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Thread: dumb question about incense

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    dumb question about incense

    I recently broke down and bought a "proper" incense holder, a little cup filled with sand that you plop the upright lit stick into. This replaced my "improper" incense holder that was a curved piece of wood that held the stick at a horizontal angle with no sand. OK, my dumb question is this: what am I to do with the ashes that fall into the sand? Should I leave them there? It looks like used cat litter if I do. Should I somehow fish those ash sticks out of the sand? Like a litter box. Or should I just mix it up with the sand? Thus hiding the "cat" litter.

  2. #2

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I recently broke down and bought a "proper" incense holder, a little cup filled with sand that you plop the upright lit stick into. This replaced my "improper" incense holder that was a curved piece of wood that held the stick at a horizontal angle with no sand. OK, my dumb question is this: what am I to do with the ashes that fall into the sand? Should I leave them there? It looks like used cat litter if I do. Should I somehow fish those ash sticks out of the sand? Like a litter box. Or should I just mix it up with the sand? Thus hiding the "cat" litter.
    Personally. I just leave 'em there. Unless, of course, you are burning mega quantities of incense. :mrgreen:



  3. #3
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: dumb question about incense

    OK, so the idea of the sand is that I don't have to clean it like I did the horizontal holder with no sand, right?

    And btw, I burn about a stick a week, if that, and am a non-smoker so the health issues are of little concern, but if that pic was the incense holder in my house I would be getting a gas mask for sure and be working on my losing attachment to incense

  4. #4

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    OK, so the idea of the sand is that I don't have to clean it like I did the horizontal holder with no sand, right?
    W/o getting too metaphysical about it*, IMHO, I think it's two fold. One, yes, you don't have to clean holder every time. And, two, you don' want fire hazard. If for example you need to leave, you can push the burning point of the incense into the sand. Also, is better for the ashes to fall in sand than in your wooden table.

    Or as this dude likes to remind us :




    * I have read other forums in which your similar question is raised and some poster will site certain Buddhist rituals on how to put away candles, incenses, etc. I just leave the ashes there. But, that's just my take. :mrgreen:

    And btw, I burn about a stick a week, if that, and am a non-smoker so the health issues are of little concern, but if that pic was the incense holder in my house I would be getting a gas mask for sure and be working on my losing attachment to incense
    The studies I read usually come down to quantity and ventilation. I am still working on the ventilation part in my house. :?

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: dumb question about incense

    I plead completely guilty to thinking too much about this. Curiosity can occasionally be stupid, and so I take refuge in the sangha to stop all this needless thinking.

    Gassho

  6. #6

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I plead completely guilty to thinking too much about this. Curiosity can occasionally be stupid, and so I take refuge in the sangha to stop all this needless thinking.

    Gassho

    If there were no questions.....internet forums would come to a standstill. :mrgreen:

    BTW, I am just responding as a guy who just sits and not as a learned this or that. My responses were just IMHO and may be completely, totally, and awfully wrong.

    2nd BTW, a teacher once taught us (our local sangha) that if we didn't want to use sand, we could use rice. So. Another alternative.

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: dumb question about incense

    Rice? Interesting idea.
    Hmm, let me think about that?

  8. #8

    Re: dumb question about incense

    there is a "right" way to do this that i was taught years ago by my former roshi. its gonna be hard to type it though and not show you.

    you can kinda gently shake your bowl and the ashes will seperate from the sand. you can then just sort of toss them out. its all in the wrist. theyll bounce right out and off the sand.

    i'm sure jundo had to learn this too.. maybe he can explain it better

  9. #9

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Hi,

    There is also a little device that looks like a combination comb and shovel.

    But, you know, even a smallish incense holder can hold the ash and stubs of incense sticks for years. Ashes to ashes. Ashes on the surface will naturally vanish (especially if you help it along with some gentle taps to the side of the holder. Ashes just merge into the gray ashes (which they use in Asia more than sand, although sandbox sand works very well too). Maybe, with long stretches of time, if you need to change the sand, just leave it outside respectfully (with a bow of gratitude and the appropriate words of gratitude that come to mind) ... and replace with fresh sand.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi,

    But, you know, even a smallish incense holder can hold the ash and stubs of incense sticks for years.
    I'll admit I am a heavy incense user. :P I haven't changed the sand and I've been using incense for a while.

  11. #11

    Re: dumb question about incense

    HI,

    I think most places I have seen get enough ash that you end up standing the incense in the ash (there are places you can buy ash - special stuff just for doing incense ceremony (called Kodo),(it's kinda like tea ceremony but simpler)).

    So you fish out the little end of the incense that did not burn. And you carefully save that. But does anybody know what you do with all those little bits of incense?

    inquiring minds.....

    gassho,
    rowan

  12. #12

    Re: dumb question about incense

    hellos to all posting here
    incense
    I have sat where the little stubbles of unburned incense were plucked out with tweezers and kept--in a box. To my knowledge nothing was done with them. There was also a 'tamper' it looked like (and was) a spoon that had been beaten flat on an anvil and is used to tamp down the ashes and make a smooth surface.

    It is interesting to me--I only use the ash of my incense in my incense bowl. It takes a while to build up enough ash to hold up a stick of incense, but over time, ash does accumulate. The interesting thing about placing incense in a bowl of only incense ash is that I have never found any unburned portions of incense stick. The incense completely burns. I like this.

    From a fire safety standpoint, it is probably better to use a bowl with sand or such which encourages the incense to stop burning, rather than an ash only bowl, which allows the incense to continue burning.

    I've done both: pluck out the unburned bits (which one zen teacher used to use to burn when he was doing spring housecleaning by placing the bits on a charcoal burner (the charcoal was used for burning granulated incense which was offered during Sunday services or any time there were more than 8 of us sitting--the rest of the time we would offer an incense stick. More than 8 sticks would get too crowded in the incense bowl, so when there were 8 or more of us he'd get out the charcoal and the granulated incense. He preferred to start the charcoal at 20 minutes before the end of sitting so it would be just right and ready for the offering of incense after chanting the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra and the Four Great Vows which we would recite at the end of zazen.

    The granulated incense had a very lovely smell, and always seemed special--like taking out the nice silverware or somesuch when you have guests--kk

  13. #13

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Personally. I just leave 'em there. Unless, of course, you are burning mega quantities of incense. :mrgreen:
    Erik that's nothing. Here they burn incense the size of your leg at temples during new year.

    G,W

  14. #14

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Personally. I just leave 'em there. Unless, of course, you are burning mega quantities of incense. :mrgreen:
    Erik that's nothing. Here they burn incense the size of your leg at temples during new year.

    G,W
    Hahahaha.... the Chinese temple in my country also do that. Although I'm not so agree with that, because of the pollution. In the Chinese tradition, we offer only 3 sticks of incense for Gods, and 9 incense for the Jade Emperor (the Highest God in Chinese mythology) but mostly 3 sticks are enough.
    But the crazy things here, a lot of people offer more than 9 sticks of the big 'leg' incenses, so just imagine the smoke. I even can't open my eyes because of the smoke.
    But, there are some temple who care about the pollution suggest people only to offer 1 stick for Gods, and 3 stick for the Jade Emperor.

    Incense Holder

    People here usually just take some ashes from the temple for their incense holder. But rice and sands also good.

    Gassho, Mujo

  15. #15

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Hiya
    Not a dumb question at all.
    For the record I used kitty litter (until my daughter found out about it then small pebbles) in a nice rejected pottery piece a friend made and was tossing out. I just shook the dish and the ashes would settle to the bottom and out in to a small plate. The pottery had a massive crack in the bottom that acted as a funnel... really handy. Now I use a wooden box dealy my wife gave me for xmas is wood and requires regular cleaning up - no problem just another opportunity for samu.

    Gassho, Shohei

  16. #16

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Personally. I just leave 'em there. Unless, of course, you are burning mega quantities of incense. :mrgreen:
    Erik that's nothing. Here they burn incense the size of your leg at temples during new year.

    G,W
    :lol:

    I can imagine.

    Our local store owned by Pure Land Buddhists has two shrines and BIG dishes with sand and these large, large incense sticks.

    FWIW, I use Tibetan incense that doesn't use wood sticks so no pickin' sticks. :mrgreen:

  17. #17

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Shui di
    Although I'm not so agree with that, because of the pollution.
    It is quite strange. Very smokey. Poof! Big clouds of smoke.

    W

  18. #18

    Re: dumb question about incense

    I found a picture of what we have to clean the incense (and a little picture that shows how it works). Also works wonders with my Afro (you may have to be a certain age to get that joke) ...



    http://www.e-horindo.com/butugu/archive ... t-144.html

  19. #19

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    (you may have to be a certain age to get that joke) ...
    The combs are still around. :mrgreen: I am not sure how old you are, but my uncle had once for his MexFro. :P :mrgreen:

  20. #20
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: dumb question about incense

    Hello all,

    I have to be honest...I didn't have any idea that there was a right and wrong way to burn incense! I've never used incense before, but bought some for our Jukai ceremony...After spending the rest of the day with a stuffy nose and red, watery eyes, I've also discovered I'm probably allergic to the smoke. :lol:

    Or maybe I just had not-so-good incense, considering I bought it at our local Wal-Mart. :roll: Maybe I need to try real, traditional incense. Do you think that would help?

    I now know my little ceramic bowl that you just insert the incense stick in the hole is incorrect ops: . Ahh, I love this path, I learn so many new things on a daily basis.

    Gassho,
    Kelly - Jinmei

  21. #21

    Re: dumb question about incense

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    (you may have to be a certain age to get that joke) ...
    The combs are still around. :mrgreen: I am not sure how old you are, but my uncle had once for his MexFro. :P :mrgreen:
    Yes, I should clarify that I actually had (before shaving my head) what is sometimes lovingly called a "Jewfro". I do not have a picture of myself, but here are a couple of examples ... the cool ...



    and the not so cool ...


  22. #22
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: dumb question about incense

    My "dumb" topic has turned out to be quite educational. Who knew that Jundo had a jewfro? :lol:

    Upon reflection, I should have titled this thread a "simple" question instead of saying it was dumb.

    And the sand my incense holder came with is so fine it is probably ash. I never really read the product description that closely ops: and not knowing the difference between ash and sand is dumb.

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