One should not view one’s dharma practice as being something decorative, regarding statues and images as material possessions or as furnishings for one’s house, or thinking that because there is an empty space on a wall one might as well put up a thangka for decoration. That kind of attitude should not be cultivated. When you arrange the statues or thangkas, you should do so out of a deep respect from the mind, moved by your faith and conviction. If you can arrange these physical representations—statues and so forth—out of deep respect and faith, that’s all right. On the other hand, the attitude that they are merely material possessions is dangerous and destructive. I think that some people who have a cupboard or the like in which they keep all their precious possessions may arrange an altar on it just for the sake of decoration. This is very wrong.
Having such motivations is not the proper way to become a Buddhist; the proper way to become a Buddhist is to bring about some positive change within the mind. Any practice that can give you more courage when you are undergoing a very difficult time and that can provide you with some kind of solace and calmness of mind is a true practice of the dharma.