The Art Of Incense Burning/Offering

” Burning Incense is not only for religious purposes but also for health & mental benefits…read and find out the beauty of burning high quality incense below…”

Part 1 – For Health & Mental

Burning incense has surprisingly powerful benefits e.g. can reduce stress and calm anxiety. 

An important thing to remember is that burning low-quality incense can be harmful to your health. Poor quality incense is actually a pollutant, especially if it’s burned indoors or in small places. It can harm your lungs if you breathe it in over a long period of time. If you are interested in burning incense because of the benefits of the pleasant aroma and meditative properties, make sure you use high-quality incense that isn’t toxic.

Burning incense for meditation decreases stress, and some people believe that different types of incense have the power to cleanse negative energy, ease tension, and elevate your meditative state. Incense for meditation and prayer is an ancient tradition.

A brief summary of the research on incense burning and health. Researchers from the South China University of Technology say incense burning is a traditional and common practice in many families and in most temples in Asia. The religious and meditative benefits are widely accepted, as is the belief that the pleasant aroma of incense improves mood and relieves stress.

However, during the burning process of all types of incense, particle matter is released into the air. This can be breathed in and trapped in the lungs, and is known to cause an inflammatory reaction. Not much research has been done on incense as a source of pollution, although it has been linked to different types of ill health effects.

If you’re burning incense, make sure you get high-quality sticks or other types of incense. Also, consider the benefits of essential oils as an alternative to the smoke of incense.

Sandalwood for grounding and relaxing.

Sandalwood Incense has been used for at least 4000 years for good reason,” says Dan. “Its effects are both grounding and euphoric, promoting a sense of well being and relaxation with a woody, sweet and exotic scent that wraps you in peace and harmony.”

Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs.

The good news for sleep meditation is that new research shows that even just 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three consecutive days alleviates psychological stress. You don’t need to burn incense or meditate every day…unless of course you find it’s the natural remedy for sleep you’ve been missing.

 

Part 2 – Religious Purpose

This Article highlights the Tibetan Buddhist practice of sang (smoke offering) to interesting references in a popular Mahayana sutra.

 What is Sang offering (Smoke/Incense Offering)?

Sang offering is a smoke offering practice that is peculiar to Tibetan Buddhism, and seems to be most popular in the Nyingma School. In brief, it is performed by kindling a flame to burn aromatic wood, especially juniper, and supplemented by powdered grains and herbs and other precious substances.

 What is its significance?

Through skilful and expansive visualisation, and by blessing it with mantras, the smoke is imagined to be “vast clouds of Samantabhadras offerings”, transforming into whatever objects desired by the guests. It pleases them, and purifies them at the same time.

The outer vessel, the environment is thus transformed into a pure Buddhafield, while the inner contents, all the beings, are realised as the form of enlightened deities.

After all, as Shantideva has said, generosity is an attitude of mind rather than the mere physical act, and the merits are proportional to the scope of your mind, and the purity of your intention.

Who is it offered to?

This magical smoke is offered to the four types of guests – the enlightened beings who are the field of merits, Dharma protectors and gods, sentient beings of the six realms who are the objects of compassion, and karmic creditors.

Some Chinese Mahayanists might speculate that the practice of sang offering is a Tibetan invention. However, there are actually references to sang offering in the Vimalakirti Sutra, known in Chinese as 维摩诘经. This sutra is available in both the Chinese and the Tibetan Tripitaka, and is well-known to scholars from both sides.

In chapter 10 of that sutra, there is mention of a particular buddhafield in the zenith, called the world of Fragrance Accumulation buddha(香积佛国), where beings are sustained by inhaling fragrances, and where the presiding Buddha teaches the Dharma through the use of fragrances.

Below are excerpts of the relevant passages, in italics, translated by Robert Thurman.

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti set himself in such a concentration and performed such a miraculous feat that those bodhisattvas and those great disciples were enabled to see the universe called Sarvagandhasugandha, which is located in the direction of the zenith, beyond as many Buddhafields as there are sands in forty-two Ganges rivers. There the Tathagata named Sugandhakuta (Fragrance Accumulation) resides, lives, and is manifest. In that universe, the trees emit a fragrance that far surpasses all the fragrances, human and divine, of all the Buddhafields of the ten directions. In that universe, even the names “discipleandsolitary sagedo not exist, and the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teaches the Dharma to a gathering of bodhisattvas only. In that universe, all the houses, the avenues, the parks, and the palaces are made of various perfumes, and the fragrance of the food eaten by those bodhisattvas pervades immeasurable universes.

Then, the Tathagata Sugandhakuta poured some of his food, impregnated with all perfumes, into a fragrant vessel and gave it to the incarnation-bodhisattva. And the ninety million bodhisattvas of that universe volunteered to go along with him: “Lord, we also would like to go to that universe Saha, to see, honour, and serve the Buddha Shakyamuni and to see Vimalakirti and those bodhisattvas.

Then, the incarnation-bodhisattva gave the vessel full of food to Vimalakirti, and the fragrance of that food permeated the entire great city of Vaisali and its sweet perfume spread throughout one hundred universes. Within the city of Vaisali, the brahmans, householders, and even the Licchavi chieftain Candracchattra, having noticed this fragrance, were amazed and filled with wonder. They were so cleansed in body and mind that they came at once to the house of Vimalakirti, along with all eighty-four thousand of the Licchavis.

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti spoke to the elder Sariputra and the great disciples: Reverends, eat the food of the Tathagata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

But some of the disciples already had the thought: “How can such a huge multitude eat such a small amount of food?” Then the incarnation-bodhisattva said to those disciples, “Do not compare, venerable ones, your own wisdom and merits with the wisdom and the merits of the Tathagata! Why?

For example, the four great oceans might dry up, but this food would never be exhausted. If all living beings were to eat for an aeon an amount of this food equal to Mount Sumeru in size, it would not be depleted. Why? Issued   from   inexhaustible morality, concentration, and wisdom, the remains of the food of the Tathagata contained in this vessel cannot be exhausted.”

Indeed, the entire gathering was satisfied by that food, and the food was not at all depleted. Having eaten that food, there arose in the bodies of those bodhisattvas, disciples, Sakras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, and other living beings, a bliss just like the bliss of the bodhisattvas of the universe    Sarvasukhamandita.

And from all the pores of their skin arose a perfume like that of the trees that grow in the universe Sarvagandhasugandha.

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti knowingly addressed those bodhisattvas who had come from the Buddhafield of the Lord Tathagata  Sugandhakuta: Noble sirs, how does the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teach his Dharma?” They replied, The Tathagata does not teach the Dharma by means of sound and language. He disciplines the bodhisattvas only by means of perfumes.

At the foot of each perfume-tree sits a bodhisattva, and the trees emit perfumes like this one. From the moment they smell that perfume, the bodhisattvas attain the concentration called ‘source of all bodhisattva-virtues.’ From the moment they attain that concentration, all the bodhisattva-virtues are produced in them.”

Credits To All Original Sources