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Thread: preclock zazen timers?

  1. #1

    preclock zazen timers?

    Hi Everyone

    I was wondering, what did they use for zazen timers before there were clocks? Incense maybe? Anything else?

    Thanks
    -Neal

  2. #2

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    From what I have read is incense sticks or similar.

    Sent from my SPH-D710 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    Hi Neal,

    I wrote this on another thread and thought you might find it interesting.


    Sydney wrote:
    I've found over the years that I can keep time in without a clock by mindfully moving on to the next bead with each full breath if I wish to practice without checking the clock.

    Hi Sydney,

    You bring up great point about being able to keep track of time without the use of a clock. Incense were also used to keep time in Asia. Which includes keeping time for meditation. One such device for time keeping was called a Dragon Boat. It was a small metal incense holder with groves at every 15 minute mark. The incense(joss stick) was placed in the Dragon Boat horizontally. A silk tread with metal balls at the ends was placed on the incense stick at any of the grooves for the desired time increment. When the incense burned to the silk thread the metal balls would drop onto a metal "pan" to create a ringing sound to indicate the elapsed time.
    There was another variation of this where the incense was spiral in shape and bells would be tied to it. When the proper amount of time had passed the bells would drop off making a ringing sound to signal specific time passing.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi Neal,

    I wrote this on another thread and thought you might find it interesting.


    Sydney wrote:
    I've found over the years that I can keep time in without a clock by mindfully moving on to the next bead with each full breath if I wish to practice without checking the clock.

    Hi Sydney,

    You bring up great point about being able to keep track of time without the use of a clock. Incense were also used to keep time in Asia. Which includes keeping time for meditation. One such device for time keeping was called a Dragon Boat. It was a small metal incense holder with groves at every 15 minute mark. The incense(joss stick) was placed in the Dragon Boat horizontally. A silk tread with metal balls at the ends was placed on the incense stick at any of the grooves for the desired time increment. When the incense burned to the silk thread the metal balls would drop onto a metal "pan" to create a ringing sound to indicate the elapsed time.
    There was another variation of this where the incense was spiral in shape and bells would be tied to it. When the proper amount of time had passed the bells would drop off making a ringing sound to signal specific time passing.

    Gassho,
    John
    Interesting, thanks!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    Here is a nifty little book on the subject:

    "The Trail of Time: Time Measurement with Incense in East Asia"
    By Silvio A. Bedini.

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    India and China both had a device which later came to be called a "clepsydra" ("water thief") or water clock.Some say there is evidence in China of this method of indoor time measurement as early as 4000 BC. Often used in monasteries of several traditions from Egypt to (what is now) Afganistan, it may have even pre-dated Buddhism by a whole bunch, which if nothing else made it available.
    John mentioned timed incense already but in addition there have been timed candles for a very long time as well.
    I sometimes use a chanting cadence I learned to mark off (approximately) ten minute intervals of 108 recitations.
    Gassho,

  7. #7

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi Neal,

    I wrote this on another thread and thought you might find it interesting.
    [/quote]

    Where can I get one?! :mrgreen:

  8. #8

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    if you sit without a clock, how do you know if you are over or under time? :wink:

  9. #9

    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    I normally sit without a clock. I just check what time it is before I sit down on the zafu and what time it is after I stand up. Sometimes I sit for 20 minutes, sometimes longer. I have never sat for more than 50 minutes and rarely for more than 40 minutes.

    Would it benefit my Zazen practice in any way to start using a timer?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: preclock zazen timers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    I normally sit without a clock. I just check what time it is before I sit down on the zafu and what time it is after I stand up. Sometimes I sit for 20 minutes, sometimes longer. I have never sat for more than 50 minutes and rarely for more than 40 minutes.

    Would it benefit my Zazen practice in any way to start using a timer?
    Hi omoi otoshi,

    If you have the time to sit upwards to 50 minutes perhaps there's not much need for a timer. Hence it would seem to be of little benifit to your sitting.

    Gassho,
    John

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