New Home Altar

Sri Ramakrishna

As we’re downsizing, we’re discovering things we had that we totally forgot about. Most of it is destined for donation, but some things are real finds: it was better than Christmas to discover that beautiful steel hand drum a beautiful friend sent me years ago while she was traveling in Myanmar.

I thought it was so gorgeous and precious that I returned it to its box and put it away “for safekeeping”. That’s completely boneheaded. It amazes me now that I ever used to think that way. Now, it’s out on a bamboo mat on the living room floor, and we, the dogs, and our friends will enjoy it every day.

I’m starting a new home altar. Our existing main altar is simple: a large statue of Siddhartha Gautama, one candle at his feet, both on a high ebony shelf at the center of the house. Upstairs, there’s another wall altar, with a smaller figure of the Buddha, and a Korean incense bowl beside him.

All this clutter-clearing has unearthed some personal relics that at one time, I believed belonged in protected storage. I can’t believe I used to think that way. A lot of blockages are finally being cleared as we minimize the things in our lives.

Last night, in a box that I brought with me to this house when we first moved in five years ago, was a collection of framed images of the gurus I’ve followed for many years, all collected by me, and as far back as college.

There’s Jai Guru Dev, Sri Rama Krishna and his wife Sarada Davi, Ram Das, Maja Raji, and Lord Rama: there’s also a beautiful figure of Lord Rama. There’s a book on Vedic philosophy, and a very cool and beautiful dreadlocks tube (I’ve been planning to dread my hair for a long, long time).

These gurus have been my inspiration for years. Why did I keep images of them - which could have been in our living space for years, inspiring us to read and study and evolve - boxed up in darkness?

I have no clue, but I do know that my thinking is altogether different now. When it comes to the things we ‘own’, we either use it or lose it: little to nothing is kept stored.

I decided last night to begin creating a new altar space featuring the images of these holy people; to bring these prints out of darkness and into our everyday lives, where they’ll have a purpose inspiring us and our friends, reminding us of our path, encouraging us to study and learn, to practice compassion, and to be of service.

All kinds of good things happen when you decide to travel light.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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