Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
pemachophel
Posts: 1707
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:19 pm
Location: Lafayette, CO

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by pemachophel »

Re-lit, sure. But not "offered" again.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 11028
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Queequeg »

pemachophel wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 4:21 pm Re-lit, sure. But not "offered" again.
Can you elaborate on that distinction? Also, its not clear which previous comment you are responding to. It could be a response to at least a couple previous posts with different meaning.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
Cinnabar
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:59 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Cinnabar »

You're kidding me, right?

Your comments yesterday inspired me to throw out all my pillar candles and replace them with small candles that would last just a few hours, and which I could easily let burn out.

The whole point of offering pillar candles was because they were much more expensive and finer than small lamps. So I guess I have the fault of offering them once, but it's a much nicer offering that lasts for months and months.

According to your narrative earlier in this thread, I was disrespecting the Three Jewels and Three Roots by making offerings that I had already offered by re-lighting the candles. Which I would sort of have to do because a pillar will last months.

They're in the garbage now so I certainly can't "re-offer" them. And now you've seemingly flipped on this. Or at least clarified and retextualized.
pemachophel wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 4:21 pm Re-lit, sure. But not "offered" again.
Tenma
Posts: 1074
Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:25 am

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Tenma »

Cinnabar wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:41 pm You're kidding me, right?

Your comments yesterday inspired me to throw out all my pillar candles and replace them with small candles that would last just a few hours, and which I could easily let burn out.

The whole point of offering pillar candles was because they were much more expensive and finer than small lamps. So I guess I have the fault of offering them once, but it's a much nicer offering that lasts for months and months.

According to your narrative earlier in this thread, I was disrespecting the Three Jewels and Three Roots by making offerings that I had already offered by re-lighting the candles. Which I would sort of have to do because a pillar will last months.

They're in the garbage now so I certainly can't "re-offer" them. And now you've seemingly flipped on this. Or at least clarified and retextualized.
pemachophel wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 4:21 pm Re-lit, sure. But not "offered" again.
Well, the mahasiddha Virupa once threw away his mala beads in the toilet and then reused them. I'm pretty sure the same can be done with candles.
Cinnabar
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:59 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Cinnabar »

Tenma wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:32 pm Well, the mahasiddha Virupa once threw away his mala beads in the toilet and then reused them. I'm pretty sure the same can be done with candles.
I come here to be challenged and to have my practice upped a couple of levels.

The archetypical conversation here seems to be: You're doing it wrong. Which is exactly what I'm looking for. At least if I'm really doing it wrong. If I'm not then it's all a waste of time.
gendun
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:04 am

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by gendun »

I suspect you may be disappointed. Leaving aside major offences the only way you can “do it wrong” is to disregard or oppose specific instructions YOUR teacher has given YOU. She or he may have given another student completely different instructions.
On occasion he or she may reverse your instructions.
This isn’t Catholicism..😊
pemachophel
Posts: 1707
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:19 pm
Location: Lafayette, CO

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by pemachophel »

Oh dear, I didn't mean to cause confusion. I was just thinking that every day I light a 15-hour votive candle in a glass candle holder. Recently I started to buy ones made in Vietnam. About 5% of the time, the candle goes out some time during the night. So the next morning I relight the candle in order to "complete" the offering. But I don't say the offering prayer again or do the whole visualization again. (I do say the offering prayer and do do the visualization when I light the new candle for the day.)

Sorry, this is just me. I could simply throw the remaining candle away. No problem. However, we're a no waste home; so I prefer to burn it out completely. Maybe I should take it off my altar in this case. Could do. I will consider it.

The following is just a story. Make of it what you will. (As an old man, I simply like to reminisce.) Fifty years ago, when I first started practicing Tibetan Buddhism, I used to take the stubs of candles and make them into new pillar candles. I had a mold and I had cotton wick cord. These "new" candles were quite pretty, at least I thought. Sometimes I would bring them to my Teacher's apartment which was our center and offer them. After having done this a number of times, I mentioned to my Teacher's Wife how I had made these candles from recycled stubs. She told me I shouldn't offer these recycled candles to the Buddhas. In my whole life, I've never met anyone Who remembered the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha moment by moment the way She did/does. Just a story.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
User avatar
javier.espinoza.t
Posts: 1975
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:29 am
Location: Chile

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by javier.espinoza.t »

pemachophel wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 4:21 pm Re-lit, sure. But not "offered" again.
cool, i refill the lamp all the time and lit it. it is the same lamp. i'm happier now haha
Cinnabar
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:59 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Cinnabar »

It very much is like Catholicism.

Suppose we're talking about making offerings. There are two approaches.

One way is to explain to get exactly this type of fruit and to put it on a blue plate with a red napkin. And to burn incense with these herbs. And to fill bowls with saffron water. For a lamp to use a butter lamp with a wick from so many braids of yarn. Because this is how it is done in such and such a monastery with such and such a lama.

The other way is to explain the general principles. Offerings should be purely obtained, clean, fresh, and desirable to oneself. Of good quality. And so on. Things that aren't reoffered. Nothing too puny. Something one feels good about.

Explain it the first way, and there is the poor guy who threw out his red plate and blue napkin-- but whoops, can't find any blue plates. Or the asthmatic-- gee, hates the incense. Ugh. Yellow water reminds me of pee-- do I have to do saffron water? The poor woman whose cat tips over a butter lamp with oil and it catches her shrine on fire.

Explain it the second way, and pretty much anyone can punt. And have fun with it, and feel good about it. Based on their proclivities and their situation.

The first approach is very much like Catholicism. It's tradition. Full stop.

Too often I think we get caught in the specifics and forget or fail to communicate the general principles.

If we have the general principles down we can really adapt to anything.
gendun wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:08 pmThis isn’t Catholicism..😊
User avatar
Adamantine
Former staff member
Posts: 3971
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:09 am
Location: Space is the Place

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Adamantine »

pemachophel wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:11 pm Oh dear, I didn't mean to cause confusion. I was just thinking that every day I light a 15-hour votive candle in a glass candle holder. Recently I started to buy ones made in Vietnam. About 5% of the time, the candle goes out some time during the night. So the next morning I relight the candle in order to "complete" the offering. But I don't say the offering prayer again or do the whole visualization again. (I do say the offering prayer and do do the visualization when I light the new candle for the day.)

Sorry, this is just me. I could simply throw the remaining candle away. No problem. However, we're a no waste home; so I prefer to burn it out completely. Maybe I should take it off my altar in this case. Could do. I will consider it.

The following is just a story. Make of it what you will. (As an old man, I simply like to reminisce.) Fifty years ago, when I first started practicing Tibetan Buddhism, I used to take the stubs of candles and make them into new pillar candles. I had a mold and I had cotton wick cord. These "new" candles were quite pretty, at least I thought. Sometimes I would bring them to my Teacher's apartment which was our center and offer them. After having done this a number of times, I mentioned to my Teacher's Wife how I had made these candles from recycled stubs. She told me I shouldn't offer these recycled candles to the Buddhas. In my whole life, I've never met anyone Who remembered the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha moment by moment the way She did/does. Just a story.
I was only ever really discussing relighting.. when I’ve had to extinguish lamps for safety, and later relight, I don’t recite any offering prayer, that hadn’t ever occurred to me to do. I don’t think you need to throw out your votives if they go out. As in traditional lamp houses, they are constantly relighting..so don’t sweat it. The thing that I always believed was considered inauspicious, was the intentional extinguishing of the light.. however as mentioned a number of prominent Lamas advise this is acceptable for safety concerns.. so I think we are on the same page about all of this. Unfortunately one member has tossed out expensive pillar candles as a result.... however perhaps that’s a small price to pay for learning, or clarifying these finer points of offerings.

Another example: one Lama of mine advised not to use water bowl water to water plants with.. with a similar idea: the water has been offered, its finished.. so not appropriate to put it to another use.. empty down the drain, etc. So I was surprised when another Lama of mine advised to use the water offerings precisely to water plants with, once emptied! Again, we shouldn’t get too hung up on relative things like this. Especially if we are practicing in a Dzogchen lineage, imho. :anjali:
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
gendun
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:04 am

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by gendun »

Cinnabar wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:39 pm It very much is like Catholicism.

Suppose we're talking about making offerings. There are two approaches.

One way is to explain to get exactly this type of fruit and to put it on a blue plate with a red napkin. And to burn incense with these herbs. And to fill bowls with saffron water. For a lamp to use a butter lamp with a wick from so many braids of yarn. Because this is how it is done in such and such a monastery with such and such a lama.

The other way is to explain the general principles. Offerings should be purely obtained, clean, fresh, and desirable to oneself. Of good quality. And so on. Things that aren't reoffered. Nothing too puny. Something one feels good about.

Explain it the first way, and there is the poor guy who threw out his red plate and blue napkin-- but whoops, can't find any blue plates. Or the asthmatic-- gee, hates the incense. Ugh. Yellow water reminds me of pee-- do I have to do saffron water? The poor woman whose cat tips over a butter lamp with oil and it catches her shrine on fire.

Explain it the second way, and pretty much anyone can punt. And have fun with it, and feel good about it. Based on their proclivities and their situation.

The first approach is very much like Catholicism. It's tradition. Full stop.

Too often I think we get caught in the specifics and forget or fail to communicate the general principles.

If we have the general principles down we can really adapt to anything.
gendun wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:08 pmThis isn’t Catholicism..😊
I think you may have missed my main point. In this as in all things follow what YOUR teachers says to YOU.
pemachophel
Posts: 1707
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:19 pm
Location: Lafayette, CO

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by pemachophel »

:good:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
Cinnabar
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:59 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Cinnabar »

gendun wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:45 am I think you may have missed my main point. In this as in all things follow what YOUR teachers says to YOU.
And I think you missed my main point.

Some of us try to glean a procedure from our teachers.
Some of us try to glean general principles from our teachers.

If I was the first type, then there's really nothing anyone could say that would sway me. I would follow my recipe and be done with it.

But I'm the second type. And so I am always refining my understanding of the general principles. And I'm open to anyone and everyone showing my ignorance of general principles.

I thought lama Pema Choephel here had illustrated a lack of depth in my understanding the principles of offering lamps. He hadn't. That's the limitation of language. I'm basically doing the same thing he does adjusted for my conditions.

I find this is a common source of misunderstanding. Discuss details in absence of general unifying principles. Not just with dharma, with everything.
gendun
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:04 am

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by gendun »

In matters of key points of Dharma we can expect to see general principles. In fact the absence of doctrinal principles that are universal across the Vajrayana should ring alarm bells.
However in my experience there are few general principles when it comes to the protocols of ritual.
One of my teachers..of impeccable pedigree, advocated the use of perfume sprays as being more practical and more safe than incense. He also preferred the smell..I do not follow his example in that area.
There is no overarching authority when it comes to secondary practises that support the main practises.
Not even within the same school, or among teachers with the same root guru.
Cinnabar
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:59 pm

Re: Is it okay to re-offer candles weve had to put out?

Post by Cinnabar »

I guess I have a different experience, interact with my teachers differently, or perhaps my brain works differently.

In things related to practice I try to clarify what the underlying principles are. That way if I have nobody to ask and find myself in different circumstances I can respond. Maybe not perfectly, but appropriately.

I think it’s very clear that there are general principles about such subjects as making offerings. We offer things that were obtained purely, have not been previously offered, are clean, high quality, pleasant, something we ourselves find appealing, something that does not offend beings. And there are general principles in that we can offer things of different colors or tastes to represent different Buddha families, activities, and so on. And general principles in making white or red offerings according to the practice. And general principles in the some practices are explicit. I have bowls of grains and skull cups of quite specific things for this reason. And general principles to not harm beings through ones offerings. Burning plastic can agitate certain classes of beings. We don’t want to send a person with asthma to the ER. We don’t want to kill our dharma friends or neighbors burning the place down. We don’t want to break laws and ordinances the governing open fires, burning. The general principle of not wanting to create some negative or inauspicious tendrel through our action of offering.

Which is how I approached this candle question. Re-using a lamp? What general principles are crossed?
gendun wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:38 am In matters of key points of Dharma we can expect to see general principles. In fact the absence of doctrinal principles that are universal across the Vajrayana should ring alarm bells.
However in my experience there are few general principles when it comes to the protocols of ritual.
One of my teachers..of impeccable pedigree, advocated the use of perfume sprays as being more practical and more safe than incense. He also preferred the smell..I do not follow his example in that area.
There is no overarching authority when it comes to secondary practises that support the main practises.
Not even within the same school, or among teachers with the same root guru.
Post Reply

Return to “Tibetan Buddhism”