Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Koh-Yama and the Ten Virtues of Incense

Just back from a couple of days with mum and dad on the Gold Coast. I came home to find "The Book of Incense" by Kiyoko Morita had arrive much early than expected from the US! This coupled with the little pots I had picked up from a delightful bonsai shop on Chevron Island meant I could enjoy an evening listening and reading about incense. I learned that incense appreciation is referred to as listening to incense, and this rings true for me. I find the process thoroughly intriguing...I imagine this is the same feeling that wine connoissieurs must have about tastings.

I'm just in love with this tiny three mouth ceramic pot. Filled with sand it's perfect for planting the fine sticks of Japanese koh. When planted with three sticks it looks like the kanji for mountain, so I've called it Koh-Yama, that is, Incense Mountain :)

Some of my favourite Japanese books are featured in the picture next to my Incense Mountain. They are "The Tale of Genji", "The Tales of Ise" and "A Chime of Wind Bells."

I'll leave you with the Ten Virtues of Incense said to have been written by a Zen priest in the sixteenth century.

It brings communication with the transcendent.
It purifies mind and body.
It removes uncleanliness.
It keeps one alert.
It can be a companion in the midst of solitude.
In the middle of busy affairs, it brings a moment of peace.
When it is plentiful, one never tires of it.
When there is little, still one is satisfied.
Age does not change its efficacy.
Used everyday, it does no harm.

How many things can be said to have so many virtues!

May your week be fragrant :)


ellie said...

I love this post. Incense means so many things to me. With all this house moving stress and constantness I have forgotten to light any for a while. So, thank you for sharing yours. I'm enjoying the thought of it and the sight of it.
Soon, I will listen to it too.
Beautiful photograph.

Florence Forrest said...

Thanks Ellie :) I hope your moving is going smoothly. I'm finding my time spent listening to incense very relaxing indeed - do light some yourself if you get a moment and enjoy the virtues of incense time.