After drip-drip-dripping during zazen this morning, I glanced casually at the altar and the paraphernalia on it. Not fancy by Buddhist-altar standards, but I like it, and realized with a flash that almost nothing on the altar was purchased: Almost everything was gift from one source or another. A gift ... how neat is that?
The black Buddha statue made of African wonder stone was a gift from a Zen friend's mother. The tea bowl used for water came from a potter whom I helped to move. The black incense burner came from another potter whom I did pay ... but I suspect he lowered the price considerably as a kindness. The red-tailed hawk feather was a gift. The Kuan Yin, lower left, comes from my Zen teacher, though technically it belongs to my younger son. The Jizo, lower right, statue came for free after someone offered on the Internet to provide a statue to anyone who chanted the Jizo dharani. The carved, chipped, ebony candle stick came from a flea market at a very modest price. The vase was a gift. And the board above the Buddha statue was lying around in the scrap heap as I built the zendo. I slapped the enso on it. I bought the small candle cup centered in front at Walmart ... in the cheap aisle.
For free ... or damn near for free: Other altars in my memory mind are far from that lucky ... much more ornate, much more expensive, much more imposing. "National treasures" galore.
What a waste of money ... mine and theirs.
And yet pleasant.