What do you want to ask a Buddhist? Fill out the form below or submit your question online.
Is it inappropriate to have shrines to people in my home?
The purpose of a Buddhist shrine or altar is to remind us of our objects of refuge—the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha— and also of our potential to attain Buddhahood by actualizing the Dharma through practice. The central figure of a shrine is typically the historical Buddha Shakyamuni represented by a statue, picture or thanka of him. The Dharma he taught is represented by a Buddhist sutra, text or commentary. And the Sangha is represented by a stupa. Sometimes practitioners include photos of their main teachers on their shrine, but it is not appropriate to include photos of family, friends, pets or non-Buddhist teachers on a Buddhist shrine.
After a loved one dies, Asian Buddhists often set up a small shrine with a photo of their dear one with a few momentos in their home. Sometimes they will put a statue or picture of the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha on that shrine, because this bodhisattva with compassion looks over beings born in the lower realms. This small shrine is separate from the larger altar for the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
I hope this answers your question. If not, please write again with more specifics.
- Ask A Buddhist: Shrines in my home - February 10, 2018
- Ask A Buddhist: View of Spirits - January 24, 2018
- Ask A Buddhist: Living a good life with mental illness - January 18, 2018
- Ask a Buddhist: Can Buddhism Cure Anxiety? - December 28, 2017
- Ask a Buddhist: What is a Monkey Mind? - December 19, 2017
- Ask A Buddhist: Is Buddhism for Me? - October 9, 2017
- Ask a Buddhist: What is right understanding? - June 28, 2017
- Ask A Buddhist: LGBT acceptance - May 13, 2017
- Ask a Buddhist: What is Nirvana? - February 8, 2017
- Ask A Buddhist: The Birth of the Buddha - December 21, 2016