Setting up a Buddhist Altar at Home

 This is a frequently asked question, which also implies another question: Is it necessary for lay Buddhists to set up an altar at home? If so, how should they do it? The answer really depends on the individual situation. If the dwelling is small, or if you live in a dormitory, share a room or a house with co-workers or classmates, it would not be convenient to set up an altar. In such cases, if you worship regularly at a fixed time, you may place a sutra where you would normally place a Buddha statue. In this situation, it is not necessary to burn incense or candles, or offer water or flowers. Before and after worshipping, it would be appropriate to bow with joined palms, and prostrate to show respect and sincerity. If your roommates or housemates are also Buddhists, it would certainly be all right to set up a common altar or a worship room. If you are the only Buddhist, then you should not be so particular as to insist on setting up an altar; as it may court others’ resentment and dismay.   If you are the only Buddhist in the family, it’s also necessary to follow similar guidelines as if you live in a dormitory; otherwise, it may create discord in the family. Don’t let your Buddhist practice lead to ill feelings and resentment toward Buddhism within the family. If the whole family believes in Buddhism, or you are head of the household, or both spouses practice, and there is space, it would be the best to set up an altar or a worship room. When setting up an altar in the living room, select the side of the room where the main furniture would normally be. There should be no window behind the statue, and the statue should face a door or window, so there would be plenty sunlight, and the altar is clearly in sight when people enter the door.   The altar is the heart of a home; it should generate a sense of stability and security. As for the locations and directions suggested by geomancers, they can be used as reference for cons