As various Buddhist themes and symbols
are explored and developed a shrine can be the place where many of your
finished craft projects can be placed.
The main elements on the
|| The Buddha image.
There can be as many of these as you wish if there is space on the
shrine. If someone makes an image of the Buddha in relation to any
aspect(s) of the teaching then that image has significance - if
only to the person who made it.
These can take the form of decorative arrangements of any natural
materials: flowers (fresh or dried), leaves, wreaths, etc.
Fresh flowers have a special value as their transiency indicates
the level of care the shrine is receiving - quite apart from their
beauty. Placing flowers is something to be encouraged and regular
offerings establish a relationship with the spirit of the shrine
and with the objects on it and what they represent.
There can be as many of these as you wish or one can use any variety
of light medium [see: LOTSA FIRE for ideas
on making candles and other lights]. There is something very beautiful
about sitting quietly at night in a room lit by the candles on a
shrine. Shrines are useful as part of one's spiritual practice and
giving the time to light and attend to (however briefly) at least
one candle is time well spent. They should be regularly lit and
maintained. Clean the holder of melted wax (save it up for your
next candle making venture); see if any has splashed on the shrine
and remove it. Remove old candle stubs rather than just plonking
a new one on top of the old.Making candle
holders is an easy activity.
The combination of fire and fragrance is a lovely one. Making incense
holders is a good activity. As with candles, incense should be regularly
offered on the shrine and the holder and surrounding area should
be kept clean. [see: OTHERS for incense making
These are often photographs or images of great teachers or holy
beings. It can be extended to include a number of people but care
should be taken as to who or what takes prominence on the shrine.
It could be that photos are placed temporarily - say, a group of
refugees one is offering spiritual support to or an individual who
is particularly ill or for the day if it is someone's birthday or
This can include an enormous range of objects - how does something
become sacred (worthy of or regarded with reverence)? It
is largely in relation to one's (individual or group) perception.
If the basic purpose of a shrine is generally understood it is nice
if it can be available for anyone to place anything they feel is
special, or sacred. There could be a 'treasures' box on the shrine
in which things are put - this could occasionally be used for discussion:
'Who's treasure is this?' - 'What does it signify?'
BUILDING A SHRINE:
Depending on your resources I would suggest not giving too much time
to the actual supporting surface of the shrine. If you have the time,
materials, skills, money, etc., to build a beautiful stand or shelf
then make this work part of your spiritual practice - it is an offering
in itself. In simple situations I have made do with a cardboard box
covered with a cloth and then been able to spend more time discussing
and preparing the detailed decorating of the shrine. You could use a
small table or a piece of sheet material (plywood or chipboard) resting
on boxes. If you are limited for room space then a shelf is usually
sufficient to get all the four main items on.
The overall idea is to create a special place; positioning the shrine,
and the objects on it, in a respectful way.
The Buddha image should be raised. If a room is
either for sitting on the floor or on chairs then the Buddha image should
be ideally slightly higher than eye level - according to the general
use of the room. It is good if the image is raised slightly higher than
the other items on the shrine - it can be on a separate box or small
The wall space behind the shrine can also be decorated - perhaps a radiant,
colourful halo around the Buddha's head? I have seen a painting of the
previous 28 Buddha's. Perhaps a neon halo? Whatever approach you use
it should ideally not detract from the status of the main image(s).
The shrine should be regularly cleaned and tidied. At odd times one
should consider the objects that have been added - is the person that
put them there still related to the shrine? What was sacred can become
mundane through indifference. Make room for making more sacred objects.