Every family ought to have its shrine, even if it is only a tiny one. It is really too bad that some families seem to think, because they cannot afford a costly shrine, they must go without any at all. When a small picture or image of the Buddha is given a position of honour in a home, that means the Blessed One has been invited to become a member of that family and to share the hosue.
Quite often in Buddhist magazines or annuals or even on calendars, we find attractive coloured pictures of the Buddha. After everyone has finished reading the various articles, news items, etc., we usually throw away old magazines. Just think how easy it would be to cut out a picture of the Blessed One from such a periodical and put it in a frame. Such a picture could be the centre of the family shrine.
Ordinary water glasses make quite good vases for flowers if there is no money to spend on more expensive vases. As for candlesticks and burners for joss-sticks, it is so easy just to stick the bottoms of candles to ordinary little saucers. An ordinary rice bowl, filled with clean sand, makes a very good burner for joss-sticks. If no flowers, candles or joss-sticks are to be had, then a daily offering of a bowl of water before the little shrine is a sufficient token of devotion to the Buddha. There really does not seem to be any good excuse for a Buddhist family not to have a family altar of some kind. No matter how poor a family may be, surely there is a corner somewhere in the house that can be given to Lord Buddha as his shrine.
If no picture or statue can be had, many children have the talent to make pictures or statues of their own. Some are clever at modelling in clay and others are good at water colours, oil or crayon drawing. Even frames for pictures are easy to make at home or school. Common silver-coloured foil or any attractively coloured paper that will make a pleasant and harmonious background to a picture can be used. Pictures can be mounted on fairly stiff cardboard or even attached directly to a wall by using drawing pins or tacks.
No Buddhist family should ever neglect to have regular morning and evening devotions. If it is difficult to get all the family together at a regular time, then each individual member of the family can have his own private devotions. It is a wonderful idea to encourage each child to have his own little shrine. If it is all made by the child himself, so much the better. The devotions used in the Dharma school will do quite well for the child’s personal devotions. In this way we remember Lord Buddha morning and evening and show respect to Him and loyalty to His teachings.
The habits we form early in life are likely to remain with us in later years. This matter of remembering Lord Buddha and His teachings is so important that, no matter what else we may forget or neglect, we ought never to allow ourselves to omit our regular daily devotions at home.
THE STANZA OF PRAISE
Buddha, Lord, to Thee
Praise and thanks shall be;
Wisdom’s way Thy Word has taught us,
Peace and joy Thy Love has brought us