Incense burning is in essence conveyance of sincerity and reverence
wholly in mind. It is the act of getting incense sticks alight. Invariably
fragranced, the scent therein comes in powder form or from sweetsmelling
More often than not, Sakyamuni Buddha in his lifetime together with
the sangha had taught and assembled in the wilderness, along the
riverside, out in the country, or amid the hustle and bustle of the city,
but always amid crowds. Temperatures mostly heating in India and the
air thus clouded, flies and mosquitoes would add to the relative havoc.
In such circumstances, audiences, to concentrate on hearing the
Buddha, would light fragrant wood chips around to disperse odor and
ward off insects. Some would light fragrant wood chips and place them
before the Buddha in reverence. Later, long after the Buddha' s nirvana,
devotees resorted to ceramic and limestone containers for incense
and offered them before the Buddha images in remembrance.
Incense burning, ultimately, denotes light. It is the Buddhist symbol.
Practitioners cultivate blessedness and wisdom to attain clarity in
mind, purity in thought, and brilliance in life. By the way, in other
religions, too, incense and candle burning is practiced.
From the perspective of practice, the Buddha long into nirvana,
enshrined are really the Buddha and bodhisattva images with
practitioners offering incense mornings and evenings in tribute
and faring just fine even when skipping on occasion for whatever
reasons. For inherent dedication is the process in pursuit of a petal
of fragrance in mind, not mere lighting of some fine-grade incense—
by the way, has little to do with results—in the cauldron. Sincerity
in motive, virtue in mind, and purity in thought are as good as any
faithful offering of incense and what make the genuine difference