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 [This version: 30 July 1993]
 This text addresses some of the most fundamental and delicate religious issues.
 Therefore, it should be read, quoted and analysed in a mindful way.
 by Lama Choedak
 [reprinted with permission from the CLEAR MIND QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER No 6,
 Nov 1990-Jan 1991]
 Copyright 1993 (c) by Lama Choedak Yuthok, Sakya Losal Choe Dzong, Canberra
 It is our human nature to keep precious things in a safe place when we have
 them. We can tell ourselves what are the most important objects we own by
 examining where and how we keep them.  For a practising Buddhist, an image or a
 drawing of the Buddha and other Buddhist symbols are important objects which
 enhance his faith and remembrance of the teachings.  The time and effort
 required to keep the shrine clean and replenished with flowers and other
 offerings is considered a skilful activity to focus one's mind in the spiritual
 practices. It will be more than interesting if we can realize the reason why we
 arrange and keep our things around the house reflect our state of minds.   It
 appears that things can and have meanings as much as our minds can project upon
 them.  We are not going to tell our children that  their toys are not real and
 have no significance. Your 15 year old Holden may seem unreal when you see your
 friend's  new sports car. When you walk into a Buddhist shrine, you can tell
 that your heart-felt devotion or lack of it, is expressed through your body
 language.  Just as all objects have some kind of power or influence to our
 minds, the serene Buddha image and nicely arranged flowers and aromatic incense
 cause our minds to reflect within ourselves in the deep meditative
 concentration.  The positive impact of seeing a Buddha image on our minds cannot
 be underestimated.  The Buddha images are purposely consecrated and blessed to
 radiate the spiritual power and  blessings so that whoever happen to see them
 experiences the positive feeling through the medium of the statue.  As long as
 our minds are dependent upon sensory objects, it is important to have
 appropriate objects conducive to our minds.  A Buddhist would find it inspiring
 and motivating to see a Buddha image, which helps him to remember the qualities
 of a Buddha and his teachings.  He or she  shows  devotion by bowing down, offer
 flowers and light a candle or two before taking a seat to meditate.  Bowing down
 purifies pride and cultivates humility.  One cannot meditate properly if one
 cannot let go off such negativities.  The shrine enables us to remind ourselves
 to surrender all the negativities in order to feel peace, serenity, tranquility,
 freedom and light.  Keeping the shrine clean represents the sanctification of
 our spiritual self and acknowledges the purity of an enlightened being.  In
 Tibetan Buddhist shrines, many water bowls are arranged on the altar to
 cultivate its manyfold qualities, fluidity, continuity, universality and purity
 in our practice and faith.  Flowers, candles, fruits and incense are brought as
 offerings to the Buddha  and they give us an opportunity to practise generosity
 and test our understanding of the Law of Karma.  When you come to attend a
 session, rearrange the offerings on the altar, clean the water bowls and fill
 them with fresh water [start from left to right], remove  withered flowers and
 old fruits and light a candle before you take a seat. You will be surprized with
 the difference it makes to your meditation.  While you are doing these, you can
 pray your wishful thoughts in the following manner: Water: May I and others
 cultivate pure and continuous faith in our spiritual practices!  Flower: May my
 heart blossom with the gift of love and compassion so that I can share it to
 others and grace them with happiness! Incense: May all the negative vibrations
 accumulated due to my selfishness, ignorance, greed and hatred be purified by
 the aroma of  the practice of morality! Light: May the light of understanding,
 faith, awareness and wisdom illuminate the darkness of confusion, mistrust and
 all defilements! Perfume: May the aroma of unshakable faith and confidence have
 the ability to please anybody who come in contact with me! Fruit: May I be able
 to satisfy the needs of sentient beings by sustaining the mind with the abundant
 food of meditation and wisdom!  Now, you can practice this when you go to the
 centre next time or  visit a temple, or you can perhaps rearrange the Buddha
 image in your house to enrich the spiritual vibration around your house.
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