine clothing, superior incense,
    Powdered and burning incense,lamps and candles,
    Each one heaped as high as mount Sumeru,
    I offer completely to all Tathagatas.

    With a vast, great, supremely liberated mind,
    I believe in all Buddhas of the three periods of time;
    With the strength of Samantabhadra's conduct and vows,
    I make offerings to all Thus Come Ones everywhere.
  • Jeffrey said:

    The food is an offering I am guessing? Same as everything else. You offer everything real and imagined to the Buddha!

    That's too much like leaving cookies out for Santa Claus. I can see all the other items, as a way of creating a beautiful environment, one conducive to meditation. But food?

    Jeffreylobster
  • Makes more sense than sacrificing an animal I guess.
  • Food is really no different than water. Just something which, from the human side of things, is considered a generosity.
  • Jeffrey said:

    Makes more sense than sacrificing an animal I guess.

    Oh, is this what it's a substitute for? What I'm trying to get my mind around is, if we're leaving out food, who is it for? Are we pretending someone's going to eat it? I've seen that done in Hare Krishna temples. Food is left out "for the deities". But there's no deity or make-believe in Buddhism. So.....??



  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    Altered Altars anyone?

    Since this is the current Altar thread,
    I'm throwing my two sents in.

    Here is my current one in the Living room.....
    Last set of roses for this season.
    They started to wilt in 2 days.
    Got stiff and started to crumble after 4 days.
    Some still have their color.
    Some have lost the petals.

    May we all meditate on the wilting.
  • One of my earliest memories along these lines is the little sunlit stacks of oranges at the temple altar.

    One of the reasons I was told for this seems similar to that of the Native American people I lived with later - a way to practice gratitude, generosity and mindfulness, and reduce greed. You don't just give food, you give the first portions, as a symbol (and reality!) showing that you place higher matters above simply filling your belly. No doubt this may have been a bigger gesture in the past than it is for many of us now with such an abundance of food in our lives.

    For both Natives who I've known, and Buddhists, there has also been a component of addressing the needs of the departed, and other spirits who benefit from the essence of the offered food
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran
    edited November 2012
    Descriptions like these online remind me of articles we were given to read in Anthropology 1 when I was at uni doing some study years ago - descriptions devoid of social relevance and understanding, which is not so readily gained as being told about it, are not meaningful. There is much to understand before needing to set up an altar in my experience .... In this way I agree with previous comments about relationship a teacher ( I have regular online contact with my teacher from the TB tradition as he travels for most of the year - Currently he is in SE Asia. For many years I have been fortunate and had teachers ) ... cannot imagine beginning practice in the tradition without instruction.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2012
    I normally have oranges or apples....but the weekly shopping
    trip couldn't happen this week. ( long story, hahaha). :)
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2012
    Oh.....I hope my description/display isn't effecting someone
    elses'. Ill look into that.
  • Vastminds said:

    Altered Altars anyone?

    Since this is the current Altar thread,
    I'm throwing my two sents in.

    Here is my current one in the Living room.....
    Last set of roses for this season.
    They started to wilt in 2 days.
    Got stiff and started to crumble after 4 days.
    Some still have their color.
    Some have lost the petals.

    May we all meditate on the wilting.

    Here's a trick for flowers: put some Ph-balanced bottled water in their vase. Like Whole Foods' in-house brand, or Essentia brand (actually the same thing as W Fds brand). They'll last a week or more on good water.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2012
    Thanks for the trick. Ill try it! After I come in with a basket, I usually
    split half between vases around the house, and the other half
    for altars.
  • Guys I know this is going to be a surprise to some of you but scoffing deities are a rarity. Most of us don't have the level of purity and faith required for apple ascension.
    To celebrate our lack of ability I am telling of rasayana tea offering.
    http://peace.wikia.com/wiki/Recipespeace.wikia.com/wiki/Recipes
    This tea was taught to me by manjushri, it contains water, fragrance, healing, patience etc. and is most acceptable with the metta pulse, which is available now:
    Prepare and place the tea offering as a representation of the Buddha.
    Offer prostrations and practice.
    Holding the hands in the pema prayer mudra at the heart chakra, intensely and single mindedly, visualise Amrita/nectar/Buddha blessing enter the tea.
    The tea should then be added to milk and sugar and shared.

    May all be Refreshed
    OM YA HA HUM
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