At the beginning of 2014 I led a special 'walk through' service here in Malvern to remind ourselves of how to behave in and around the shrine room. I was partly inspired by the wonderful ceremony at the Bodhi retreat last December, and partly inspired by noticing the formality of our rituals slipping away over time.
We'd also had some new people joining and I know that, at least for some of them, if they are shown how to enter and leave the shrine room and so on, this can take away some of the worry of wondering, "Am I doing it right?"
I like ritual, I like drama and I like all of the 'smells and bells'. When it's done well I think it creates a container that can be filled with the spirit of our practice.
Of course the spirit is the important thing, but for me a good ritual helps support that.
After that service I made some notes about what I thought was the correct way to behave in and around the shrine, for anyone new that arrives at our group and wonders when they are supposed to be bowing. I asked Dharmavidya to check it over in case I had made any mistakes, and ended up with a document that I thought I would share here as well. Of course, any remaining errors are mine.
Anyway - if you'd like to have a look at the 'cheat sheet' I created, here it is: Shrine Room Etiquette.pdf (right click and choose 'save as' to download, or just click to open)
~ Reverend Kaspalita