A statue of the Buddha may be a treasured piece of original art, a jolly laughing good luck charm, an enlivened image of the Buddha believed to embody his living spirit and energy, the centerpiece of your meditation altar, or an invocation of peace in a quiet corner of your garden. Even when the Buddha in your home functions mainly as decor, there are protocols for respecting the traditional spiritual meaning of the statue that should influence its placement.
Off the Floor
Do not place your Buddha directly on the floor. There are several reasons for this, which include placement of a very large statue. The floor is considered unclean, even in homes or rooms where shoes that track in dirt from the outside are not worn. At the very least, set the statue on an embroidered cloth or small oriental carpet to keep it from contact with the floor. Buddha statues and other sacred murtis or enlivened images are never placed at or below foot level. Raise the statue with a flat stone, table, stool or other support so it is not touching the floor. Never place the statue where your feet are pointing at it. This is considered a mark of grave disrespect in most Asian cultures.
Bow to the Buddha
When you set up a meditation space with a Buddha statue as its focus, there are a few traditions to observe. Set the statue on an altar -- this can be a carved sandalwood pedestal or any clean simple platform -- that is above the height of your head when you are seated. It is respectful to keep your head higher than the Buddha's, one reason for the bowing or pranaming before the central statue when you enter an Asian temple. Sit on your meditation cushion to determine if the placement of the statue is correct and raise the altar slightly if you need to adjust it. Put a silk cloth under the Buddha before setting it on the altar as a way to honor the spirit of the statue and the space. Add fresh flowers, a crystal, a tea light and an incense burner to the altar to further summon blessings and create a strong focus for meditation.
Feng Shui Your Buddha
Display a Buddha statue in the most favorable chi energy flow in your home. A statue that faces the front door both protects you from misfortune and invites positive energy and blessings to enter the home. A Buddha in a place of honor in the living or dining room is a constant reminder of devotion and an attractive piece of Asian art, appropriately featured. Give the statue its space -- don't cram it into a bookcase or on a sideboard cluttered with dozens of objects. Skip the Buddha in the bathroom, for obvious reasons of respect, and only put a Buddha in the kitchen on a dedicated altar that is above head and work height. A statue on a desk will draw positive energy to work or homework. Avoid placing the Buddha under an overhead beam or in the shadow of a refrigerator or next to an electrical outlet or appliance.
A Buddha in the garden creates a small oasis of serenity and good energy. In a clearing with seating or a garden bench, a Buddha statue becomes the focal point of the space, creating an al fresco meditation room. Lift the Buddha off the ground with a boulder, pedestal, bench, arbor or tuck him into an exposed niche in a wall. Build a folly around a Buddha statue to create an outdoor yoga and meditation room. Place a resin Buddha head on a bed of twigs or moss in the greenery of your garden and keep ferns and other plants cleared back so you can see it. If you have a "Happy" or "Laughing" Buddha with a big grin and an even bigger belly, position him near the entrance to your garden for protection, or overlooking a pond full of goldfish for good fortune. He isn't really a Buddha; the statue is the Bodhisattva Hotei, an enlightened being who brings positive energy, good cheer and contentment.
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