kind of Buddhist altar do we have in our homes?
is a Japanese term meaning “house of the Buddha.” In Nichiren Shoshu, it is the
protective enclosure in which the Gohonzon is enshrined. The purpose of a
butsudan is to protect the Gohonzon. Generally, when someone begins to
practice, they have a small butsudan and upgrade to larger, more ornate ones as
their faith grows and they experience actual proof in their lives. The size and
type is a matter of personal choice, but it must have been originally purchased
for that purpose. You may purchase one from a Nichiren Shoshu Butsudan store,
or order one from Japan, but you must have a butsudan set up in your home prior
to receiving the Gohonzon.
The Gohonzon is the enlightened life of the True Buddha,
Nichiren Daishonin; therefore, we must show the greatest respect and care in
preparing an altar.
Placement of the butsudan in your home is very important.
When you bring the Gohonzon into your home, you are preparing to embark on a
path that will reveal your enlightenment. Therefore, you should place the
Gohonzon in the best place in your home. It is preferable to place the butsudan
on a wall by itself, without windows or pictures hung near it. The butsudan
should be placed up high enough so that the bottom of the Gohonzon is just
above eye level when you are seated. It is your choice whether to sit in a
chair or on the floor. The important thing is that the Gohonzon is always above
eye level when you are chanting. The butsudan should be opened only during
Butsugu is a Japanese term which includes all
of the altar accessories: water-cup, candle holder(s), incense-tray, vase(s)
for evergreens, and a bell. Correct placement of the butsugu is important
because of the significance of each item. All items should be used only for the
Gohonzon. For instance, the candle sticks should not be used for a dinner or
power outage. The arrangement of various butsugu is as follows:
The incense tray is placed in the
center, with the candle on your right and the evergreens on your left. If two
candles and vases are used, place one candle holder at either end of the
incense tray. To the outside of the candles are the vases of evergreens. The
water-cup is placed closest to the Gohonzon, and offerings such as fruit or
rice are placed between the incense tray and the water cup.
Nothing should be close enough to the
Gohonzon to fall onto, splatter, or otherwise cause damage to it if
accidentally spilled or knocked over.
Be sure to keep your altar clean at all
times. Do not place pictures, notes, or anything other than the above described
items in or around the altar. It is important you not be distracted when
chanting Daimoku and doing Gongyo.