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Temple Blog Buddhists Incence
A divine odour
In Buddhist cultures, burning incense sticks is an old tradition. Apart from incenses, food, drinks, flowers, and even clothing was a common offering made to a revered person as a sign of respect. Offering incense at an altar is a universal Buddhist custom. Buddhists regard incense as a “divine odour“, and its smell is meant to evoke the presence of Buddhist divinities. Burning incense sticks works as a sensory way to sanctify the space and offer behaviours with mindfulness and awareness.
Incense is believed to purify a space used for meditation, creating a tranquil mood. Stick incense is used as a meditation timer as well. In Buddhist and Taoist cultures, the incense is burned to commemorate numerous occasions such as funerals, special ceremonies, daily prayers, paying respects to ancestors and warding off bad luck.
The blessings of Buddha
Which of us will be most blessed by the Buddha? The Buddha blesses only one kind of people: those who abstain from evil, undertake what is skilful, and follow the Buddha’s teachings. Offer incense properly with Compassion and Wisdom.
Caution must be considered when burning incense sticks because they can get hot and cause blisters or burns. It is considered bad practice or disrespectful to blow out the flame when lighting the incense because it is like spitting on it. The correct practice is to wave the incense stick to put them out, fan the flames with the hands or hold the sticks straight up and then jerk them down quickly. The incenses are then placed in special bowls filled with old incense ash accumulated through the years. If one doesn’t have accumulated incense ash, he/she can try to fill the bowl with clean sand or uncooked rice.
In western countries, Buddhists most likely use incense sticks or cones. Incense sticks are more expensive and superior. They also take longer to burn than the cones. The burning of incense sticks is an irreversible change because when they burn, new substances are produced, such as ash and smoke, and they cannot be converted back into incense sticks. Incense sticks mainly come in two types:
- Coreless or solid hard incense stick;
- Bamboo core incense stick.
A coreless or solid incense stick can burn continuously for a long time, but the bamboo-cored incense stick is usually the most widely used. Herbal incenses are used as a medicinal remedy. The main component is wood. The wood is cut into small pieces and grounded into a powder mixture. The typical composition by weight of stick incense consists of 21% herbal and wood powder, 35% fragrance material, 11% adhesive powder and 33% bamboo stick. Incense smoke contains particulate matter gas products and many organic compounds.
The Buddha, the dharma & the shangha
Three sticks burned together to signify the Three Treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Most Buddhist temples use sandalwood for incense. The use of incense in Buddhist temples is one way to create a sense of peace and sanctity. Buddhist temples mainly use scented wood and herbs to offer a pleasant, aesthetically pleasing-smelling smoke. These scents have been proven to reduce anxiety and stress levels.