This is not an explanation of how to do the sur offering practice. But, if you’ve read through the practice that Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche has encouraged us to do for the benefit of the FPMT family of centers and all sentient beings and simply want to know how to burn the offering substances, read on.
I was thinking I’d have to go out and get a charcoal barb-que grill, lighter fluid etc. but that’s not necessarily the case. You can get special mini-charcoal disks that are manufactured specifically for burning powdered incense and improvise an incense burner. This is a big time-saver for the days when you can’t fire up the barb-que grill and offer up a feast!
Here are just a few of the providers that Google turned up: (note, the Guhyasamaja Center does not endorse these products, nor does it receive payment for listing merchants, and there may be less expensive sources)
Incense Warehouse — offers several kinds of charcoal plus a large selection of incense including powdered which seems a little harder to fine. The Medicine Buddha powdered incense contains sandlewood — one of the substances for the sur.
Amazon.com — several kinds of charcoal.
www.fpmt.org – powdered incense products.
www.zambala.com – powdered incense product.
www.garudashop.com – incense products.
And here are a couple of “how to” articles that explain what kind of incense burner to use, how to light the charcoal, and some important safety tips (Google search term: “charcoal for incense”).
New Orleans Mistic — has advice on how to use the small charcoal (and how to do magic spells…hmmm).
ehow.com — search for “charcoal for incense how to”.
I searched high and low for barley flour (barley grain is one of the sur substances and also roasted to make tsampa). I finally found oganic barley flour (made by Arrowhead Mills) at my local Whole Foods store. It sells for about $3.50 for 24 ounces.
As a final note, it’s best to do the sur offering outdoors because there are more hungry ghosts outside. Plus, it’s safer.
P.S. Those of you who grew up in the 70s might have had a small Hibachi grill on your back deck. They’re relatively inexpensive and available from sellers such as Amazon and other retailers and it seems like they’d be great for this practice if you live in a smaller home.
Please share your experiences and hints so we can all do this important and beautiful practice together correctly in accordance with Lama Zopa’s holy wishes. Thanks!