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Rules for Offering Incense

[originally obtained through http://www.tbsn.org/wwc/us/PLS/ ]

This commentary on contemporary Tibetan Tantric 
Bhuddist precepts for the proper burning of 
incense comes from the Purple Lotus website at
http://www.tbsn.org/wwc/us/PLS/

--------

Subject: Rules for Offering Incense

By Grand Master Sheng-yen Lu 
Translated by Yuan Zheng Tang 

[Translated from page 252 of "Achievement of a
Rainbow Light Body Volume 6," a book by Grand
Master Lu.] 

    The incense that we use to make
offerings to the Buddha comes from many
sources -- Japan, India, Tibet and Taiwan
just to name a few. Since there are many
kinds of incense, we have to pay attention
to the quality. Certain low grades of
incense may adversely affect one's health.
To show one's respect to the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas, one should use the best
grades of incense. Thus, in our daily
offering, we should only use those fine
grades of incense that will not generate
bad effects on one's health. 

    In Seattle's Chinatown, I came across
several shops that use strange, fake
incense. They offer three sticks of incense
in front of General Kwan (a guardian god).
On top of each incense is a small bulb,
which emits a red light when the
electricity is turned on. From the
traditional viewpoint, one should not use
fake incense, because it is cheating the
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with fake
offerings. Likewise, if one recites the
name of the Buddha by means of records or
tapes, then one does not recite it with
one's heart. Such acts will not result in
any merit. 

    When one lights the incense, one should
not blow out the flame with one's mouth.
This is because one may have impure breath,
and blowing out the flame with impure
breath will pollute the incense. One should
instead use one's hand to put out the
flame. Since many people suffer from oral
diseases and have bad breath, it is always
better to avoid using one's mouth to blow
out the flame of all incense and candles. 

    Also, if the incense sticks extinguish
half way through, it is better to remove
the incense rather than rekindle it, for
this is not a good omen. According to
tradition, an incense stick should be
burned from the top to the bottom. If it
extinguishes in the middle, simply throw it
away. 

    In Taiwan, I saw people take burning
incense sticks and place them upside down
in the urn to extinguish them, because they
had to leave for other commitments. This is
a bad habit, because extinguishing an
incense stick signifies that one no longer
wishes to worship that Bodhisattva. To
extinguish an incense means one is
discharging the god. One should avoid doing
this. 

    There is much to know about incense. I
mentioned "emergency incense" before. That
is when you have an urgent matter, and need
to immediately entreat the help of the
Bodhisattva. Normally, we light one end of
the incense stick. During such an exigency,
we may light both ends of the incense
stick, then place the stick in the urn. The
passing Bodhisattva will stop to listen to
your urgent request. So there are
"emergency" incense, "headless" incense
(incense that is half-burned), and
"discharging" incense (incense that is put
upside down in the urn). 

    It is virtuous to offer the best
quality of incense to the Buddha. Incense
that is of poor quality will give off a bad
smell, and may affect one's health.
Therefore, it is important to know the
quality of different kinds of incense. 

    Om Mani Padme Hum. 

--------

posted by

catherine yronwode 

The Esoteric Archive --------- http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric.html
Karezza and Sacred Sex ------ http://www.luckymojo.com/sacredsex.html

EOF

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