How To Set Up A Shrine

Those who wish to develop a vandana routine for themselves should set off a separate place in their residence to be used exclusively for devotional practice and meditation. If space permits, a small extra room could be turned into a shrine room. If such a room is not available one might use a spacious closet or separate off a small section of a room by hanging a curtain. If space in one’s house is very small, then a reasonably large table could be set up or at least a corner table could be turned into an altar or a shelf high on a wall could be used to keep a Buddha image and treated as the focus of one’s vandana.

Setting off a separate place for devotional service and meditation in one’s own home creates a very peaceful and serene psychological atmosphere. As our association with the place increases, it becomes possible merely by entering it to create a calming and soothing feeling in the mind. The repeated practice of this can serve us as a constant reminder of the ultimate value of our lives – that beyond all our immediate aims and activities our final goal is to attain enlightenment and liberation from suffering. When one treats one’s shrine area as a sanctuary where the Triple Gem – the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha – reside, one can constantly be reminded of one’s reverence towards them. By reciting daily devotions and chanting suttas one leaves wholesome and positive vibrations in one’s shrine room. These vibrations also aid most positively one’s practice of meditation.

The area set off for devotional practice and meditation should be a quiet, pleasant and private place. If the shrine is set up in a sleeping area it should stand in the direction of the head of the bed, not at its foot. As the head is the topmost part of the body, the head should be directed towards the shrine which has the objects of veneration. Entering the shrine, one should remove one’s shoes. In winter one does not have to remove one’s socks. This is a customary sign of respect. It promotes cleanliness in the shrine area. It also makes it easier to assume the correct postures for the devotional practice and the practice of meditation.