The Offerings on a Tibetan Buddhist Shrine.

Bowls

 

 

 

 

Tibetan Buddhists make offerings using a set of 7
offering bowls and a butterlamp. The picture at the
top of this page shows a ‘fixed’ offering – that is an
offering that can remain unchanged on the shrine for
some time. From left to right, each bowl is filled
with rice and represents the following offerings:

· (1) ARGAM (water for drinking). Water symbolises
purity, clarity and calmness – by ‘drinking’ the
Buddha’s teachings we can cleanse our minds from
desire, ill will and ignorance.

· (2) PADAM (water for washing the feet) This offering
represents power of the Dharma to help us move forward
on the path towards enlightenment.

· (3) PUPE (flowers): a flower is placed in the rice
of the 3rd bowl. If a fresh flower is used, it will
need to be replaced before it withers; otherwise a
good artificial flower can be used. Flowers represent
the richness of the Dharma. They also remind us of
Buddha’s teachings that all things are impermanent.
The most symbolic flower in Buddhism is the lotus.
Just as the lotus rises out of a muddy pond and floats
above the clouded water, the Buddha realised the
potential that we all have by rising above the
defilements and sufferings of life.

· (4) DUPE (incense): a small bundle of incense sticks
is placed in the rice. Incense symbolises the
fragrance of moral conduct and the overcoming of
negativity; just as the fragrance of incense spreads,
so can the practice of moral conduct.

· (5) ALOKE (light): light is offered by means of a
butterlamp which is placed behind the offering bowl
holding incense. Traditionally, butterlamps contain a
wick and burn butterfat; however, a night-light placed
in a butterlamp is a good alternative. Light
symbolises awareness and wisdom and the overcoming of
the darkness of confusion, mistrust and ignorance.

· (6) GENDE (perfume): a small container of perfume or
essential oil is placed in the rice of the 5th
offering bowl. Perfume represents the purity and
attractiveness of unshakeable faith and confidence in
the Dharma.

· (7) NEWEDE (food): a piece of biscuit or small fruit
is placed on the rice of the 6th bowl. Food symbolises
the sustaining nature of meditation and wisdom and how
this can help us satisfy the spiritual needs of
ourselves and all sentient beings. In particular,
fruit represents the ultimate fruit of enlightenment.

· (8) SHAPTA (music): a small conch shell is often
used to represent music; it is placed on the rice of
the 7th bowl (far right). Music symbolises the power
of the Dharma to reach our minds and hearts.

Tibetan Buddhists make offerings using a set of 7
offering bowls and a butterlamp. The picture at the
top of this page shows a ‘fixed’ offering – that is an
offering that can remain unchanged on the shrine for
some time. From left to right, each bowl is filled
with rice and represents the following offerings:

· (1) ARGAM (water for drinking). Water symbolises
purity, clarity and calmness – by ‘drinking’ the
Buddha’s teachings we can cleanse our minds from
desire, ill will and ignorance.

· (2) PADAM (water for washing the feet) This offering
represents power of the Dharma to help us move forward
on the path towards enlightenment.

· (3) PUPE (flowers): a flower is placed in the rice
of the 3rd bowl. If a fresh flower is used, it will
need to be replaced before it withers; otherwise a
good artificial flower can be used. Flowers represent
the richness of the Dharma. They also remind us of
Buddha’s teachings that all things are impermanent.
The most symbolic flower in Buddhism is the lotus.
Just as the lotus rises out of a muddy pond and floats
above the clouded water, the Buddha realised the
potential that we all have by rising above the
defilements and sufferings of life.

· (4) DUPE (incense): a small bundle of incense sticks
is placed in the rice. Incense symbolises the
fragrance of moral conduct and the overcoming of
negativity; just as the fragrance of incense spreads,
so can the practice of moral conduct.

· (5) ALOKE (light): light is offered by means of a
butterlamp which is placed behind the offering bowl
holding incense. Traditionally, butterlamps contain a
wick and burn butterfat; however, a night-light placed
in a butterlamp is a good alternative. Light
symbolises awareness and wisdom and the overcoming of
the darkness of confusion, mistrust and ignorance.

· (6) GENDE (perfume): a small container of perfume or
essential oil is placed in the rice of the 5th
offering bowl. Perfume represents the purity and
attractiveness of unshakeable faith and confidence in
the Dharma.

· (7) NEWEDE (food): a piece of biscuit or small fruit
is placed on the rice of the 6th bowl. Food symbolises
the sustaining nature of meditation and wisdom and how
this can help us satisfy the spiritual needs of
ourselves and all sentient beings. In particular,
fruit represents the ultimate fruit of enlightenment.

· (8) SHAPTA (music): a small conch shell is often
used to represent music; it is placed on the rice of
the 7th bowl (far right). Music symbolises the power
of the Dharma to reach our minds and hearts.

The shrine can also contain a ‘mandala’ or ‘universal’
offering. This is built up in layers, each layer
consisting of a metal ring filled with rice. This
creates a representation of Mount Meru, which is held
to be the centre of the world in Buddhist mythology.
In offering Mount Meru on a shrine, we are in effect
offering the whole universe – we are saying that there
is nothing in the universe (including ourselves) that
we are attached to and not prepared to offer up in
following the Dharma.

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