Q093: Dear Master Lu, how do we invite statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to our altar at home? How do we sincerely ask Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bless the statues or images? After we invite the statues or images to our altar at home, what should we be aware of?
- If you are following Master Lu’s Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door to cultivate your mind and practise Buddhism, it would be best if you could pay respects and make offerings to a statue or an image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva at home. At the same time we should keep in mind that we must respect all religions, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as all spiritual beings. In terms of inviting the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, generally it is better if the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva is in the standing position, and is holding the purification bottle and the willow branch. It is best if the material is china, and the statue or image does not have printings of dragons or other auspicious animals. It is also recommended that you select a new statue or image that has not already been blessed. You can take the statue or image home and perform the blessing ceremony. It would certainly be best if you can have Master Lu, other honourable Buddhist masters, or eminentvenerables to bless the statue or image for you.
- When you are selecting a statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, you can go to a Buddhist shop and look at the ones that you wish to invite home. If you feel that you favour a particular statue or image, or if you feel that the statue or image of Bodhisattva is smiling at you, then you should invite that statue or image home. You can also invite the image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva from Guan Yin Tang after you colour print and frame it.
- Generally, if you have not accumulated grand achievements from your cultivation, you may not have the ability to bless statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas yourself. However, you can still invite Guan Yin Bodhisattva to enter the sacred statue or image on your altar. Guan Yin Bodhisattva is always protecting us and watching over us. On auspicious days, including the 1st and 15th of the lunar month, and during auspicious times, including 8AM and 10AM in the morning, you can prepare the location on the altar where the statue or image is going to be placed. After you have invited the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva to your altar, you can make offerings of water, fruits, oil, and incense. It is best to make incense offerings with three incense sticks. Join your palms together and raise the incense sticks slightly above your head, and make prostrations to Guan Yin Bodhisattva 3 times. After you place the incense sticks into the urn in front of the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, you can say the following prayer, ”May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva perform miracles and enter the sacred <statue or image> offered by me, <your full name>”. You should then recite the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou) 7 times and Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching) 7 times, and then make three full prostrations. Greater effects can be achieved if you recite more Great Compassion Mantra and Heart Sutra.
- Before you begin your recitation, you can say your prayers to Guan Yin Bodhisattva. For example, you can sincerely ask Guan Yin Bodhisattva for protection and blessings, and to grant your family safety and harmony. You can also make a vow that from now on you will make offerings to Guan Yin Bodhisattva twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, etc. Please ensure that your incense sticks are burning during the entire recitation process.
- After you have invited the statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to your altar at home to pay respects and make offerings, please avoid touching or relocating the statues or images without being mindful. Generally you do not need to clean the statues or images often. If too much dust is accumulating on the statues or images, you can dampen a new piece of cloth, and use it to gently wipe the statues or images during day time. You should recite the Heart Sutra while you perform the cleaning. In the case where you have no choice but to relocate the statues or images, you should first make an incense offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and notify them about the relocation. Then you should recite the Great Compassion Mantra 3 times, and Heart Sutra 3 times. After the incense has completely finished burning, you can then relocate the statues or images.
- If you are on holiday or on a business trip, you should make the Heart Incense offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that you are paying respects and making offerings to at home. You can make the offering twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
 Please refer to Q&A 094 “Regarding the difference between offering the Heart Incense and real incense”.