For the most part what practicing Buddhist do is private and not visible to the outside world. Actions come out of an internal space informed and shaped by the basic intention to be the best person one can be. That’s in terms of the basics of exercising compassion, keeping to the Buddhist Precepts and each day renewing the intention to be present/sit still/meditate. Somebody can ‘be a Buddhist’ and that not be known to anybody. Practice is a matter of the heart essentially. People with no faith tradition and those with one can and do endeavor to be the best person they can be each day and their inner world not be on display.
A private altar can be a helpful focus of spiritual endeavor. A place to remember people who have passed on, to express gratitude, to offer up that which needs to be let go of and a place one can actually and practically look up to. The altar gives direction to inner intentions. Today my altar, my looking up to place, focuses on the statue of Kanzeon (compassion), the image of my teacher Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett and a four page hand written letter folded to show a drawing. Less in focus is a photograph of the chap who died recently. He is still there on the altar – the altar of my heart, made visible. What cannot be there is the lengthy post I wrote earlier today and which I accidentally deleted! Thinking about it now I see it was probably just as well it went as it did. Better it remain, my thoughts remain on the altar of my heart. Hard as it is to say that.
So there is a physical place to put those letters, posts and emails where they can be let go of before they go public! Perhaps best in certain circumstances to never go public!The letter bringing news of the authors current daily life and insights into training is there to express gratitude. In addition correspondence received which disturb, worry or hurt can be usefully placed on the altar for awhile.
As somebody quoted from a scripture in the comments section let our wish be thus:
May we within the temple of our own hearts dwell
Amidst the myriad mountains.