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How to set up a home Buddhist shrine?
Why to set up a shrine?
To help us on our path to enlightenment in progressing in the two accumulations,
namely, merits and wisdom, and the two purifications, obstacle in terms of affliction
and obstacles in terms of knowledge. The fullness of merits and wisdom accumulation
and the completion of the two purifications is Buddhahood. Holy objects for making the
7-limb practice, etc.
Objects representing the three qualities of the Buddha
A stupa (preferred: one has
relics inside)
A scripture (preferred: the
Prajnaparamita sutra)
A statue (preferred: a
statue of Shakyamuni
(in the order of prominence)
Arrangement suggestion (but be creative to fit your own capability and room situation,
etc.) --
The 8 outer offerings
Making offerings
The 8 outer offerings: historical source, meaning, and mindfulness
mchod yon zhabs bsil
me tog
bdug spos
mar me
dri chab
zhal zas
rol mo
Water for
Water for
Flowers/ga Incense
Lamp/light Perfume
face/mouth feet
Auspicious- Purification Generosity Moral
Perseverance Samadhi
For front offering, i.e. when making offering to beings in front of you, begin from your left (or their right).
When making offering to self (generated deity), the opposite order.
Keep in mind that enlightened beings do not depend on our offering.
“Enlightened beings do not want or need these things. We make offerings for our own
benefit, to accumulate great merit and wisdom.”
“Enlightenment, Buddhahood, is achieved through the two great qualities accumulation and purification. As you know, the Buddha has limitless qualities, which
were gained through the great accumulations and purifications. Our offerings are a
simple way to accumulate both merit and wisdom.” (as well as purification) -- Khenpo
Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche
Extra Notes:
In India, right = prominence, left = inferior/not prominent, hence the placement of the scripture, and statue on the shrine
If a statue of the Buddha is not used, a statue of Manjusri is also acceptable.
A picture of your teacher/guru can be placed above everything on the shrine.
The shrine must be the cleanest place in your home.
In historical India, the Buddhist offerings given are the same as the offerings given for the most esteemed/important guest.
The offerings appeal to all 5 senses.
Never offer an empty bowl, at least fill the bowl up with rice or water (or other organic material). The water cannot be left in
the bowls overnight. Offering this instead of an empty bowl shows you’re making an effort to increase your merit.
The bowl sixe should accommodate you, whatever is practical for you and your space requirements. Bowls are generally the
size of a teacup.
Bowls are preferred to be metal (to prevent breaking if dropped) but other materials are acceptable to use.
Don’t let the offering bowls touch one another, generally 1 grain of rice size apart is the acceptable distance between bowls.
When filling bowls with water, leave 1 grain of rice space from the top of the bowl.
To pour water, start out pouring slow and then pour quickly, finally tapering off the flow to prevent any water from spilling.
Don’t blow out the candle on the alter, “clap” it out.
Take away offerings in the opposite order they were offered.
Real beauty comes from generosity.
People can only smell regular perfume as it follows in the wind, behind you. The perfume of moral conduct goes against the
wind, thus preceding your arrival.