Setting up Altar FAQ

If conditions permit, one should definitely set up a Buddhist altar at home and enshrine Guan Yin Bodhisattva. This is because setting up an altar is the equivalent of inviting Bodhisattva to your home. With an altar, one’s spiritual cultivation and the effects of offering of Little Houses will be greatly elevated.
  1. If you are practising Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, it is best for you to enshrine a statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. In general, the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva should be made of ceramic, depicted in a standing posture with a willow branch in one hand and a vase of pure water/nectar in the other. Avoid those that contain images of dragons or other auspicious creatures. It is also recommended that you select a new statue or image that has not been blessed. You can bring the statue or image home and perform the ceremony on your own to invite Bodhisattva to enter the statue. Nevertheless, it is better to have Master Lu, or other esteemed, knowledgeable and greatly virtuous Buddhist monastics bless the statue or image for you.
  2. You may obtain the statues and images of all the Bodhisattvas enshrined in Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door from the practice centre. For more details, please refer to “Statues of Bodhisattvas”.
  3. The statues should not be made from any animal parts such as bone, leather, fur, ivory, etc.
  4. As a show of respect, it is best to set up your Buddhist altar as soon as possible upon obtaining a statue or image of Bodhisattva.
  5. Avoid enshrining too many statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. (Refrain from removing those on the Buddhist altar especially if joss stick offerings have already been made. If you must, you need to recite the ‘777’ collection of Buddhist scriptures -- 7 times of the Great Compassion Mantra, Heart Sutra and Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance respectively to seek the forgiveness of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. At the same time, offer at least 21 Little Houses to each Buddha or Bodhisattva. After which, use a red cloth to wrap the statues or images. You may keep it in a horizontal position at a clean place or give them away to a temple.)
After choosing an auspicious date to set up your altar, follow the procedures for the consecration to sincerely invite Bodhisattva into the statue or image. For more details, please refer to How to set up a Buddhist Altar
  1. After setting up your altar, you should offer incense every morning and night (if your conditions do not permit this, you should at least offer incense every morning; close your curtains during nightfall in protection from foreign spirits but the window can be left open) Water that you offer to Bodhisattva should also be changed once a day.
  2. Should you be away from home, offer heart incense in the morning and at night daily.
  3. With the exception of Buddhist altar accessories, there should be minimal items placed on your altar (avoid placing items e.g. Buddhist scripture book, matches, lighter, protective talisman and incense. You may place them under the altar instead.) Maintain the cleanliness and purity of the altar. Do not place any improper items on it (e.g. bottle gourd, pearls, dharma materials, staples, meat dishes, vegetable dishes, pastries, sweets, etc.)
  4. Only enshrine statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattva on your altar. If you wish to enshrine other figures such as Taoist deities, Christian saints, etc. please set up a separate designated area.
  5. Do not place unnecessary items or other books under your altar. Generally speaking, you may place Buddhist scripture books and other Buddhist altar accessories there.
  6. Make provisions for an ideal environment when you are offering incense. For example, if your altar is located by the television, do not turn it on when you are offering incense. When incense or the oil lamp is burning, do not touch any of the accessories, offerings, statue or image of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. 
  7. At night, ensure that the area surrounding your altar is well-lit and that light is able to shine on your altar (if there are lights on your altar, only turn them on while the oil lamp is lit. Do not leave them on otherwise.)
  8. All statues and images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as other Buddhist altar accessories, including incense burners, oil lamps, etc. should not be placed on an extended fixture (jutting out over empty space). In other words, there must be tables, cabinets or frames, etc. that are connected to the ground to hold up the items.
  9. Once Bodhisattva had been enshrined, do not touch the statue or image without reason. In general, there is no need to clean or wipe the statue or image unless it is very dusty. In such a case, you may use a new cloth to gently wipe the statue or image (in the day). Recite the Heart Sutra while wiping. In the case where there is no choice but to relocate, perform the following procedures before relocating. Offer incense and tell Bodhisattva about your intention. Recite 3 times of the Great Compassion Mantra and the Heart Sutra respectively. Only relocate once the incense has finished burning.