By Sensei Ken Madden
I have Tokudo Ordination in the Jodo Shinshu Japanese Buddhist tradition and served a temple for more than 10 years before now teaching with a different, non-sectarian Buddhist group.
Sometimes older family members pass away who might have brought an Obudsudan Altar from Japan, but the family may no longer be able to keep (living elsewhere, no longer practice Buddhism etc). They donate these to the local temple. The Temple receives one every few years; it’s not common.
If a temple member then wants one, it can be gifted to them with a promise of respectful ownership.
Pictured is an old Hitachi family Obudsudan. The darkening of the fine Japanese acid free paper that the central image is placed on, indicates age.
This altar is not set up in the traditional way in my home. On the top there is my O-nenju and Chukkai fan (red) indicating my Ordination. The white silk scarf is from a visit of the Dalai Lama. The orange water bottles to the right side are from my Chaplaincy at the University of Calgary. There is another O-nenju given me from another Chinese-tradition Ordained Friend, and a book and lotus seed nenju that a sangha friend brought from Bodh Gaya.
It all rests on a family heirloom sidetable, a place of respect in my mind.
My home Altar is not just a reminder of my Buddhist practice but a place of comfort and reminder of service and friendships.
I don’t have a daily Altar practice, but it is a place set aside for peace.
Sensei Ken was ordained in Kyoto and joins us after teaching for over a decade at a local Buddhist Temple. He is the University of Calgary Buddhist Chaplain and actively works for Interfaith harmony. He created and has run The Circle Sangha: their mindful practices of emotional intelligence align with Calgary Buddhist Meditation. His approach is non-sectarian and practical, and he is delighted when Buddhist understanding aligns with science. Oh! and this life can be joyful and fun and kind when we allow our difficulties to drift away!
Photo: provided by author
Editor: Dana Gornall
Do you have an altar you would like us to feature? Please send us a photo and story about your altar for our “Sacred Little Altars Everywhere” series!
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