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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 9
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Q: I've been turned off by religion
lately, but I have been seeking more
spirituality to better understand oth-
ers, the world and myself. In your
beliefs or teachings, what is your
main focus to bring clarity to your
audience.
Jamie
Laguna Hills, CA
A:WebelieveinaHigherPow-
er (God,Spirit)thatisaloving
presence that works through
everyindividual.Webelievein
Oneness and that there is no
separationbetweenGodandus.
Webelievethatweeachpossess
thosequalitiesofGodandthat
weareeachunique,individual-
izedexpressionsofGod.
We are inclusive, non-judg-
mental, open-minded and take
responsibilityforouractionsand
theconsequencesthatresult.We
don'tbelieveinsinbut,rather,
thatsometimeswemissthemark
orgetoffcoursewithouractions.
However,wedolearnfromthese
mistakesandmoveforwardwith
greater clarity as we grow and
evolvealongtheway.Spirituality
isanon-goingprocessoflearning
andunderstanding.
Q: Jesus' greatest message was
of love and forgiveness. How do we
return to that place of love with
those who have done wrong or harm
to us?
Jason
Irvine, CA
A:Thiscanbeachallengeto
clearthemindofthosewethink
havenottreatedusfairlyorhave
harmedus.Forgiveness,ofcourse,
isthebestformofreleasingthat
torment we hold. Letting go is
anartandittakespracticeand
patience.Itcanbedonethrough
meditation,positiveaffirmations,
prayerormanyotherways.
When we forgive, we are not
justifyingtheotherperson'sac-
tions or letting them "off the
hook;"weareclearingourselves
ofanyattachmenttothatsitu-
ationandrelievingourselvesof
resentment or anger. The truth
of forgiveness is about setting
ourselves free. In the Bible it
states that the truth shall set
usfree.TheTruthisthatweare
loved,nomatterwhat,andthat
isFreedom.
Visit ASK Revs. Sandy & Kirk
at www.csloc.org, or email rev
sandy@csloc.org. A Licensed Prac-
titioner may also respond to your
prayer request. We are dedicated
to a world that works for every-
one and look forward to your
visiting us at the Center for Spir-
itual Living, 25782 Obrero Drive,
Unit D, Mission Viejo, CA 92691,
or call (949) 481-4040.
Analtarisaportalthatcon-
nectstheenergiesandspiritsof
differentdimensions.Itisaplace
whereyoucancommunicatewith
deities,ancestors,andspirits.For
manyAsians,thereisastrongtie
totheirancestors.Thisloveand
reverence is celebrated and up-
heldinthemakingofanances-
tralaltar.
In feng shui, an altar repre-
sents your connection to the
spiritworld,yourancestorsand
theuniversalenergies.Itprovides
aperspectiveofwhereyouarein
theschemeoflife.Analtarem-
bodiesyourhope,faith,andbe-
liefsystem.Itisaplaceyoucan
gotowhenindoubt,whenyou
are scared, and when you seek
guidanceandconfirmation.It
isaplacewhereyoucangarner
strength,makeyourwishes,find
empowermentandfeelprotect-
ed.
Analtariswhereyourgod(s)
andancestorscancommunicate
with you.Altars remind you of
whoyouare,whatyoubelievein
andwhereyoucamefrom.Cre-
atinganaltarislikehavingyour
ownchurch,ashram,ortemplein
yourhome.
What are some different types
of altars?
Therearenumeroustypesof
altarsbasedondifferentcultures,
religions,andpersonaltaste.The
traditionalChinesealtarisbuilt
withspecialmeasurementsbased
onnumerologythathassymbolic
meaning.Thephysicalstructure
usually comes with three tiers
representingheaven,human,and
earth.Thehighesttierisreserved
fordeitiesandgods,thesecond
tierisforthehumanspiritoran-
cestors,andthelasttieronthe
groundisfortheEarthGod.
Somealtarscomewithoneor
twotiers.Onasingle-tieredaltar,
thedeitiesareplacedinthecen-
terofthetier,withdemigodsor
saintsoneachside.Onadouble-
tieredaltar,thedeitiesareseton
thehigherlevelandancestorson
thelowerlevel.
What are the different purposes
of altars?
Altarsaresetupforreligious
or meditation purposes.If the
burialgroundorientationofyour
ancestorsisnotidealordoesnot
havegoodfengshuiandcannot
bechanged,creatinganancestral
altarlocatedappropriatelyinyour
homecanhelptoamelioratede-
featingenergies.
Ameditationaltarmayinclude
ChiArtthatdepictsadeity,orspe-
cialmantracharmdiagramscre-
atedforyourspecificpurpose.A
meditationareaiscreatedinfront
ofthealtar.
How do you set up an ancestral
altar?
Beforesettingupyouraltar,
youneedtohaveapositiveim-
ageorstatueofyourgod.Make
surethatthegodyouworshipis
synchronizedwithyourpurpose
or goals in life.For example, if
youwishforgoodbusiness,ade-
itysuchasMocojalo--theGod
ofBusinessWealth--shouldbe
on your altar. In all cases, the
image or statue of your deity
should be of high quality and
made of natural material with
attentiontodetails.
For instance, if you have a
statueofQuanYin,thefeatures
of her face should be delicate
and symmetrical.Her hands,
fingers,andtoesshouldbewell
defined.She should be hold-
ingherbottleofholywaterand
arosaryorstemofbamboofor
blessing.The lotus she is on
should have many petals and
be floating on water or clouds.
Itisofutmostimportancethat
thestatueofyourgodisblessed
and empoweredto purify the
statueofanypotentiallynegative
energies--especiallyifitisan
antique.Moreimportantly,em-
powermentconnectsthegod's
energywiththestatue,lettingthe
godknowthestatueisahome
orportal.Apriestormastercan
blessandempowerthestatuesor
imagesofyourgods.
IntheChinesetradition,ame-
morialforyourancestorscanbe
createdbywritingtheirnamesin
Chinesecalligraphyonredpaper.
Thisestablishesaportaltotheir
energy.Photosaregenerallynot
usedastheycancauseprolonged
sadnessorgriefpreventingyouor
thedeceasedfrommovingon.
Placethestatueofyourgodor
your ancestral memorial in the
centeroftheirrespectivetieron
thealtar.Alotuslamporelectric
candlelampisplacedontheirleft
andright.Infrontofthem,place
anincenseholder.Ingeneral,use
sandalwoodincenseoranother
high-qualityincensemadeofnat-
uralingredients.Youalsoneeda
bellforsummoningdeitiesand
yourancestors.
Next,makedailyofferingsof
appreciation to your god and
ancestors.Infrontoftheincense
holderareusuallythreecupsof
waterorredwine,orasmallcup
ofwaterorredwineinfrontof
eachdeityonthealtar.Oneither
side of the altar, you can place
freshfruit,flowersorsweets.
There may be specific fruits,
vegetables,foods,charmsorwrit-
tenblessingsforeachdeity.On
special occasions such as holi-
days,birthdaysoranniversaries,
you will make special offerings
such as whole chicken or fish,
cake,oryourancestor'sfavorite
foods.
Where do you place altars?
Beforeplacingormovingan
altar, calculate an auspicious
date for altar placement.An-
cestralaltarsshouldbeplaced
in an orientation that is based
onyourancestors'birthdate.It
should be against a solid wall
and the room or space should
bequiet,welllit,andwellven-
tilated.Thealtarshouldnotface
a staircase, fireplace, bathroom
door,bedroomdoor,alonghall-
wayoranythingnegative.
Ancestralormeditationaltars
shouldbeplacedtoallowspaceof
atleastfourtofivefeetinfrontof
itforworship,prayer,andmedi-
tation,ideallyformorethanone
person.Therecanbeasmallmat
orcushiononthefloorinfront
ofthealtarforlongerperiodsof
prayerormeditation.Ifyouare
settingupameditationaltar,itis
besttolocateinitinaroomthat
allowsyoutohaveprivacyandif
possible,asolidwallorscreenbe-
hindyouforsupportwhenyou
aremeditating.
Jenny Liu holds a Bachelors'
Degree in Environmental Design
from UC Berkeley and a Mas-
ters Degree in Architecture from
UCLA. She is an expert in the
8,000-year-old Chinese philoso-
phy of Feng Shui who shares her
knowledge through seminars,
workshops, periodicals and the
Internet. Awarded for her Mas-
ter's Thesis on Feng Shui, Ms.
Liu is a fourth-generation prac-
titioner with her own consulting
firm. For info, visit: Liu-FengShui.
com or call (626) 272-4901.
Ancestral Altars
Remembering Where You Came From