Twenty-five (or so) years ago, there was an attraction at Disneyland in Southern California. It was not a ride, but an experiential movie – guests entered a large, dark COOL room, and a movie was projected high on the walls of the circular room. It was a popular way to escape the torments of the afternoon LA sun. The movie was a journey through China including visits to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and a climb up to the tiny country of Tibet. The narrator said, “Tibet is a small country, where there are 10,000 rooms and 100,000 altars.”
WAIT! What? Back up! 100,000 altars in 10,000 rooms? That means there are TEN alters in EVERY room! What does that even mean? How can that be possible? An altar is: “An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship. Today they are used particularly in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, as well as in Neopaganism and Ceremonial Magic. Judaism used such a structure until the destruction of the Second Temple. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Greek and Norse religion.” (Wikipedia)
An altar in the home is fairly common to many spiritual traditions. But - TEN per room? First, we must broaden the definition of altar to include any space set aside for purposes of worship, containing some object that brings the Divine to mind. This would make any picture, statue, or scroll containing a likeness of a Deity an altar. Much more doable – but that is still a lot of statues, pictures, and scraps of prayers scattered around every room.
Assuming this is possible, what would be the purpose of filling every room with images of the Divine? Remember that Tibet practices Buddhism, the religious tradition that gave us mindfulness meditation. The purpose is to keep the Sacred at the top of mind at all times, to make every act a prayer, every word a song of praise. From that perspective, it is useful indeed to make every place the eye may fall a reminder of the Divine. For earth-centered religions, every walk in Nature is to be surrounded by the Deity, encircled in the Presence of the Creator. A Medieval book talks of “Practicing the Presence of God” as a spiritual practice. In Tibet, practicing the Presence becomes an integral part of life. There is no place where God is absent, forgotten, or ignored. (http://thepracticeofthepresenceofgod.com/onlinetext/ )
We can join Tibet in filling our homes with reminders of the Divine. There is an online store that provides statues of many deities, crafted often of the mud of the Ganges River in India. (http://www.sacredsource.com/) If you aren’t feeling so ecumenical, most churches offer statues, religious symbols, or books you can bring into your space to honor and remember the Sacred. Surrounding oneself with the Divine may not allow you to levitate (like Brother Lawrence is said to have done), but it is certain to bring your mind back to the Divine at unexpected times.
Mindfulness practice is encouraged to manage pain, to improve relationships, to make living with others more comfortable. Keeping your mind constantly focused on the Divine can become a way of life in which your own Divine Nature is constantly acknowledged, and given free rein in your every action. It is a method to walk in the footsteps of your god, to live as though you are in the presence of the angels, to treat every person as a temple of the Divine.
This sounds like a God-filled way of life. The guru Paramansa Yogananda said “environment is stronger than will power” so it is helpful – nay, crucial – to create an environment that keeps re-directing our minds to our larger goals. Let’s all head out to the local Sacred space – and set up a local altar with a flower, a piece of fruit, a statue, a candle, a picture, a rosary, a book. We too can create ten altars in every room, and Practice the Presence of God!
Explores how to keep the Divine always present in your home and your life, and discusses the effects of practicing the presence of God. Discusses how to create “ten altars in every room” and how this could improve one’s connection to the Divine.
Tess Pender is an ordained Interfaith Minister, active in 12-step programs for over thirty years. Her spiritual practice began with Native American Sweat Lodges, and continued with a series of Vision Quests. She led a Teen Spiritual Education Program, and regularly teaches classes on accessing intuition. She practices Earth-Centered Spirituality. She can be reached on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Rev-Tess-Interfaith-Minister-1333335763419...