Monday, February 16, 2009

Sacred Incinerators

This is a subject that comes up all the time, and about which I know very little; nevertheless, it is worth investigating. Sang burners (sang-khang, or "a place for incense offering") are a ubiquitous feature of Tibetan life, and have dual utility for making juniper smoke offerings and disposing of sacred waste. The example above is at Jokhang, and the one below (to the right of the solar panel) is on a rooftop.

However, the concept is not limited to Tibet, and in fact, one could rather successfully argue that it is an imported custom. "Hell money" or "ghost money" burners are endemic to Asia, whether it is the red can in the backyard of every Chinese or Vietnamese private home, or elaborate public examples such as the one below, at Nankunshen Temple in Tainan.

Below is a sketch from one of Namkhai Norbu's books.

Below is an example in operation at Kunphenling, and you can learn more about this by clicking here.

Push comes to shove, and you can always run down to Lowes with $100. or so, and get a chiminea.

The folks at Dharma Publishing (Tarthang Rinpoche's students) offer this solution:

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