A Bow to The Inside Smile

This image arrived in my email to-day. What struck me was the practice of changing the flowers/leaves/plants/branches that accompany the statue to reflect the changing of the seasons. This is usual practice with an altar. The symbolism of the flowers, or what ever is appropriate, is….let’s see now. I can use different words each time I explain symbolism, here’s what I have to say this evening.

The flowers are the offering up of the vibrant life of practice. That’s the blossoming of, ever changing and ever renewing, practice. So it makes sense that the altar is ever changing too. The flowers are the most obvious item to rotate however there are other parts of the set up that can be changed too. In our tradition, strictly speaking, the flowers go to the left of the statue, the candle on the right. And the set up below works in the situation within the home, perfect just as it is.

Hi Rev. Mugo

Thought I might share…this is the Hotei who sits on the shelf in our kitchen above the herbs and spices. I really enjoy cooking and to come into the kitchen and see the statue before beginning to make a meal really adds that deep happiness that is not the opposite of sadness but simply is. Does that make sense? He has had autumn leaves around him since September and soon he’ll have evergreens for the winter season.

All the best

In a real way the altar can be an expression of, a focus and a symbol of, training. The altar is a place one goes to bow before. What is it that bows? Is the bow to something outside or is it a bow to the inside smile?

Many thanks for sending in this photo, much appreciated.

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2 thoughts on “A Bow to The Inside Smile”

  1. There’s a Hotei who’s been sitting in my office for a while, given me as a “novelty” present (he came with a minature “Zen” garden and a tiny rake!). I used to light him a stick of incense each day until we moved offices into a rigidly air-conditioned environment where you can’t even open windows, let alone strike a match. Still, he sits across from the table where I have any meetings with people and perhaps, every now and then, one of us gets a little nudge of the right kind.

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