Buddhism: Objects on the altar

What is the significance of the objects on the altar

– the rice, water, candles, and incense?

Providence Zen center altarDharma room Providence Zen Center

4 Elements: 土 风 火 水

Zen Master Seung Sahn  : “Our universe is made of four elements – earth, air, fire, and water. The items on the altar are symbolic representations of these elements – the incense represents air; the candle represents fire; the water bowl represents water; the altar and the Buddha are symbolic of the earth; the rice is symbolic of earth and food.”

4 Elements 요소: earth 土 토 흙, air 風 풍 바람, fire 火 화 불, water 水 수 물






“At any time, what you see, what you hear, and what you smell all becomes part of your consciousness. So when you see the candles, smell the incense, see the Buddha, and listen to the chanting, it all creates good feeling in your consciousness.” – Zen Master Seung Sahn

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