Traveling in India and Japan, I have seen many small shrines along streets, in private yards and houses. In modern cities in China one sees pots of insence at the entrance to shops. In Mexico, small shrines and collages of Mother Mary are a folk-art tradition. In Thailand the Devas (Kamis in Japan) of one's property are given homes and welcomed with food and offerings. These are respected and expected forms of recognition and tribute to subtle energies involved in our lives.

Throughout history and probably in all cultures, humans have been aware of a divine level of life, and have sought to look to that divine energy to help and uplift themselves.

  Kuan Yin / China
And so in most areas and cultures we find shrines, which provide a focus or venue for the attention to move toward higher (vibrational) consciousness. Even for many great scientific thinkers there is an understanding of an underlying force field out of which all creation springs with creative intelligence and dynamism.

Rockcut temple / Mamallapuram, India

And throughout history, there have been great beings on this planet who have embodied higher vibrational consciousness, and have been able to help many others to move in that direction. In the west there are key figues like Moses, Jesus, Mother Mary, and St. Francis.
In the east there are Kuan Yin (also called Kannon P'u-sa, in Japan and Korea), and Buddha. And over many centuries, many Buddhas evolved, like saints in the west. These beings are real and operate now on planes (or dimensions) of higher vibration so most humans do not see them.   India
In the cultures that hosted these great Beings, representations of them, often statues or relief carvings, were created and then placed in shrines, which provided home for their energies.

Buddhist Temple / Japan
The shrines protected the statues and also focused the energy between the worshiper and the sacred. In India the shrines are largely devoted to the Mahadevas who are great cosmic aspects of consciousness, representing the unfolding, maintenance, and dissolution of creation.

Even in religious or spiritual culture whose no statue is used, "shrines", those places devoted to worship, still provide a locus for the upliftment of human consciousness.
These too are very powerful "Beings," but which represent a different understanding of the dance of the life force in the world, and should not be confused with God as recognized in Christianity (who is called Ishwara in that culture), or the perfect beings, such as those listed above.

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