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Why Is This Buddhist Altar Candle White?

Why is this Buddhist altar candle white?

On New Year’s Day, many new Myosenji temple members received their Gohonzon. It was a wonderful way to begin 2014. Nichiren Shoshu members can apply to receive the Gohonzon after experiencing Gojukai, Acceptance of the Precepts Ceremony, learning how to recite Gongyo, the sutra recitation, and by setting up their own Buddhist altar at home. Our Assistant Priest, Rev. Hori, has been busy visiting these new members homes to enshrine their Gohonzon and teach the new members how to properly set up their Buddhist altar and care for the Gohonzon.

The altar in which the Gohonzon is enshrined is called the butsudan. Butsugu is a general term for the Buddhist accessories used to make offerings to the Gohonzon in front of the butsudan. The three basic accessories are the white candle, the incense burner and the evergreen vase. The three together are called “mitsugusoku” or the three accessories.  Incense, candles and evergreens, each have a significant meaning in Buddhism:

  • Incense represents the property of the Law, the truth to which the Buddha is enlightened.
  • White candle represents the property of wisdom. This enables the Buddha to see the truth.
  • Evergreens represent the physical property of the Buddha’s life, the property of compassionate action.

Join us at our next Introduction to Buddhism meeting if you’d like to learn more about becoming a Buddhist and establishing your own Buddhist altar in your home.  Our January series of meetings are:

Saturday, January 11th at 2:00 p.m.
Topic: What is Buddhism? Brief History

Sunday, January 19th at 11:00 a.m.
Topic: Buddhist Concept of the Ten Worlds

Sunday, January 26th at 11:00 a.m.
Topic: What is Karma?


Reference: Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice, p. 41.