Fire Pujas: Smoke Offering, Smell Offering, & Fire Offering
---The teaching of H.E. The 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche
Three kinds of fire pujas

The fire pujas, there are three major different fire-related pujas. One is called SANG, another is called SUR, and another one is JIN-SEIG. So. SANG, SUR, JIN-SEIG, three kinds of fire pujas. AND inside of each, there are many different kinds, but mainly there are three.

The major principle of fire pujas is offering. You put the food and whatever ingredients in the fire. Fire burns it, so fire eats it. Then, it is totally consumed, so that is way of offering.

In the SANG, you are offering the smoke, in the SUR, you are offering the smell. And in the JIN-SEIG, you are just offering fire itself, flame itself, and burning itself.

Offering to four categories of objects

So, all of them involve four objects, to whom you are making the offering. You are making the offering to Buddha and Bodhisattvas, and the deities that are one. Then you are making the offering to the protectors, and very high spiritual gods, that are number two, And you are offering to all sentient beings, that's number three. And you are offering to the ghosts, and hungry ghosts, then also the special being that you have negative karma with, like karmic debt to pay. So you are making offering to them, this is the fourth. So, to these four you are make offering. Or sometimes the fourth one we call it generous, the third one we call generosity, and the first and second one we call it offering, offer and give.

SANG: Smoke offering

Now, SANG is mainly concentrating on the Gods of the mountain, the Gods of the sky, the Gods of the sky, the Gods of the river, and the Gods of all aspects. So, specially offer to them. You invite the Gods of the whole universe, and then especially you are offering the Gods of your local place. So, there are all four, but concentrated on this, that is SANG. We do that normally on the top of the house, or on the top of the mountain, make very big smoke. It is very important for SANG offering to be clean. It has to be 100% vegetarian, and cannot have any meat in the SANG. So, it has to be purely vegetarian. It has to be purely clean.

SUR: Smell offering

Then SUR, it is for all four, but more concentrated on ghosts, and the spirits, and the beings that you have negative karmic debt with. So, you are giving it to them. That you are burning al kinds of foods, and anything. And there will be some SURs that also need to be non-vegetarian. You also burn meat. But there is vegetarian SUR, and there is non-vegetarian SUR. There are two different types of SUR, and you have to separate them. Prayers have to be separated, and also fires have to be different fires, not same fire.

JIN-SEIGN: Fire offering

Then, the JIN-SEIGN is strictly, it is related with all, but strictly concentrating on the deities. So , JIN-SEIGN you can't burn anything. There has to be special ingredients according to each different kind of JIN-SEIGN. And it has to be done by the priest, not by the public. Public can not touch the JIN-SEIGN ingredient. So, only the priests have to handle the JIN-SEIGN. And it has to be a particular ingredient, not anything, not just anything like this. (Note: there is a SUR offering at the same day and place) Here is everything, not like that. It has to be specific, and it has to be handled and offered according to the prayer. Then this particular ingredient has to be offered, then that has to be offered. Then, when other one comes, then that one has to be offered. Normally, there are four kind of JIN-SEIGN, peaceful, wrathful, powerful, and magnetic, four aspects of JIN-SEIGN, and sometimes combination of all four. So, each one have their own ingredients you have to follow. And it is not handle by lay people. It has to be priest, or ordained, or even sometimes not ordained, but has to be priest.

So, that is what JIN-SEIGN is. I think I don't know, but I think HUO-KONG ( Note: in Chinese, which means fire-offering) in Chinese language is actually the JIN-SEIGN, not the SANG, not the SUR. I think it is the name of JIN-SEIGN. I think I am not sure. What does KONG means? (people answer: offering) Fire offering, I think that is the last one. But I think in old days Vajrayana masters came to China, and performed JIN-SEIGN. JIN-SEIGN is normally done after very big puja of a deity. And after that you do it. Or you do it for the whole temple, you do it for the whole country. So, JIN-SEIGN is not like SANG, or SUR, that you do all the time now. So I think it was performed for emperor or for the like. By that way this language came, I think, maybe I am wrong. Maybe HUO-KONG can be for all three, the name for all three, it is possible. But now it is used for all of them, HUO-KONG is for all three of them.

Question and answer

Question: What is the Mantra and visualization methods when we are doing fire offering?

Answer: Normally, that is all done by priests, the lay people just participate. But if you want to, then it is OK. You can do it. You can say OM-MA-NE-BEI-MEI-HUM. Or, if you are doing different kinds fire of pujas, there are different kinds of Mantra. But OM-MA-NE-BEI-MEI-HUM will be the most appropriate to recite. Then you should think of offering to all the Buddhas... etc, the four objects, you know? Offering to all the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, offering to all the Gods and Protectors, and big generosity to all sentient beings, and then specially, to all the spiritual ghosts and those ghosts you have karmic debt to pay to. You can do like that. But what you burn are just so little. Those we burn, if you really give them, cannot be given to too many people. You know. But, then, you have to pray, just fit the all styles, it will multiply countless times, billions and billions times. They become many different things what those things need. And whatever offering is appropriate to Buddha and Bodhisattvas will become limitless. So you have to think of it. Otherwise, just these, you know, are just little things. Yes, they are a lot, but still in reality, how many people you can make happy to have these. And there are countless sentient beings in the whole universe. Six realms you are offering to. So it has to be multiplied, and transformed. Each grains might become skyful of grains, that supposedly can fulfill the need of hungry ghost, for example.

We don't  have time to have many questions, because we have to do the puja on the following. Anyway, one more question, it is OK? (Note: During Rinpoche's answering, there are a lot of questions written on the paper and passed to the interpreter.) But anyway the kind of visualization thins we don't   encourage people. Because, for example, if you are calling all the spirits to receive your offering, OK, then, you make, you can call them. But if you can't offer, then you call. It's like you invite ten thousand people for dinner, and you cannot give food, not very good. So, this way, if you do, you have to be able to do properly from beginning to end. And if you cannot, then you can just sit there, and say OM-MA-NE-BEI-MEI-HUM, and have faith to the Buddha. Do these things, that are much much better. Because you have to be really able to do it. Otherwise, you call so many, and you can't do anything. That you are not to be positive.

Question: When we do the wind horse, or prayer flag release, should we do any prayer at the same place that we release the wind horse?

Answer: No, not like that. The Lamas have to do the puja, there or somewhere. Because, normally, we put the prayer flag very high up, and then we invite Lama there to do the puja, then people put the prayer flag there. But sometimes Lama is doing the puja in the Temple, and people carry the prayer flag to the mountain where there is no Lama. So, prayer flag blessed in the Temple, and then they carried it very very far away, many many miles to the mountain. That also is done. But during that, there should be a puja right there or somewhere else.

Conclusion and dedication

Now, I hope this is beneficial for all of you. And, since you do it so much. Then, when you know it, I am sure, it makes quite clear for you that why you do this. But even you don't  know, even some people don't  know, if they have faith, they do it still the same. Because if we have headache, and we take medicine. And some people know what is in the medicine, other people don't know what is in the medicine. But for both, medicine works. So if you have faith, it works for both. Then, let's do the dedication. (Note: Disciples followed Rinpoche and Lama reciting the dedication prayer.)

Original article was published by  <<Wisdom Eye>> Spring 1998,

This edition was published with the permission of  the owner Pema Chodron.

We appreciate sincerely for her kind support.