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If one weren't able to have a proper room in which to establish a shrine, could the bedroom be a suitable place to put a statue of the Buddha ?

As expressed by Lama Yeshe, sexual misconduct would include sexual activity if it is "near holy objects, such as the guru or the Triple Gem." (reference Taking the Mahayana Restoring and Purifying Ordination), thus reassessing how I approach the situation.

Considering this, would shrouding the shrine with a cloth or in a cabinet be sufficient to keep it there in such a place when not practicing ?

Many blessings to you.

  • This topic might be related or similar -- Do all Buddhists abstain from alcohol? -- not about alcohol but about locating a statue (especially MatthewMartin's answer there). – ChrisW Feb 6 at 12:30
  • Thank you for your comment ChrisW, although in this context it is possible that people might have not been sufficiently acquainted with the Buddhadharma to see the possible consequences of the use of altars and statues representing the Buddha or the Triple Gem, which would differ from differ from here. – Aliocha Karamazov Feb 7 at 19:54
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First, you should keep in mind that rules are different for those on the monastic path than those who are lay practitioners. Monastics are not supposed to engage in any sexual activity (in most orders), but it is presumed that lay practitioners can engage in sexual activity without it being considered misconduct (so long as they adopt the right attitude). All you need to do is maintain a properly respectful attitude towards your altar. This might involve covering your altar, buying a small folding screen to put in front of it, or even taking down your altar and putting it away when you are not meditating.

It's worth keeping in mind that purpose of an altar is to create the proper mental state (attitude) for meditation and spiritual development. The altar itself has no intrinsic value or meaning beyond that which you imbue it with; it is more like a stepping stone or walking stick that helps keep you on the path as you move forward. An attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa) is one of the Ten Fetters, so while it is important to maintain an attitude of respect towards any altar or image of the Buddha, one does so because it creates respect for the Buddha within, not because some external Buddha or external rule demands it. Follow your conscience and you will not go wrong.

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  • Thank you so much for your clarifying answer. To keep a level head on these matters is a arduous task, I hear and read stories of people for example kicking involuntary a stupa and creating negative karma (but also positive as it creates connexion to the Dharma). Practically speaking, could the altar be set on top of a shelf within which books are stored (Dharma on top in seperated cases and "wordly" underneath) ? – Aliocha Karamazov Feb 7 at 19:49
  • Well, I hate to over-specify, because this really is a matter for your own conscience. I will say (as a practical matter) that you don't want your altar too high, otehrwise it becomes difficult to use it. Generally speaking, you want your altar position so that when you are sitting on your cushion, you can see the altar with your neck and head in a neutral position (neither craning up nor craning down). So if you're cushion is on the floor, the base of your altar would probably be 2' to 2.5' high. On most bookshelves that would be the second or third self from the bottom. – Ted Wrigley Feb 7 at 20:04
  • I don't see a problem with that, so long as your mind is clear about it, but I'd be careful to keep it 'clean' by keeping random junk from piling up on the other shelves. You might want to have a cloth or curtain to cover the 'worldly' material when you are meditating, unless you're intentionally trying to bring your meditation practice into your secular studies. – Ted Wrigley Feb 7 at 20:08
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Put the shrine above your meditation cushion so that you sit below the Buddha. The Buddha isn't really a sleeping companion. The emphasis should be on practice, even if you practice in the bedroom. The shrine should be in a place dedicated to the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. Be mindful of the place, not the room. Indeed, if it is in your bedroom, you can protect the place by keeping it clearly separate.

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  • Thank you very much Oyamist for your answer, I will certainly put it to good use. – Aliocha Karamazov Feb 7 at 19:57

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